Cover Story

Guiding Light for Life Mission


Campus Newsletter / Cover Story


In the new academic year of 2023/24, Chung Chi General Education has been turning over a new leaf since Professor Yam Cheuk Sing Jason took up the new position of the Dean of General Education. Being eager to get close to students, Professor Yam had been a College General Education teacher before he assumed office. How does he take the helm of the College General Education development and realise the mission in phases? From an authorised ophthalmologist to Chung Chi Dean of General Education, how does Professor Yam integrate his medical profession with general education harmoniously, refreshing the College General Education with a new atmosphere?



General Education as Guiding Light


Before illustrating the new directions of Chung Chi General Education, Professor Yam first shared with us his interpretation of general education. He believes that university education does not solely aim at pursuing academic knowledge, but also aims at learning to conduct oneself in society and seek life missions. While studying, university students must ponder over life issues seriously. Chung Chi General Education guides university freshmen who have just graduated from secondary schools to reflect on their inner selves and seek life missions. “Freshmen just embarking on their university life are just like a piece of blank paper. The College General Education offers a platform to students for thinking about their life and finding where their passions lie, which in turn enables them to set their life missions,” said Professor Yam, “hence, the College General Education teachers play a role in enriching the content on their blank paper.”


Teaching and medicine appear to be entirely different aspects though, Professor Yam can integrate both ingeniously, incorporating the profession of ophthalmology into general education.


Core Direction of Chung Chi General Education


Inspired by Professor Yam, the College General Education has established four main directions, namely the Path of Seeking the Meaning of Life, the Path of Embracing Service, the Path of Embarking on Journeys, and the Path of Pursuing Excellence. He said these four directions are the analogies of life directions or life skills. Chung Chi students can seek and realise their life missions based on these four aspects. He explained each of them one by one. First, the “Path of Seeking the Meaning of Life” guides students to have self-exploration and pursue life missions. Second, the “Path of Embracing Service” enables students to be aware of the needs of the community through serving others so as to reflect on their lives. Third, the “Path of Embarking on Journeys” offers the “Exploration and Discovery” course, covering a series of overseas exchange programmes and local exchange programmes such as “Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Policy”, “Death and Dying: Perspectives on Life Education”, “Hope for Future: Green and Sustainable Hong Kong”, and “Spirituality Enhancement: A Life Quest Journey”, among others. Students can perceive different facets of the world through experiential learning and in turn position themselves and identify future directions. Fourth, the “Path of Pursuing Excellence” focuses on thematic research. Students from various faculties form different groups to conduct research on a variety of topics and present their reports. Apart from promoting Chung Chi General Education development and formulating new directions, Professor Yam said the College would like to express sincere thanks to the teachers of the College General Education by presenting exemplary awards to the outstanding teachers in recognition of their dedication to teaching. The students with remarkable performances will also be awarded in the future.


From being a Chung Chi General Education teacher to assuming the office as the Dean of General Education, Professor Yam is not only highly experienced in teaching, but is also a professional ophthalmologist, which must be brought up here. Teaching and medicine appear to be entirely different aspects though, Professor Yam can integrate both ingeniously, incorporating the profession of ophthalmology into general education. He said, “Since 2015, my team and I have launched the “CUHK Hong Kong Children Eye Care Programme” (now known as the “CUHK Jockey Club Myopia Prevention Programme” [Myopia Prevention Programme]), offering comprehensive ophthalmic exams to over 40,000 underprivileged children from low-income families for free. This service is held every Saturday ongoingly.” As an ophthalmologist, Professor Yam did not have any experience during the initial stage. He would like to express his heartfelt thanks to many warm-hearted Hong Kong people who are willing to be volunteers, including public and private ophthalmologists, nurses, optometrists, medical students, nursing students, secondary students, and others from all walks of life. Their joint efforts have made this programme a successful endeavour.


A snapshot of Professor Yam with Professor Kwan Mei Po, Head of College, on the College campus when he received the Doctor of Medicine degree from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Embodying Love and Care with Service-Learning


Professor Yam said with a smile, “The initial purpose of the Myopia Prevention Programme is to benefit underprivileged children from low-income families. I had never thought that it would turn out to be a social service blended with service learning elements. This programme engages many young people who have not only experienced service learning while showing their love and care to underprivileged children, but have also expanded their social network through exchanging views among our volunteers. For example, secondary students who are interested in studying medicine can obtain relevant information from medical students, who can also learn from the medical practitioners. On the other hand, the retired people can share their experience with their juniors...... all these interlocking networks constitute a large community, which embodies the spirit of mutual support and caring for society.” In the future, the Myopia Prevention Programme will be part of the GECC1132 Learning through Serving: Student-Oriented Teaching course, which enables College students to take part in it so that Chung Chi General Education ends up reaching out to communities and forming a steadfast bond with them.


Giving Back to the Community of His Origin


Professor Yam pays particular attention to low-income families because of his family of origin, “I was brought up in a low-income family and lived in a wooden squatter during my childhood. My father worked day and night all year round, and my mother was very hardworking, too. Apart from taking care of our family, she also brought home with her some handicrafts to make money. My brother and I were always her little helpers. Despite our humble origin, we were all deeply loved and cared for by our parents. When I grew up, I truly understood the living conditions of low-income families who can hardly afford daily expenses, not to mention child healthcare. Children's eyes mature up until the age of eight, so early eye care is necessary. Otherwise, their vision can be adversely affected and barely recover after that age. I am so blessed that I can help low-income families with my ophthalmology profession,” said Professor Yam. He collected data from the Myopia Prevention Programme for the research and development of atropine eyedrops which can prevent the onset of myopia in children. The research findings have been published in the renowned medical publication The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He hopes more families can have proper myopia control for their children, keeping their eyes healthy.


Professor Yam visited a low-income family and conducted an ophthalmic exam for a child.


Serving as a Keyholder for Social Integration


When talking about his growth process, Professor Yam mentioned that he was introverted and not good at speaking when he was young. He is utterly grateful that he has participated in over 200 public seminars so far and motivated more than 5,000 volunteers to take part in the Myopia Prevention Programme, which was mostly driven by his initial aspiration of serving low-income families, his eagerness to get close to young people, as well as his sincerity in treating others. “I would describe myself as a keyholder. Though I am not intellectually gifted and may not be the key for opening a door, I hope to be a connector bonding different classes of people, just like a keyholder connecting a bunch of keys. In such a way, numerous interactive networks will be set up for reaping the fruitful rewards of social inclusion with mutual support and care.” Apart from connecting local communities, Professor Yam also serves as the Secretary-General of the Asia-Pacific Strabismus and Paediatric Ophthalmology Society and has organised overseas community service events, providing medical services to remote areas such as Cambodia and Sichuan Province, Mainland China. Through such initiatives, he can connect global healthcare professionals and various communities and forge a steadfast bond with them.


Professor Yam offered medical services in Sichuan mountainous region.


Pursuing Dreams with Perseverance and Endurance


As an awardee of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons 2019 and Hong Kong Humanity Award 2021, Professor Yam would like to give students some friendly advice, “Sometimes, you would get lost when thinking of your future. Nevertheless, don’t ever think life is meaningless or restrain yourselves from new attempts. In the university, try to explore where your passions lie and set your life directions and goals. Besides, don’t care about how much effort you make, don’t fear losing out, don’t be afraid of failure. Pursue your dream with perseverance and endurance. You can set clear goals and contribute to society based on the four directions of Chung Chi General Education—pondering over life missions, learning to serve others humbly, having a global vision, and pursuing excellence. These directions are also the ultimate mission of Chung Chi General Education.”


Professor Yam received the award of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons 2019. His wife and children attended the ceremony and celebrated with him.



Interviewed and written by Cabbie Kwong

Recent Posts