‘Writing Cantonese opera scripts has been my dream, a far-away dream, since I was very young,’ said Chow Kit-ping, an up-and-coming playwright of Cantonese opera.

After graduating from secondary school, Kit-ping worked in several offices and later managed her own pet shop. Her life was devoid of artistic expression until she realised that creative writing was her true love. In 1995, she enrolled at the OUHK. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Degree in Chinese Humanities in 2006.

Although the programme did not offer specialised subjects in Chinese opera, she was able to develop her literary sensitivity and maturity through the solid foundation she received in classical Chinese literature. Through her study of Chinese poems, literary criticism and classical novels, Kit-ping re-gained her confidence in writing, which motivated her to chase her dream. An avid traveler, she also often visits the historical sites mentioned in the operas for stimulation and inspiration.

During her studies, Kit-ping and her tutor, Dr Kwok Wai-ting, became good friends. She would like to thank him for his guidance, as well as the frank and valuable comments he provided on her works. She also expresses her sincere gratitude for the nurturance of virtuoso Ms Wan Fai-yin, who performed one of her works, Poetics of the Postal Pavilion.

The twists and turns during the process of bringing a script to a stage performance once discouraged Kit-ping, but she never gave up. She hopes that the beauty of this traditional art can be appreciated by people of all ages. Wearing her ever-present benevolent smile on her tough face, Kitping said that she would begin writing a new script soon and that she looks forward to studying for a Master’s Degree in Chinese Literature to broaden her literary horizons.

Doris Fung Sau-tak was living a stable life as a primary school English teacher with a husband running his own business. But as the educational reform got underway in Hong Kong, she began to feel that she needed to enhance her knowledge and upgrade her academic qualifications. So she enrolled in the OUHK Honours Degree programme in primary education. However, her husband’s business suffered a setback while she was studying. Even so, Doris persisted in her academic efforts, despite the extra demands of looking after her family and teaching. Eventually, she managed to obtain her degree in four years.

‘I must say that my life is devoted to my students,’ said Doris. Both in and outside the classroom, she devotes a tremendous amount of time to her students, who are either underprivileged, have special learning needs or undergoing family problems. Infatuated with its combination of language, body movement, sound, space and visual arts, Doris initiated drama education at school, which she has found very useful in enhancing the students’ learning ability.

When she graduated, a student with special learning needs made a congratulatory gift for her. Many of her colleagues and friends have followed her example and embarked on studies of their own, while Doris herself is now studying for a Master’s Degree in Education at the OUHK.

Doris is very grateful for the support she has received from the OUHK. Most importantly, what she has experienced during her work and studies has given her a lot of insights into lifelong learning. ‘I hope lifelong education will inspire my students and support them as they advance on in their lifelong journey, just like what it has done on me,’ said Doris.

Thousands of miles separate Hong Kong and the Italian island of Sardinia. Yet, thanks to the wonders of technology, our distance-learning students in places so far apart can still feel almost as if they were in the same classroom.

This has been the experience of Luigi Pau, an Italian lawyer. He enrolled in our Postgraduate Certificate in Chinese Business Law (PCCBL) e-learning programme via our partner in Italy, the International Telematic University UNINETTUNO. Having completed the four PCCBL core courses, he went on to start the LLM in Chinese Business law e-learning programme in April 2012.

‘I was born in Cagliari, the regional capital of Sardinia, where I received my law degree in Contract Law,’ explained Luigi. ‘I went on to set up my own law office, and I also taught as a Junior Professor of Private Law for a time.’

Luigi became interested in Chinese law for several reasons. ‘The first was my interest in Chinese culture and customs. The second was because I feel that international comparative law – especially Chinese law – is becoming increasingly important in the world. Also, Sardinia has a major tourism industry, and many local companies are interested in doing business with China. Yet, there are currently no lawyers on the island who are familiar with Chinese business law.’

The e-learning mode at the OUHK combines the flexibility of distance learning with the interactivity of face-to-face teaching. Students can study at their own pace according to their own schedules, and they can enjoy face-to-face learning by attending real-time online lectures and tutorials, as well as by taking part in discussion forums and video conferencing.

Luigi praised his tutors, saying they are very professional and excellent teachers. ‘I am also happy to be able to interact with fellow students from different backgrounds and countries. I even found out that one of them in mainland China used to live in Italy and he speaks Italian!’

His advice to others who might be considering enrolment in an OUHK e-learning programme is very positive. ‘I would say: go for it! The OUHK offers great opportunities, and its courses are very professional.’

Luigi said he wishes to make his first visit to Hong Kong and mainland China, perhaps when he graduates next year. ‘I want to meet and thank my tutors in person,’ he added.

A graduate of the OUHK’s School of Education and Languages, Samantha M Curle is now reading for a Master of Science in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Oxford in the UK.

After working as a teacher in Hong Kong, South Africa-born Samantha enrolled in the OUHK’s Bachelor of Language Studies (English) with Honours full-time programme. After the first term, she decided to enrol in the Bachelor of Education (English Strand) with Honours programme as well. Receiving a number of outstanding student awards and scholarships during her study, like The Open University of Hong Kong Council Medal for Outstanding Academic Achievement and Professor John C.Y Leong Scholarship, Samantha graduated with first-class honours from both programmes in 2010.

During the summer of her second year at the OUHK, Samantha went on a three-week immersion programme at the University of Warwick organised by the School. ‘It was my first visit to the UK. We visited Oxford on one of the cultural trips. That day changed my life. It sowed the seed of a new dream; one day to study in the “city of dreaming spires”,’ she said.

Vivacious Samantha admitted that she found the long hours of study for the double degree very tiring, and that she took only one holiday during her four years of study. Yet, she found the experience rewarding. ‘Studying at the OUHK was very valuable for me, because I was trained how to think critically and to learn independently. We were also taught practical skills, such as academic writing and how to look up primary sources.’

‘As a Master’s Degree student, my studies are now more specialised, though just as at the OUHK, I am expected to set questions for myself and to find the answers from the resources available at Oxford.’ Samantha is due to complete her dissertation at the end of August. She is considering whether to take her learning to the next level by moving on to a PhD, and the possibility of becoming a university lecturer in the future.

‘My advice to today’s students at my alma mater in Hong Kong is simply: “dream big and go for it”! Whatever you love to do, ask, plan and take action to make it a reality. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Nothing comes from laziness; if you apply yourself, you’ll see the fruits of your labour.’

As a student at one of the top universities in the world, when being asked about a good place for education, she replied sincerely, ‘Hong Kong, especially the OUHK.’

Being a nurse was always Fanny Wong’s dream. After leaving school, she completed a registered nurse training programme and began working in Queen Mary Hospital. While she was there, she also obtained a number of job-related qualifications and a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She then got promoted and took up administrative duties, including clinical audit and training.

Due to the family commitment of having young children, Fanny later left her job in the hospital and started teaching healthcare at the OUHK and Department of Health on a part-time basis.

Her interest in exploring new things persisted. In 2005, when general education became a hot topic in society, she enrolled in the Master of Social Sciences in Liberal Studies programme. Surprisingly, it inspired her to enter a different area of academic pursuits.

‘I was very interested in the modules about environmental protection when I took my Master’s programme in Liberal Studies, but I hesitated about studying a science subject,’ said Fanny. ‘However, with support from the OUHK’s academic staff, I managed to take this new step in my studies.’

Fanny completed the Master of Science in Energy and Environmental Sustainability programme in 2012, and she even won an OUHK Scholarship. Having qualifications in both healthcare and environmental studies, Fanny now teaches care for the elderly, and environmental and public health at the OUHK’s LiPACE on a part-time basis.

Her studies at the OUHK have taught Fanny the true meaning of lifelong education. ‘It is the best thing for one’s soul,’ she said, adding that she now has a mission to pass on what she has gained from life to future generations. She is going to speak at the LiPACE lifelong learning seminar, where she will focus on how young people can give a helping hand to others with nursing knowledge and build up life attitudes with an ecofriendly perspective.

Chairman and CEO of Twin Wealth Group, Dato’ Dr Wong Kwing-keung has turned his company from an SME to a multinational enterprise with an annual sales turnover of over $10 billion. Today, his business includes palm plantations, oil refineries and manufactured products. With more than 30 years of experience, and having received a number of honours, including an honorary fellowship and doctorate, as well as the prestigious Malaysian title of Dato’, Dr Wong entered the OUHK’s classrooms in 2002 when he enrolled on the BBA programme in China Business.

As someone who began his working life immediately after graduation from secondary school, learning for its own sake was the only factor that led Dr Wong back to the classroom. In the early stages of his studies, he only took courses that interested him and seldom sat for examinations, as he focused simply on the pursuit of knowledge. Later he re-arranged his study plan before finally obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in 2012.

After years running a business in a specialised field with many professionals working under him, Dr Wong felt a pressing need to upgrade himself. Dr Wong has said that the courses offered by the OUHK enriched his management knowledge. Developing an understanding of China’s commercial law has helped him to expand his business in the mainland, while knowing about the development of Chinese enterprises in Southeast Asia has helped him to better manage his staff, who come from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Dr Wong has an adaptable and hospitable personality, yet he is always humble in learning and never mentioned his background in class. Although he might at times have known more about certain topics than the tutor did, he listened attentively. ‘During tutorials, there was always something that’s new to me, and I could listen to the views of my classmates, who came from many different levels of their respective companies. I’m the commander in my office, but a listener in class,’ he said.

With a strong belief that education can change lives, he has actively participated in education-related charity work throughout the years. In addition, he is especially interested in the succession of Chinese enterprises, but his busy life makes it difficult for him to pursue further study. Nonetheless, he shared his life motto, ‘There are always solutions for difficulties. Indeed, nothing in life is difficult.’