It’s in the conversations, a high table to remember!
by: John Andrew G. Evangelista
It has been said that the measure of great dinners is the quality of conversations. By this standard and more, the Shun Hing College High Table Dinner held on 20 November is a resounding success. Residents gathered once again for a night of great food, conversations, and memories. The theme of the event is “Rising Talents, Making Waves”.
Professor Ying Chan, College Master, began the event with an opening remark. She explained that instead of traditional speeches, the guests will sit with students during the dinner to facilitate interaction while selected residents will sit with her at the high table. She introduced the five guests with a video presentation.
Associate Professor Cora Chan of the HKU Faculty of Law specialises in constitutional law. She received the Inaugural Rosie Young 90 Medal for Outstanding Young Woman Scholar from The University of Hong Kong this year.
Mr. Sanday Kabange is a Compliance Professional who works in the field of public policy and non-governmental organisations. He volunteers with HandsOn Hong Kong, Feeding Hong Kong, and Impact HK, among others.
Associate Professor Tommy Lam of the HKU Faculty of Medicine specialises in molecular virology. He ranked among the top 1% scholars at the HKU School of Public Health based on the Essential Science Indicators between 2016–2020 and received the China’s Excellent Young Scientist Fund in 2019.
Ms. Jing Yang is Senior Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. She also worked with Bloomberg News and South China Morning Post. In 2015, she received the Society of Publishers in Asia Excellence in Investigative Reporting Award for her article “The hidden loans that sank Nanjing Tanker”.
Finally, Clinical Assistant Professor Siddharth Sridhar of the HKU Department of Microbiology is a leading expert on infectious diseases. In 2018, his research team discovered that the rat hepatitis E virus can cause human infection. He currently helps explain COVID-19 to the public through popular infographics and write-ups.
Responding to Professor Chan’s question about their secret to success, Associate Professor Lam said that “passion, persistence and energy are very important for success”. “You have to love what you do”, he added.
Assistant Professor Sridhar advised against focusing too much on personal gains. “In research, if you focus on the process, things will fall into place”, he added.
Ms. Yang stressed the value of curiosity and empathy. “As a journalist I have always been curious about people and their stories”, she reflected.
According to Associate Professor Chan, “meaning in what I do is very important”. While fraught with challenges, she found that meaning in constitutional law.
Finally, Mr. Kabange stressed the importance of “finding purpose” by “giving back to society”. According to him, such a task compels one to understand and care for communities in need.
After the main course, residents shared what they learned from conversing with the guests. Tutor Jay Mok shared their conversation with Mr. Kabange about books and films. Ms. Jing Yang stressed the importance of media literacy in the age of disinformation with students at their table while Associate Professor Chan shared the value of constitutional law with students at theirs.
Lee Yui Chung (Elliot), SHC resident, summarised Assistant Professor Sridhar’s insights about the current COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong and around the world. Professor Sridhar added that while the 21-day quarantine is sensible, it is vital to “move in a more reasonable direction” by appropriating resources in other cost-effective strategies.
Aside from sharing his research on COVID-19, Associate Professor Tommy Lam also shared tips on long distance-relationships with the residents. “Patience is important”, he advised.
SHC Senior Resident Fellow Alejandro Reyes brought up the issue of gender disparity in research publication and citation. Such disparity partly stems from “unconscious biases” that academia needs to address, Associate Professor Chan argued. “But changes are on the way. One of the journals I am working with is thinking about requiring gender parity in citation”, she added.
After the wide-ranging conversations, participants were treated to a musical performance by Schola Cantorum. The dinner ended with dessert and a closing message from the College Master. On their way back to the College, residents and guests captured the night’s memories with candid photos at the booth set up on the 4/F Podium. Indeed, this high table dinner is worth remembering for years to come.
Edited by: Hugo Novales and Prince Antwi-Afari
John Andrew G. Evangelista is a PhD in Sociology student at The University of Hong Kong. Their research interests include queer politics, social movements, and nationalism studies.