Last summer, I developed the syllabus for the academic professionalization course that is at the core of the program. Now, I get to teach the workshops that I designed. The juniors are learning about the structure of academic careers, while the seniors are working on elevator pitches about their thesis projects. Next quarter, we’re preparing both cohorts to present their research at UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Week.
The chapter is about overseas Chinese business person Tan Kah Kee (陳嘉庚). Tan was born in Qing-era Fujian province and became rich in colonial Singapore. He returned to the People’s Republic of China to use his riches in the service of the homeland.
On October 1, 1949, Tan Kah Kee was invited up to the Tiananmen tower for the ceremony marking the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. With his own eyes, he saw the five-starred red flag rise solemnly as the majestic national anthem played. He felt deeply the pride of being a Chinese person; at the same time, he felt a great sense of duty. After the PRC was founded, he held one office after another: member of the Central People’s Government, Chairman of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, and Vice-Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He threw himself fervently into the project of creating a new China.
The unmistakable message here is that overseas Chinese students should return to and invest in the homeland, as Tan had done.