A Lifetime in Academia
An autobiography by Rayson Huang
Publication Year: 2000
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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Until a few years ago, I had no intention of writing an autobiography. While I did not keep a diary I did, not infrequently, make a record of events of special interest to me. After retirement, friends had from time to time urged me to write about my life. It would be a pity, they argued, to let the wide variety of my experiences go buried and forgotten. ...
1. The Early Years: My Father and Munsang College
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Whatever glorious achievement.s accorded. the. Huang Clan in the ancestral records, we - the recent generations of Huangs - came from a humble farming family in the district of Jieyang, to the west of Shantou (Swatow) which is the seaport next to Hong Kong some 150 miles up the South China coast. As a teenager, my grandfather, Huang Sho-ting, met a misfortune that took him away from his native place and brought about a complete change in his life. ...
2. University Days and the Siege of Hong Kong
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Although established in 1911, the University of Hong Kong in fact originates from the Hong Kong College of Medicine which came into being in 1881, and which boasted of having Dr Sun Yat-sen, father of the Republic of China, as one of its first graduates. The founder of the university was Lord Lugard who had the vision of the university serving China, partaking in the education of its young and functioning as a meeting place for East and West. ...
3. Into Free China as a Refugee: Life in Samkong and Kweilin
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On 31 July 1942, my brother and I and Leslie Sung, a friend from the university, having joined a group of other refugees, left for China. We had a guide who at an agreed price was to meet us at the other side of the border and would take us, through an area known as 'no man's land', to the first outpost of the Chinese army. We were dressed in simple labourers' clothes and equipped with exit permits issued by the occupation forces. ...
4. To Chungking: The War-time Capital [Includes Image Plates]
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And so I was on the road again, this time with much better prospects and in much higher spirits than when I left Hong Kong as a refugee a little over a year ago. This time I was bound for Chungking and ultimately Oxford. My travel was to take me from Kweilin by train to Liuzhou and Jinchengjiang, thence by road through Kweiyang to Chungking, and from there by air, across the Himalayas to India and then by sea to England. ...
5. To England via India: Postgraduate Studies at Oxford
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After calling at Kunming and Assam to refuel, we flew into Calcutta in the evening. I stayed there for only a few days and can recall but little of the city, but what I cannot forget is the heat and the humidity and the aroma of cheese and goat milk which assailed my nostrils as we drove in the semi-darkness into town. It was all a very different world and I could not help feeling a strong sense of liberation to be out of blockaded China: on this side of the Himalayas I was in touch with the rest of the world again! ...
6. Post-Doctoral Training in Chicago
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After Oxford, Chicago was another world again. Even the language, admittedly English, sounded unfamiliar. Here I met quite a number of Irish descendants who said I spoke English with a British accent. But they meant no offence; in fact they were quite informal and hospitable, and made friends easily. ...
7. Starting a Career the Hard Way in Singapore
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The University of Malaya came into existence on 8 October 1949 shortly before our arrival in Singapore, by the amalgamation of the existing Raffles College, a diploma-granting arts and science college, and King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore. These two colleges served all Malaya, and were the only post-secondary institutions in the whole territory. ...
8. The Emergence of a Chinese University [Includes Image Plates]
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The mid-1950s saw in Singapore the establishment of Nanyang University. This was a significant event in the annals of higher education as Nanyang was the first ever Chinese language university to be put up outside China. It was, however, a development to be expected as I shall try to explain in the following paragraphs. ...
9. A New University in a New Country
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University teaching in Kuala Lumpur started soon after Malaysia achieved independence in 1957. Instruction was given in a few subjects to begin with and was conducted by University of Malaya teachers who visited regularly from Singapore. This was followed by the creation of a faculty of agriculture and the transference of the Department of Engineering from Singapore, and in 1959, with the establishment of new faculties of arts and science, the new University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur came into being. ...
10. Nanyang University: The One and Only
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The 'Nantah' (Chinese abbreviation for Nanyang University) into which I walked in early 1969 was in many ways a different institution from the one I visited as a member of the Gwee Ah-Ieng Committee ten years before. Since 1959 when Singapore achieved self government and even more so after total independence in 1965, the government had been anxious to bring the university into the national system of education and spared no efforts in attempting to do this. ...
11. Back to Alma Mater
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It was almost exactly 30 years after leaving Hong Kong as a refugee from Japanese occupation that I at last returned. Although after the absence of the first eight years I did, on returning to the Far East in 1950, manage to make fairly regular but short visits to the territory, it was a very different matter coming back to live and work and be with my family, relatives and friends again. ...
12. Post-Retirement Activities [Includes Image Plates]
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My first activity after retirement was perhaps a little out of the ordinary - I enrolled myself in a violin-making course in Cambridge conducted by Juliet Barker. By then I had come to possess five violins, one of which was by Ettore Soffritti dated 1924, and two by my friend Xu Fu, one of which, dated 1985, was one of his masterpieces and had my name inscribed inside it. ...
Appendices (Appendix I, Appendix II, Appendix III, Appendix IV)
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2000