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President Hocheng’s Five Suggestions for the Freshmen Class
The new school year began in early September, and during the orientation program President Hocheng Hong encouraged the incoming students to take time out of their busy schedules, go to a quiet place, and turn off their mobile phones for 15 minutes. He explained that "Being alone is the key to deep thinking. If you are always interacting with others and compulsively fidgeting with your mobile phone, it’s difficult to think creatively."
 
The two-day orientation program for the 2,000-plus new students began on September 4. During the program President Hocheng offered five suggestions: spend some quiet time alone; actively participate in student clubs; make good use of the winter and summer vacations; read the classics; and confer with knowledgeable people.
 
The Importance of Spending Time Alone
 
President Hocheng said that it is normal and necessary for college students to spend a few hours a day socializing and participating in extracurricular activities. But it is just as important to leave a little time for oneself. "Find a quiet place, turn off your mobile phone, and reflect on how things are going and how you are feeling." He said that doing this for as little as 15 minutes a day brings peace of mind and facilitates the assimilation of new information.
 
President Hocheng said that when he was in college, he would often sit on the lakeside at sunset to appreciate the glistening reflections on the water, and that this brought him a lot of inspiration and deepened his thinking.
 
Learning by Conferring with Knowledgeable People
 
President Hocheng also encouraged the freshmen to actively seek advice from teachers, alumni, and other knowledgeable people. "If you learn about someone with a very interesting idea, get together with a few classmates and invite that person to join you for a simple lunch."
 
President Hocheng believes that interacting with interesting people of various ages stimulates the imagination and encourages new ways of thinking.
 
Interestingly, President Hocheng suggested that the new students should also consider conferring with people who hold views which are different from their own, since doing so is a good way of challenging one’s assumptions and stereotypes.
 
Learning by Reading Classics
 
President Hocheng also suggested that students should choose between one and three classics that are relatively deep and difficult to read, and make a close reading of them during the summer or winter vacations, "Even if you only read one or two pages a day."
 
He said that during his college days he chose to read the abridged version of A Study of History, a 12-volume work by the British historian Arnold Toynbee, and that the volume titled Challenge and Response has had a lasting influence on his way of responding to challenges and crises.
 
President Hocheng recommended that students consider reading Principles of Communication Engineering by Irwin Jacobs, the American founder of the telecommunications equipment company Qualcomm. He said that Jacobs was awarded an honorary doctorate by NTHU and that since its publication some 50 years ago, this book has become the Bible of communication engineering, and is thus well worth reading.
 
President Hocheng said, "Politicians often talk about social equality and justice, but what is equality? What is justice? And what is a society?" He suggested that by systematically studying the classics in an in-depth manner, students can enhance their ability to think critically and engage in intelligent discussions. He added that sometimes our views are mistaken, and that being open to correction is the sign of a truly wise person.
 
Participation in Extracurricular Activities
 
President Hocheng suggested that freshmen select one or two student clubs from amongst the 100-plus in existence, and actively participate, since “You’ll get out of it exactly what you put into it.”
 
President Hocheng said that during his time as a university student he was a member of the China Service Team. He recalled that that was around the time when Taiwan lost its seat in the United Nations and the United States ended its diplomatic ties with Taiwan. As a result, many university students in Taiwan were eager to step forward and serve the nation. On many occasions, President Hocheng has mentioned that the experience he gained with the China Service Team has had a major impact on his career.
 
Make Good Use of the Winter and Summer Vacations
 
The lives of primary and secondary school students in Taiwan are largely regulated by the school calendar. Even during summer and winter vacations there is homework and supplementary classes. Thus President Hocheng told the new students, "While in college you have a lot more freedom, and it’s entirely up to you as to how you will spend your summer and winter breaks. You might cycle around the island, do an internship, or read a classic—it’s up to you but be sure to do something meaningful!”
 

During the two-day orientation program which began on September 4, President Hocheng pointed out the importance of regularly spending some quiet time alone.

During the two-day orientation program which began on September 4, President Hocheng pointed out the importance of regularly spending some quiet time alone.


President Hocheng (center) with members of the A Cappella Club of the Nanda Campus.

President Hocheng (center) with members of the A Cappella Club of the Nanda Campus.


The two-day freshman orientation program began on September 4.

The two-day freshman orientation program began on September 4.

 

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