National Changhua University of Education
Lai San Ngai
In the 1990s, it was generally accepted in the education sector in Macau that the living environment and economy of Taiwan were superior to those of Macau. In addition, the Macau people who studied in Taiwan actively shared their fruitful university life in Taiwan after graduating and returning to Macau. This, together with the caring and friendly faculty members, created the trend of studying in Taiwan. Taiwan thus became the first choice for studying abroad among Macau students, attracting more than a thousand Macau students nearly every year.
Inspired by other students studying in Taiwan and the fact that her father was working in Taipei at that time, Lai San Ngai also embarked on the journey of studying in Taiwan. She spent one year studying at the National Taiwan Normal University Division of Preparatory Programs for Overseas Chinese Students before being assigned to the Department of Chinese at National Changhua University of Education (NCUE). This marked the beginning of her bond with Taiwan and NCUE.
Putting into practice what has been learned with a geographical advantage
Ngai went back to Macau and got a teaching job at a secondary school immediately after graduating from NCUE in June 2001. She was also successfully admitted to a postgraduate program at the University of Macau, so she pursued further education after work hours. She was promoted to a management role after having worked for one to two years. Ngai recalled that the university curriculum in Taiwan conformed perfectly to Macau’s education regulations. Moreover, there was close cooperation between Macau and Taiwan. The education sector and social enterprises in Macau at that time held graduates with a bachelor’s degree obtained in Taiwan in high regard, believing that they possessed adequate knowledge, creativity, and comprehensive competence. Many mid- and high-level management positions were assumed by alumni of Taiwan’s universities, and this happened in all the sectors in Macau. People held a quite friendly attitude towards those who had studied in Taiwan. Such similar educational backgrounds strengthened the bond among these people, and it was very likely for graduates of Taiwan’s universities to be placed in an important position.
Macau experienced enormous changes in its social and economic structures after returning to China. The Chinese government proactively developed Macau into a smart city, and there were pressing needs for top talent in management. Due to the wide scope of her work and high sensitivity to the social changes in Macau, Ngai came to the realization that she needed a change, and she chose to apply for a doctoral program for working professionals to improve her capabilities. She was able to overcome numerous challenges in a fast-changing social environment and successfully complete her interdisciplinary studies. Now Ngai holds a major academic position at City University of Macau. In addition to conducting scientific research, she has been invited to take part in a number of research and development projects launched by the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau of Macau.
A lasting bond with NCUE
Ngai remembers that the educational philosophy of one of the professors from the Department of Chinese deeply affected her when she studied at NCUE. When she encountered problems related to the Southern Min dialect in class, the professor, knowing her status as an overseas Chinese student, came to her help and gave her words of encouragement without asking. The professor also adopted different evaluation criteria so that she could successfully pass that course. Ngai said that the professor actively cared for the students and adjusted teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles, which helped boost her confidence. The professor’s caring attitude and teaching methods also inspired her to develop her own educational philosophy later on. She believes that every student has their own strengths and weaknesses, some of which are innate. As a teacher, she needs to encourage students and adopt different evaluation criteria when it is appropriate. It is not just about helping students pass exams but about helping students regain confidence and improve their abilities so they will be able to stand up to tougher challenges and consequently exert themselves to solve problems in the future.
Ngai holds the years in Taiwan and the bond dear to her heart, and she has been assisting NCUE with its recruitment campaigns since returning to Macau. In November 2015, NCUE President Yen-Kuang Kuo led a delegation to Macau to establish an alumni association there and that was when he met Ngai. The two shared many details about their campus life. Since some of the faculty members in the delegation were also alumni of NCUE and they had common friends, it brought back a lot of memories and Ngai felt as if she had gone back to the wonderful years when she was a university student. As a result, Ngai accepted President Kuo’s request to serve as chief recruitment officer in Macau. Since then, Ngai has played an active role in promoting recruitment affairs in both Taiwan and Macau. Through her arrangements and assistance, secondary school teachers and students in Macau paid a visit to NCUE, workshops were organized, and NCUE attended education fairs in other countries. Visiting NCUE has become a yearly routine for her. In 2019, Ngai received the Distinguished NCUE Alumni Award in recognition of her achievements in the education sector in Macau and her contributions to NCUE.
Wholehearted gratitude for the good fortune
“All I have is a smooth life without too many interesting stories,” Ngai said humbly. “However, thanks to Taiwan, I have developed my own expertise and found my life partner (both of them completed their undergraduate education in Central Taiwan). Moreover, I have created a bond with NCUE again.” Ngai believes that all of this was destiny, and she is often grateful for this. She also believes that she will always feel confident enough to proclaim “I graduated from National Changhua University of Education!”
Ngai understands herself very well. She knows what her life goals are. It is her efforts and dedication that have brought her such good fortune, and she cherishes the destiny. Her so-called “smooth life” is actually not ordinary at all.