When Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) looks for the deans of its residential colleges, the most passionate teachers are the ones that stand out most often. Department of Biology Head Xiao Guozhi is an example of this, who carries the heavy load as also the Dean of Zhicheng College.
There was no doubt in him accepting this position. To him, the residential colleges are very important in terms of the physical, mental and emotional growth of the students at SUSTech.
Developing student growth like watering a garden
Dean Xiao Guozhi spoke of his eight management teams and the sixty-four tutors across the entire spectrum of academic departments at SUSTech. He describes his administrative team as smart and strong decathletes – conquering multiple disciplines at the same time. While Xiao Guozhi does not consciously show his pride and appreciation for their work, it is clear that he knows the effort that every single one of them puts in.
“Students come from different backgrounds and have different work styles and temperaments. As a result, it’s not easy for them to develop solid study habits. Our young counselors have had to develop a wide range of capabilities to deal with every student’s question. We have a very professional and dedicated team and I am very proud of them.”
As a tutor, Xiao Guozhi is also concerned about his student’s development, taking care to check in on their daily and academic situations, while providing advice for their future. “I will regularly have dinner with my students, hike mountains and do sport with them as well. Even if the students encounter challenges, they are not afraid to open up to me.”
Xiao Guozhi is a strong advocate for the tutorial system of SUSTech, as he believes that students need mentors throughout their lives. Academic tutors provide guidance in their academic and educational lives, while life tutors take a more holistic view to their student’s lives. Zhicheng College tutors are all experienced teachers who have studied and worked around the world, so they can provide excellent counseling to students in a wide range of areas. Thus, the tutorial system is essential for SUSTech.
Let students show off their own talents
Zhicheng College has encouraged the creation of many academic and cultural activities through the implementation of orientation classes that help students learn from each other. In this way, every student’s needs are met, and many different types of students are cultivated, with both top academic performance and excellent cultural outlook.
At the beginning of 2019, Zhicheng College hosted the Voice of SUSTech finals, in conjunction with the New Year Party. The entire event was student run, from sound selection to competition structure, from programming to communication, from promotion to video. Every section of the evening reflected the creative nous of the Zhicheng College student community. Zhicheng College performed exceptionally well in the 2019 Voice of SUSTech, claiming all three podium places. Dean Xiao Guozhi attaches this to the soil of inclusiveness that allows the students to blossom, as they are able to play to their own strengths, on stages of their own choosing.
Zhicheng College students are not just culturally talented. It also has a history of students being selected into the Top Ten Graduates of SUSTech, and has done so since the inception of the awards in 2016. In 2019, all three Zhicheng College nominees were selected into the Top Ten Graduates.
Future plans for Zhicheng College
When talking about the future plans for Zhicheng College, Xiao Guozhi first acknowledged the work of his predecessor Xia Shihong. “Xia Shihong laid a good foundation for the development of Zhicheng College, and I hope to preserve these good traditions, features and highlights.” He wants each student’s personality and uniqueness to be fully respected as they find their own way in the world.
Xiao Guozhi wants Zhicheng College to pay more attention to the growth of some of those students that need more support, whether it is with their academic studies, their mental health, or general preparation for university life. He believes that taking an active approach to their guidance and care during enrollment, freshmen will adapt quicker to university life.
One of his lesser known passions is volunteer work and internships. Xiao Guozhi hopes that he can continue the practice of the past, with students undergoing internships at high-tech companies like DJI, Integrated Medical and Da Shi Intelligent. Student have also spent time in nursing homes providing emotional and mental comfort to the elderly, as well as exploring Shekou to get a better understanding of the reform and opening up of Shenzhen.
Xiao Guozhi believes that the time one spends at university has a subtle influence on their growth and personality. Reminiscing on his own university days, he said that he still has vivid memories of first enrolling for university, and many of the habits he formed while at Tsinghua University and Shanghai Institute of Ceramics. In his view, universities and residential colleges are duty-bound to guide students to become talented individuals for the future.
Connecting hearts and minds through activities
It’s impossible to walk through campus without noticing the Zhicheng College logo somewhere, so students develop a true sense of identity with Zhicheng College. By encouraging them to participate, they develop an ownership of their residential college, and they love their new home.
This has led to many activities that have seen a strong bond between Zhicheng College and its students, including the Zhicheng Ball and the Orange Festival. Such activities allow every student to participate. Whenever there is a festival or special occasion, there are different group activities for students to participate in, depending on what has been organized by tutors and counselors. This brings students, tutors and counselors together, particularly at times when students are not spending time with their families.
The hallmark event for Zhicheng College is their Orange Festival, which uses the homophone for the Chinese character of orange and honest. As a result, students draw on oranges, partake in various sporting activities, create specialist merchandise, and run various workshops. The graffiti on the oranges reflects both the whimsy of the students but is also a symbol of sincerity and honesty.
Xiao Guozhi noted that the residential college system is special for SUSTech, and occupies an important part of the lives of the SUSTech community. The residential colleges are responsible for guiding students down a positive path for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, the environment at SUSTech will leave good memories with them, and that every student that selects Zhicheng College will depart with a positive perspective on their time at SUSTech.
Welcome to Zhicheng College to join us in this warm family.
Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub
Proofread ByXia Yingying
Photo ByWang Kaiqiang, Qiu Yan