Random patchwork

Some notes from Sung on his study. First, from his letter to his parents after he completed his first year in college:

“I am one of the six or seven students who have shown excellent results amongst the cohort of 700 students, according to the university’s news release. In the examinations on Astronomy, 90 percent of the 150-odd candidates scored below 70 marks. I was the only one to achieve a perfect score. This drew praises from my teachers. My mind and mental faculties are currently at their peak, and I attribute these to the grace of God.” (The Diary, 14)

After graduating from his doctoral study, he continued teaching and working in the field. He wrote:

“My knowledge in this field has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition, I am taking an interest in Philosophy, History, Geography, Social Studies, and Economics. My friends have dubbed me ‘Jack of all Trades’, but deep in my heart, I was gunning to become ‘Dr Know-it-all.'” (26)

I don’t know, but it seems to me that Sung is a typical Chinese student. You know, we worked our ass off and got good grades! Come to think of it, Bill, Steve, and Mark wouldn’t drop out from college if they were Chinese. It does make me think, though, of how we perceive the “grace of God” in our life, as perhaps we have substituted it for “good grades” during our college days and for “good, blessed life” after it.

Anyway, Sung managed to finish his doctoral study in less than two years. Of course, with that kind of achievement people will lavishly praise you to no end. Nevertheless, Sung wrote:

“I felt conscience-stricken amidst these praises, even suffocated. My PhD thesis should have been the result of thorough observations and research, instead I felt it was the result of burning midnight oil and random patchwork.” (26)

The last sentence probably means that he rested very little (if any) and the results were barely enough to graduate, and that’s why he managed to graduate so quickly. That is still a feat, though, as now I have worked for four years and I would say that my results are still “random patchwork.”

Please pardon this disproportionate amount of focus on Sung’s life in America, but I guess here is where I can relate and identify most with him (undergraduate, postgraduate, and theological study).


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