May 24, 2010
By France A. Córdova
We capped our short visit to China with a weekend stop in Hong Kong, the home of many loyal Boilermakers.
Hong Kong is a busy metropolis of more than 7 million people. It comprises numerous islands whose hilly peaks are lush with greenery and dotted with large homes and hotels, perched improbably on steep slopes. These are dwarfed, however, by clusters of densely packed skyscrapers that rim the jagged coastline. The population density of Hong Kong is arguably the highest on the planet. It is a land in which most visitors reside far above ground – like birds, from hotel perches tens of stories high. The constant noise of building, the sunlight bouncing off millions of windows reaching up into the clouds, evokes a sense of entrepreneurism, contrasting with the region's historical gravity as a centuries-old global trading center.
The Hong Kong feeling of high energy was evident in abundance at our reception, held Saturday evening at the Conrad Hotel. It was attended by many of our newest Purdue alumni (including some 2010 graduates!), as well as our older alumni who have supported Purdue for decades. Many of our alumni are involved in startup ventures, communications, and commercial real estate and finance. Regardless of years since graduation, our alumni shared one common feeling: that their experience at Purdue was something special. For our older alumni, the Purdue experience had "made them successful," and the younger alumni said that they were sad to leave West Lafayette. The reception both started and ended with vigorous renditions of the "Hail Purdue" fight song.
Much of our weekend was spent in small, private meetings with alumni who had played major roles in business and had contributed generously to Purdue. Two buildings on the West Lafayette campus, Pao Hall for the arts and the future Wang Hall for engineering, originated with the generosity of these donors. We shared with our alumni the success of programs in the visual arts and theater, electrical and computer engineering, business, and even dance – two of our Hong Kong alumni are former dancers and enjoyed hearing about Purdue's competitive team that made the finals on "Dancing with the Stars"! We learned much from our alumni about change - educational, industrial, economic and political - coming to this island region, which since 1997 is officially part of China, though governed separately in everything except foreign affairs and defense. Hong Kong also is home to a number of distinguished universities, which we visited 18 months ago and will visit again in the future. For this short visit, we cemented relationships with alumni and supporters who credit Purdue with transforming their lives.