Walking through Wan Chai in Hong Kong during the recent democracy protests, I passed a row of surgeries with signs saying the doctor or dentist within was a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.
Last year, Trinity provost Dr Patrick Prendergast was in China and Hong Kong and part of that trip was to visit alumni, some of whom were certainly being visited for the first time by representatives from their alma mater on College Green.
Trinity College Dublin has just revealed the fruits of that visit with the announcement of a new master's in Chinese studies and the opening of the Trinity Centre for Asian Studies. The MPhil in Chinese studies was enabled through a philanthropic donation by Dr Sam Lam, a Trinity alumnus from Hong Kong. Dr Lam, a medical graduate (okay, not a dentist, but still . . .) presented his donation to the provost during his visit to Hong Kong last year.
By setting up its own Chinese studies programme, Trinity has chosen not to go the route of setting up a Confucius Institute. There have been questions asked about academic freedom and transparency at the institutes, and both the University of Chicago and Penn State last month decided to cut ties with the Institutes.
Prof Juliette Hussey, Trinity's vice-president for global relations, hailed the college's strong links with China over the years. "We are delighted to announce this MPhil in Chinese studies that will introduce students to a global dialogue on their area of academic study and in building a global Trinity community," she said.
Prof Lorna Carson, director of Trinity Centre for Asian Studies (TCAS), said: "Our goal is to establish Chinese studies in a way that develops relevant teaching and research for our university, and allows students to engage deeply China today."
TCAS brings together existing capabilities in Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and Indian studies and other regionally-based scholarship and pan-Asian research. It is in the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences.