What is the OYCF way?
At our most recent annual meeting, I asked many participants to give me one word or phrase that he or she thinks captures what the OYCF is all about. In the meantime, I e-mailed all our board members and posed the same question. Below is a list of words that OYCF members have come up that they think best describe who we are, what we do and how we do things. These are not the results of a scientific survey, but I think they capture the spirit of the OYCF. Many of these words or phrases were given to me in Chinese, so I will do my best to render them into English.
Here are the seven most commonly-mentioned values the OYCF members embrace:
1. 中国关怀 (zhongguo guanhuai, Commitment to China): As I have already mentioned, the OYCF members have an emotional commitment to China and an intellectual commitment to values and actions that we hope will benefit all Chinese.
2. 自我教育 (ziwo jiaoyu, Self-Education): This value goes back to our founding meeting. Self-education, or self-cultivation may be a Confucian value, but we readily embrace it because it is only when we know what we don’t know that we can start asking questions and exploring solutions.
3. 志愿精神 (zhiyuan jingshen, Voluntarism): OYCF depends on volunteers. The OYCF is a miserly organization…anything that the OYCF takes on is at a maximally minimum cost because we have such a great team of volunteers. We depend on individual and
institutional donations in running all our programs. Our overhead cost for running all of them is practically zero, a great testament to the volunteer spirit of all members!
4. 务虚务实 (wuxu wushi, Grounded Idealism): At OYCF, we value idealism and encourage the pursuit of both ideas and ideals. At the same time, we take concrete steps to make things happen, from sponsoring teaching trips to pursuing various publication plans.
5. 开放论坛 (kaifang luntan, Open Forum): OYCF is an open forum. We welcome the airing of different views even when we as an organization do not endorse them. Openness of the Forum also means transparency of all our activities.
6. 跨科跨业(kuake kuaye, Interdisciplinary and Cross-Sectoral): OYCF is an inter-disciplinary forum, and our members come from all kinds of educational backgrounds, including various fields of humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. It connects students, scholars and professionals, people at different stages of their studies and careers to one organization.
7. 新生不息 (xinsheng buxi, Constant Renewal): To renew ourselves, the OYCF must remain relevant to the student community, and actively seek new members and identify future OYCF leaders.
So OYCF is an organization with at least three levels of identity.
First, its long-term mission: self-education, and a commitment to China’s development and prosperity.
Second, its soul: voluntarism, grounded work, and idealism.
Finally, its inclusiveness and dynamism: it brings together people from different academic and professional background, including non-ethnic-Chinese who are interested in China, and connects with new generations of students and youths so that, collectively, we can move the Forum forward.
(This is an extract from the keynote speech by then OYCF President Lei Guang at The 1990 Institute’s 16th Annual Banquet in the Bay Area in 2007.)