Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 7. 1965.
N.Z. In Asia
N.Z. In Asia
Dean of the Law Faculty and Chairman of Volunteer Service Abroad.
I Have for many years now: been concerned that this University should develop strength in its teaching and research in Asian Studies. I believe that this can best be done by the establishment of an Asian Studies Centre.
It can be a focal point for interest in Asian Studies at the University and at the same time make use of the growing number of people in the individual departments who have some expertise in the area. It can ensure that adequate library and other facilities are available at the University for study and, in particular, for research.
In my capacity as Chairman of Volunteer Service Abroad, I am anxious that work in Asian Studies at the University should develop as rapidly as possible. VSA has taken the view that for the present it should concentrate its effort in the South-East Asia and Pacific areas. South-East Asia is a fairly flexible description, as we have volunteers in India, as well as in Malaysia and Thailand, and we may have them in Nepal. One of our problems, having regard to our limited means, is to provide our volunteers with adequate training and orientation before they leave.
In comparison with what the Peace Corps has been able to do, the preparation of our volunteers has been very cursory indeed. The little we have done has depended a great deal on the limited resources now available at the University. We are grateful to members of the Asian Studies Department and of other University Departments for what they have done already; but, as our work expands, we will be making still greater demands on the University's facilities in this field. Hence our concern in the establishment of the Asian Studies Centre.
Our work is, of course, helping to stimulate interest in what New Zealand can do in the South-East Asia area. Also, we are providing an increasing number of returned volunteers with an intimate knowledge of some part of the area. Many of these are "schoolleavers" who will want to maintain their interest in South-East Asia as they pursue their University studies.
Language training for our volunteers has presented us with a problem. So far we have been interested in the teaching of Malay and That. This need may have its implications so far as the choice of languages to be taught at the University is concerned, but we are hopeful that facilities may be developed at the University— in particular language laboratories —which could he used by our volunteers for short courses of language training.
And some students have objected to the continuing uncertainty. The delay has admittedly been unfortunate: nevertheless, the Professorial Board has adhered as far as possible to the plans for phasing out the present programme, so as to give the Director the opportunity to develop the new Centre at maximum speed, and thereby to promote the expansion of Asian studies at this university.