EDITORIAL: The basic qualities university students must possess

After the Lunar New Year, many companies began hiring new employees leading to more and more people asking me for recommendations for their respective companies. More specifically, they suggested a couple of conditions and questions with regards to the people they want as employees. A high average GPA and basic foreign language skills would be nice, but most of all they want those with good manners and character. In addition, they would have to respect each other as well as get along with others. Of course, my point of view may not all be totally correct. But through my experience as a consultant for companies and providing recommendations for positions, I think I have a clear idea of which conditions are required by employers.

During the last winter break, I was in charge of 15 students with an above-average GPA at an overseas workshop for 7 nights and 8 days. Someone once said that, “the best way to get to know someone is to go on a trip with them.” The 8 days I spent with the students on that trip was a good chance to really discern the level of our students’ manners.

Before this workshop, students were instructed on numerous occasions on how to greet their academic advisors and peers in the morning during the workshop. But to the contrary, I witnessed that the majority of students had not put what they had learned into practice, making me realize why it’s not such a stretch that companies have placed so much emphasis on manners and character.

Moreover, instructions given by the academic advisor were ignored and the conduct of many students was disorderly as they did not follow the rules set forth, violating their curfew, being tardy, and making others wait for them, which goes to show they lack politeness and consideration for others.

Since there were many students participating in this workshop which spanned many days, responsibilities were delegated among those involved. However, as the workshop progressed, quite a few students did not fulfill their duties ultimately leading to the academic advisor and upperclassman to fulfill those responsibilities.

At the end of the workshop, I was appalled by the rude behavior displayed by some students toward their elders during a dinner to which we were invited by managers of a local investment company, as they were ordering them around like their personal secretaries. Afterwards, these students went on their own to a singing room without any remorse, making me question their character and manners.

I have no intention of depreciating or belittling our students in any way, and this case is in no way indicative of all of our students. However, since witnessing firsthand such behavior, I am expressing my concern on the need to educate our students.

As I have mentioned earlier, companies want employees that have good character, which is an important quality for our society in the future. That is why there is a saying that goes, “good character is your true ability.” It can be said that the virtues of good character are “respect, consideration, responsibility, and cooperation”.

Saying hello and goodbye, as well as exchanging encouraging words in times of happiness and sadness or expressing respect, love, and friendship are actions we have regarded as very important since ancient times. These are realized through educating our children on character building and manners, but in this day and age many parents are not spending enough time talking with their children, making it difficult for parents to teach them the value of good character and manners. The most important thing is to take an interest in greeting each other and basic manners, thereby making it a habit in our everyday life.

As our society is becoming more and more cruel and harsh, cases of violence over trivial matters are increasing. Consideration for others is something we should all put into practice. We all need to have an open heart when it comes to getting along with others, and we all need each other to be happy. If we all do our part, this happy virus will spread like wildfire, infecting many people along the way, leading to a brighter tomorrow. That is why we should all make it a habit to show respect and consideration for others.

There are duties and responsibilities for every position. Each member of an organization has to do their part in order to get things done. Although that particular position may have been handed down by others, it is our duty to fulfill those responsibilities and by doing so we gain the respect of others. We need to be aware of this fact and do our best to instill in ourselves the qualities of good character and manners.

In Confucian societies, one of the basic ideals is respecting one’s elders. In the “Analects of Confucius”, the basis is practicing “In” (benevolence) which is the act of respecting one’s elders. Love is the core virtue that constitutes “In.” “In” should be practiced, that is, love should be practiced by a human being, which is an ethical obligation. If love influences a nation or company, it becomes “Choong” (loyalty). So it is important to realize that respecting one’s elders is an important quality companies are looking for in outstanding talents and individuals.

It is my hope that the entire faculty and staff take an active stance when it comes to developing our students’ character amid a highly competitive society, leading to talented and outstanding individuals thereby preparing them for a better future.

Prof. Kyung-hwan Kim,
Department of Practical Chinese Studies

Translated by Julia Kim

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