Charles Wong ’84, a member of UWC-USA’s first graduating class, recently shared his experiences with current students at a Fireside Chat at the president’s house.
A successful investor and entrepreneur, Charles began by sharing his experience as a student in the earliest days when essentially none of the technologies that connect people around the world existed. He recounted how he and his roommate (from the Soviet Union) debated for hours the merits of a free market as opposed to the benefits of a Marxist system.
Much of the discussion following his introduction centered on Charles challenging students to see world events from a broader perspective. Octave Chouvet ’19, a second-year student from France, attended the presentation and acknowledged that the discussion in the Fireside Chat “made me wonder if our idealist perception and praise of Western democracy are justified and if our demonization of China’s communist party is exaggerated.”
Andie Parry ’19 (US-CA) echoed Octave’s reflections and added that Charles’ perceptions of the world were valuable and interesting. “He had more conservative viewpoints than many of us,” she explained. “And that exposure was stimulating in regards to thinking about Chinese-U.S. relations.”
“Charles Wong has been a pioneer since joining our first graduating class at UWC-USA,” said President Victoria J. Mora. “Listening to him talk with our students, I could still hear that pioneer spirit — considering the ‘what ifs’ and looking to what is possible. He really challenged our students to see that celebrating diversity doesn’t mean resolving all differences. We might disagree vehemently. But if we have taken the time to understand as fully as possible another’s point of view, mutual respect is possible. Charles’ visit was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to reflect on what we know and think we know, and on why political differences are more complex than we might typically acknowledge.”