Gavin’s Senior Oral: Zhuangzi (莊子) Analysis

Written by Duy Tran (Class of 2025)
Photos by Jason Chiem (Class of 2025)

On May 1st, IGDVS’ boys school joined DRBU’s Gavin Ding for a senior presentation on his critical analysis of Zhuangzi’s poetic works. Gavin, a close friend of the dorm, was met with an enthusiastic crew of supporters coming to celebrate the fruits of his efforts. He was about to conduct his presentation to wrap up his completion of DRBU’s Bachelor of Liberal Arts program, where his professors Heng Yin Shr and Dr. Martin Verhoeven will pass final judgment on his paper.

Right off the bat, Gavin captures the audience with his thesis: What is the relationship between freedom and responsibility? He dives into how the seemingly happy-go-lucky attitude Zhuangzi presented in his writings masks a deeper layer of meaning. Drawing from stories such as the master butcher Cook Ding in his ox-carving art and Confucius’ discourse with Yan Hui about “fasting of the mind”, Gavin illustrates how true happiness and freedom come from the ending of prejudice and egotism rather than clinging onto them. The presentation ended with the audience giving a passionate ovation. During the Q&A session, Gavin answered both the judges and audience with wit and eloquence before finally reaping the fruits of his labor: a confirmation of approval from Dr. Verhoeven and Heng Yin Shr, as well as a joyous celebration with the help of Gong哥.

Thanks to the generosity of Gavin and the DRBU community, the boys’ school stayed to enjoy pizzas and chips at the talk’s reception, engaging with both the speaker and the DRBU community. Many hung out to enjoy the artworks exhibited around the school building and discover more about the Buddhist university.

It was a pleasure for the entire dorm to participate in such a thought-provoking event. Many thanks to Gavin Ding and others at DRBU for their acceptance of the boys school to the talk. For more information on DRBU, visit

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