How Debating Changed My Life

by Shama Mashroor

Writer’s Profile: 2014 HKMA David Li Kwok Po graduate studying English Language & Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong has just made it to the Dean’s list this year

I still remember my first ever debate. I remember being wildly aware that it was my first rodeo, and also a little self-conscious about being dressed like a Christmas tree that day – my knees were knocking so hard! But as the years progressed and I started immersing myself in the world of debating, I felt like a whole new portal had become unlocked. Debating can change a person in so many ways. Confidence is just the beginning. To be able to engage in a high calibre debate, you will have to be knee-deep in a pool of research and critical thinking. No fact goes unchecked, no article unclicked. Think piles of printouts strewn all over your living room, post-its covering every inch of your workspace including your forehead, and 5 different coloured pens lodged in your hair. No issue in the world is too complex for a debater who has done their research! In the long run, this no-Wikipedia research training has helped me write some of my most thorough and insightful papers at university. The scared bespectacled girl from 5 years ago has now grown up to be a bespectacled girl on the Dean’s List at the University of Hong Kong, and I truly feel from the bottom of my heart that I owe this success to my wonderful teachers in HKMA, especially my debate coaches, Ms Kingsley and Ms Fernandez, and my debate team who have stood by me from the very beginning. Thank you all for making this possible.

S4 Camp Reflections

Andrew Chan (4I03)

From the 3rd to the 5th of November, we S.4 students attended a training camp.

To be frank, I wasn’t expecting much from this camp but I changed my mind soon enough at the camp.

We started off with simple foot drills and some ice-breaking games, getting to know each other better and working together more efficiently. Nothing was exceptionally hard to do or solve, that is, until the next day.

Early in the morning, we were forcibly awakened by our instructors, ate a depressing breakfast, grabbed the tools for making our own lunch, then went hiking in groups of 10. The hike started off easy enough, no steep slopes or uprooted branches; it was smooth-sailing towards our destination. By noon we reached the top of the mountain and cooked ourselves a fantastic meal with instant noodles and instant curry packets. Then it all went awry.

The journey downhill was much worse than going uphill. Imagine yourself spending every single ounce of your energy on climbing up the mountain with a steep slope, uprooted branches and a slick layer of mud.  Now try to envision yourself going down that same slippery slope. Most of my teammates were battered going down. But fortuitously, nobody got more than a few scratches or a few bruises. Do you think that the story ends here? Nope, not even close. Our hike may have been over but the day wasn’t.

We were approximately 10km away from the campsite and we could either choose to wait for the bus or walk. There was only one problem. All of us S.4 students were waiting for the same bus and the bus only comes every half an hour.

We quickly decided that walking back to the campsite would be ideal as we would have to wait for a long time before we get a ride on the bus. However, one of my teammates said that he was tired and suggested waiting for the bus. Despite waiting for an hour, we still didn’t get to get on the bus. We had another small vote and decided to finally start walking. My teammate, on the other hand, was throwing a temper tantrum about walking another 10km. To make matters worse, we couldn’t go anywhere as we had to move as a team. We had to coax him into walking and finally, he reluctantly agreed, though he kept complaining about his aching feet the whole journey.

By the time we reached the campsite, I was literally trying to hold back myself from lashing out at him. As if all this wasn’t enough, some teachers came to me personally to ask me what happened. That basically ruined my night and gave me an opportunity to learn and grow, learning how to be a better leader, teammate, and supporter and growing up with the mistakes and to not repeat them anymore.

On the last day, we had to build our own raft. I felt a lot more calm and collected than the day before as I had realized that nobody can be perfect and one has to lose a little of their wishes in order to satisfy others. We had a blast making the raft as everyone did all they could do.

After the camp, I’ve become aware of the fact that no team will ever succeed without teamwork, and sometimes one has to sacrifice one’s personal gains for the greater good. Thank you to all the teachers and instructors who organized this camp and for making it possible.

MALIKSI Jhen Ira Salarda (4D21)

On the first day of camp, we first went to our designated rooms. I got to know more about my roommates as we all gathered in a circle and talked about ourselves. It was so cool to know about them. An hour later, we rushed to the gym and had several group activities. More fun began at night. We headed out of the campsite and slept in the wilderness. I enjoyed spending the whole night time with my friends in the tent, and chatted so happily that once a teacher needed to stop us for creating too much noise.

On the second day of camp, I got up pretty early. It was an achievement for me to get up before 6am. I watched the sunrise for the very first time and it was incredible. Later that morning, we had to pack up to go back to the campsite. After breakfast, we went to the sports area where we received our equipment for the hike. Not so long after, we started our hike. The walk to the designated mountain already made me tired. When we got to the hiking place, the first few miles were very chill. Then came the steep slopes, god knows how much I was struggling. I thought the steep slopes would be the hardest part of the hike, turns out it wasn’t. In order to reach the top of the mountains, we had to climb the steepest and rockiest part of the mountain. I was frightened because first of all, it was really slippery. When we reached the top of the mountain, i was very dehydrated. I had run out of water half way through, but thank goodness we could buy water and other types of drinks. We originally planned on making Carbonara for lunch but we ended up cooking the ramen noodles they provided. The hike back down was easier. I was exhausted. When we got back, we had a BBQ. It was the first time I’ve actually BBQ-ed, I had attempted barbecuing several times before but I always failed

To sum up the last day, we performed our “drill” and had our group activities, which was super fun.

The camp has taught me to be more patient – I had to wait for my mates during the hike as some of them were quite slow. I’ve also learnt to appreciate the littlest things in life: someone or something that provides support to me. Lastly, the most unforgettable experience was when it was time to head home because I finally overcame all the challenges in the camp, and got to tuck myself in my soft bed and fluffy blanket.

 

Reflection for the TREATS Day Camp (Oct 15)

Justin Lui (4I22)

On the 15th of October, 4D and 4I students went to the Tai Tong Holiday Day camp, to join an activity held by TREATS.

It was really an unforgettable experience. We met people with different abilities and backgrounds from Yuk Chi Centre. We played different games with them throughout the day.

At first I thought it would be quite boring as we need to play some “childish” games with students from the Yuk Chi Centre. During our lunch time, one of the students didn’t even know how to hold a bowl filled with rice, and of course, the bowl fell to the ground. My classmates and I laughed but now I realize I was wrong.

For the activity in the afternoon, we had to cover our eyes and walk through the campus. It was childish for us undoubtedly, but that’s the reason why we had to play this game. We need to learn to respect different people with different abilities. Throughout this game, we had to take the responsibility to take care of these students. My partner, Sam, who is hyperactive, seldom listens to the instructions given by the teachers. I felt really tired asking him to go back to the place he should be staying at.

Notecards were given in the game and we had to explain what was happening to them. I was quite confused why they didn’t read the instructions by themselves and I discovered that they don’t really have the ability to read. We had to read the words on the notecard one by one.

It seems I have changed a great deal after the camp. I realized I was really lucky, to live happily as a normal person. Not everyone is as lucky as I am, some might get different illnesses which will cause bad effects on their daily lives. We ought to respect them and also learn from them, as they don’t give up because of their illness.

Hilary Kam (4D14)

We went to visit young people who are mentally challenged.  During the visit we tried to communicate and tried to complete different missions with them. The most memorable thing that happened to me was a girl who played the first game with me, which required us to hold each other’s hands. At first she was not willing to do so and even wanted to run away. I felt sad at first because I thought she disliked me. A while later, I found out she was just too shy and did not know how to express her feelings. I tried to let her feel more comfortable with me and the unfamiliar environment that we first came to, by talking to her about myself and giving her snacks. After a while she she was ready to work with me. Finally she was happy to hold my hand and complete the game with me pleasantly. At last when we had to leave, she came to me and gave me a hug and said that she was happy to know me, which made me feel so satisfied and warm.

Throughout the whole day, I entirely changed my impression of the mentally challenged youngsters. Before knowing them, I thought they were rude and selfish and didn’t know how to share, but I found out that they were all so sincere and simple minded. They felt happy because of small things, such as giving them candies, giving them praise or simply a smile. They would not seek for fame, money or social status, they just want simple happiness, such as having delicious food, going to Disneyland with their families, etc. And the thing I really appreciated was they were always smiling and spreading joy, which we could learn from them.

I was very happy to have such an opportunity to get to know them and have a chance to correct my prejudice towards them. I hope that I have a chance to meet them again!

Internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers

RAI Sharon (6F15)

Having joined the SHINE Project, I was able to get a two-day internship at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). My experience there was full of learning opportunities and discoveries about the corporate world.

PwC is the world’s largest professional services firm, offering auditing, tax, consulting and advisory services. While a considerable percentage of its workforce comprises of auditors and accountants, PwC is also reputed for its remarkable consulting department.

Since I was only job shadowing for two days, I wasn’t able to take on any heavy work like doing market research or developing a full strategic plan for a client. However, with my mentor’s guidance, I did learn that the consulting department was separated into several teams. My mentor was in a team for people and organisation. She was responsible for helping a client company reorganize their human resources and write a full report on how her team’s plan helps them.

Moreover, at PwC, I attended a team meeting, during which members reported updates about their current mission or discussed future company goals. That was possibly the most memorable experience I had at the company.

PwC also has a really interesting and meaningful program for their employees. It’s called “lunch and learn”, which happens once a month. Employees gather around for a department lunch and attend a specifically organized talk which aims to educate them.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and I was thoroughly surprised by the relatively relaxed environment and the company’s aim to develop its employees’ capabilities.

PHAGAMI Merina (6R17)

My job shadow experience was at a multinational firm called PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC is involved in many different kinds of jobs, such as accounting, risk management, etc. In general, PwC gives advice to all kinds of companies, from multinational corporations to small family businesses, and helps them become more competitive in the market.

Everybody was constantly telling me that I can’t go anywhere without a good Chinese- speaking ability. That scared me a lot and stopped me from grabbing opportunities and trying new things. That took away a lot of my confidence and was one of my biggest limitations. When I read that the project was more focused on giving ethnic minority students a chance to explore and learn, I knew that I had to take this opportunity.

In one of the departments called the Accounting and Audit Department, I experienced the typical office working environment at a multinational firm. However, I also got to experience a less typical version of what people would call an ‘office’, as in everyone getting their own cubicle. They have what they call a ‘bar’, which has food and drinks that you can enjoy with your colleagues after office working hours or during the occasional ‘party’. They believe that this increases work efficiency as staff members are allowed to take breaks and make changes when needed, which motivates them to work harder.

From the job shadowing experience, I learnt that I don’t have to do be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher in order to make a difference in people’s lives. We can also influence people by working at a firm like PwC. While at PwC, I got to experience this monthly event they have called ‘Lunch and Learn’. Last month, there was a talk by one of the top businesswomen in the UK on the healthcare system of Hong Kong. The Consulting Department is basically responsible for helping companies be better at what they are. In the case of the healthcare industry, PwC could give advice to the Hospital Authority, to health insurance companies, etc. Different industries are performing various roles in society and making peoples’ lives better. When the talk was over, the head of the department stood up and said, “If you have any ideas, feel free to tell us, and you could be the next person to change the healthcare system of Hong Kong”. The fact that I was in a room full of people that could change our lives with just one idea was very inspiring to me.

Before this experience, I couldn’t see myself living and working in Hong Kong at all since I had no hope in myself. However, these few days with my mentors have taught me that even if I can’t speak fluent Chinese and even if I’m not 100% sure of what I want to do in life despite being an S6 student, it’s not the end of the world. More than half the employees at PwC don’t know Chinese at all, a lot of them aren’t even from Hong Kong/ are ‘ethnic minorities’,

In the past, I felt confused about what to study and what to be in the future. From the job shadowing experience, I learnt that I don’t have to limit myself to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, etc. Many of the PwC employees have a completely different degree from what they’re doing right now, one of the employees even worked at Disney before working at PwC, and one of the company’s partners, who everybody knows, is a Punjabi guy from London. This experience has helped me to understand that what I have studied may not be totally relevant to my job but what skills and qualities I have learnt at school and will learn at university are more important and transferable. This has taught me that career is a process of personal and professional development rather than a degree or a job.

Orbis SAC Trip

by Lam Hin Kwan Kian (5W12)

“ There is no better joy than helping people around you go to levels higher than they ever thought they could ” – Dan Gilbert

 

Last year, our school was the second runner-up in the Orbis fund raising activities. I am so glad that I was chosen by the school and had an opportunity to travel to Shandong with the staff from Orbis, to join the “sight-saving journey”.

I would like to use the word “Lucky” to describe this trip. Firstly, our flight was delayed because of the typhoon in Hong Kong, so I think we were lucky that we could begin our trip again the day after.

Secondly, we had the opportunity to watch eye surgeries which were done by the local doctors in the domestic ophthalmic hospital. It was a rare chance for us to know about the structure of the hospital and how they help the patients who suffer from eye diseases.

Thirdly, we went to visit some of the patients who were subsidized by Orbis and in recovery after eye surgery. We realized that most of the patients were aged from1 to 3. I was disheartened to know that the little children suffer from eye diseases. At the same moment, I was touched that they could help from Orbis and have a chance to recover or improve their sight after surgery.

We should understand that we are truly blessed. We were born in a good environment in which we can enjoy advanced medical treatment. This trip reminded me to treasure everything I have and be thankful for everything. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Orbis and everyone who helped the people in need with their selfless actions. I hope all my schoolmates can embody this spirit and find real happiness in life.

Brescia Girls LEAD Leadership Summer Camp ~ Day 13 ~

by Lam Tsz Yan Angel (4P11)

Today was the last day of the programme in Brescia. I enjoyed every moment here and I would like to stay here for a longer time. We went to YMCA for high and low events today! Some of us are valiant and were eager to try it, but I was surprised that some of us were so afraid of height. We encouraged everyone to give it a try and all of us had done well at last.

 

I learnt that there were many levels of leadership that leader can apply different strategies or characteristics for different tasks. There are no right or wrong in leadership styles, but we need to learn from our experiences to become the most effective leaders.

 

We had the Closing Ceremony today. During the ceremony, every group had to present its project, I loved to listen to their ideas. Listening is also an important way to learn more from the other experiences. By listening to the others, we could see from another perspective so that we could step out from our comfort zone and avoid being complacent and conservative.

 

We are going to leave tomorrow, I will miss Brescia and my councelors, and remember every moment that I spent here definitely.

Brescia Girls LEAD Leadership Summer Camp ~ Day 12 ~

by Lam Tsz Yan Angel (4P11)

The theme of today was “setting goals”. We finished our projects by using the SMART Goals model. Today was raining heavily outside, we were asked to stay indoor so that we didn’t go to YMCA for Low Ropes Course. Therefore, we had more time to work on our project. I typed out the training day’s proposal and my mentors were amazed by my work.

 

Afterwards, we made thank-you cards for our mentors, bus drivers and staff who helped us a lot during the summer camp. I really appreciated for their support. Without them, we could not enjoy such a successful and meaningful trip.

 

We learnt different types of bracelets making tonight. When all of us were making the bracelets at the same time, it really turned the room into a bracelet factory. Although our councelors were really exhausted, they still taught us how to make different types of bracelets patiently. I would like to express my gratitude to them!