Graduation Poem 2012

15 04 2012

by Bheki Mhlanga and Mary Hui

Once upon an arrival time
For the first time I got searched like I commited a crime
Security measured measures and my temperature
strange smiling adolescents herded me into the boiling
hot humid temperature

Orientation Week – didn’t it feel like summer camp?
Hours of smiling and learning new names,
A bit of camping, playing lots of games.
Disoriented, maybe – but we felt somewhat reassured.
We told ourselves, ‘We’ll survive, for sure!’

These teachers are so strange,
they don’t ask me to take notes, ask me for homework; nothing.
This is quite a change.
I can call them by their first names, class ends at 1.30, this is lounging!

Then China Week came along
No typhoon can keep us in Hong Kong.
To Yangshuo, Nanning and different tribes we go
Through the week did many friendships grow.

I don’t understand the story but the dances are great!
Dress crazy dress formal eat food and pay
Music night and cafe

How many meals have we shared in the canteen?
Getting creative with our DIY cuisine.
Stealing fruits, not wearing shoes
Raymond we love you, though sometimes you’re not too amused.

For this part teachers cover your ears
we do unspeakble things on chinese new year
like celebrate chinese culture, red packets on the loose
some travelling,  singing, dancing and drink a bit of Juice

The long awaited Project Week is here
We work, explore and share with our peers
What a meaningful week! we all declare
But then we ask, am I just a touristy sightseer?

The end of first year is really surreal
sad? happy? i don’t know what to feel
I want to go home, and see my family and friends
but does this mean my new friendships have come to to their ends?

Now it’s time for the first years to come
They’re so small, they’re so young!
We miss our second years, that’s the honest truth
But we have to help the firsties, and make their transition smooth.

Aaaaaah what is this!
EE IA TOk PG Uni apps
how will I catch up on all the sleep I miss
dont come to LPC second year, third term it’s all a trap!

Two-thirty in the courtyard, the SCC reminds us
Ah, college meetings – what do we discuss?
Awards, canteen ware and the internet ban
Sorry college meetings, we’re not your biggest fans.

Flying into south east asia like an economy class boss
sun, sand, city,dirt, turtles, service or chill and gather moss
Until I realize this might be the last time i take a glimpse, a peek
into a different life on a project on project week.

Now we start to do some counting down.
Final this, final that
It’s not long before we’re no longer around.
It’s nearly the end that we’ve arrived at.

But we’re not quite there yet,
still exams, reflections , canteen parties,  we can’t skip a beat
standing here looking at you all my friends tears are a threat
so lets keep calm, listen to some speeches and eat

Playback we haven’t forgotten you
LPC, that was for you.


Graduation Dinner Speech 2012

14 04 2012

Note: When I was asked over a month ago to make a speech at Graduation Dinner, I had no idea what to talk about. Was I supposed to try and reflect the sentiments of the whole year group? To recount all that we have done together in two years? In the end I decided to talk about one of the most important things I’ve learnt in my two wondrous years here at Li Po Chun United World College. (I’ve adapted this speech from an essay I’d written earlier: ‘A Wrong Turn… That Saved My Life“)

Graduation Dinner Speech

I’d like to tell you a story.

It’s Boxing Day, December 2004. My family and I are on vacation in Thailand. It was Boxing Day, December 2004.  After a leisurely breakfast I had decided to head back to my room to fetch my beachwear. The route was straightforward enough: down a flight of stairs, then a right turn to the seaside, where our room was. I had walked this route multiple times before – no problem. And yet for reasons which I do not think I will ever know, I subconsciously and unknowingly made a wrong turn. Instead of turning right, I turned left: away from my room, away from the sea. And away from fatal danger.

For it was only minutes later, while I wandered around hopelessly lost, that the devastating waves of a tsunami came crashing down on the resort – waves which would have engulfed me, knocked me out and killed me with ruthless force. And yet miraculously, the waves did not hit me. I was safe because I had turned left, away from the beach. I was safe because I had made a wrong turn.

Back then, the gravity of it all eluded me. It seemed like dumb luck: I had had a 50-50 chance between life and death, and my bad sense of direction had nudged me towards the better of the two.

Over these two years though, the impact of this experience has slowly dawned on me. As I meandered my way through the UWC experience, I began to realise how the point wasn’t so much about why I had been lucky enough to make a wrong turn, as much as the kind of attitude and mindset that I should embrace.

I’ll be honest – the first few weeks in LPC were confusing, difficult and overwhelming. All too often I would ask myself repeatedly, why did I even choose to come here? Why didn’t I just stay at my old school, in my old comfort zone? Surely something had gone disastrously wrong in the admissions process. I remember telling people – I think I like this place, but I definitely do not love it. I’m sure many of us felt the same way.

But, as the second years reassured me, the beauty of this place, – its magic, its charm, its wonder – grows on you. Little by little you become less reserved and more forthcoming, less frosty and more eager, less anxious and more relaxed. And they were right.

Look at us now. Look at all that we have achieved together in two years. We have put together countless cultural evenings – ICE, CCE, ECE,APEC,MESA,NACE, LACE, ACE. We have performed plays, put together exhibitions, played music, hosted charity concerts. We have achieved great physical feats: arriving late to the 24 Hour Race, and winning it not only once, but twice. We have hosted conferences and day camps, initiated projects of all sorts and brought in positive changes of all kinds. We stood by our values, we made our voices heard, we learned to be true UWC students. We did all this in two years.

And yet all these achievements would have remained imaginary – an abstract figment floating around in the lake of our subconscious – had we not dared to step away from our comfort zone and embrace the challenge LPC presented us. Instead of fear and the prospect of failure, all of us here saw new possibilities and opportunities. We were presented with challenges, and we embraced them. We found here a sense of idealism – a belief in UWC values, but more importantly, a belief in ourselves.

So, as I reflect on my time here, I think back to that Boxing Day morning seven years ago in Thailand – the day when I made a wrong turn that saved my life. What has two years of LPC life taught me about the significance of that lifesaving wrong turn? It has taught me that more often than not, failures are opportunities wrapped under a deceptive cloak of disguise. Too often we fail to take action for fear of failure. But how valid is this fear, really? I had made a wrong turn – technically, a failure – and yet it saved my life. Failure is not, and should not, be an obstacle. All that’s stopping us is the fear of some hypothetical failure – mucking up, making mistakes, embarrassing yourself…but really, what’s the worst that could happen? Failure: opportunity in disguise.

I think this is one of the most important things I’ve learnt in my two years here. Opportunities are everywhere – all we have to do is to look for them them, to challenge ourselves and to aim for nothing less than success. And now as we get ready to leave LPC and continue with our own journeys, we should keep in mind that there is no such thing as a failure. The only failure is the failure to recognise opportunities.

Thank you.

Movement 134.

5 09 2011

One hundred and thirty four people slowly filtering in onto the grounds of Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong…

Each year, LPC says goodbye to half its population. What defined half of LPC for one full year leaves to pursue their own dreams.

Now, as one hundred and thirty new students arrive, LPC embarks on another journey.

They are the new half of LPC – the half that makes LPC whole.

I think this, among a host of other factors, is what makes LPC such an exciting place to be. Rarely do you ever come across an institution where each year is completely different from the one before: the people, groups, dynamics, culture, energy. And yet there is no loss of identity or definition – rather we build on our foundations, and add new elements to the thrilling melting pot of brilliant minds.

As the two halves slowly begin to mingle, a new blend emerges. There are new forms of interaction, new ideas, new thoughts, new minds. At the same time, we are still on the same journey as before: bringing people from across the world together – uniting people, nations and cultures.

I can sense excitement in the air, and am thrilled to be able to both take part in, and witness, this momentous movement of two halves in a singular whole.