One community, a world of difference

4 November 2016

It has been a great week after the holidays! We had the 10th Anniversary celebration held in conjunction with the International Day event on Friday, followed by the Halloween event on Sunday. The Halloween event, jointly organized by the Parents Support Group and the Hillside Neighbourhood Committee, was the first collaboration between the school community and the local community and totally blew me away with the scale and success of the event.

At the 10th Anniversary celebration, I cannot help but also wonder how many staff, parents and students observe my trembling when I had to deliver Chairman’s speech in Chinese on his behalf. The Chairman of the Huijia Group (which owns HWA) is a strong Chinese writer, and the prose he used was especially difficult to understand and to deliver. And I had to deliver it in front of an audience of many, many Chinese native speakers.

Delivering the speech brought back memories of my high school days, when I used to struggle with Chinese (I studied it at native level, the last batch of students in Singapore to do “Chinese as a First Language”) and was the subject of much teasing from my more proficient classmates. My experience with studying Chinese gave me a strong understanding of the struggles my students face when studying English and Chinese in this school.

The boys and girls struggling with languages may not appreciate it now, but one day when they are in their 30s and wondering at their next career move (like I did when I left the teaching service in Singapore to venture overseas more than a decade ago), they shall appreciate how much HWA had prepared them for a world where being bicultural is not just a fancy word but the key to opportunities otherwise not open to any monocultural person.

I shall wait for that day when my students return to tell me this!

 

假期后的第一周过的真是丰富多彩。上个周五,全校的师生欢聚一堂,一同庆祝十周年校庆和国际日活动。紧接着的礼拜天, 由Hillside邻里居委会、学生家长会一同组织的万圣节之夜是我们第一次与当地的邻里居委会共同合作,当天活动的规模和空前的成功彻底让我震撼。

在十周年纪念日庆祝的典礼上,我不禁在想,有多少教职工、家长还有孩子们注意到我在代表董事长发表他的中文演讲稿时其实是在颤斗着。汇佳集团(HWA的母公司)的董事长是一个国学深厚的作家,他的文笔蕴含深奥,多可意会难以言传。而我却需要在那么多中文母语听众面前演讲。

在演讲的同时  让我回想起我的高中时代。那时候学中文学得相当辛苦。我是新加坡最后一批就读《中文第一语文》(母语程度的中文!)的学生,当时常常受到中文水平高的的同学们取笑。这些学习经历让我可以感同身受的体会学生们在这里学习中文和英文所面对的各种挣扎。

这些正努力奋斗学习英语或是中文的孩子们现在可能体会不到,但是终有一天,当他们到了三十多岁,开始思考如何安排自己事业的下一步时(就像十几年前我选择离开新加坡的教育系统去海外发展一样),他们将会感激HWA 培养他们面对职场的技能和优势。双语不仅只是一个花哨的名词,而是打开机会之门的钥匙,那些单一文化背景的人终将与机会擦身而过。

拭目以待,我将等着他们有一天亲口来告诉我这一切。

 

Michael Chan 曾俊成
Principal 校长
Hillside World Academy