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The Totem

CLASS OF 2018 GRADUATION

Canadian International School of Hong Kong

Alumni Magazine June 2018


EVENTS London Alumni Dinner

Alumni at the Higher Education Fair

David Baird hosted a dinner for 13 alumni in London, UK on Wednesday, January 17. It was a good opportunity for him to meet with recent CDNIS graduates studying in the UK. Mr. Baird distributed CDNIS themed gifts at the dinner, including umbrellas to ward off the dreary British weather!

Many thanks to Melissa Liu ’99 (University of Waterloo), Otis Lam ’12 (The University Hong Kong) and Nicholle Yu ‘12 (The University Hong Kong) for to participate in the annual CDNIS Higher Education Fair in March. The alumni reprsented their various post-secondary institutions, sharing their knowledge and experiences about studying at Waterloo and HKU. The event was a huge success, with representatives from over 80 higher education institutions giving insight into the various post-secondary learning options available to CDNIS students.

Megan Chan ’13 Justin Chong ‘13 Jeffrey Chow ‘13 Sharon Ni ‘13 Dominique Wong ’13 Alaster Chan ’16 Nicole Chan ‘16 Walton Chan ‘16 Sean Chen ’16 Justin Lau ‘16 Yuk Leung ‘16 Paul Cho ‘17 Isabelle Mascarenhas ’17

Alumni at Class of 2018 Graduation Thank you to the alumni who came out to celebrate with the Class of 2018 at their graduation in May. Alumni present included Evan Thorpe ’99, while Lily Chan ’03 and Curtis Ip ’03, presented the subject awards together.


Alumni Winter Homecoming Winter Homecoming was held in December 2017, and it was great to see alumni catching up with each other for some festive cheer. Many thanks to Alumni Association Events Manager Pamm Kwok ’02 for organising Christmas themed games, including a fiendishly difficult lyric matching Christmas carol game. The CDNIS themed prizes on offer were popular, including a copy of the bespoke CDNIS Monopoly game.

We look forward to welcoming alumni back on campus for a day of fun and laughter. Scan the QR code to RSVP!


Head of School David Baird’s Experience with Alumni While in London earlier this year for a recruitment fair and Alumni dinner, I was pulling my suitcase down the sidewalk as I made my way to my hotel, when little did I know but a luggage strap would spark a conversation with a former student. Recognizing the distinct CDNIS logo on the strap, this former student approached me from across the street, introduced herself and shared with me some of her favourite memories while a student at our school. She recalled how much fun she had dressing up for Halloween, how she looked forward to Friday assemblies in the Forum, and just how everyone at the school was incredibly welcoming and caring - all things that our school is still well known for today. I truly enjoy meeting past students and I have a simple red and white luggage strap to thank for this introduction! All of our alumni represent so many unique talents and in this issue of The Totem you will learn about some of our former students who are following their athletic passions. Former student Oscar Coggins is pursuing his dream of competing in the Olympics, Lona Shiu ’08 is involved in an exciting personal training venture in Shanghai, while Daniel Man ’12 is playing professional football in Hong Kong. You will also read about the spirit of volunteering and giving back to the community, something which has been present at CDNIS from the very beginning and our incredible alumni (and alumni parents) who give back to CDNIS in many different ways. The school counts on your support as we forge a path ahead in inspiring excellence in our students and I would like to encourage all of you to get involved CDNIS. It has been another action packed year at CDNIS, with many exciting plans in the pipeline, and milestones achieved to be thankful for. The biggest piece of news to come out of this school year is that CDNIS was awarded full Council of International Schools (CIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation status following a visit by the accreditation team in April. Earning this accreditation places CDNIS firmly among the ranks of leading international schools around the world and I would like to acknowledge our entire school community in helping us achieve this status. We all worked extremely hard for this moment and it is truly an amazing milestone in the history of the school. We also had a full IB evaluation and achieved top marks, as well as OSSD evaluation visits. In terms of construction projects, we are moving full speed ahead with a redesigned Early Years Environment to begin construction in 2019 and have now made a Parent/Staff/Student Bistro. There is also a Design Technology studio that has been created on the 6/F that will house various laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC machines. People in the Bistro will be able to look through soundproof windows and see active design work occurring. It is always nice to see alumni back on campus, and to see former students connecting with each other. If you know of any alumni who are not in plugged into the CDNIS community, please tell them to get in touch. I also hope to once again catch up with many of you during our Summer Homecoming here at CDNIS. Please save the date of Sunday, August 19 as we look forward to having you back at school. Sincerely,

David Baird Head of School


What are they up to now?

Alison Cheng ’14 recently had the privilege of meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was the commencement speaker at her NYU graduation ceremony. She noted that he gave a very inspiring speech about looking beyond and challenging our tribal mentality, and being more than tolerant of others. Alison will be staying in New York over the summer interning at Asia Society with their China Learning Initiatives team.

This past April, Claudia Chan ’03 was delighted to add a new addition her family, a baby boy Nolan. Together with her sister, Denise Chan ’06, they head up Chubby Charlie, which was featured in the last issue of The Totem. Constantly broadening their product line, the sisters aim to serve the needs of different clients and be the go-to gift company for any occasion. They have recently added healthy items such as a dark chocolate granola and nonfood items including lovely artisanal handmade soaps.

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Melissa Liu ’99 and her husband Che Fung would like to introduce their second child Caitlyn So, born on November 6, 2017. Big brother Nathan is thrilled about the family’s new addition. He is adjusting well and has been a great helper.

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seen by more than just alumni. Students, parents and staff read it. Share what you are doing with them; you never know what contacts and opportunities could come your way. Whether it’s a new job you’re starting at, or a new addition to your family, please send your story and pictures to the alumni office. alumni@cdnis.edu.hk


Congrats class of 2018 picsture graphics of where they are heading to university


CDNIS Merchandise Looking for a way to show off your CDNIS school spirit? Why not pick up a gift from the CDNIS Shop?! Be sure to get your hands on CDNIS-branded items including water bottles, cufflinks, umbrellas, golf balls and Monopoly. You can purchase these items, including new additions to the range, at Summer Homecoming, online at the CDNIS website or in person at the 9/F office.


GIVING BACK Alumni Parent Launches Exclusive Scholarship

From left to right: Mr. Tim Kaiser, Dr. Joseph Doucet, Dr. John Poon, Mr. Gabriel Poon, Dr. Edy Wong, Mr. Colin Poon

In April, the Dr. John Poon Honour Award and Excellence Scholarship in Business was unveiled to Grade 10 and 11 Business and Economics students in the Leo Lee Arts Centre (LLAC) theatre by a delegation led by Dr. Joseph Doucet, Dean of the Alberta School of Business. This fantastic opportunity is available only to Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS) graduates, with scholarship money up to the full amount of domestic or international tuition for three full years at the University of Alberta School of Business. The highlight of the award is guaranteed entry to the School of Business at the end of year one for recipients, provided they maintain a 3.0 GPA at the end of their first year. This is the first time the University of Alberta, ranked fourth nationally, has offered guaranteed entry to its business school to international students. This scholarship is a significant enticement as entry into the School of Business is notoriously difficult.

Mr. Tim Kaiser, Dr. John Poon

This award and scholarship was made possible through the generosity of Dr. Poon, whose two sons, Gabriel ’00 and Colin ’04 graduated from CDNIS. Dr. Poon is a proud alumnus of the University of Alberta, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Alberta School of Business, and Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council of Hong Kong. Having also served on the Board of Governors at CDNIS from 2005-2007, Dr. Poon explains that he was looking for a way to give back to the school. “After practising law in Edmonton for a few years, I decided to return to Hong Kong with my family. In 1988, we were looking for a good school for our two boys. Although CDNIS was a start-up


at the time, I’m very pleased at the quality education it provided for Gabriel and Colin, instilling them with life-long Canadian and Hong Kong values.” The aim of the award and scholarship is not just to benefit CDNIS students, but to form a strategic alliance between CDNIS and the Alberta School of Business. Dr. Poon worked collaboratively with Mr. Tim Kaiser, Upper School Principal at CDNIS, as well as Dr. Doucet, in order to come up with the unique structure of the scholarship and award. In addition to the guaranteed entry into the Alberta School of Business, there is a sliding scale of GPA targets, which recipients aim towards in order to reap the financial benefits of the award. These targets ensure that there is a tangible incentive for recipients to study hard throughout their time at university. There is also an exploratory trip allowance component to the award, allowing recipients to claim HK$15,000 of their travel expenses for a trip to visit the University of Alberta while they are at CDNIS, after they have received the award. “We created this incentive in order for students to make an informed decision about where they will be attending university, in addition to encouraging more students to visit the Alberta School of Business in Edmonton and consider applying to it,” explains Dr. Poon. “In fact, the Alberta School of Business faculty has four winners of the national 3M Teaching Fellowship, more than any other business school in Canada.” Dr. Poon and his son Gabriel are well placed to extol the virtues of studying in Edmonton, having both cheered for the Edmonton Eskimo football team during the summers and the Edmonton Oilers hockey team during the winters there. “I actually think that enduring the Canadian climate for a few years, whether in Edmonton, Toronto or Montreal, will toughen up Hong Kong students!” exclaims Dr. Poon. “I believe that parents may also be attracted to having their children study at the

Mr. Tim Kaiser

University of Alberta. For one, the cost of living in Edmonton is lower than Toronto and Vancouver, but more importantly there are fewer distractions for students as well. My education and experience at the University of Alberta has equipped me well to tackle many challenges in my career, firstly as a lawyer and then as a business executive, and I hope that students at CDNIS and Hong Kong will be able to benefit from this experience too.” “I have benefited greatly from the business education at the Alberta School of Business,” concludes Gabriel. “A strong foundation in business and analytical skills builds your acumen to drive company goals, helps you to formulate strategic initiatives to drive revenues and profitability for your company. These are important skills whether you are a core team member, business manager or an entrepreneur. A business degree will definitely help you capture the endless opportunities available in today’s increasingly interconnected world.”

Mr. Gabriel Poon


Alumni Profile Oscar Coggins

Oscar Coggins has quickly risen up the ranks in the triathlon world. Fresh off his highest-ever finish in an International Triathlon Union (ITU) event, a 5th place finish at the 2018 Subic Bay NTT ASTC Triathlon Asia Cup, the 18-year-old has his sights firmly set on representing Hong Kong at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. When Oscar joined CDNIS in Grade 7, you could easily spot the tall 12-year-old running around on the pitch playing football and rugby with his friends. Teachers soon recognized his athletic prowess and encouraged him to join the Athletics team where he excelled in both the 800 and 1,500 metre events. After finding success on the track, Oscar was convinced to give swimming another go. While his mother knew her son would be a natural in the pool, Oscar hadn’t enjoyed the competitive nature of swim meets and preferred to spend his time on the school pitch playing football or rugby. Encouraged to give the water sport another try, Oscar combined his love of running with swimming and began participating in aquathlons – races which involve running and swimming. His participation in triathlons followed soon after that. “Oscar was an outstanding Timberwolves athlete who excelled in distance events, Swimming and T&F,” said Mr. James Lovegrove, Director of Athletics at CDNIS “We are proud of Oscar’s achievements so far and wish him well with his Olympic dream.”

Oscar’s training regimen is not for the faint-hearted and totals between 20 and 25 hours a week including 10 hours in the pool, seven hours on a bike, five hours of running, with additional strength and conditioning sessions in the gym. Still a passionate runner at heart, Oscar admits, at times, it is hard to motivate himself to put in the necessary training time in the pool. “I see swim training as a means to an end to improve in a sport that I love,” he explains. “Triathlons are very tough events where you have to push yourself very hard, and I really enjoy this aspect of it. The fact that there are three disciplines within one sport adds different layers to it. I also enjoy the tactical side to the race, as you have to play to your strengths.” This was evident during Oscar’s victory at the Asian Junior Championships in 2017. During the cycling portion of the race, Oscar’s speed helped him to cross the finish line ahead of all others to bring home a gold medal. This victory further motivated Oscar to increase the intensity of his training as he works to secure a spot on Hong Kong’s Olympic team. “I’m lucky that triathlon is something which I really enjoy, so it hasn’t been too difficult for me to stay motivated through the tough training sessions,” said Oscar. Unlike his competitors, many of whom are professional triathletes and years older than him, Oscar is also balancing the final year of his high school studies.


Two years ago, Oscar made the difficult decision to leave CDNIS and Hong Kong to complete his studies at a boarding school in the UK so he could focus more on his training and compete in the larger and more well-known European triathlons. “I attended CDNIS for four years, and then I switched to Millfield for my last two years of high school,” explains Oscar. “I did this because my brothers had also studied at Millfield and I was also competing quite seriously at triathlon. Being here has enabled me to thrive in an environment with a lot of other student athletes, as well as allowing me to train at school as well.”

“Despite that I’m Hong Kong born and bred, the fact that I have been attending boarding school for the last two years in the UK has complicated my application,” said Oscar. “I’m looking forward to competing with my Hong Kong passport, because Hong Kong is my home and it has given me so much. Giving up my British passport was an easy decision for me.” When asked to reflect on his favourite memory at CDNIS, Oscar recalls a 4x100 relay race at a SEASAC swim meet. “The relay was one of the last events of the meet, so the rest of the team was poolside supporting us. We were swimming against some other strong teams, but we managed to win. I still remember the fantastic atmosphere as I swum the anchor leg of the race!” Looking ahead, Oscar is planning to take a gap year in order to train and compete in triathlons full time. While the Olympic Games are still just over two years away, the qualification period for Tokyo 2020 is about to begin and the Asian Games later this year in Indonesia are on Oscar’s radar. But there is just one small bump in the road this Olympic hopeful still needs to overcome and no amount of training or studying is going to help – and that is becoming a Chinese national. As Oscar is in the process of giving up his British passport and becoming a Chinese national, he may not be eligible to compete for Hong Kong at the Asian Games, though he is confident that he will be able to compete in the next Summer Olympics.

One thing Oscar misses about CDNIS is the community feel of the school, where students are encouraged to talk to teachers about life and their passions. “I remember that I would compare cycling times on Strava with Mr. Chris Young, even though he wasn’t my teacher. I used to cycle to school after morning training, so I would see Mr. Young on the hill up to school.”


Alumni Profile Lona Shiu ‘08 “I worked with one female client in the lead up to her wedding. I helped her to get her fitness level back after she had a serious brain injury, and again after she gave birth to her first child. These are the stories that make the long hours at work worth it, because often times we will have to come in before office hours and stay afterwards to fit in personal training sessions with our clients who are working.”

Known amongst all her peers as a sports star, Lona Shiu ‘08 was a stalwart on the tennis team during her six years at CDNIS. Taking home the top honour during her final year at the school and recognized as the Student Athlete of the Year, it’s no surprise that Lona wanted to remain involved in sports as she embarked on a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Health Science degree at university. After graduating, she worked at a sports laboratory at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, but soon found it wasn’t quite the right fit for her as she was itching to be more active instead of staring at a computer screen five days a week.

Working in a male-dominated industry has brought challenges for Lona, but she has taken these all in stride. While it can be daunting for her to work alongside male personal trainers with big muscles, Lona has shattered any preconceived notions that a male personal trainer is better than a female personal trainer. “I often tell my male clients that the common brawn-over-brains approach in fitness is not the only way to achieve your fitness goals, sometimes brains over brawn is important too. It’s taken patience to explain to clients that female personal trainers can be just as good as male ones.”

Looking back at her time at CDNIS, Lona is grateful for the life-long friendships she made during her six years at the school. These friends still form the core group of her social circle today, something she also misses now “In the sports lab, I was facing a computer all day,” that she is living in Shanghai. explains Lona. “I remember PURE fitness had come to my university showcasing some interesting internship “After growing up in Vancouver, coming to CDNIS in opportunities. Seven years later, I’m happy to say that Grade 7 was a bit of a shock for me academically! I I’m still with PURE, and I consider my job as a personal definitely had to study harder to keep up, but I think trainer to be a real blessing.” that this prepared me well for life after school. I have fun memories of Ms. Smriti Safaya’s Geography class, Lona has risen up the ranks at PURE to become a senior and even though I disliked the subject, Ms. Safaya personal trainer. Recently, she was promoted and has always managed to make going to class fun for her been instrumental in helping PURE set up its first gym students. I still play tennis against her from time to in Mainland China, in Shanghai. It is a role she has taken time.” up with gusto, although she freely admits that it hasn’t been easy. While the cultural difference and working mostly in Mandarin has taken some getting used to for the sporting enthusiast, the move also meant she had to give up working with all of her long-term personal training clients in Hong Kong, many of whom were difficult to leave behind. “This [working with clients] is actually the most enjoyable part of my job,” said Lona. “Working with clients over an extended period of time and watching them improve their fitness over time is very satisfying.” Lona talks about one client in particular who motivated her personally on a daily basis.


Alumni Profile Daniel Man ‘12 What did playing football abroad teach you? I grew a lot as a player during university, as I had to balance studying with full time training. When I first joined the developmental squad, we played in a Sunday league, which was a world away from the football I played in Hong Kong. There were a lot of tackles flying in, and I learned a lot from playing against older players. Playing in Spain was an eye-opening experience, and it’s the highest level of football I’ve played at so far. The style of play was very different compared to the UK, and the players liked to have the ball at their feet a lot more. Daniel Man ’12 is a professional footballer playing for While in England I learned how to play more physically, Lee Man in the Hong Kong Premier League. The Totem in Spain I learned how to play more smartly. caught up with him to find out about his journey to What kind of player do you see yourself as? professional football. Growing up I always played in midfield, because it was What route did you take to becoming a professional where I could get a lot of touches of the ball and influence games. The past few years I’ve been playing footballer? I took my first steps towards my career as a professional up front more, which is good, because I’ve been footballer at CDNIS, when I joined in Grade 4. Growing working on my shooting a lot. I like to set myself training up, I always enjoyed kicking the ball around where we targets, so that I can continue to improve as a player. lived in Aberdeen, and at school, I played organised What are your aspirations for your football career? football for the first time. By the end of my time at CDNIS, I was training almost every day, either at school This past season hasn’t been my best year. Last season at Hong Kong Football Club, I played a lot of matches or at Hong Kong Football Club. and was the go to guy in the team, but this year at Lee After studying business for three years in Leeds, whilst Man I’ve played every other game. I’m happy to training full time at the university academy, I played for continue playing on the team, but if I receive Bradford City academy for half a season. I then spent opportunities to play elsewhere I will consider them a season in Spain playing in the third division. When because I do want to play regularly. it became clear that there was no pathway for me to further my career in Spain, I came back to Hong Kong Earlier this season I was called up to the Hong Kong and played a year for Hong Kong Football Club in the national squad, which was a developmental team, to play in the Hong Kong Macau interport match. Premier League. This is my first season with Lee Man. Unfortunately I got injured in training in the lead up to the match, which meant that I had to miss it. Hopefully How did your time at CDNIS shape you? I have fantastic memories from my time at CDNIS, from going forward I can get more regular game time and SEASAC tournaments to Experience Week trips. One play for the national team, because I would love to win games for Hong Kong. memory which sticks in my mind was our Grade 12 rainforest camping trip for Experience Week. We had an incredible time swinging from trees and enjoying the outdoors. I still reminisce about this trip with my friends. I keep in touch with a lot of my friends from school, and a group of us are going on holiday soon. Even though I wasn’t the best student, I learnt the value of hard work during Grade 12. I still remember my guidance counsellor Mr. Bob Bate encouraging me to study harder after I was given a very low IB predicted grade. After knuckling down, I was really happy to get a higher score than my prediction, which showed me the value of my effort. I’ve taken this same attitude to my sports.


Staff Profile Robert Minor Lower School Teacher When did you start at CDNIS, and what were you hired to do? I started in 1997 as a Grade 5 teacher. I also started with playing the piano for the choir. Where were you before CDNIS, and what were you doing? I was in South Korea, near Suwon, teaching English. What’s been the biggest change at CDNIS that you’ve witnessed? The most obvious change has been the change in campus, but that’s not the biggest. For me the biggest change has been the approaches to teaching and learning. The teaching style now is more collaborative, as we get to construct the curriculum as well. What’s your favourite local food? Dumplings. Where are you most content in Hong Kong? Lamma Island, where I live. I know my neighbours well and it’s a nice community. I’m a small town boy at heart, but I do enjoy having the city close by too. What profession other than teaching would you have liked to attempt? I would have liked to be an architect. I still enjoy designing things which people can live in, especially with wood. What industry would you least like to be in? Anything to do with money. Which celebrity would you like to be stuck on a deserted island with? I would like to get stuck with a philosopher who I could have a good debate with.

Favourite memory with an alumni? I had a nice visit from a student from my first class at CDNIS. It was nice to see that she had turned out to be a nice young woman, because I was a very inexperienced teacher then! Another old student who has now enrolled her child at CDNIS also came to visit, though that made me feel a bit old. What is your happiest memory at CDNIS? I was responsible for organising these big winter concerts in my first few years at the school. It was nice to witness lots of people coming to school and enjoying the arts. Funniest thing a student has done in your class? Once a student dropped their pen in class, but it fell into a crack in the floor and stayed upright. The whole class was stunned, and it was a fantastic teaching moment as I explained about the probability of this event happening and the different forces acting on the pen. We guarded it for the rest of the day so that no-one would knock it over.


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Canadian International School of Hong Kong 36 Nam Long Shan Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Phone: (852) 2525 7088 Fax: (852) 2525 7579 schoolinfo@cdnis.edu.hk www.cdnis.edu.hk

The Totem (June 2018)  

A semi-annual alumni newsletter

The Totem (June 2018)  

A semi-annual alumni newsletter

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