Interview with General Sir Peter Wall
Leadership for a better world
by Madeleine Duperouzel (Y13, Ward), Zeli Wang (Y11 Nightingale)
The School was recently privileged to host General Sir Peter Wall who, until his retirement last year, served as the Chief of the General Staff, the professional head of the British Army. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2002 and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 2013. General Sir Peter was educated at Whitgift School in South London and Selwyn College, Cambridge. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1974 after graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Among the many areas of the world in which he served in the Army, General Sir Peter spent a period of time in Hong Kong where his barracks were located on the site that Harrow Hong Kong now occupies. During his visit to Hong Kong to support the Gurkha Welfare Trust, he visited the Crossroads Foundation and the School, and he kindly agreed to speak to two reporters from The Harrovian about some of his recollections of Hong Kong and his leadership experiences. Z: What are your recollections of this site and Hong Kong? How do you feel about coming back, and what are your impressions? This area used to be the top half of what was a British Army Camp, called Perowne Barracks, which was occupied by our regiment from the early 1970s until it was vacated in 1995. The Head Master’s office is close to where our flat used to be. You used to be able to look out across Castle Peak Bay, as there were no high-rise buildings. There was no airport at Chek Lap Kok either. In fact, we used to take a boat across and visit the island. It was really very different, and it’s surprising how much Tuen Mun has been built up. It’s exciting to come back here, and nothing could be more fitting from the perspective of the British Army to have a fine school on the same site. Actually, army regiments and schools have lots of similarities.
M: Leading on from that, the next question we have for you is how did your education prepare you for such an interesting and challenging leadership role in the Army? That’s a great question. I went to a school that put immense emphasis on academic work and sport. It was particularly good at team sports, but you could engage in any activity you liked, including music and the arts. The main thing I learnt there was work ethic. Despite having some slightly less spectacular years, people really encouraged me to pull my socks up, and I went on to read engineering at Cambridge. I realised that unless you apply yourself and work hard you’ll have a fairly miserable time! As far as leadership is concerned, inevitably you get opportunities at school to develop your leadership skills, to understand the values that go with good leadership, to understand the importance of forging the right relationships. School provides you with a foundation, but you learn a lot about leadership once you leave. The army has a particularly rigorous way of encouraging leadership, mainly through practical rather than theoretical situations. You learn about how to apply your skills, and everyone does it differently. It’s the sort of thing you can never stop learning about. Z: If everyone does leadership differently, what is good leadership? Good leadership is essentially getting individuals and teams of people to achieve things they didn’t know or believe they could. It’s about everybody raising their game collectively. It does apply to all walks of life; education, business, but it is most exacting in a military situation. The military does put such a premium on leadership, to a far greater extent than other jobs. Despite the Army’s technicality, they often select people solely on their leadership ability, and then gives them jobs afterwards. Most organisations find people with powerful analytical skills and teach leadership later. There are two exceptions to that in the Army, which are lawyers and brain surgeons – but it is useful if they have the skills first! The Army’s leadership model is a very strong one, but it does require people applying who have had a good grounding in leadership from their time at school. M: What is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make, and how did you go about making it. How did it impact your own personal leadership style? Good one! I think you always have to make awkward decisions, some are more extreme than others. When you’re confronted with these sorts of challenges, you’ve got to do the right thing, rather than the easy thing. I think that some people are very driven to appear decisive but they should seriously consider the choices first. You need to have the best
information available. You have to use the people around you as a sounding board. Good decisions are not made by individuals, decisions should be based on a broad base of expert evidence and intuitive judgements. There’s another aspect to that, which is that if you’re leading a team of people, whose fortunes and maybe lives, are dependent on tricky decisions, doing that in isolation isn’t fair. It’s right to let them have a say, and it is also much more conducive to them enacting that decision with vigour. The military often says the 80% decision implemented with 100% vigour will be sufficient for success. I’ve slightly ducked your question, but my toughest decision involves some senior politicians so I probably shouldn’t mention their names! Z: Bearing in mind your experience of ‘climbing the ranks’ to become a general, what is your advice to aspiring leaders who wish to climb the ladders of leadership? I think that I can definitely claim to not have thought very much about where my career would end. It’s about doing the job that you have at the moment, to the best of your ability; looking after the people for whom you are responsible. It’s about promoting the values and cultures that you really believe in, and letting your career look after itself. Z: Do you believe that we are going to see more young leaders than ever in the coming years? Or is leadership still largely restricted to the older generations? I think leadership absolutely starts with young people. I think as society gets more sophisticated, as there is less deference to the old, and as people begin to think more independently, the prospects for stronger and younger leadership must be growing, and the importance of that must be growing. I don’t think you can overlook the importance of developing leaders. You seldom find people with brilliant ideas, who are technically and analytically clever, who are also able to implement those ideas. There’s a place in all walks of life for deliberate selection and development of leaders, rather than assuming that someone really brainy is also going to be quite good at leadership. There are a lot of jobs that aren’t done effectively by motivated people because they just aren’t being given strong leadership, and that’s in all age groups. M: I have one big question that I would like to ask you, about your oversight of the UK’s operations in Iraq in 2003. This is a topic that is obviously very fiercely debated, and very controversial. How did you manage to lead in a responsible way when faced with this? When we were in the run-up to the invasion, although we were very focused on the job, in the back of our minds we were conscious of the debate going on. There were large protests, and a vote in parliament. This was all on the assumption, from the intelligence we were hearing, that weapons of mass destruction had been found. When you’re in a situation where you’ve got to organise and then lead a force of about 40,000 people you have to dismiss doubts and get on with the job. You have to assume that other people in the system are doing the thinking for you. You can’t go into war half-heartedly, you
have to be sure it’s the right thing to do, or you risk leading your soldiers into a disastrous situation. You have to be 150% committed. This thinking was rapidly tarnished after we were unable to find weapons of mass destruction, which was the raison d’être for what we were doing. When we were in Iraq, and had an opportunity to make life a lot better for the average person, we got a wave of optimism. But there was a sense of frustration that we couldn’t really remedy the situation – we couldn’t stabilise the economy, there was no stable government, there wasn’t enough fuel. We really never had the resources. I feel very uneasy about the fact that we went to war on a false premise, and even more so because we never committed ourselves with enough to deliver what we had promised. After several years of trying to do that, and quite a lot of soldiers losing their lives, the political stamina evaporated. We weren’t defeated, but we certainly didn’t succeed. Z: You have said before that lifting the ban on women serving in combat units should be seriously considered. Why do you want this, what caused you to form this opinion? One of the things that you must do in any institution is stay relevant. The British Army is a volunteer organisation, highly dependent on talent. If we take a less committed view of female talent in society, we’re never going to have our optimum capability. Women at the moment can do 70% of the trades, the non-combat ones. That makes the Army look as though it is an odd part of society; it deters a lot of people from joining. Only 10% of the British Army is female, and it ought to be a lot higher. We need to be much more welcoming to women. I’m not sure how many would volunteer for combat jobs, but if we looked a little less abnormal, then many more might volunteer for non-combat jobs. We’ve had plenty of experience of women operating in the combat zone, and they have made remarkable and gallant contributions. Z: I agree. If they’re competent enough, why not let them join? There have been lots of arguments put forward, like if women are put in small teams then men get distracted, trying to protect the woman rather than fight the enemy. I think we have to move past that argument. M: And finally, since you retired last year, we were wondering if you had any retirement plans? I’m involved in a lot of charities, in a school, a mental health-care organisation, the Gurkha Welfare Trust, and a few others. I’m running an advisory business for commerce, applying my lessons from the military, as a leader, as a strategic thinker, and as someone who has tried to get the very best out of organisations. The real issue you have when you stop a full time job is you worry about what your purpose is. I’m nervous of the morning I wake up with a sense of little or no purpose. Many people in the world have had the privilege to do really worthwhile work, and it is difficult to give up. That’s what life is about, having a worthwhile purpose.
The ‘Cure’ to Ignorance by Kalina Milenova (Y11, Ward)
spirituality in the lives of the villagers made me feel very grateful for the healthcare available to myself and the people around me but also enriched my knowledge of the diversity of healing practices and the way a connection between the mind and body can help people overcome various hardships. Experiences such as these are important in shaping the way we think about our own lives and those of others, giving us a new perspective and encouraging us to seek the meaning behind the lifestyles we often dismiss as merely ‘exotic.’
Why I Love Playing Rugby by Eve Caplowe (Y11, Smith)
It is often easy to get caught up in our own traditions and personal beliefs. The fast-paced nature of life in places such as Hong Kong frequently leads us to overlook the fact that in many other places in the world, customs and traditions are vastly different. I recently had the opportunity to experience firsthand an eye-opening life style quite unlike my own, in a rural village near Luang Prabang in Laos, during the School’s eco-bungalow building expedition in the October half-term. On our very first night in the village, we were lucky enough to witness a Hmong Shaman ritual, believed to have powers to heal a sick boy. The Hmong ethnic group are one of many in Laos, and their spiritual culture differs greatly to others in Southeast Asia - they believe in a variety of natural and supernatural spiritual forces that are present in all living beings. According to their philosophy, the most important means by which mortals communicate with ancestral and supernatural spirits is through shamanism, in which the shaman himself acts as a physical channel between the divine and mortal world, called upon by the spirits. The villagers believed that the reason for the boy’s illness was the absence of a spirit in his body, and that he could be cured through a series of long and complex chants and dances alongside the sacrifice of a baby pig. Observing this lengthy and complex ritual made me reflect on the numerous ways in which people around the world use religious and spiritual beliefs to heal physical illnesses. Personally, I believe that it is difficult to pinpoint the reason why these fascinating rituals still exist in many areas of the world today, as our global community continues to develop at different rates. As beliefs are so diverse, it is often hard for us - members of an urban and industrialized society - to understand why methods which may seem ineffective or eccentric in our eyes, are held in such high regard by certain ethnic groups and are still used for vital things such as health. Although they may lack access to medicine, traditional villages like the one that hosted us usually pass down traditions through generations and eventually they become instilled in their day-to-day life. As guests in the village, it was important for us to respect their healing methods even if they seemed ineffective to us. Although a spiritual culture exists in Hong Kong, it is not as prominent in our lifestyles and the way that we think. Experiencing the importance and reliance on
I’m small – nearly 5’4” and not particularly wide. I’m not a natural sprinter. This does not make me an ideal candidate to play rugby, but it’s been my favourite sport since I was about eight years old. My mum always said I was more suited to ballet or gymnastics, but somehow, rugby just worked for me. I joined the Aberdeen Dolphins mini rugby club as an afterschool activity as I had just realised how rubbish I was at football and had dropped it. I needed a new sport. As my dad used to play rugby at school, I signed up, and almost instantly I was hooked. The rules were complicated, yes, but the main objective made complete sense: get past the other team. To begin with, I wasn’t very good. Looking back, I was diabolically awful, but along with my brother, and another friend, we trained really hard, and slowly started to improve. That was when HKU Sandy Bay RFC came in. They had a good boy’s team, but their girls’ team was consistently winning cups, and known as one of the best in Hong Kong. They took my friend and me to some of their training sessions, and eventually we said goodbye to the Dolphins and really started to learn how the game worked. The standard was so much better than I had been used to. I became the scrum half for the 2nd team, but at least I was playing in my best position. I stayed in the second team for 4 years, until just last season when I finally made the first team for the Sevens. We won that tournament and later on the All Girls Tournament. So, if you think rugby is too difficult, too violent or you’re too small or you’re worried that everyone else will be better than you, chances are you’re wrong. So if there’s anyone considering it, but you’re nervous about starting, at least give it a go. Trust me, you will be okay.
Inter-Schools November Rowing Regatta by Hamza Apabhai (Y11, Waterman)
On the 8th November 2015, a group of us represented Harrow Hong Kong in the annual inter-schools rowing regatta in Sha Tin: Amelia Lee (Y10 Tutt), Valerie Chiu (Y12 Tutt), Raphael Lajeunesse (Y10 Cale), James Callaghan (Y10 Waterman), Harry Bradstreet (Y11 Lloyd), Michael Harries (Y12 Cale), James Callaghan (Y10 Waterman), and myself. The event was hosted by the Hong Kong China Rowing Association down at the Shing Mun river. Harrow Hong Kong rowers were entered into events including single sculls, double sculls and the final quad event. Our opponents were those from local and as well as international schools, along with members of the Hong Kong National Team. The highlight of the day was our last race: the U16 boys coxed quad. This was a gruelling one kilometre race between three other schools and us. At the beginning of the race, after we warmed up, we were ahead in first place. Throughout the race, we were sandwiched between two other boats that were parallel to us along the whole way. After a prolonged stretch of endurance trying to keep up with our competition, the last 250 metres was going to decide the winner. With determination and encouragement from our cox, we were able to pull away and narrowly win second place, despite being less than a metre away from the next team. It was an exciting way to end the day and we were all felt very proud of ourselves, representing Harrow Hong Kong and bringing home a silver medal. U20 Boys Rugby by Oliver Duffy (Y12, Lloyd)
The second half of the U20s season began with two Sevens tournaments, the first of which was held at Harrow Hong Kong and the second at KGV. Our boys were fairly successful in the first mini-tournament which was against Kellet School and a touring side from Dubai, well versed in their Sevens structure. Unfortunately we lost to the A team from Dubai in a tough match 36-7 with Justin Chan (Y13, Lloyd) the only try scorer
for Harrow Hong Kong. However the next two matches were much more successful with a closely fought match which resulted in narrow victory thanks to a last minute try from Calvin Kean (Y12, Cale), ending the game at 29-21. Oliver Duffy (Y12, Lloyd) scored three tries to gain the early lead and Jonathan Ip (Y10, Lloyd) also scored one. The last match of the day was against Kellet School and saw Harrow win comfortably 29-0 with tries from Sam Hu (Y12, Lloyd), Oliver Duffy, Justin Chan, Frans Otten (Y12, Lloyd) and Jonathan Ip. It was a promising performance from the home side. In the second tournament the Harrow Hong Kong first team was less fortunate, losing three out of three games in a disappointing performance against SIS, KGV and Kellet. Despite the strong performance earlier on in the week, the boys did not play the same exciting and interesting rugby that they had displayed just a few days before. However, the team still showed character and played sections of good quality rugby, which showed in the close final scores against KGV and Kellet of 19-12 and 15-10 respectively. SIS, being a well-trained side were able to extend their lead against Harrow Hong Kong by 35-0. Regardless of these losses, from these results it is clear to see that there has been great progress and some decent performances by the first team. However, there is still great room for improvement which will hopefully emerge from the next few training sessions. Regional skating success by Lexi Joseph-Hui (Y4, Snake), Gwyneth Suen (Y4, Ox)
On 7th and 8th November 2015, seven-year-old Logan Higase-Chen (Y2, Monkey), who has been training for just one year, participated in the highest intermediate level of the 2015 ISI Skate Hong Kong Competition. With so many skaters competing in a total of 22 teams from all over Asia, Logan achieved outstanding results and won three gold medals in Freestyle Solo (ISI Level 3, aged 7), Pairs Jump Spin (ISI levels 1-3, aged 6-7) and Speed Racing (aged 7). When Logan first started skating, she learnt how to get used to falling with her two coaches, Sunny and Diana. Her class is held at the Elements Ice Rink. “I admired all the pretty costumes the skaters wear. I was so intrigued by them that I wanted to learn how to skate!” explained Logan. At training, she focuses on all turns, but in particular an axel (when you jump with a forward take off and full turn in the air) and a change foot spin (you spin on your right foot, left foot and your right foot again). “The change foot spin is one
of the most difficult for me!” she told us. Normally, Logan wears waterproof trousers and a t-shirt with her hair in a bun, but in big performances or a big dance in a competition, she wears a costume or dress. Logan told us she was most proud when she won the solo dance category. In the competition, she danced with Assele, her skating partner. “In the competition, other skaters were also very good. However, I guess that maybe their coach didn’t teach them as well as my coaches taught me, and that was probably the reason why I won,” Logan modestly said. Yuna Kim from South Korea is her favourite figure skater because she is amazing and she can master a triple axel beautifully. She is also an Olympic champion. Logan likes football and tennis, but skating remains her favourite sport, “My dream is to participate in the Olympics as a figure skater. I will practice very hard in order to achieve my dream.’’ U14 Girls Basketball by Amberly Ying (Y9 Ward), Louise Craven (Y9 Ward)
After a tightly fought first match of the season, the Harrow U14 basketball team beat HKIS 24-18. The starting team included Kayan Tam (Y8, Matthews), Dora Meng (Y8, Duffner), Claudia Yip (Y9, Smith), Christy Yung (Y9, Smith) and Amberly Ying (Y9, Ward) with Amberly Ying and Dora Meng playing particularly well. The team has definitely improved from its rigorous training sessions.
Running to Stop the Traffik
by Matthew Leslie (Year 11, Waterman), Kalina Milenova (Year 11, Ward), Eve Caplowe (Year 11, Smith)
Hour Race is what it says on the tin - that is, running in a relay around a 3.4km lap of the Peak, non-stop, for 24 hours. As the day ticked on and energy levels dropped, I think I speak for the team when I say it was prevailing team spirit and firm belief in the principle of the race that drove us onwards, till the very last lap. It was a powerful experience for all, and many would like to share their own thoughts: Kalina Milenova: “‘Endurance run’ says it all. The 24 hour race was not only a physical challenge but a mental one. As one can imagine, after nine laps of the peak, energy levels were running low, as was motivation and any will to keep running. What motivated me personally was reminding myself why I was there and what I was aiming to achieve. The importance of raising the issue of modern-day human trade and slavery pushed us to the very last minute of the 24th hour and by the end of it our weariness was balanced by pride and satisfaction.” Eve Caplowe: “I would like to take this chance to thank whoever brought the foam roller because it would be an understatement to call it a lifesaver, and also Daniel Bristow, who brought seven phone chargers with him. In all seriousness though, the running was absolutely horrendous and I cursed every choice I had ever made up until that point. I was sure I needed sleep more than oxygen, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that sugary drinks are a great alternative, and that I actually survived. For reasons I can’t really explain, I will definitely be doing it again next year. Hope to see more of you there.”
After a gruelling assessment week, most students could return home feeling relieved, knowing that the ‘academic’ worst was now behind them. Having finished five days of exams, it was finally time to relax. However, for the 24 hour race runners, there were no days off. Some 30 hardened Harrovians set off the following Saturday morning to participate in the 24 Hour Race: a charity event for secondary school students aimed at raising awareness for modern day slavery around the world. The 24
Will you take the challenge next year? The 24 hour race is an unforgettable experience - it brings together young people all over Hong Kong in a student initiative to raise money for charity. I definitely learnt a lot about team building, supporting one another, and the amount of sleep required to last a day. On a serious note, the director of the 24 Hour Race, William Kwok, mentions that there are over 30 million people living in slavery today - which is enough people to line up from Hong Kong to Bangkok, shoulder-to-shoulder, 16 times. Abolishing slavery is still a critical problem today, and it was thoroughly rewarding to be able to run for such a good cause.
American Universities 101 by Cici Zhang (Y13, Smith)
Having to balance responsibilities, prep and revision is not easy in your final year of senior school, and it is even more difficult when you have both UK and US applications to fill out. It’s safe to say that this school term has been the busiest and most challenging few months of my entire career. September was the IELTS and ACT exams, October was the UCAS (UK) and Common App (USA) Early Applications deadline, and November was the time for internal assessments and University of California’s deadline. Having gone through all this and being one of the few people in my year that is applying for both USA and UK, I thought it would be a good idea if I compiled three important things I’ve learnt from the process that I hope might be of help to some of you in the future. 1. The importance of extra-curricular activities. American universities take a holistic approach to applications, meaning they don’t judge your profile by just public examination results. They look at everything: leadership roles, service, music, work experience, sports and more. From the start of Year 10, which is equivalent to America’s freshman year of high school, you will need to start thinking about what activities you enjoy and to which you will be able to stay committed. Being well rounded is one thing, but what US admission officers want to see is the level of achievement in a specific activity and what you’ve got out of it. The significance of becoming the captain of a team or the founder of a club is much greater than if you were just a member. This is vastly different from UK admissions where you can only apply if you are predicted the A-Level grade requirement and extra-curricular involvement is just a minor topic in the personal statement; applying to America means as long as you can truly impress them, you have a chance – even if it’s Harvard. 2. Do extensive research. Yes, I know that’s a given no matter where you apply, but there are over 2000 four-year colleges and universities across the United States. That means no matter which subject you wish to pursue there will be many options to choose from for the similar standard of education – meaning you’ll have to do research on other factors such as location, weather, school size and culture. Do keep in mind that it will cost over $50,000 USD per year for an international applicant to attend most US universities, compared to less than $20,000 USD for the UK. Therefore
cost may be an important factor when selecting a university. Since you often don’t have to declare your ‘major’ until your second or third year, supplemental application essays from each university you apply to will more likely be asking you why you are choosing their college or programme rather than your passion for one academic subject. This might include your interest and appreciation for the quality of their faculty and research, studying abroad and internship opportunities, or the unique curriculum that they teach which you believe will help you attain your goals and aspirations. Most universities will not provide a compulsory interview, so you will have to do the best you can to deliver your interest in their school through the essay, which can only be achieved if you know enough about the college or programme. The US universities want to see you how you will fit into their community, what you will get out of it, and what you plan to do with that knowledge to make an impact back on the community. 3. Grades and scores do matter. While A-Level predicted grades are the one of the most important considerations in your UK applications, the US will be asking for your entire high school grade profile in the transcript along with your standardised testing. It is the first thing universities will look at when they have hundreds and thousands of applications piling up to review. Although you might have a stellar essay and a strong extra-curricular profile that will amuse and amaze them, grades will still be a significant factor in your application. In terms of school grades, US universities will often compare you with other people in your school. Thankfully, we are a school following the British curriculum so we don’t have a GPA system or year ranking, but that doesn’t mean you should not be challenging yourself. The admissions office wants to see that you are taking the most rigorous curriculum you can, and of course, excelling in them to show your capability. In terms of standardised testing such as the SAT and ACT, I would suggest doing a mock test in both before deciding which one to take, as your score level in the two may fluctuate greatly. Research what the average score for your dream school is, and then set that as your goal to surpass it. As for tutoring, I took prep courses for the SAT, but self-studied for the ACT with practice papers and achieved a much higher score. However, the experience with these exams will vary for every individual so start preparing early to work out which one is the most effective for you. Remember, compared to around 25% for the UK, the acceptance rates for the top universities in the USA are often below 10% with the figures being even lower for the small proportion of international applicants. Therefore, although a perfect score on these tests will not ensure your acceptance, it will certainly put you in a much stronger position than the 40,000 people you will be competing with. I know it might seem like a lot, and I hope I haven’t stressed you out too much. Yes, it will take effort, but you will learn to be more organised and efficient. Yes, it will take commitment, but it will encourage you to improve your performance in existing activities and pursue new experiences and opportunities. Yes, at one point you might start to feel tired and want to give up, but this will teach you to persevere and think optimistically about what you will be getting at the end of the road. Maybe one day you’ll be doing Stem Cell research at MIT, or discussing politics in a seminar at
Georgetown. Maybe one day you’ll be surfing at the beach after your class in UCLA, or be cheering on the football team with your sorority sisters during Game Day at the University of Michigan. While US universities aren’t a replica of the ones you see in Hollywood movies, they certainly will provide you with an exciting ‘college’ experience of a lifetime. So dream big, keep your options open, and do your best. Good luck!
by Zeli Wang (Y11, Nightingale), Irene Kim (Y12, Ward)
The ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association) High School Festival was held at Harrow Hong Kong from 30th October to 1st November and 90 students from international schools in Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea, and Turkey visited us. We hosted students from the visiting schools and gathered in ensembles to explore this year’s theme ‘the ingenious harnessing of nature’. The deluge of creativity began with a trickle, when we visited the dam at the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir. To the left, blistering midday sun; to the right, the towering barbed wire. The ripples calm and serene, the industry loud and heavy. The deep expanse of glimmering water teeming with life starkly contrasted with the angular, grey construction site. Where is our place within nature? How can nature help us progress yet coexist in harmony with us? What happens when there is conflict between the two? To answer these questions, we devised an abstract piece. Our awesome ensemble leader, Shane, told us to include paper shreds in the performance, so we decided to rain money on the construction site while magically turning trees into buildings. (Hooray!) After presenting them, we wrote streams of consciousness (unfiltered, unedited words that come to mind), building on ideas from each other’s performances. Finally, we put them together to develop a storyline with twists and turns. Hold on, where were the fun and games, you might ask? Well, first of all, the sort of games we played with Shane were intense and demanded great concentration, like one during a session on day two. The 22 of us had to stand in a circle and say our names one by one until a cycle was completed. We then added in a tennis ball to be thrown around, but in a different cycle this time. Shane, pushing us to our limits, threw the ‘pointing’ cycle and the ‘positionswitching’ cycle in, until none of us could keep up. And yes, I don’t mind repeating myself: concentration is crucial for any
drama student. On the third day, we started making the final ‘sharing’ piece. We performed it in a previously undiscovered drama space: the tall staircase leading to the Transport Centre. It was the perfect auditorium, every whisper booming out of the sound tunnel loud and clear. Many other ensembles used unusual spaces as well, for example, the “fish tank” near the ping pong tables, the “triangular balcony” over the transport centre, plus the temple. Coupled with lighting and music, the pieces turned into deep, philosophical programmes. For our ensemble, we had green confetti trickling from upstairs, referring to deforestation and loss of habitat. On the ‘stage’, trees collapsed to the stomps of a logger, with speakers narrating the demise. The scene culminated in Sandi Thom’s I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair), a flashback to the days when humans were on good terms with nature. Glorious as we may be on stage, actors need their backstage crew. Without the Event Management Team, there would have been no ISTA. The Creative Team produced designs for the t-shirts and brochures; the Social Team organized a Disco party for the drama students; the Tuck Shop Team was in charge of the snack bar with profits for charity whilst photographers captured moments of excitement and bursts of creativity with their cameras. Furthermore, it was a great opportunity for the members of the management team to take their initiatives and practice leadership attributes in many aspects, which also tied in with the Harrow Hong Kong motto: Leadership for a better world. To step out of the intense three-day drama immersion, we finished with a powerful chant. I miss all the friends and amazing people so much! I hope we can meet again, in Thailand, Turkey, Korea or wherever the next ISTA Festival is. This was by far my best ISTA experience ever. Overall, it was an amazing experience for everyone: we improved our drama skills, broadened our cultural perspectives and reflected upon the link between humans and nature. Although the festival lasted only three days, the lessons learnt will stay forever, fresh and vivid in our memories.
Quotes and the Sacred Chant
Anonymous “When we destroy something made by humans, we call it vandalism; when we destroy something made by nature, we call it progress.” All the earth is sacred, with every step you take. All the air is sacred, with every breath you take.
Finn Bartlett (Y11 Lloyd) “It’s like stepping into a puddle and realising that you walked into an ocean.”
You know it, the people: they are one.
Current Affairs: The Removal of China’s One-Child Policy by Nia Milenova (Y13, Ward)
policy has been incredibly successful in changing the mindset of Chinese people – many do not want more than one child as they simply cannot afford it. Moreover, by limiting the number to two children, the new policy has failed to address the issue of nosy officials prying into private family life, the imposing of crippling fines and the forcing of women to undergo abortions. It will also fail to address the long-lasting issue of gender imbalance. The importance of the one-child policy in shaping China into what it has become today is undeniable. Indeed, the two-child policy is a step in the right direction. A halting step, but nevertheless a significant one in beginning the slow reversal of the negative social and demographic impacts of the one-child policy. What may be further needed is genuine attitudinal change, which will come with time. As for the generations of single children raised under the one-child policy, they will carry the burden of caring for two pairs of elders and the detrimental effects of a gender imbalance.
The internationally renowned, controversial Chinese onechild policy was abolished in October, to allow couples to have two children. China embarked on this policy on the brink of famine, 35 years ago, in the hope to stabilise food and water supplies and that a low fertility policy would create worldclass citizens, and make China competitive in the capitalist world system. Rather than wait for modernisation to produce low fertility, China used low fertility as a means to accelerate modernisation. It is reasonable to argue that policies such as this have helped to lift 600 million people out of poverty; the one child policy massively improved the quality of health care and education in its society and has underpinned China’s rapid economic growth. It also lessened the immense burden that a population of 400 million more would have had on the environment and natural resources. It has, however, had other A photographic census of the profound effects upon society. Harrow community, one story China now finds itself in a demographic crisis, which at a time. Inspired by is diminishing its workforce, meant to support a huge ageing Humans of New York. population: by 2050, one in every fourth person in China will by Sophie Yau (Y13, Tutt) be a retiree. The one-child policy has also caused a dramatic gender imbalance with millions of men predicted to be unable to find wives. The one-child policy has also been accused of creating a generation of ‘little emperors’ who are unable to adapt to their environments, share and cooperate with others. Indeed, some companies explicitly advertise a preference for applicants with siblings, saying ‘Little Emperors have been raised with such high expectations that they make poor employees’. Nevertheless, heavy investment from parents is met with great expectations for children’s success, which is exacerbated by a fear that parents will not have enough support in old age as well as a scarcity of educational and professional opportunities. In societies that have had low fertility for several generations, the heavy investment and unrealistic expectations may appear to be natural. However, in China, the problems associated with low fertility have been especially severe because of the rapid fertility decline. Among the first generation of single children, everyone needed a job that paid enough to provide for the needs of many dependents. So, every child, talented or not, aspired for elite status, even though only a small minority could attain it. The frustration and stress this has caused on societal, familial and personal levels are unimaginable. One reason why the party has clung to the one-child policy for so long, and why it isn’t being scrapped altogether, is because of the huge bureaucracy that has grown with the task of enforcing it, among other reasons. Nevertheless, Chinese officials recognise the important role a large middle class could play in shifting China to a more consumer-based economy: a two-child policy would introduce three to six million newborns a year, which could amount to $19 billion to $38 billion in consumer spending. More importantly, in introducing a two-child policy, China hopes to tackle the “My favourite festival… issues it faces of a growing dependency ratio and gender I guess it will be Christmas as I always have lots of fun imbalance. and most importantly, I celebrate Jesus’ birthday.” The question is, will the move to a two-child-policy reverse these issues and be a prelude to higher fertility levels? Have a burning question? Got a great idea for an article? Interested In the short term, probably not. Ironically, the one-child in joining? Write to us at email@example.com
Humans of Harrow Hong Kong