Leadership for a better world
Literature Comes Alive by Zeli Wang (Y11, Nightingale)
The third annual Literature Live was proudly presented by the English Department on the 20th January 2016. More than one hundred students worked hard to put together a truly wonderful show, featuring a wide range of genres. Famous protagonists debated on who is greater in ‘Superman versus Batman’. In this battle of the superheroes, both explained their advantages: Superman, his strength, and Batman, his Batmobile. However, they all suffered from crippling weaknesses: Superman from humiliation caused by his external underpants, and Batman from his dependence on his vehicle. The debate was inconclusive, but who do you think should have won? Fables punctuated Literature Live, smoothly linking ideas between different acts. ‘The Eagle and the Owl’ was one great example. Its moral of ‘kindness begets kindness’ is very applicable in daily life. Perhaps we should be more kind to others, seeing how little favours may be returned when you need it in the future. I hope you didn’t miss the classics! These are the works that have stood through the test of time. ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ challenged the audience’s perception of the human mind. I was cast as Mr Utterson, the figure of rationality, and the role made me think about how people sometimes have different faces, sides, and personalities to suit their purposes. The evening featured some confident public speakers discussing current issues. Zoe Cheung (Y11, Ward) delivered a convincing message about Islamophobia. An emphatic plea was made to both the media and the public for more rational language when representing the Muslim community. The use of sensational headlines by the media to draw people’s attention to certain stories was criticised in the talk. Straight after the interval, the a cappella group Solidago sang a beautiful five-part rendition of Tracy Chapman’s ‘Telling Stories’ (arr. Mr Penfold). The parts were complex in structure and the music ran in different interweaving layers. The lyrics reminded me of the unreliability of speech and action between even the closest of friends, which made
one doubt if complete trust is ever possible. In the end, we may have to settle on lies, as Chapman sang in her song: “Sometimes a lie is the best thing.” ‘Lord of the Files’, the penultimate act of the night, was a sequel to ‘The Balloon Debate’ from last year’s Literature Live. Some members of staff of Harrow Hong Kong were stranded on an uninhabited island. The rationals come face-to-face with the practicals, with the symbol of civilisation, the Coke-bottle conch, at stake. Would order prevail, or would instincts take over? The cast from Y11 again impressed with their firm grasp of different teachers’ mannerisms. If I was a teacher I would have been very proud of my stunt double!
As the final chorus of a song ‘The Sound of Reading’ was sung, the curtains fell and before leaving, parents had the option to buy a copy of The Blossom Tree 2016, Harrow Hong Kong’s Literature Anthology of 2016. The book features poems, short stories, and artwork by the students. Literature Live has become a firm fixture on the School Calendar and is becoming one of the most hotly anticipated events of the year. Congratulations to everyone involved - you put on a very entertaining and enlightening show!
Skewed Understanding by Matthew Leslie (Y11, Waterman)
from Literature Live
1. “Describe a test and a positive result for chlorine gas.” 2. “Explain one effect on the USA of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.” 3.“Write down Faraday’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction.” These questions were directly lifted from IGCSE past papers, and recur time and time again regardless of qualification or exam board. What do all three questions have in common? A test of the candidate’s understanding. It requires the student to have learnt the material, processed it, and applied it to the question. Weary examiners will then look at the paper, glance to see if the pupil’s words match the mark scheme and then, possibly depending on the handwriting and whether they have had a coffee that morning, will then award marks where they see fit. It is an understandable way of doing things. With over 700,000 students in the UK alone taking GCSEs every year, exam-style questioning needs to be succinct and clear so that marking is efficient, and results are easily comparable. But is this the ideal style of questioning? Whether they intended to or not, examiners have directly influenced learning in schools - and not necessarily for the better. Teachers and students scramble to adapt to the expectations of the exam board, which are too often allowed to dominate much of the secondary school curriculum. Students have become drilled into writing ‘safe’ answers that will hopefully not look too audacious in the eyes of the mark scheme, and the phrase ‘exam technique’ is parroted endlessly in the course of preparing for a test. We find it difficult to escape the pressure to learn to the exam. To the French philosopher Montaigne, knowledge could be divided into two categories: learning, and wisdom. In the category of learning, he placed, among other subjects, grammar, Latin, Greek, and etymology. In the category of wisdom, he placed a far broader, more elusive, and yet more valuable type of knowledge: everything that could help a person to live well, and for Montaigne that meant living happily and morally. Adopting a Montaignesque approach, this is perhaps a shortcoming of schools to this day: they excel at providing learning to students, but do not always impart wisdom in equal measure. Regardless of the knowledge students take away from school, if it does not serve to improve understanding in the wider world, should it be of value? The general system of teaching at secondary school level prepares pupils in increasingly discipline-specific ways for university, meaning that some of the content can feel less relevant for those who have already chosen their career path. Yet the qualities of wisdom (as opposed to learning) are applicable to all, regardless of their field of study. There perhaps needs to be a balance between job specific skill-sets, and practical wisdom which everyone can make use of. Not only is wisdom relevant in so many situations, it exerts a positive influence on the individual that learning does not always achieve. A disproportionate contributor to exam success is memory recall: the blunt facts and figures that carry many of the marks. Unfortunately, this has tended to cultivate a ‘cramming’ approach that students too often get sucked into, and moreover, it may not be the most effective way of making things stick in the long run. The secondary
school curriculum largely works to fill memory, leaving little space for understanding or evaluation. The question ‘who understands best?’ is often eclipsed by ‘who understands most?’ Engaging actively rather than passively with what they are learning can not only give students a deeper, more enduring understanding which they can go on to apply for themselves. It also enables them to question what they are told instead of simply accepting it as authoritative. We can and should value knowledge - arguably, wisdom is about the use we make of that knowledge. One would hope the relevance of subject matter was judged by its application for the individual, not its practicality for exams. In the words of Montaigne:
“If a man were wise, he would gauge the true worth of anything by its usefulness and appropriateness to his life.”
There is perhaps not enough emphasis on ‘living’ life in schools. Achieving a Gold in the Maths Olympiad, being able to recite the Gettysburg Address, or memorising the classification of species; these are all admirable feats. However, I believe the act of persuading, laughing, rebuking, taking initiative, accepting responsibility, living together amicably, of not getting slack and being true to yourself - these things are more rare and more remarkable, and it is attributes like these that should be accorded just as much importance.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day by Madeleine Duperouzel (Y13, Ward)
On the 27th January each year, the world remembers all victims of the Holocaust, a mass genocide under the German Nazi Regime, 1933-45. The Jews were undoubtedly the most targeted group under this reign of terror. However, political opponents of the Nazis, disabled people, homosexuals, ethnic Romani peoples, and people deemed not ‘Aryan’ enough were also killed en masse. The significance of the date is that it marks the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, 71 years ago in 1945. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the most well known concentration camp and it is estimated that here alone 1.1 million Jews and 200,000 others were killed, through the gas chamber, overworking and starvation, through disease, eugenics experiments, or general maltreatment. I was honoured to be asked to speak at this year’s memorial service, run by the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre. Initially, I was unsure of what to expect. Growing up as an agnostic Australian living in Hong Kong and Singapore, I had never been particularly challenged or discriminated against, and particularly as a non-Jewish person, I wondered if I was right for the job. However, the historian in me saw an opportunity to connect with a part of history that is often talked about, but, in my opinion, never fully understood. Understanding the Holocaust is difficult. Ben Freeman, Director of Education at the tolerance centre, talked to me about having spent almost ten years being actively involved in Holocaust education, and still not fully understanding it himself. I will simplify it into three points,
but this is a gross downplaying of the depth and effects of the Holocaust. Firstly, you have to come to grips with the sheer scale of this event. One-third of the world’s Jewish population was killed. Children after the Holocaust grew up not knowing anything about their identity, and adults found themselves unable to speak of the horrors they faced for decades afterwards. The second part of understanding this period of history is seeing it in context. Yes, there had been mass murders and genocides before, and there have been since. What the Nazis were able to do was turn killing into an industry. The world had never before seen hatred on a level like this, hatred that permeated through an entire society. Thirdly, and perhaps the thing that out of all these is the most difficult to come to terms with, is that people did this to other people. When I first began thinking about the Holocaust, I could only associate it with Germans and Jews. Now, I can see past this simplistic and divisive perspective. Humans wanted this to happen to other humans. Being able to listen to members of the Jewish community speak about their feelings and experiences with the Holocaust was eye-opening for me, as, for the first time, I did not feel disconnected and alienated from the event. It reminded me that history is not something relegated to textbooks and teachers, but that it is living, and something we must learn from. Too often, when you study the Holocaust in History lessons at school, you let yourself become absorbed in numbers and statistics, political power plays, international relations, Hitler and his henchmen, etc. People forget that this isn’t just something they have to memorise for a set of exams. This was an event that still impacts the world today. Listening to Dov Landau, the Holocaust survivor who also spoke here at Harrow Hong Kong, brought tears to my eyes, even though I had heard his story twice that week. Listening to the Jewish prayers, sung with such deep and honest emotion, revealed to me the deep and intangible connection felt between members of a community. Observing the different Consuls-General lighting their memorial candles showed how events such as these could, and should, transcend national boundaries and geo-political relationships. The lessons we can learn from World War II are bigger than any trivial argument over resources, ethnicity, or borders. Having gained even a marginally deeper understanding of how and why the Holocaust came to be has shown me the parallels that exist in our present: the refugee crisis, Donald Trump (as much as we all laugh, people once laughed at Hitler), widespread Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism and stereotyping. If we are not careful, if we do not act in every way possible to be fair, just, and unprejudiced, history will repeat itself. We cannot allow ourselves to become bystanders, historically or in the present day. We should not try to distance ourselves, convince ourselves that it “just isn’t our problem” or that “it’s all in the past”. These issues are not dead. The Israeli Consul General reminded the audience that in the past month numerous copies of Anti-Semitic literature were seized at Hong Kong’s international borders. Not Europe, not America, but right here, in Hong Kong. It was this realisation that suddenly pushed my words to a deeper level, as I stood up in front of prominent community members, Rabbis, Consuls-General, teachers,
students, and just regular people, to deliver the final lines of the evening:
“Most importantly, these stories remind us to always stand up for the rights of others, to fight all kinds of prejudice, and to never forget the depths to which humanity can plummet.”
Humans of Harrow Hong Kong
A photographic census of the Harrow community, one story at a time. Inspired by Humans of New York. by Sophie Yau (Y13, Tutt)
“What is the motto you live by?”
“To live my day in a way that will allow me to have peace of mind when I go to bed at the end of the day.”
Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre
by Cici Zhang (Year 13, Smith)
Maggie’s is a cancer caring centre at the Tuen Mun Hospital that offers free psychological, emotional and informational support to anyone diagnosed with cancer or has family and friends that are affected by the illness. Service is an integral part of our school’s principle of “contributing positively to the community” and the members of the Community Working Party ECA have had the pleasure to work with the patients at Maggie’s this past term. To me, Maggie’s is a refreshing and welcoming
haven. Even after countless visits, we are still greeted with warm smiles and genuine appreciation from the patients who look forward to meeting Harrovians each week. As part of the English Language group that visits Maggie’s Cancer Centre, I am responsible for teaching English to members of the Maggie’s community. While my group and I prepare interactive flashcards to cater to the patients who are not familiar with the language, we also have the chance to engage in meaningful conversations with those that were fluent in English, with discussions ranging from the process of cancer treatments to jaw-dropping balloon twisting tricks. The most memorable encounter I have had was with a lady who could not speak a word of English, yet showed such determination that she was able to flawlessly memorise all the new vocabulary I taught her. By the end of our session, her face gleamed with pleasure and so did mine; I felt very proud of her achievement.
Hong Kong Chinese person. Taking off from a state of relative poverty in the 1950’s, Hong Kong’s economic development has led to dramatic changes in taste throughout all aspects of life. What’s more, with an ever-increasing expat community which brings the growth in international schools, the popular culture of Hong Kong has never been more representative of all the nationalities of its population. A question asked by many however, is why certain nations’ popular culture seem to overpower others, and contribute more to what is widely accepted and sought after? Countries such as the USA for example, rely heavily on their entertainment industry for economic growth and seem to dominate global preferences. This can be seen in the fact that the top five highest grossing films of all time are indeed Hollywood films. Many people think that this is because of America’s arguably liberal society, and that their lifestyle is appealing, whilst others believe that it is simply the large variety of genres of music, TV and film that the USA provides that has the power to attract almost anybody. However, as much as certain countries tend to overshadow others, it is fair to say that in the modern day, we have still managed to conserve relative diversity between our lifestyle choices, values and interests. Whilst the world globalises and seems to merge as one, it is important that the individuality of cultures remains to sustain and celebrate the differences between us.
The School of Animals by Hamza Apabhai (Year 11, Waterman)
Throughout the term, the Community Working Party of Harrovians have built an invaluable bond with the people at Maggie’s, and I am confident that this relationship will continue with many more visits to come. Maggie’s has given us the opportunity to speak to people who have endured and overcome so much yet still have maintained a positive outlook on life; it was inspiring to hear their experiences and personally, the visits have given me a healthy reminder to always face challenges with determination and faith.
How ‘Popular’ is our Popular Culture? by Kalina Milenova (Year 11, Ward)
I often wonder where the world would be without what we call ‘popular culture.’ The term became mainstream during the 1980’s and is in itself, pretty self explanatory - the widely accepted culture based on the taste of the ‘regular’ person. What fascinates me however, is the accumulation of cultural values and mixture of interests, in a cosmopolitan city such as Hong Kong. With hundreds of expats from all over the world, Hong Kong’s popular culture interestingly combines famous Western entertainment, technology and slang with that of China, Korea, Japan and numerous other Asian countries. Music taste varies from K-pop to 70’s English bands and television preferences from Chinese soap operas to the newest American comedies. Since it became a British colony, Hong Kong has always been exposed to Western ways of life. But recently, there have been drastic changes in the lifestyle of the average
Did you know that the School is home to a number of interesting creatures? Here is an introduction to some of our natural friends. Mr Waterman’s male veiled chameleon, Alby, is native to the Arabian peninsula and is usually fed crickets and worms three times a day. Mr Waterman described him as “grumpy and miserable” most of the time, and he is currently undergoing training to be a “good chameleon.” He is dark green with orange branding, and has a helmet-like ridge on top of his head. When he is unhappy and feels pestered, his black spots emerge. During the day, he basks under the light bulbs, and sleeps as normal throughout the night. These veiled chameleons are best known for their long, sticky tongues that they use to catch their prey - their tongue can be more than 1.5 times the length of their body. They use their tongue, which can be projected in the blink of an eye to shoot at their prey. Ms Holliday’s chinchillas, Maple and Syrup, are native to the Andes mountains in South America, and are
considered critically endangered according to the IUCN. They typically live in colonies at high elevations of up to 14,000 feet, and live in burrows or crevices in the rocks. Agile jumpers can jump up to 6 feet. They are crepuscular and nocturnal, meaning they are very active at dawn or dusk and sleep throughout the day. Chinchillas primarily eat grass and seeds, but also eat insects. When eating, they hold their food in their front paws and nibble on it. These small rodents have soft coats of fur, and have rounded ears and eyes on either side of their broad heads. Their fur is often very dense, and can be gray, beige, tan, black or white.
There is also sea life in the Biology Department: the archer fish are Indonesian and Australian making up an international community in the water. The fish have a unique hunting style as they spit jets of water to shoot down their prey. They can sometimes be seen spitting at crickets or jumping out of the brackish water and engulfing them. There are currently six in the tank, and they are silver with three distinctive black bands across them, with large eyes on the top of their head. They also have a longer bottom lip which has been adapted for spitting. Cressie is a crested gecko who was donated to Waterman House. She is a gold colour, with her spine coming across her head. She is usually fed with crickets or mashed up baby food, and enjoys interaction with the House, from sitting on people or jumping from one person to the other. Another animal in Waterman House is Jesús, an Argentinian Horn-frog (also known as the Pac-man frog) who spends most of the time sitting in a burrow and watching time go by. She is a mossy green colour and has two ornate-like horns on top of the eyelids. Every night she is fed crickets, to which in a matter of seconds she devours it in one bite. So next time you are wandering around the School, keep an eye out for some of the wildlife. You never know what you might find!
Sports News Boys’ U20 Football
by Frans Otten (Y12, Lloyd)
Since the end of the Autumn Term, the football season has been under way in the form of the Cup competition as well as a few friendlies. Despite a young team consisting of quite a significant number of Y10 players, the team is developing very well and has advanced a fair amount, despite some losses. On a Tuesday afternoon two weeks before the end of the Autumn Term we had the first game in the inter-school cup competition, where we played against International Christian School. Throughout the game we played with lots of pressure and good ball possession, and this led to a 3-0 victory with goals from Oliver Duffy (Y12, Lloyd), Jonathan Billow (Y13, Nightingale) and Blake Tankersley (Y10, Nightingale). In January, we had two more matches: one was a friendly and the other was the quarter-final game. The friendly was at home against Yew Chung International School. Despite a decently played match, we were unlucky and lost 2-1 after conceding a goal in the final minutes of playing time. As for the quarter-final, we did not play our best football and this showed in the result as we lost 7-1 to Discovery College. Our goal scorer was Harwood Lee (Y10, Lloyd) with a beautiful strike from 20 metres out. The loss meant that we were out of the cup competition, which was a disappointment to the players. However, there are a few more friendlies to look forward to in the next few weeks before the league season begins. Boys’ U16 Football by Riaz Murray (Y10, Waterman)
On 19th January, the U16s played in a thrilling match against Sha Tin College. Sha Tin had some very skilful Hong Kong youth team players and they were tough opponents, but nevertheless in the first 15 minutes of the match we had already scored three goals. Ryan Lei (Y10, Nightingale) chipped over the goalkeeper to claim the first goal after some good passing-play. Jacob Tankersley (Y9, Nightingale) then drilled the ball into the bottom corner for the second and Harwood Lee (Y10, Lloyd) scored a third with a fantastic lob over the goalkeeper. However, Sha Tin came back to score two goals. In the second half (after some inspirational speeches from fellow teammates) Ryan Lei went on to score another goal early on, making the score 4-2 but Sha Tin refused to allow an easy defeat. Sha Tin scored a late goal, followed by another one resulting in a 4-4 draw. We were unfortunate not to win but it was an entertaining game with lots of positives to work on before the next match. Girls’ Rugby by Eve Caplowe (Y11, Smith)
On Friday the 29th January, this year’s Under 20 Girls team reunited for the last time at the Bill Williams Sevens Tournament at King’s Park. For Anabel Lee (Y13, Smith) and Alexandra Bessmertnaia (Y13, Smith), it was their last few games for Harrow Hong Kong, and for them we all tried our very best to give them good memories of the team. Firstly we played HKIS and although we made some good breaks, we ultimately failed to win, though personally I felt that we
hadn’t played so well as a team for a while and the game was a good confidence boost to the U16s that were gaining experience. Then we played YMCA, where Saskia Penfold (Y10, Smith) made the most amazing try-saving tackle on the 5-metre line then stole the ball to have a run herself. Sadly we lost this game too. Up next was Shatin College and KGV. Although we lost these games, the tournament was good fun and valuable experience. As U16s, our first game fell on the 2nd February – my first time captaining a School team. Our team was full of beginners, but even so we were really disappointed with our first loss as we all knew that we could do better. The next few games were all about gaining experience and confidence. It was our first time as a team to score against KGV; thank you Alexa Fung (Y11, Smith). In our final game against DBIS, we won comfortably with 4 tries to none. All in all, it was a satisfying result.
on the rain poured down. Many of the other girls on our team were soaked after their rounds so we worked hard to get the horses to their stables and the riders to the clubhouse in order to stay warm. Finally the competition ended and it was time for the well earned results. The team beat Kellet School and Renaissance College and they had some very impressive rewards. Natasha Marcon (Y10, Smith) was first in the Dressage and second in the Jumping; Fredrike Brockmeyer (Y11, Smith) was second in the Dressage and Bianca Lee (Y9, Tutt) was third in the Jumping. Overall, it was a challenging but amazing experience!
Boys’ Rugby Sevens by Oliver Duffy (Y12, Lloyd)
On Friday the 29th of January, a squad of 14 U20 rugby players represented Harrow Hong Kong at the biggest schools’ rugby sevens tournament of the year, the Bill Williams 7s. Our team was in a pool with five other competitive sides, including the reigning champions SIS. After a tough start against South Island school, which was closely fought but a 20-0 loss, the team regrouped and kept their heads high heading into the next game against a New Territories select team. We built on the positives from previous games and exploited our pace and skill to win convincingly 31-5. The toughest game of the tournament came shortly after against YMCA, who ended up as cup runners-up. The first half saw a spectacular performance from the team as a whole, going into halftime with a 17-7 lead. However, the hard work of the first half left the team fatigued and out of energy which eventually allowed the opposition to squeeze through to beat the Harrow Hong Kong side 24-17 to send them through. The U20s now had to secure a win in the final match against Chinese International School to proceed through to the knockout rounds. Although exhausted the team put up a solid performance for the entire match to win 22-5. This now meant that the boys had one more match to play, with a chance to win some silverware. The team to play was KGV, a regular opponent. The match was slow paced as both teams were out of energy and suffering injuries. The first half was contested evenly but Harrow Hong Kong pulled ahead 14-5. Our boys kept patient and put up a solid defence, capitalising on the exhausted opponent’s mistakes to finally win 36-10, which meant the U20s team had won the bowl. Mini-Equestrian Competition by Maya Rao (Y10, Smith)
As the rain poured on the afternoon of Friday 15th January, eight determined horse riders packed up their bags and made their way over to Lo Wu Saddle Club. As we got there, the muddy area was already drenched. It felt freezing and all of us were slightly reticent to get onto the horses in this weather. Nevertheless, we battled through the cold weather and went to get the horses ready. The first people to go on were lucky not to get drenched, but as the competition went
The Cold Half by Jasmine Coleman-Allen (Y10, Smith)
“Are you mad?” “Its freezing cold!” “Why would you do such a crazy thing, you’re not sane!” Those were the responses I got when I told my friends I was going to do a 15km marathon relay swim. On Saturday 30th of January 2016, the marathon swim called the “Cold Half” took place. Swimmers Singha Chau (Y11, Lloyd), Andre Lau (Y13, Waterman) and I participated in ‘The Cold Half’ swimming race from Stanley Main Beach to Middle Island. Singha swam the 15km solo and set a new course record of 3hrs and 4mins, coming first. Andre and I swam the 15km as a relay in 4hrs and 30mins coming third. The “Cold Half” is an incredibly challenging and demanding swim as not only do you have to swim through the freezing cold but also against strong currents that pull you back making it seem like you are stationary. It tests your fitness but most of all your mental stamina. In a way it feels like it is you against the elements, so small and vulnerable, sometimes in the middle of the ocean, sometimes hugging the coastline with jagged rocks looming. Between moments of elation your body is screaming for you to stop and give up but somehow you keep going, pushing yourself on, even though you can barely hear anything. Afterwards, you are physically and mentally drained, yet there deep inside you know you have accomplished something that may have seemed impossible. For me, one of the highlights of the Cold Half was being able to swim with a Senior School student who was very motivational, experienced and kind. Of course there was the hot chocolate and the big, juicy hamburger at the end, the immense feeling of satisfaction, pride, comradeship and
of course Mr Waterman who kept parents and students alike entertained throughout the day. I would never done it if it wasn’t for the faith of Mr Green our swimming coach, even though he knew I was the youngest and I was swimming against many professionals who were much fitter and more experienced than me. He gave me the courage and support to proceed. Now my team mate Andre has inspired me to do it again next year along with the Clean Half which takes place in the summer.
Happy New Year! by Nia Milenova (Year 13, Ward)
The celebration of the New Year has evolved throughout the centuries, with the earliest recorded ceremony in honour of a new year, dating back to 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. Traditionally, the people of Babylon would make promises in order to earn the favour of the Gods in order to start the year off well, something which still resonates today with New Year’s celebrations across the world symbolising new beginnings, hope and prosperity. Universally, people see the New Year as an opportunity to discard all of the undesirable aspects of the old year, and welcome the challenges and hope the new one brings.
will ward off evil spirits from children, keep them healthy, and give them a long life. When giving someone a red envelope, it is bad luck to give a sum of money in any increment of four, since the pronunciation of the number four has a similar homonym to ‘death’. Some, however, argue that these ancient traditions are slowly changing in the face of a changing society and that the tradition of giving red packets has endured throughout the years because of the convenience and aid of commercialisation, which has inevitably taken over traditional celebrations of New Year across the world. According to some, aspects of traditional Chinese culture are rapidly being lost and diluted by a global culture, which seems to be prevailing. Nevertheless, I would argue otherwise; ‘the envelopes serve as a means to demonstrate to the giver and receiver a shared cultural existence and common bond, and it is through the continued evolution of this timeless tradition that money itself will serve as means to unite a culture’. I believe this to be true for New Year celebrations everywhere, as the way we welcome the New Year ahead bonds us, giving us a sense of belonging while simultaneously maintaining and transmitting cultural values of meaning and purpose that our predecessors believed to be important.
Lost in Space
by Lexi Joseph-Hui (Year 4, Snake), Gwyneth Suen (Year 4, Ox), Seraphina Western (Year 4, Dragon)
Although there appears to be a common meaning behind the notion of New Years, different cultures will celebrate in a diverse range of ways, each portraying its unique cultural values as traditions are passed from one generation to the next. Moving to Hong Kong and discovering the local rituals and celebrations, so distinct from the ones I knew, I was bewildered by the archaic symbols and traditions, which envelop this cosmopolitan city. I have since learnt the prominent role superstition and old legends play in the celebration of the Lunar New Year. One such example is the tradition of giving red envelopes by the elderly to the young, which is believed to originate from the Sung dynasty. The legend says that a young orphan, who was able to defeat a powerful demon, was given red envelopes filled with money from the village elders as a sign of gratitude. Today, the red envelope is a symbol of luck and prosperity, lucky money that
From the 18th to the 22nd January, the Lower School enjoyed Science Week. We took part in a lot of interesting activities. In Theme, we studied the qualities required of astronauts and compared them to the qualities that we felt we had. In Literacy, we learnt how to describe weather on Mars and how we can use weather to create atmosphere in our writing. Mrs Veldman, a Year 3 parent, came to talk to Year 5 about space and our position in the universe. She also scaled down our solar system so that it would fit into the 6th floor MPR! In Art, we produced some space art and learnt about perspective. We learnt a lot about the planets and particularly enjoyed flicking white paint to create stars! We used flower, poster paint and glitter to create a moon surface. We then dropped clay balls (posing as asteroids) onto the moon surface to create craters. Everyone enjoyed this messy and exciting activity. We also enjoyed an exciting experiment when we witnessed our teacher setting fire to an empty teabag. Standing the teabag on its end the teacher set fire to the top of the bag that burnt down before taking flight. Some of the students were frightened, but excited! We also made a rocket using a card template, a film canister and an effervescent tablet! We created the rocket from the template and decorated it before attaching it to the canister. We then put one quarter of a large tablet into the canister and added some water. We then waited patiently for the pressure inside the canister to cause the rocket to launch into the sky. We loved seeing the rocket hit the ceiling! We were lucky enough to visit the Space Dome. Inside the huge inflated planetarium we watched an amazing space presentation that discussed the presence of water on the different planets. It was the highlight of the week!
Wisdom of the Crowd by Agnes Fung (Y13, Smith)
What is a crowd? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as
“A large number of people gathered together in a disorganized or unruly way.” However bleak the idea seems, a messy hodgepodge of humans is not necessarily a disadvantage. In this Information Age, statisticians make use of the idiosyncratic property of individuals to gain a collective opinion that is often surprisingly accurate. A historical example was a country fair at Plymouth in 1906, where people tried guessing the weight of a cow. Statistician Francis Galton observed that the median (which is the middle number in a collected set), 1207 lb, was less than The graph of running mean against total number of people asked. 1% from the measured 1198 lb! The moment of truth arrives! The reading on an electronic balance gives the mass to be 730.34g, so congratulations to Myron Tse (Y13, Waterman) and Luna Hu (Y13, Ward) who both guessed 700g. Curiously enough, there were around 9 people who guessed 1kg. The most common thought process that people voiced was, “Is this heavier or lighter than a bag of sugar?” To improve this statistical experiment, I could have asked many many more people. As you can see from the graph, the trend is on a downwards journey and would eventually reach 730g. The larger the crowd, the smarter you all become!
Guess the mass of this ball!
I decided to replicate the essence of that statistical experiment to find out if this reported “wisdom” works. Individuals around the School were asked to guess the mass of the blue ball shown above. My hypothesis was that if I could get enough answers, collectively they would give me a nice estimate. There are, of course, some constraints. The individuals must not be affected by one another. One can easily see why: if two students gave their guesses one after the other, the second student would be likely to alter their guess to be closer to the first’s. Moreover, the individuals must be selected in a random way. People have a natural bias – a tendency to think in a certain way, and this would affect their answer. For example, a Year 6 student would think that the ball is heavier, compared to an adult, because adults are more used to carrying heavy objects. Around 70 people gave me their guesses for the mass of the blue ball. The data I collected varied all the way from 5g to 25kg (25000g)! Obviously, there are some people who think carefully about their answers, and some who think less. Regardless, provided I had asked enough people, the average would still be somewhat close to the real value. In the graph below, I plotted the running mean of the guesses against the number of people asked. As you can see, it is very jagged in the beginning because the sample size is small. The sharp peak is all thanks to the Prep School girl who guessed 25kg, but after that it tends towards a certain value around 800g.
“The problem is that groups are only smart when the people in them are as independent as possible. This is the paradox of the wisdom of crowds.” – James Surowiecki
Computer Programming Club by Sam Liem (Y12, Lloyd)
This year, there is another new ECA at Harrow Hong Kong! Mr Fall (Director of ICT) and I have started the Computer Programming Club. The course is aimed at teaching aspiring computer programmers basic computer science theory, to display the potential application of code in daily tasks, and to train students in understanding code. The ultimate goal is to create a community of like-minded people and a forum for members to share ideas and resources. My idea for a Computer Science community came when I was unable to find any other coders after joining Harrow Hong Kong. The joy of creating new programmes had to be shared with my peers. My only wish was to give others guidance about how to embark on their own programming adventure. With the help of Mr Fall, I now teach the course every week on Friday. I hope to introduce more of my peers to the wonderful world of code and to improve my communication skills as an instructor. The sessions take place every Friday afternoon and there are 20 members currently. If this is something that you think might interest you, why don’t you give it a try next term? Want your writing published? Wish to tell people all about it? Interested in joining? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org