Principal's Speech at the First School Assembly on 1 September 2017
Good morning, my fellow colleagues and my dear students. With two severe typhoons behind us, I woke up this morning with a scent of sunshine and freshness, feeling delighted, energized, and grateful for a fruitful school year to come. I hope everyone had a wonderful summer, and spent some quality time with your family and loved ones. I'd love to take this opportunity to welcome you all back to the campus, and I look forward to spending a meaningful year with everyone of you. To the new members of our big family, our S1 students, we are very excited that you are here with us today, and we cannot wait to show you around the campus, and help you integrate with this one big family.
Despite many upcoming fun activities and learning opportunities which we are all looking forward to, this year is not coming to us without challenges. To the new teachers and our S1 students, there is a completely new environment and a new routine for you to adapt and get used to. To our S4 students, there are new subjects under the DSE curriculum that you will start to concentrate your study on. And needless to say, to our S6 students, there is an important exam awaiting you to conquer. For myself, my son has just moved to the United States for his job, which is also a big challenge for me, my wife, and my family to cope with. And I want to take a few minutes to look deeper into the word, cope, C, O, P, E, to see if we can get any insights to cope with obstacles that we face every day.
First of all, C, challenges. Indeed, we all face different challenges every day. At school, you might find it difficult to memorize new vocabulary, to learn a new mathematical formula and apply it on different questions, or to get to know the chemical reactions that are happening inside your body. After class, you might feel challenged with the new roles that you have taken on in the house committee, in the student association, or in a sport team, just to name a few. At home, you might struggle with finishing piles of homework, readings and exercises, or you might struggle to communicate effectively with your parents and other family members. Undoubtedly, being a teenager is not an easy task. Trust me, I was once a teenager myself many years ago as well. Being in your mid-teens means that you are constantly learning new things; gaining new knowledge and skills, taking on new roles and responsibilities, and growing mentally and physically to become an adult. Therefore, many of you might face many new challenges, those that you have never faced before, in your day to day life.
However, you can turn these Cs, challenges, into Os, opportunities. In Chinese, we often say “有危便有機”. Indeed, with every challenge we face, there is an opportunity for us to learn, to grow, and to develop. Once you are able to make a mental shift to see challenges as opportunities, you will start to embrace them. You will start to enjoy taking on new challenges and tackling them. You will enjoy overcoming obstacles to become a better self. As hard as it might seem when we face a new challenge, you will feel GREAT after you've overcome it, and turned it into an opportunity to grow! You will become more confident, more experienced, and you'll have more faith in yourself that you will be able to overcome the next challenge and seize the next opportunity that is ahead of you.
While it is easier said than done, there is a secret weapon to help you see challenges as opportunities. And that is P, positive thinking. Empirical studies have shown that optimistic people are healthier. They live longer. And they are more successful in their lives. Indeed, your attitude determines your direction. Once you start thinking positively, you will have more mental strength and power to deal with challenges. You will be more creative. You will start to develop small goals that enable you to reach larger goals. You will learn to get help and resources from your teachers, your friends and your family. But most importantly, when you happen to fall over small obstacles, positive thinking helps you stand back up and continue running towards your goals.
Therefore, positivity will ultimately empower you to reach our final E, excel. Mahatma Gandhi, a renowned Indian philosopher and activist, once famously said:
Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Positivity and optimism do not only help you to overcome one or two challenges, they help you learn and grow from your experiences. They enable you to seize the opportunities when they arise. They help you gain persistence and endurance. And ultimately, positivity and optimism help you excel in your studies and your life.
Therefore, in the upcoming academic year and many years to come, I hope everyone will be able to cope with challenges with the 4 letters of the word, COPE! Turn C, challenges, into O, opportunities, with a P, positive mindset, and you will then E, excel, in your life.