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  Guest Of Honour's Speech
By Kwok Siu Tong

Speech Days are times of joy and celebration. Speech days are also times of gratitude and thanksgiving. My wife and I are most honoured to be invited tonight to join all of you in these moments of joy and celebration.

To me, in particular, the joy of tonight is a personally forgettable moment.I have come home. Home to a place that has given me so much that I have found it difficult to express the deep feeling inside my heart and soul. In May this year I published a book of essays, entitled City Soul (城 市 心 靈), to commemorate my childhood experience with my late parents. I was born in this neighbourhood. I went to Pui Ching Middle School as a primary school student. In 1959, I became a primary six student in Wah Yan. My whole life has been changed by the education of Wah Yan. Fr. Malin, Fr. Finneran and Fr. Farren took me into the school soccer team, from D grade up to A grade to which I captained. Fr. Smith and Fr. Dargen made me the Head Prefect and gave me to opportunity to found the student union and student magazine. Fr. Moran, Fr. Cunningham and Fr. Taylor taught me the Bible, introduced me to the study of history and joy of singing in the choir and opera. Fr. Kennedy impressed me with his heartfelt care for the poor and needy. Fr. Cryan and Fr. Doris helped me familiarize with the mystery of natural science. Mr. Leung Pui-kam showed me the greatness of Chinese culture and history. Last but not least, Mr. Francis Kong, the teacher I respect most, corrected my English grammar and taught me how to appreciate English literature.

By the way, I still remember very vividly the night when I delivered my speech as the Head Prefect in 1966, Mr. Kong pointed out to me that I made one and one mistake in the speech. I misused the phrase 'despite of? It should have been just 'despite?or 'in spite of? Up to this day, the foundation I have built up in the use of English language owes mostly to the rigorous discipline imposed by Mr. Kong's teaching. As a matter of fact, I have achieved a solid foundation for my career and life as a whole. I have already selected the path of my whole life since 1967 when I graduated from Form 7. It was the liberal and free-thinking environment of Wah Yan that has stimulated my independent way of search for truth. Fr. Smith gave me a free hand to establish the student union. It was one of the first in HK secondary schools. It was the spirit of the Wah Yan fathers and teachers that has planted inside my heart, a yearning for idealism and perfection in life. It is a period in my life that I have found my real and genuine self, my sense of identity, to be a human being true to my own feeling and ideal.

After I left Wah Yan, I continued on with my university education in the Chinese University of HK and my graduate studies in University of California at Berkeley. I have chosen my career and set the direction for the path of my life right on the eve of my departure from Wah Yan. The school has set me adrift in a sea of hope as well as widened the scope of my horizon in the pursuit of truth and happiness. The all-roundedness of personal growth that I have attained in Wah Yan has continued to bring me satisfaction in life. It is that quality of life that I have enjoyed and am now still enjoying. Secondary school education in present day HK may be criticized as mostly inadequate.

However, I must assure you that you Wah Yan boys are definitely the lucky ones. The core issue of secondary school HK education is a battle between examination-oriented rote learning and creative free learning. You may not be getting top results in public or even internal examinations. Don't lose heart. For what you have learnt may be something even more significant and enduring. Creativity, perseverance, independence of mind, strategic thinking, system building and critical analytical abilities, interpersonal and communication skills and etc E xamination results will not be able to reflect all these basic and yet highly important traits of an all-rounded personality. Your success in life depends on something more valuable. Reflect on the kind of education you have received in Wah Yan. Try to search for something that you really find valuable in life. Build on them. Refine them. Develop them. Sooner than you expect, you will be having something more concrete to hold on. No matter what paths you are going to choose, these are the personality traits that you will need. Remember and respect those teachers and friends who have taken you through these memorable days. These feelings for them are also fundamental. The ability to appreciate life, with its joy and pain, is essential to be human. Love and feeling is the power we need to help us confront the challenge of a rapidly changing world. Set a direction in the path of your life now that you have left Wah Yan. However, the spirit of this school will continue to inspire to move on in life.

The ceremony of tonight has brought forth all the memories I have been treasuring carefully at the bottom of my heart. Now I can share with you all these wonderful memories. I must extend my sincerest thanks to Mr. Norman So, my classmate since the Form I days. He has given me this historic moment to share with you my deepest gratitude. My deepest gratitude to this beloved school of mine. My deepest gratitude goes also to my teachers, Mr. Kong and Fr. Farren, who are still with us, healthy and strong, and those who left this world but are still staying on in my fond memory. It was 33 years ago I left Wah Yan . Now I have come home. On behalf of my wife, I offer to all you my warmest prayers, for your health and happiness, for your success in life.


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