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The gap between the famous English secondary school and the reality of escaping: I used to be a bad kid hanging out at the amusement arcade (Hong Kong Economic Times)

  • It is often said that a bad student needs a teacher more than a good one, so if a student who has been "bad" becomes a teacher, will he or she be more competent in parenting? Principle Mui Chi Yip of the CNEC Lau Wing Sang Secondary School says he was once a bad student, and because of frustration and a lack of purpose, he became lost and ran away. His story and his turning point are inspiring but not overly sentimental, based on his heart and perseverance. It is worthwhile to learn from him in these days of epidemic.


    Growing up in a single-parent family, Principal Mui was the youngest in his family. "I have three sisters, and my father, who had cancer when I was born, died before I started school, so I didn't get to spend much time with him," he says. Despite this, her father's memory is not a blurred one. "I've watched him battle cancer, but the image of a strict father is still strong because even when he was sick, he was still very strict in supervising his three sisters' studies," she says.


    Even though the family was under a lot of financial pressure, the family tradition of focusing on academics never waned. The three older sisters were well-behaved, and the last of the children, Principal Mui, also understood his duty and did well until they were promoted to high school. "I don't know if it's my father's legacy, but I've heard from my mum that my dad can write ancient texts. I heard from my mother that my father could write ancient Chinese and was very good at writing letters to people. I was also good at Chinese when I was young, and I had no trouble memorising the contents." The headmaster laughed and said that since studying was not a chore for him when he was young, he did not have much pressure, and even though he understood that his family was not in a good situation, his childhood life was always happy and carefree.


    Outstanding Primary School Results and Promotion to Secondary Schools

    With his excellent primary school results, he was promoted to a prestigious secondary school, turning him from a top-notch student to an ordinary one. "I lived in Cheung Sha Wan and went to Ying Wah in Kowloon Tong for secondary school, which was a completely different world," he says. He used to be a popular student with good grades and a smooth talker who was well liked by his teachers, but once he got to secondary school, he realised that everyone around him was so outstanding that he couldn't even hope to be a part of it. "I was the only one who went to Anglo-Chinese in my primary school, I had no friends, I was far away from home, and I had to adapt to an all-English learning environment, so I felt like I was fighting alone".

    A popular parenting saying in recent years, "Winning at the Starting Line", has actually been around for a long time. "Of course, no one would have said that back then, but you could still feel that some people really had an advantage right from the start. It was only then that I realised how little support I had from my family. But I still worked very hard at the beginning, but I couldn't get the results I wanted even if I tried hard enough."


    It was hard for a junior high school freshman, only 12 or 13 years old, to face defeat alone in an academic field that used to be a source of confidence. "It's hard, you struggle and you don't get anywhere, and then you get bad at school," he said. Principal Mui continued, "At school, they continue to play the role of a good student and follow the rules. When school is out, they hang around the streets, playgrounds and amusement centres, hang out with the bad kids, and even learn how to drink and smoke.


    A Change of Heart through Faith

    Thinking back on those bad days, Principal Mui knows exactly why and still remembers how she felt. "When one feels that one can't achieve anything no matter how hard one tries, it is easy to lose one's fighting spirit. At the same time, because of the disparity between them, they began to complain that their family was not as well off as others and that they could not get the same support as others. The deterioration at that time is a kind of escapism because one cannot find a goal." Fortunately, he found his purpose again through a chance encounter.


    "Actually, I was very bad that time! At that time, I had a friend who was a frequent gamer and attended church regularly. He was going to church that day, so I urged him to stay and play with me. Later, I followed him and was dragged by an older brother for a chat, which changed me." It turned out that the elder brother had been bad too. He shared his personal experience with Principal Mui, and used his "celebrity" to sway him. "He said Sun Yat-sen believed in Jesus, Edison believed in Jesus and Newton believed in Jesus. I thought, "Great! I felt that this faith could withstand the baptism of history and science".


    After his interest was aroused, he gradually became a church-going boy. "I realised that apart from the older brothers who had learnt to be bad at school, there were different kinds of people in the church, like those from very good families or those who had won at the starting line, who also believed in Jesus, felt His love and found their own goals. Honestly, I know that my mum loves me, and I know that my teachers are not biased, but I still feel that my mum doesn't understand me, and I feel that my teachers prefer students who do well. But the love I felt in the church made me realise for the first time that there is a kind of love that does not ask for anything in return and does not discriminate, and it gave me a lot of strength."


    The bad boy was enlightened and became a good boy, but the happy ending did not come immediately for Principal Mui. "Even if you believe in Jesus, it doesn't mean everything will go well." Principal Mui smiles and continues, "But my mindset has changed, I have become more positive. Even if I don't get better, even if I still don't do well in the exams, I don't run away anymore, I keep working hard." Another problem came to the forefront when they entered Form Three. "Some students had a clear preference, for example, if they were good at Mathematics or Physics, they would choose science subjects. But I wasn't very good at any of the subjects, only Chinese was good, so I had to choose Arts, but it wasn't easy to choose Arts, so I ended up choosing a very purely literary subject, that is, Chinese Literature and Chinese History". The headmaster laughed and said that in that school and in those days, the choice of Arts or Chinese Literature was a choice that "no one could pick" and "no one could pick".


    I am most pleased with the training of Chinese language teachers.

    It may not be an exaggeration to describe the headmaster's secondary school career as a series of twists and turns or a series of defeats. After choosing to study an art subject that he was good at and loved, his path to further education did not have any dramatic twists and turns, and he even had to go to another school to study for matriculation after the Form 5 Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE). "The school was in Sai Kung, and I had to get up at 5.9am every morning and take a bus for more than an hour to go to school. But I was still very positive and active. I listened to spiritual stories on the bus and went to the study room to study after school, as I did every day. As a result, I got 3A in the exam and was admitted to the Chinese Department of CUHK! It was a miracle, but in fact, it was more a result of the headmaster's perseverance over the years that he finally achieved a satisfactory result.


    As a teacher, especially as a Chinese Language teacher, he is most proud of the number of "peers" he has nurtured over the years. He says, "Really, it is the happiest and most satisfying thing to teach students who love Chinese, are good at Chinese, and even become Chinese teachers like myself. After graduating from university, I had the opportunity to further my studies abroad, but I missed it because I had to take up responsibilities at home. Now I have a student who is studying in the UK, which can be said to be the fulfilment of my regrets back then, and it makes me both happy and proud."


    Author: Wang Lan


    Editor: Li Yuehua


    • 中華傳道會劉永生中學梅志業校長笑言自己是個不折不扣的中文人,也為學生同樣投身教育事業感到欣慰。(受訪者提供)

      ▲ Principal Mui Chi Yip of the CNEC Lau Wing Sang Secondary School laughs at the fact that he is an unapologetic Chinese speaker and is pleased that his students are also devoted to education. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ Earlier in the fifth wave of the epidemic was so severe that Principal Mui made a point of cheering up the returning DSE candidates of the current year. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ Principle Mui (first from left) is gratified that his former students have also become Chinese Language teachers. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ The epidemic has not subsided and schools in Hong Kong have been closed for a long time this year. Principal Mui organised a farewell weekly meeting with Secondary 6 students to encourage them to do so. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ This year's DSE has already begun, and it is not easy for fresh candidates to cope with the pressure of the public examination in the face of the epidemic. The picture shows Principal Mui sharing with Form 6 students on how to face up to adversity. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ Mui Chi Yip, the only son in his family, lives with his three sisters and his mother, and is happy despite his poor financial situation. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ Mui Chi Yip continued to struggle in secondary school and eventually excelled in Chinese Language. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ Principal Mui and his wife, who is also a teacher, have a son and a daughter and live a happy life. (Courtesy of the interviewee)


      ▲ Despite the epidemic, the school's orchard, which is carefully tended by the staff, had a good harvest earlier, and the headmaster, teachers and students were happy to take a group photo to commemorate the harvest. (Courtesy of the interviewee)