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Where there is a will, there is a way

Yesterday, I briefly spent some time with two fresh graduates from Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial College and their principal and teachers at Government House. Both students had given up on themselves until they entered this school in Tai O, where they got their lives back on track and regained self-confidence and a positive outlook on life with the help of their teachers and schoolmates.

One of them was once a high achiever in primary school. But due to anxiety about studying in the unfamiliar environment of a Band One English secondary school and an unspeakable fear of learning in English for the first time, he lost self-confidence and failed almost all subjects. Shattered by his examination results, he lingered in cyber cafes and indulged in online games to escape from reality. Later, he was suspended from classes and eventually asked to leave the school. All that changed when he was transferred to Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial College. Under the care and encouragement of schoolmates, he found his worth as a person and regained his enthusiasm for learning. He made a huge leap academically, getting into the top three in all subjects. He also represented his school in inter-school mathematics competitions, joined the school's team of masters of ceremonies to improve his public speaking skills, and took up voluntary work to help the elderly, as well as students addicted to online games. This year, he was awarded the Multi-faceted Excellence Scholarship by the Home Affairs Bureau. Deeply touched by the selfless dedication of his teachers, he aspires to be a teacher too. He has therefore decided to study at the Hong Kong Institute of Education so that he can one day influence others with his own life.

The other student comes from a low-income family. His parents passed away when he was 6 and 13 years old. Faced with this drastic change, he lost himself to despair and spent his days wandering the streets. Finally, he was advised to leave school. He later worked as a salesman and a waiter, and once lived in a cage home. One day, it dawned on him that he would be a disgrace to his parents in heaven if he went on living like that. Four years ago, he moved to Tai O to live with his grandmother and enrolled in Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial College. Influenced by the simple and honest school ethos and the tranquility of the campus, this once cynical youngster gradually became a diligent and ambitious student who is always ready to help others. His academic performance has improved continuously and he is going to study at Hong Kong Shue Yan University in the coming academic year. He wants to be a disc jockey who can influence other people over the airwaves.

I am touched by these two students' stories, as told by themselves and their principal and teachers. The commitment of the principal and teachers of Buddhist Fat Ho Memorial College to their students commands my deepest respect. I am sure that there are many such moving stories among the 350 000 or so secondary students in Hong Kong.
I hope that the above real-life stories will encourage all students in distress to embrace challenges, fight adversity and realise their dreams.

August 21, 2015