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    Paths to a Bright Future: Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremony

    School News

    08 Sep, 2021

    10 : 00

    • It was exciting to celebrate the graduation ceremony with the Class of 2021 on 18 June on campus. At the same time, the livestream of the graduation ceremony allowed students, teachers, relatives and friends who were unable to join to watch it online, give their best wishes to the graduates and witness their most important moment.

      There are 14 graduates this year, who are the fourth Overseas University Preparatory Programme graduates of YWIES since the school was founded in 2014. Ten of them are our founding students. They have completed all the courses of Lower Secondary Programme and Overseas University Preparatory Programme in the school. In the past seven years, these 14 students have made many outstanding achievements. Students from the class of 2021 have achieved satisfactory results: some of them have received (conditional) offers from top comprehensive universities such as the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London,the University of Hong Kong, New York University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignand the University of Melbourne, while others will go to top art and music colleges in the UK , US and Australia to focus on a certain field. Our students have grown up with their dreams, responsibility and strength. They are there ready to face the challenges of the future and stride forward into a wider world.

      Co-Principal's Speech

      MrAnthony Uiterwijk, Vice Principal

      Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,

      It is my honour to stand here today to congratulate this group of graduating students of Yew Wah International Education School in Guangzhou. I know today you will be praised for your individual qualities, talents and achievements. I want to focus more on the big picture with you today.

      The last few days I have been reflecting on how our life’s journey can develop in different ways and can take us on pathways we would have never dreamt of as a child.

      In 1963, a shy seven-year-old boy entered a small primary school in Holland. He had dreams and ambitions, but very few resources to achieve his dreams. He actually ended up never leaving school, because he became a teacher and later-on a school principal.

      Never in his wildest dreams though, would he have thought that one day he would be able to travel the world and that one of his last official acts in his 42 years in teaching, would be doing a speech at the graduation ceremony of a Chinese international school in Guangzhou.

      The world has changed a lot since 1963 and I am sure it will keep changing at an even faster pace. Therefore, in education we always look towards the future. We want you, our graduates, to enter the world with an open mind.

      From my own experiences the most rewarding things in your life happen when you are outside of your comfort zone, so challenge yourself, be brave, be a risk-taker; but most of all, be open-minded. You learn more when you listen then when you speak!

      You will encounter challenges, tests of your character, but also many opportunities to explore new places and meet new friends from all continents (and maybe beyond).

      I like a phrase that Mr Tim used in his maths presentation a while ago, it said: EYES ON THE STARS, BUT FEET FIRMLY ON THE GROUND! I believe if you follow that, then the sky is literally the limit for each of you.

      Another important lesson in life: NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

      We say farewell and bon voyage to you today, not goodbye, because we expect each of you to stay in touch and come back to Yew Wah to share your experiences with the younger students. We all learn together as a community and you will stay part of our family, as overseas or distant relatives.

      Go well, follow your dreams, and serve humanity!

      Teacher Representative's Speech 1

      Ms Annabel Ye, Principal in Training/Chinese Theme Leader

      In preparing this speech, I wrote many versions. All the words that I could think of could describe this group of young people very well, but they can't express the feelings they bring to me.

      A few days ago, I was reading a poem entitled "My Eyes Are Clear" in bed. I passed the content on to Charles, who naturally replied with the pure science student's question: "Why is the birth of this world not for thinking?"

      I replied to him with a Liberal Arts teacher's answer: "I think it means that we should not rely on thinking to understand the world at the end, but we can try everything before we reach the end." "Then we can think and love the world at the same time," he responded.

      Conversations like this have been common between my students and me over the past few years, from quarrels or debates to mentoring and discussion. As a teacher, I have benefited a lot from these processes. I have worked in YWIES Guangzhou for seven years, and I have been wondering what has motivated me. There is no unknown force that has pushed me forward; it has been my students. I want to say that each of my students has given me a lot of inspiration in the long or short term.

      Nicole is keen and resolute; Jack is frank and sincere; Katherine is calm and steady; Henry is relaxed and light; Vivian is introverted and meticulous; Tommy is naive and lovely; Angel is optimistic and loves to laugh; Michael is independent and deep; Victor is careful in how he thinks and make changes; Jacky is fun-loving but trustworthy; Felix is unconventional and humorous; David is stubborn but shy; Flavio is innocent and lovely; Charles is intelligent and considerate.

      It is often said that teachers are cultivating people. We who plant a forest are actually more like reapers. In the past few years, I have spent a lot of time in this forest, gazing at every tree and every unique leaf. I am very grateful for meeting each other. I became your teacher with the intention of influencing you, but I was sincerely accepted and influenced by you.

      [Fernando] Pessoa once wrote such a sentence in his anthology The Book of Disquiet: “I am the size of the vision I see, not the size of my body.” It means that who a person is does not lie in his own material existence, but in the place that his eyes and heart can reach. The broader composition is the real appearance of a person.

      To be able to meet so many different and wonderful lives, to be allowed to approach you, to listen to your words, and to feel your lively emotion and enthusiasm enriched my own life. Thank you for your trust and letting me to be your teacher. You have helped me broaden my understanding of myself and the world.

      I have a lot of deep conversations with my students, and a speech can't bear my gratitude to them. Thank you, this year's graduates. You are in the period of self-exploration and expansion. It is the most romantic and inspiring move in the humanistic spirit of all ages to accompany you to see yourself with curious and prudent eyes. Thank you for your efforts to ask "Who am I?", and thank you for helping me answer "Who am I?" I sincerely hope that you will find your infinite self in the boundless spiritual universe one day in the future.

      See you later!

      Teacher Representative's Speech 2

      Mr William R Hester, PE teacher

      Graduates, Congratulations! I also want to extend a congratulations to the teachers, parents and families of these graduates. All of you are as much a part of this accomplishment as the graduates themselves. Without your support, advice and encouragement, this achievement would have not been possible. It is truly a job well done!

      I have known you now for four years. I have had many great and wonderful experiences with you in class. We spent a month together in the UK. Some of us shared a week hiking in Hong Kong. I’ve coached others on the basketball court. I’ve seen you at your best, and sometimes at your worst. Getting to know you and experience these moments are cherished parts of my time here.

      Parents and teachers, now comes the hard part. Now comes the time where we send these graduates off to take another step toward being adults. We all have great expectations, hopes and dreams for them. These graduates also have high expectations and hopes driving them higher and closer to their goals. I am confident in their ability to reach those dreams as I have seen what they can accomplish. I’ve watched them grow and succeed with determination and have enjoyed watching them every day.

      I’m also sure they harbour some doubt, maybe a bit of uncertainty and more than a few questions about what their next step will be. That is ok too. Let me offer a few words of advice. These are words that were said to me at some point in my life. Their truth still rings today.

      First, I want to wish you many failures on your road ahead. Why would I want you to fail you ask? It’s through failure that you learn more about yourself and the world around you. Failure’s greatest lesson is that of perseverance. The idea of: keep trying, never give up and keep on going! Thomas Edison, when inventing the lightbulb, failed thousands of times. He said this about his many unsuccessful attempts. He said, “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.” Those failures are the blocks that success is built on, and I wish that for you whole-heartily. Secondly, I wish you an uncomfortable life. Be courageous and seek out a life that keeps you a little bit uncomfortable. Once life becomes too comfortable, we become complacent and stagnant... uninteresting. Try to learn new skills and take on new challenges. Go and climb a mountain, or jump off a waterfall, or learn to fly a plane. Always challenge yourself with new things.

      Also, talk to people that might make you uncomfortable. Maybe a professor in a subject you struggle in, or a business associate that you feel tension with. Be brave and seek out those with different ideas and opinions and listen to them. The key words here is listen. By listening, we learn. None of us have all the answers, but by listening, we learn new ideas and our ideas become better ideas.

      So I say to you, don’t accept being comfortable, but seek out new challenges and conversations. You might learn something about yourself.

      Lastly, celebrate your victories and accomplishments, but remember, those are only for a moment. Along your way of hard work and focused attention, remember the people around you, because it’s the relationships with them that are the most important. Don’t lose yourself in work and the pursuit of wealth, or greatness. Share your life and celebrate the victories of those around you. Share in the delights and achievements of the people you work with and care about. Invest in others’ success and share time to help them. Spread positive energy and share your knowledge, as well as your time. These ‘gifts’ you give are free, yet the return on that investment is great. The payment you receive on this investment will far outweigh the cost. Enjoy life and celebrate other’s lives too.

      I want to close by not saying ‘Good Luck’. I know you won’t need luck. You will work hard. You are smart and focused, and we celebrate your accomplishment today because of those qualities. I believe good luck is a combination of hard work and good timing. Your graduation today is a mark of your hard work and the timing today marks the beginning of your next step. Enjoy the journey, my friends. I wish you many failures in a very uncomfortable life, filled with celebrations and friends. Much success to all of you.

      Teacher Representative's Speech 3

      Ms Jemma Green, Drama Leader

      Congratulationsto you all as here we are at your graduation. Here we are sharing with you the end of an era and getting ready to welcome in the next.

      Don’t tell anyone else this but I was secretly excited when I was asked to be your form teacher mid-way through the year. I had enjoyed being with you all so much last year because you were cheeky and fun and, along with my darling Ms Annabel, we shared some lovely moments.

      I would like to say a few words about groups of you:

      Jacky, Jack, Angel, Charles, Henry and Tommy– you’ve all excelled with the creation of the school rock band ‘Star Dash’. It has given you a sense of ownership and belonging. I joined you all for a semester a while back with Ethan and it was a lot of fun, regardless of my lack of music skills. You’ve done some great performances. I hope it all lives on after you are gone! Oh, and Henry, I am in total awe of your trumpet playing.

      Katherine, Tommy, Felix and Victor– We spent two years together when you did IGCSE Drama. You were a really lovely class and it was such a nice balance. I think the piece I loved working on with you most was your devised piece, as you all seemed to take risks with your acting and really made strides in confidence. I really did enjoy working with you all and won’t forget it.

      Michael and Vivian – When I first met you Michael, you were quiet and seemed unsure, so it’s been wonderful to watch you grow through your passion in art. Vivian, you also have a strong passion for it. You have both found your way to express yourselves and it’s lovely. Also, Vivian, your helping animals ECA this year has been a big success in teaching people to care. Well done - you should be proud of this.

      Flavio and David – During my first year here, you were both complete nightmares for me in drama. You never wanted to work or do anything. I used to be thankful when the classes were over. Seeing you graduate here today, it is lovely to be able to see how far you have both come in your development and attitude. You have grown up into lovely boys, ready to take on the next stage and do well, and I’m sure you will both do well.

      Nicole and Tommy– You two have been stars in some of my end of year musicals and I have genuinely loved working with you. Tommy, you were wild in Blood Brothers and Les Mis. I never knew what you were going to do next. It almost gave me a heart attack. Nicole, you were cool in Grease; however, it’s Miss Saigon that holds the best memories for me. You were both absolutely fantastic. I’m so lucky to be able to keep that memory for always – thank you and well done!

      Charles –I will miss our chats in the morning.

      So back to your graduation. You know, I once said to someone that wherever you go in your next step in education, it’s about you, and youwill be a success where ever you go. I stand by this.

      Congratulations! All of You!

      Graduate Representative's Speech

      Charles Cai, thevaledictorian, Class of 2021

      Dear parents, beloved teachers, and all my friends, it is my honour to stand in front of you today to deliver this speech on behalf of my class.

      Looking back, the way that we have changed both individually and as a class was astounding.Seven years ago, Jack was a kid who argued over every unjust issue; Nicole used to be a bit icy; and according to Ms Annabel, Jacky was incredibly naughty. However, as you all know, that is not the case now. Jack has become humorous and creative, Nicole has developed a free spirit, and Jacky has voluntarily taken on great responsibilities in school productionsand does not fool around quite as often.We have all grown and matured in our own ways.

      Together as a class, although we are diverse, we are united. One of the incidents that brought us together would be our common grudge towards Mr Pornchai. He forced us to dance with umbrellas on Christmas concert whilst he sat back and recorded the entire performance.But kidding aside, I think these changes have one common denominator - the environment that enabled personal growth. Personality does not change instantaneously over a major event; rather, it is forged by efforts of our parents, friends, and teachers.

      It is fair to say university application under the pandemic has been one of the most stressful events we have ever experienced, and it is the epitome of how this environment supported us. During exams, David sought solace in Ms Shirley when he was stressed. Afterwards when I asked Ms Shirley how she helped him, she simply said: “He talked for the most part whilst I just listened.” When I was worried I might not do well on anadmissions exam, Ms Annabel discussed every possible outcome with me whereas Cici told me -“[My] worth is not defined by a single university. I would still be me even I went to another college.”Nicole also told me about the times when she really needed confidence, Mr Karl just looked her in the eyes and said“you’ve got this.” There are countless examples, before the application season, Ms Chen Chen helped me make birthday gifts for my friends, Ms Lucy dedicated a lot of her free time to answer our never-ending math problems, Mr Nelson baked us cakes, and Mr Tim brought us fried chicken. At first glance, these acts may seem trivial, but these subtle gestures protected our passion and showed us we can pursue our dreams without worrying about failure. It is difficult to describe these dismal moments. When all hopes seem lost, when we don’t even believe in ourselves, it is their patience, passion, and trust that enabled us to persevere.

      Indeed, the last two years of our lives in Yew Wah was supposed to be a time for discovery, for experiences and we all looked forward to this since we entered, but then COVID changed all this.It was not an auspicious start to our all-important AS Level studies when we went completely online last year, and into the May, all of us stuck at home, yearning for the ability to see our friends face to face.

      But here is a fond memory of one particular day last year that really brought our class together in a moment to release all our anxieties and have a way to express ourselves, and this gave us all the energy to go on.

      I am sure most of my classmates remember this drawing. For those of you who does not recognise it, this was created on Valentine’s Day during form time when we were stuck at home. As you all remember, it was incredibly stressful not being able to learn and socialise offline. Writing with our tablets, talking over the noises from others’ microphone, and the thought of waking up every morning just to stare at a screen was not only physically but also emotionally challenging. It was moments like this when the bonds of friendship were not impeded, but accentuated with online learning.Another passing moment, but one that I think our class will cherish for the rest of our lives.

      Recently,I heard a definition of success - being successful is about having a net positive effect on your surroundings before it is time to leave this planet. As our friends supported us in the most depressing times whilst our teachers taught us more than knowledge, I am certain that we will treasure these positive influences that they imposed on us and help others when they are lost. Our passion towards our major, and towards life itself are the determining factors that guarantee a positive influence.

      We are now embarking on the next stage of our lives.We will be separated and face new challenges. Despite the fact that future is unknown, I am confident you will remember the support and faith this environment had on us. To all the people that have helped us, to the all the staff and teachers of the school, thank you. To all the parents and our family, thank you and we love you.

      Congratulations to the class of 2021 on your successful graduation. In their gowns and caps, our graduates are taking their paths to a bright future.