Happy New Year!

I’ve neglected this blog for far too long, I know. My excuses are good, though – lots of work + a broken laptop = no blogging from me, although I have been answering emails (to some extent) and responding to any comments on the blog. Baby steps.

So, officially, Happy 2016!

Winter Break and the stuff before that in a nutshell (Sim-style):

  • Got sick after coming back to Europe.
  • Stayed with Angelos (my Greek second-year – class of ’15) for a day in London, which was really nice. We went to a really big Waterstones, snuck into the UCL library, went to the Wellcome Collection (exhibition on a Tibetan temple and some very painful-looking yoga as well as a foggy misty room/exhibit. Very interesting!). Angelos also made me food and, while in Bergen headed to London, I had an awkward experience while buying alcohol to gift to him.
  • Had a nice Christmas celebration with the UK family –
  • Went to bed very early for about two weeks, and then stayed up ’til 4 or 5am every night for the rest of my (extended) break. Oops.
  • Went to the cinema with Mum (watched Joy) and then went to eat Chinese food. Had a nice conversation with the owner of the restaurant about Shanghai and Hong Kong.
  • Skyped Simran… multiple times…
  • My laptop broke two days before I was scheduled to fly back to Hong Kong. Disaster – lost all of my files! Many tears and three days later, a new laptop was waiting for me when I arrived back to LPC.
  • A really nice trip from Bergen to Hong Kong – the first flight was practically empty (an entire row to myself, although the guys behind me were REALLY drunk), and in the second flight, I was sat next to two other students that were around my age. We had the oh-so-lovely unspoken agreement that when one of us needed to get up, we would all go at the same time.

After my laptop broke and I lost all of my files, I spent my whole first weekend back at LPC cooped up in my room, rewriting my Extended Essay and Biology Internal Assessment. I then spent the following week holed up in my room with Simran, both frantically trying to process our Chemistry Internal Assessment data and put it all into words (and less than 12 pages!).

This week has been a run-up to this weekend, when Margaux and I hosted Liberty Asia Students Against Slavery’s first ever Hackathon. We had 6 teams each researching a slavery case study, trying to find out as much as possible using open-source intelligence. I would say it was very successful, with each team presenting their findings at the end of the event.

5 Second Rule

Margaux (Discovery College ’16, France/USA/++), Christos (LPC ’17, Greece) and Catherine (LPC ’17, Ireland) – or, as they are better known, 5 Second Rule!

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Tegz (LPC ’16, Wales)

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Julia (LPC ’17, HK), Emma (LPC ’17, Norway), Sadé (LPC ’17, Jamaica).

Until next time. Hopefully not two months. Excuse me while I go finish some more assignments.

Emma

Oops… I forgot about this blog for two months

Just kidding, I didn’t forget about it. I thought about it regularly but didn’t write anything anyway.

As always, plenty of things have happened since I last wrote, so I’m going to write another Simran-style post where I list the things I have done and expand only briefly. Enjoy.

October:

  • My university applications and all my predicted grades were due at the start of the month. Since my university applications were handed in, I haven’t been too stressed about predicted grades. I took my LNAT and IELTS as well (don’t you just LOVE standardized testing? I sure do), so I’ve been finished with all of my university applications for a good while now. It feels nice.
  • My grandparents and uncle came to visit for a week, which was really nice (at least for me). I got off campus with them for a few days, and also went to see some sights with them.
  • CHINA WEEK aka no firstyear roomies for a week. I’d be lying if I said Tiffany and I didn’t enjoy the peace and quiet (sorry Trisha and Yvonna – we still love you ❤ ). It reminded me a lot of fortnight, with all the second-years running around to finish pieces of work.
  • Margaux and I attended FREEDOM INSPIRES Hong Kong, a Liberty Asia event. It was really nice to be there – we met some people working for Liberty Asia that we’re working with now, and we also very much enjoyed talking to the other guests and representing LASAS.

November:

  • No November is complete without the 24 Hour Race! Before the 24 Hour Race, some students acted as Light For Freedom ambassadors, trying to fundraise for the two beneficiaries of the 24 Hour Race, Chab Dai and Justice Centre Hong Kong, before the Race took place. Then, of course, there was the actual race, which was as great as ever. LPC (of course) took home the school spirit award, while the LPC boys team took home the prize for 3rd fastest boys team. We’re all very proud!
  • Sex CoP Day. Not highly enjoyable last year – basically all the sex education one ever receives at LPC all packed into one day. Usually a day off for all the second-years, a bunch of us were asked to help out with various sessions throughout the day. Significantly more fun when the pressure to put a condom on a banana correctly wasn’t on me!
  • Went to a really cool talk held by the Hong Kong International Literary Festival (or something like that) about the urbanization of China and the development of cities and rural areas in China (Beijing and Manchuria). Super-interesting!
  • Went to an awesome art gallery tour around Hong Kong with Wendy (art teacher) and a bunch of other students. So many opportunities for the students!
  • Skipped a European Cultural Evening meeting to join the Theatre classes at a Chinese play. Because why not?
  • Dad came to visit and brought way too much sweets and food!! While he was here, we had European Cultural Evening – a great success, in my book! We had a nice mix of serious and playful scenes (and I do make a pretty good queen, if I do say so myself).
  • While Dad was here, we also went to see the Hong Kong Ballet perform Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. My first ballet! I love the student discounts on tickets that they do here!!
  • Then, yesterday was the last Music Night of 2015. Ferna wasn’t here to help organize this one, and her presence was definitely missed – not only by me. I think Music Nights of this year have also been a success, mainly due to the diversity of talent the school possesses and the fact that Arnett, our principal, is so supportive of the students and lets us use his house (and really awesome piano).

So, yeah. Two months in a nutshell. I might expand on some of these points later – but probably not. Pictures below, on Facebook, and other places. Only 10 days until I get on the plane and get to go home for almost a month! So ready!!!

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Me and my favourite tutee, Simmy P ❤ Excellent block activity.

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Magan’s tutor group ’16, aka the best tutor group ever.

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Karen (Colombia) and Maisha (Bangladesh) trying to kill me before I attended FREEDOM INSPIRES Hong Kong.

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Me as an ambassador for the 24 Hour Race.

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Believe it or not, an everyday scene at LPC. Just kidding, this is the British scene from ECE. Willem (Netherlands) playing Prince Harry, me playing the Queen, and Maymay (HK/Wales) playing Wallace (my butler).

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War Poem.

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My promotional profile picture for ECE.

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Me looking dreadfully thoughtful at the last Music Night of 2015.

xoxo

A post about a lot of things

OK, so I admit I’m not the best at updating my blog. In my defence, plenty of things have been happening over the last few weeks, and as it’s coming up to the end of the year (and the start of exams), the days are really blurring together (I had to check my calendar to see what I had to put into this blog post).

A couple of weeks ago, Belce (Turkey) and I went to see a play called The Crowd at the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. We went to a Turkish restaurant food (AMAZING food), then sat outside in a square which had a really nice fountain (Me and Mum found this square when she came with me to the promenade), before making our way slowly down the promenade to get to the Cultural Centre. The Crowd was a very interesting experience – it was in Mandarin, but subtitled. It was a very interesting play, but I found it quite difficult to look at the subtitles and watch what was going on at the same time. The play was about a man whose mother was killed during the cultural revolution – after 40 years, he still held a grudge against the man that killed her, and did everything he could to kill him and ruin his family. The title “The Crowd” comes from the idea that once a person is part of a crowd, their individuality and capacity to think for themselves is lost, and that that is the reason the main character’s mother was killed. A very interesting play!

The view of Hong Kong Island from TST Promenade!

The view of Hong Kong Island from TST Promenade!

Me and Belce with Hong Kong Island in the background.

Me and Belce with Hong Kong Island in the background.

The last cultural evening of the year was NACE (North American Cultural Evening) – it was absolutely hilarious! I think one of the perks to the last cultural evening of the year must be that everyone now knows each other and the school so well that everyone understands all the jokes and finds them absolutely hilarious (like Johanna being Republican and the teachers’ 67% contact time). The NACE food was great (mmmm, apple pie), and, as mentioned, the jokes were great. I have several favourite moments from the NACE play – perhaps the ultimate moments were when Gaia dragged Adam out of Judge Judy’s courtroom at the beginning of play, and when there was a collective gasp when it was revealed that Lyndon insisted on having one meat-free day a week, and only fed Johanna french fries on Sundays.

Lyndon married Johanna, who had her two fake dads (+ her real dad) walking her down the aisle!

Lyndon married Johanna, who had her two fake dads (+ her real dad) walking her down the aisle!

Adam got kicked out of Judy's (Kylie's) courtroom...

Adam got kicked out of Judy’s (Kylie’s) courtroom…

Then, the day after NACE, the SAS (Students Against Slavery) group went to the Cultural Centre in TST (that’s right – where I went to watch The Crowd with Belce), and we did an afternoon of drama activities there. While I’m all for trying to do creative things to raise awareness about issues, I found it very difficult to do so in a group where many of the people that were supposed to be performing were more interested in their phones than the issue of slavery. Such is life in the IB, I guess?

After that, everything is a bit of a blur and I don’t really know what comes in which order. But here goes:

QCs (all of our activities) are coming to an end 😦 I caught myself thinking “But it’s so early in the year to finish QCs” the other day, and promptly had to correct myself. The second-years only have one week of class left, and the first-years only have about three weeks until the exams start. That’s quite terrifying, considering the amount of revision I have to do, and the amount of practice papers I desperately need to do for Norwegian. Badminton was my first QC to finish – we had to finish two weeks earlier than other QCs due to our need for the sports hall (which was being set up for the art exhibition, which coincidentally started today). Now Choir has finished for the second-years, while the first-years are busy recruiting other first-years to join our Choir performance for graduation. Campus Ecologists and Students Against Slavery will be having their last reflection sessions this week, and then it will be study, study, study all the way until the end of term.

We had Easter Break for 3 school days – I can’t really remember what I did, but I think it was a lot of work. On Friday (two days ago) I had my Norwegian oral exams, so I was busy preparing for those as well as trying to create some maps for my Geography Internal Assessment (which is due in 8(!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!1!!!!1!!!!!1!!!!!) days). The IB needs to give me a break.

My priorities for the Easter Break... Yes, I like to write on whiteboards.

My priorities for the Easter Break… Yes, I like to write on whiteboards.

The art exhibition was not originally going to be in this post, but I’m going to add it to this post because I am procrastinating and I intend to spend at least another 15 minutes on this blog post. It’s quite amazing how much talent we have here at the school! Each of the artists chose an underlying theme to base their exhibition pieces on, and they came together to have the collective theme of “chaos concealed”. I have a few favourite pieces, so depending on how much time I have over the week, I will stop by the gym to gaze at them (and the auction slips). If my wallet is feeling heavy, I might bid on my very favourite. All of these end-of-year events (like graduation dinner next weekend) are really letting the fact that oh-no-the-second-years-are-graduating-in-a-month sink in. Hopefully we will be able to find time to spend together before exams and graduation.

Not a piece being displayed in the art exhibition this year (although I wish it was!). It's a collaboration between Beach Clean-up and Art for Non-Artists (AFNA), highlighting the importance of keeping the oceans clean.

Not a piece being displayed in the art exhibition this year (although I wish it was!). It’s a collaboration between Beach Clean-up and Art for Non-Artists (AFNA), highlighting the importance of keeping the oceans clean.

Miren - one of the many second-years I will miss.

Miren – one of the many second-years I will miss.

Project Week 2015

For this year’s project week, I went to Siem Reap, Cambodia with Students Against Slavery, a Quan Cai I am involved with here at school. The SAS groups this year went to two rehabilitation centres for girls and women that have been rescued from trafficking, brothels etc. My group went to the older girls’ centre, while some other students went to a centre for younger girls.

The SAS groups as well as the United World Schools groups took the same flight to Phnom Penh from Hong Kong on Saturday morning, but split up in Phnom Penh. From Phnom Penh, our SAS group had an 8-hour bus ride to get to the guesthouse we were staying at. Originally, we had hoped to get to the centre early enough to be able to spend time with the girls on Saturday evening. As we didn’t get to Siem Reap until late Saturday evening, we had to go directly to the guesthouse and then meet the girls on Sunday morning.

Out of courtesy to the girls and due to safety concerns, I will not be mentioning names, posting pictures of the girls or telling many stories about things that happened at the centre.

Every single day of the Project Week involved getting up early in the morning – I think I was up before the sun every single day we were in Siem Reap. Then we made our way to the centre, where we had breakfast with the girls. Meals at the centre were highly entertaining – the girls would insist on putting more food on my plate until I literally refused to eat any more food. After meals we would have some downtime – after lunch, the girls had a rest period. Every day I used to go to the open area in the main building, and a bunch of LPC students would nap there with the girls.

We had prepared some activities before going to Siem Reap – singing, dancing, Wendo (a form of self-defense), art games, clapping games and a couple of therapies. Every day was filled with activities from about 5am (aerobics) until 9pm (they girls went to bed post-dancing) – the girls loved some of the songs we taught them, and wrote them down so they could continue singing them after we left. We danced every evening, and we did Khmer dances a few times (Khmer dances are normally reserved for family get-togethers, so it was a very pleasant surprise that the girls suggested we do that).

One of the experiences that has meant most to me was taking part in the therapy sessions we did. The art therapy activity was to draw two pictures – one the way you thought others saw you, and another the way you saw yourself. We were split into two groups – in our group I think something got lost in translation, because the girls were mainly drawing what they were thinking when other people were looking at them.

The aim of the therapy was to get the girls to display some emotions and express some of what they’re really feeling – they aim to be re-integrated as soon as possible, and for most of the girls that means they suppress their emotions rather than deal with them effectively in order to work through the pain. While we didn’t get extremely meaningful responses in our group during this session, I don’t think it was entirely fruitless. Many of the girls said they felt scared when men or “bad men” looked at them, but that they would still smile at them and hope that the man would not hate them. That raised several important questions, even though it did not tell us much about what the girls thought of themselves.

I enjoyed the drama therapy much more than I enjoyed the art therapy – while we did not get the desired results from the art therapy, there was a very heavy atmosphere and most people were crying by the end of the session. Many people also cried during the drama therapy, but I found it more interesting than the art therapy. During the art therapy, there were five actors from the LPC group standing to the side of an open space – “offstage”, if you will. Individual girls could come to pull us “onstage” and shape our bodies and facial expressions into whatever positions they wanted to, then we would “freeze” until the girl was satisfied with looking at the image she had created.

The girls shaped a happy image and a sad image, then explained them to the group. After they had created the sad image, they clapped a number of times and the actors transformed back into the happy image. There were many recurring themes in the drama therapy – very often, the girls’ happy images were domestic bliss, studying, singing/modeling or various Khmer dance poses – I was very often placed in happy images dancing, with one of my feet lifted off the ground. While the girls seemed to find it very amusing, it became slightly difficult to hold the positions for a prolonged period of time.

Also, very often, the girls’ sad images were domestic violence, alcoholism, girls crying or girls being taken away (trafficked). Two of the images I think about most often and remember most vividly were created by different girls. The first was a sad image, of a girl being trafficked. I think I remember this image most and think about it most often because I was portrayed as the trafficker, pulling on Jaime’s arm to get her to come with me. Thinking about these things is one thing, but acting them out (especially acting out the perpetrator) is something else entirely.

The second image was the last image of the evening. It was a happy image, depicting all of the actors as one happy family. The girl who created the image spoke for a long time about the significance of the image, and how it represented her main hope for the future. After that, the girls decided they did not want to continue the therapy. To me, the girls’ reactions to the image mean more than the image itself. The fact that many girls were affected by this image indicated that this is a common hope/dream they all share. At the same time, the fact that they began crying shows how uncertain their future are, and how aware the girls are that their futures are not at all secure.

On one of the days, some of the students went to Angkor Wat, a temple complex in Siem Reap province. Here we visited some temples (Angkor Wat – we watched the sun rise from here, the Bayon and Ta Prohm) (pictures below). My personal favourite was Ta Prohm, a temple that had not been renovated or fixed up since its discovery in the 1800s. It was an excellent opportunity to see Khmer architecture from when the Khmer empire was at its prime – many hundreds of years before the atrocities of the Khmers Rouges and the Pol Pot regime.

EXPLORING ANGKOR WAT.

EXPLORING ANGKOR WAT.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat - Fleur, me, Cynthia, Sze Yan and Jaime.

Sunrise over Angkor Wat – Fleur, me, Cynthia, Sze Yan and Jaime.

Leaving the girls at the centre was very difficult. It took Stella quite a long time to get us all out of the gate, down the street and into the mini-bus. We traveled back to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap, and met up with the other SAS group to listen to a presentation by APLE, an NGO working to prevent pedophilia and child sex tourism in Cambodia. After that, we had free time until the flight back to Hong Kong left the next day – Cynthia, Adam and I visited the National Museum of Cambodia (right behind our guesthouse) and then walked around Phnom Penh for the rest of the day.

Some of the people from both SAS groups in Phnom Penh.

Some of the people from both SAS groups in Phnom Penh.

One of the (many) things the girls showed me was how quickly you can grow to love and care about people. While there was a significant language barrier, we still managed to communicate and share things with each other. I realized early on that none of the girls’ stories mattered to me. While they are all in the centre for various reasons, that is not what defines them. They are individuals with stories to be told and voices to be heard. Understanding why SAS was created and why campaigning against slavery is vital are just two of the reasons I am extremely glad I went on this Project Week.

A (Tues)Day in the Life

This post is for anyone who is wondering what a typical (Tues)day looks like at LPC.

When it comes to school, we follow an 8-day cycle. That means that we don’t have a set schedule for Monday, Tuesday etc. Instead, we have an 8-day cycle, where we have a set schedule for Day 1, Day 2 etc. If we take the past Tuesday as an example, I had a free morning block, then Norwegian, followed by Group Block, Biology and Maths. (I also take Chemistry, Geography and Mandarin, but I didn’t have those subjects on Tuesday.

Norwegian is a very chill subject (at the moment). Technically, the name of the subject is “School-supported self-taught language”, so that means there are many people in one class, all learning different languages. In my class we have Norwegian, German, Mongolian, Armenian, Oshindonga, Korean, Dutch, Portugese, Finnish and Urdu (possibly a couple more). We have tutors who speak our mother tongue, and they basically look over the work we submit, as the self-taught course is set up so that we can prepare a lot in advance for our exams.

Morning block starts at 7.30 – no surprise that I was happy to not have morning block. Group block is a new concept for LPC, and is a block that is “allocated” to a certain subject area (for example Humanities, Maths or Sciences). We can have anything from guest lectures to tests in these group blocks.

School typically ends at 13.30. Everyone then goes to lunch, and then we go to our QCs (Quan Cais – the LPC version of CAS activities). If you’re not taking the IB diploma, then QCs basically equates to extracurricular activities.

On Tuesdays, I have 3 QCs: Campus Ecologists (Campus Service), Amnesty International (Campus Service) and Choir (Creativity).

Campus Ecologists has been very interesting – this term, we have done everything from making posters for the bathrooms, cleaning up the Green Corner and making a video about sustainability on campus to learning about composting. Feel free to go and like our Facebook Page!

Amnesty International is not an official QC for me this year (this means that I can’t count CAS hours for it), but I find it very interesting (also my roomie Lili is one of the student leaders for Amnesty, so I kind of have to go). Earlier this week was world AIDS day, so we spent an evening last week cutting red ribbons for students and teachers to wear on campus. We also arranged some activities for LGBTQ week earlier this week and have had Write for Rights Café.

Choir is my Creativity for this year! It’s a small, but fun group. So far we’ve sung Count On Me, Some Nights and Mistletoe, and performed at the second Open Day and at Music Night. Can’t wait to see what we’re going to do next term!

Sidenote: Students Against Slavery and Badminton are my final two QCs, but they’re not on Tuesdays, so I won’t elaborate.

I am not planning on changing any of my activities for next term, since I’m very happy with the ones I already have 🙂

After all the QCs are done, I will usually go shower, do my laundry if I’m out of clothes and then do homework for the next day or work on assignments that are due later in the week!

xoxo