A View on Li Po Chun

 

Eugene Tan (Malaysia, LPC 08-10), Ramanathan Kumar (Hong Kong/India, LPC 09-11)

It’s undeniable, the attention commanded by Li Po Chun in Hong Kong, and indeed Southeast Asia is staggering. Hence, it is almost inevitable that students are slightly disappointed to come to LPCUWC and find that it is not a perfect society; that it isn’t some magical utopian world of activists and upstanding young citizens of world.

The problems that persist in LPC are numerous and varied.  The student council and the students they represent are plagued with frustration at its lack of power, and the fact that it has next to no say in the running of the school. There is constant dispute on how much time that the average LPC student spends on academics. The discrimination of LGBT students and teachers by our own Board is another source of occasional discontentment among the LPC community. Every week, canteen tables discuss the “division” between local and overseas communities. The bureaucratic restrictions to fundraising, among other student initiatives, add to this seemingly never-ending list of problems. 

But first, let us consider the problems of our old schools. Alice Smith School (yes, laugh at the initials) is an international school with two predominant stereotypical backgrounds – the sons and daughters of expatriates or rich Malaysians.  Diocesan Boys school is an “elite” Hong Kong school known for pumping out students with excellent grades and accompanying athletic/musical ability. Like all schools, there were social groups, defined by race, wealth, physical attractiveness, athleticism and social adequacy. Not only were there social groups, there was a superficiality within them that compelled you to conform, saying that you had to act in a way other than your own to be accepted by said groups. 

Looking beyond all of that, however, the two of us do think that there is so much more to be applauded about LPC (and UWCs in general) than actually is. We have a rare and extraordinary opportunity to be exposed to such a wide variety of cultures, backgrounds, and people. This is our greatest asset – no matter how overstated it is. It sparks our desire to learn and to give back that is such an integral part of this movement. Because the people who come here are so talented in so many different ways, we discover the skills in which we lack, whether they be social or otherwise, and we truly do discover our potential and the many routes that we can take to self-improvement. In such a packed, close-knit community, we are given the underappreciated opportunity to form strong interpersonal bonds and deeper relationships, beyond the superficiality that cursed schools like our old ones. We also gain the ability to convince and persuade others by better understanding and knowing them. 

This variety of backgrounds as well as our different opinions on righteousness also make it a challenge to get things done within the College, especially when controversial issues arise, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. If and when we do get those things done, we have been forced to understand why they really matter. We are challenged to really evaluate what we believe in, and to justify that to ourselves. 

Coming from our Asian backgrounds, it’s amazing to us how we’re allowed to have a large degree of personal responsibility here. Over and above that, we’re all given personal accountability that is at once demanding and refreshing. Another characteristic that UWCs should be commended for more often is our willingness to talk about these problems. There is concern for issues throughout the student body, and despite all the problems that hound our efforts, we still try and we still discuss those problems in an attempt to get past them. This is astounding, compared to the drab apathy that permeated our two old schools. 

It’s great that we recognize the problems in our respective Colleges and try to address them, but do take a moment to step back and appreciate what we have. The opportunities presented to us here are rare and precious, if we decide to cultivate them rather than sinking into wearied cynicism. 

In UWCs, we have something that most students around the world don’t – we can be heard, if we’re willing to stand up for what we want. We have students who care; who want to participate and influence the affairs of their school. We all know there are issues with the way in which we function, and contradictions with the UWC values that are so mightily enshrined in our movement. But we can do something about it – if we want to. At the very least, we can try, which is far more than we could do before in many other places and in and of itself is very important to our consciences in our brief two-year stints at UWCs. 

Especially in LPC, where it seems that pessimism, exhaustion and cynicism have taken over the school, it is important to remind ourselves of just where we are and what we are capable of doing; to do it and not look back, and to value it.  

Of all that we can do wrong in a UWC, the worst atrocity is apathy.

-United World College Student Magazine-

5 thoughts on “A View on Li Po Chun

  1. We obviously lived in a very similar LPCUWC. I really admire and appreciate the fact that you are trying to show people the valuable opportunity they have had by coming to LPC. Moreover, I congratulate the idea of not focusing on the cons, but also looking at the pros of living in such a school. However, don’t deceive yourself…You can’t change the way things run in LPC. You can be heard, and you will be willing to stand up for what you want. You have students who care; who want to participate and influence the affairs of the school…Buy you can’t do anything about it- even if you want to. They gave you the power to speak and they taught you that communication can bring changes. Smartly enough, they avoid mentioning that LPC is not the place to start…

  2. So can I ask you a question?
    Are you content that you studied in Li Po Chun, did you like the atmosphere in this school? Because while reading your post I have got a feeling, that it is just another boring school with unfriendly people unable to make friends with…😦

  3. Oh, no, that wasn’t the impression we were trying to give at all. It’s just that towards the end of term, there was this undercurrent of apathy that would spring up every now and then. I’ve made the closer friends than I ever thought possible, and I have learned an incredible amount. It’s not a perfect utopia, but could it ever be? Going to LPC is the best thing that has ever happened to me; I wouldn’t take it back for anything.

  4. Hi there,
    thanks for this article… I very much agree with the deficits you listed about LPC and I’m glad that you’re able to perceive the nonetheless shining aspects of the school. I’ve graduated from the school 2008 and looking back it’s been the most exciting and endearing two years of my life. I LOVE LPC despite it’s glaring contradictions or may be precisely because of them – after all this is much closer to the structures of the world around us. UWCs are not utopia and I know that it is hard for many newcomers to accept this at first. Often times we run away from places where we felt strangled, expect a “happy-UWC-World” handed down to us on a silver tablet, and encounter frustrations when it isn’t. I’ve formed the most amazing connections in that place. It is about the students to overcome the occasionally occurring black holes. As you rightly pointed out: don’t give in to APATHY… There is to much to be gained and wonderfully enough UWC stays with you even after graduation. My UWC experience accompanies me on a daily basis and when I recount some of the so often cynically snubbed at “UWC values” I do have to admit that I found many of them and still do in my further journey…

    Dearest greetings,
    Jane Nurse LPC 06-08

  5. What about the LPC badminton club- does it attract good badminton players or is badminton here being practiced as a socialising event for “beginners”?

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