How Li Po Chun course inspired a talented artist
Jing Wong was over the moon as he came out of an English class at Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, having immersed himself in an hour of play reading led by his teacher.
'He was completely engrossed in the character he was playing. He became the character. It was most inspiring,' says Wong, who studied the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme in the early 2000s. He is now creative director of Daydream Nation, a fashion label known for its collaborations with other art forms such as theatre and dance. He is also a stage designer, director and performer, as well as a musician signed to People Mountain People Sea, an independent music label run by Anthony Wong Yiu-ming.
Jing Wong discovered a whole new world of drama and theatre from the IB programme.
'My teacher, Maurice, was passionate about teaching and generous in sharing his knowledge and insights with us. He was very into the theatre,' he says. 'In fact, the two plays he introduced us to - Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Federico Garc?a Lorca's Blood Wedding - remain my favourite scripts to this day.'
The experience was a far cry from his study of English Literature for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination. 'The teacher would simply throw a few questions at us without really explaining anything. At Li Po Chun, I developed a better understanding of literary techniques such as imagery and subtext. The latter is especially important in drama,' he says.
Wong also relishes the experience of studying art in the IB. Students were assessed more on the progress they had made than on the artworks they produced, he says. 'The best part was a discussion with the teacher where I had to explain the rationale of my work, where I drew inspiration from, and why I used a particular material or colour.'
After the IB, Wong enrolled in a foundation course at London's Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, graduating with a first-class honours degree in Theatre: Design for Performance. The IB helped with his academic transition, developing his critical thinking, research and presentation skills.
'I noticed that many of my peers at Saint Martins were purely visual and had no interest in text. I had an edge over them, having received great training from the IB programme. The ability to research and interpret texts is particularly useful to me as a director,' Wong says.