Iranian student larges it in a small world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 November, 2007, 12:00am

When Amin Meyghani went to class at Alborz High School in Tehran, he was one of about 1,000 students studying at the prestigious school set up by American missionaries.

When he arrived at Li Po Chun United World College in Hong Kong in September, becoming the first Iranian student to attend the Sha Tin college, he found he had only 256 schoolmates.

'It's somehow ironic. I used to be in a big place but actually it was a small place because we were all Iranians. Here it's small but it's actually large,' he said, referring to the cultural mix created by having students from 81 countries at one school.

Amin, 16, moved to Hong Kong after winning a United World College scholarship, making him the first person from his school to receive a scholarship to study abroad in the 27 years since the Iranian revolution.

He rooms with a Mexican student, a Hong Kong-Canadian student and a Hong Kong-American student.

'I was interested in becoming more familiar with different educational systems, and having better chances to get into good universities around the world,' he said.

Amin said the education system he had encountered at Li Po Chun was 'a little different' to what he had experienced in Iran.

'It's somehow more teacher- centred than student-centred,' he said of the Iranian education system.

Amin holidayed in Denmark five years ago but had never visited Asia before coming to Hong Kong.

'I feel closer to this culture rather than in other countries,' he said, adding Hong Kong values seemed similar to those of Iran's, where family, children and the relationship with parents was highly valued.

Amin, who began learning English at the age of six, has continued his studies in Persian as part of the International Baccalaureate. He hopes to study engineering or nanotechnology, possibly at an overseas university, but said he would like to return to Iran someday.

Li Po Chun's principal, Stephen Codrington, said the school was deliberating trying to attract more students from the Middle East.

'Because part of the school's mission is to try and build this international understanding, I've been trying to increase the proportion of students who come from the Middle East,' he said.

Dr Codrington said although these students had much to gain from Hong Kong, they also had a lot to teach students from other parts of the world about issues facing the Middle East.