PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 April, 2011, 12:00am


Nostalgia is a way of censoring the past

Our history teacher said people often remember their past with a deep sense of satisfaction or even glorification. This is called 'nostalgia'.

I wanted to know more about this word, and this is how merriam-webster.com defined it: 'The state of being homesick; a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition; also something that evokes nostalgia.'

The first meaning is simple. People who miss their homeland must have this feeling. It is the second meaning that concerns me.

People like to tell others they have done something good in the past. And they want those people to admire them. This self-satisfaction is usually harmless, but sometimes it can land us in trouble.

For example, consider China's four famous inventions: the compass, gunpowder, papermaking and printing.

These inventions were of great significance to China and the world. The Chinese are justly proud of them. Unfortunately, they didn't improve on them. Over the centuries, the West not only perfected gunpowder, but also the guns and cannons that allowed them to invade and defeat China.

Nostalgia - when it means looking back only on the good things without learning from the bad - only takes us backward. Such people don't want change. They only want to revel in the glory.

I think this is a serious problem nowadays. If people don't want to improve themselves, society will be the loser.

People should not just be satisfied with their 'glorious' past. They should learn to keep developing it into something better.

Kan Wai-sum, Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College

Smiling for health and happiness

Hongkongers don't smile enough. Everybody is always in a rush, whether it's going to school, going to work or running errands. They don't have the time to smile.

I also think they don't smile a lot because they're constantly under pressure from school, work or family. And they also tend to hide their feelings.

I once read an article that asked whether Hongkongers were arrogant. It said Thailand was known as the 'Land of Smiles' and Singaporeans were also very friendly. We should smile more.

Smiling has magical powers. It doesn't take much effort but brings many benefits. A smile can narrow the gap between ourselves and others. Most people prefer to talk to someone who has a friendly smile than a person who looks sad. Even during an argument, a smile can help us stay calm and find a solution.

Smiling - and its frequent partner laughter - is good for us. It makes us feel better and makes others happy. As they say, 'laughter is the best medicine'. Laughter triggers our brain to produce endorphins that make us feel better.

Rosanna Chiu Tsz-yau, Pooi To Middle School

Volunteer campaign can't be compulsory

Recently, a volunteer campaign got under way at my school.

We were asked to help arrange a barbecue for mentally disabled teens.

I don't agree with the reason behind this event.

On the bright side, students can improve their social skills with disabled people through such events. And they can fulfil the new curriculum demand for 'other learning experiences'.

But many students didn't want to take part in this campaign, which is widely seen as a compulsory school activity.

An activity can't be 'volunteering' if it is compulsory. What the school is doing is defying the volunteer spirit.

What's even worse is that if students' hearts are not in this activity, then they are just taking advantage of the mentally disabled to complete their course requirements for 'other learning experiences'.

The best way to encourage students to participate in social services is to make more flexible arrangements. For instance, students should be allowed to choose what kind of disadvantaged people they serve so they will put more effort into their work.

In conclusion, I oppose the campaign because it turns voluntary work into a compulsory school activity. It defeats the purpose of volunteering and does not effectively encourage students to take part in community service.

Sandy Li