SOTY 2016: Advice from the winners’ circle: Methodist College students get tips from the top stars

By Gary Tsang

SOTY experts talked with students to inspire them with the possibilities that can come from hard work and bravely facing all of society’s challenges

By Gary Tsang |

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Colleen Lee Ka-ling (left) told students about the challenges she faced when taking part in international competitions.

Students at Methodist College in Yau Ma Tei were treated to some outstanding guest speakers at the Student of the Year Awards (SOTY) school talks.

The Student of the Year Awards are organised by Young Post in conjunction with the South China Morning Post and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club with support from the Education Bureau.

The SOTY School Tour 2016/17 was a platform to help young people realise their potential and provide insights into their choices for further education, career, personal development and contributing to society.

Addressing 300 senior form students at the school that day, Colleen Lee Ka-ling spoke on a theme of “Bringing art into the hearts of the young”.

She told students about all of the fun – and all of the challenges – of being a contestant in the International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in 2005, where she finished sixth after nearly a month of intense competition.

“Contestants showed supporting and caring spirits towards each other,” she said of her experience in the major international competition.

As a SOTY alumni (Musician, 1996), Lee encouraged students to be brave in the face of the special challenges of the celebrated award.

“As you prepare yourself for a competition, which is a way to gain experience and to identify areas for further improvement, you learn a whole new spectrum of knowledge and other skills that are not normally taught in an average classroom,” she said, adding that the award also brings huge recognition for the winners.

Pinky Chu Pik-hung, an avid violin student, felt encouraged to take part in a music festival after hearing Lee speak. “Lee’s talk showed me the importance of expressing myself, in music and also on a personal level,” said Pinky.

Her classmate Cherry Lam Yuen-man appreciated the opportunity to learn more about SOTY. “It is fascinating to hear how an accomplished person like Lee prepared for a competition,” said Cherry. “I like the idea of getting a SOTY nomination in the category of Cantonese Linguist, so I will make more effort.”

Stacey Yeung Tsz-wai (centre) combined studies with stretching sessions to advance her career in dance

A home-grown success story

Methodist College takes pride in inspiring students with school talks and other extra-curricular activities, said principal Emily Wong Pui-yi. The school has been a base of learning for many accomplished people including the second speaker of the day, Stacey Yeung Tsz-wai, who amazed the students with her experiences.

A Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) student majoring in Chinese Dance, Yeung told the audience of her cherished dream of getting a place in the leading performing arts institution long before she sat her DSEs. She remembers practically crying from the pain caused by stretching exercises while doing homework at the same time.

“When you set a target, you must be resourceful and make use of all the possible, creditable means to make it happen,” she said. For Yeung, that meant dropping one subject in favour of applied learning with courses outside her school every Saturday.

Stephanie Ng felt encouraged by Yeung’s speech. Passionate about dance herself, she has been studying ballet for three years. But her new interest in hip hop has given her the desire to share the beauty of the relatively young dance form.

The key is learning how to learn

In the final talk of the day, Ken Ngai Yuen-keung, Deputy Executive Director at The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, and Grand Prize judge spoke about the skills people need to succeed in their future career. He said it’s not about gaining specific subject knowledge, it is being able to learn and innovate.

These skills involve an understanding of media and technology. Successful people will need to have the ability to “access, analyse, create, evaluate, and participate” in new types of media platforms. In the talk, Ngai asked students a lot of questions but offered few answers. “I wish to inspire people to be self-learners,” he said.

Secondary Five students Kwan Hoi-lam and Chow Pui-yan, prefects of the school’s careers team, organise a range of school talks to allow students a better understanding of the world outside school.

They both got a lot out of Ngai’s talk, which was filled with detailed information about the number of internet users and other relevant figures. Students developed a new understanding of the intensity and reach of the internet.

Pui-yan was overwhelmed by the statistics. “Normally we use the internet for homework related work,” she said, “so we rarely think deeply about its ability to connect every aspect of life.”

They also learned more about SOTY. “We knew the awards were prestigious in the past,” said Hoi-lam. “Now with all the information we received today, we know a lot more about the awards.”

Edited by Sam Gusway