The Magazine of Meadowridge School

Class of 2017 Reflections: Charleen Lui

It’s not very often you find a nine-year-old with a subscription to the Vancouver Sun—even stranger, one who scours the pages, devouring all the news stories and global goings-on.

Charleen Lui ’17 has always been curious, back then as a nine-year-old newspaper devotee, and still today as a graduating student from the Meadowridge Diploma Programme. “I’m an avid researcher,” Charleen confesses. Charleen’s keen curiosity, paired with her tact for research, meant that no topic was beyond her reach. When she wanted to learn about something, she went ahead and did it. So when Charleen decided she wanted to learn more about her heritage, about where her parents came from, that’s just what she did.

If something was to be read about Hong Kong, she read it. If something was to be watched, she watched it. Charleen’s curiosity evolved into a fascination: she studied basic laws, researched government articles, and tuned-in each week to watch the city forums. “It was fun,” Charleen explains of her enthusiasm.

When it came time to pick a topic for the Grade 10 Personal Project, Charleen focused her interest, choosing to investigate a historic event in the history of Hong Kong: its transfer from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China in 1997. She designed t-shirts to document each significant event which led to this historic transfer, explaining the history, the ruling, and its impact. The project coincided with the 2014 Hong Kong protests—something which Charleen saw unfold before her in the articles she read and the broadcasts she watched—so she added designs, hoping to offer insight as to why these protests were happening.

It was after successfully finishing up her Personal Project that Charleen started to realize something, something she wasn’t quite prepared to say out loud: she wanted to go to university in Hong Kong.  “It was in the back of my mind, but I didn’t want to tell my parents,” Charleen admits, “my parents immigrated here so I could go to school in Canada… to go back would be almost reverse immigration.”

Charleen left her intentions unknown as she continued on into the Diploma Programme, exploring all types of interests and possible pursuits. When projects allowed, she would find ways to further explore Hong Kong. For one of her oral activities, she analyzed a poem on the current events in Hong Kong. For her Extended Essay, she dedicated the 4,000-word research paper to explore the impact of colonial education on Hong Kong students’ patriotism for China.

The Diploma Programme was the perfect match for Charleen’s curiosity. “The rigour of the IB is so much more difficult than any normal curriculum,” Charleen explains, “but it was worth it; after the Diploma Programme I know how to make a schedule, how to study, when to study… it’s changed my entire personality in a way.”

By the time it came for Charleen to start applying to universities, she was resolute: she wanted to study in Hong Kong. When she told her parents they offered alternatives—they weren’t yet keen on the idea— and couldn’t grasp why she’d want to go back. They moved here for Charleen to go to school, after all.

Her parents understood that she was interested, that she loved the culture, that she was drawn to the place they once called home, but why go back? The confusion of her family and friends was no match to Charleen’s clarity on the matter. The Hong Kong her parents knew was in flux, and she was in a rush to get back before it changed too much. “I am in a rush to get back, before 2047 when things have to change,” Charleen maintains. “It’s one thing to say I studied it, it’s another to say I lived it,” she upholds.

The Diploma Programme was the perfect match for Charleen’s curiosity. “The rigour of the IB is so much more difficult than any normal curriculum,” Charleen explains, “but it was worth it; after the Diploma Programme I know how to make a schedule, how to study, when to study… it’s changed my entire personality in a way.”

And so, this September, Charleen will realize her dream, making the trek from Canada to Hong Kong to begin her undergraduate degree at The University of Hong Kong, pursing a dual degree: a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Government and Laws and a Bachelor of Law.

Always the researcher, Charleen has already planned out her top destinations upon arrival. She’ll be visiting Cheung Chau—an island south of Hong Kong—as well as exploring her new city and all its sights and sounds. Unable to shake that Diploma Programme work ethic, she confesses she’s also eager to start self-studying. The thing Charleen is most looking forward to, however, is being able to finally catch the weekly city forums in person: “usually, I have to watch it on YouTube, but I actually get to go!” she smiles, “you can ask questions, so I’m definitely going to do that. You can also give mini speeches.”

With so much to already look forward to, the 10,484-kilometre move seems much less daunting. Charleen is ready—and admittedly excited—to experience a different way of life. Nonetheless, she will be missing the place she called home for the last 12 years: her school. “Everyone cares about you here,” she nods, “even though sometimes we say we don’t want to go to school, or we’re tired, or we hate the work, deep down this is honestly our second home.”




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