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Jasmine Lau ’08
Bob Christian Alumna of the Year 2014/2015

The Bob Christian Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award is presented to an HKIS alumnus or alumna whose contribution since leaving HKIS exemplifies our Mission and one or more of our Student Learning Results (SLRs). This year’s winner Jasmine Lau ’08 received the award in recognition for dedicating her career to supporting NGOs. She began work with the Narada Foundation, which helps build capacity within grassroots social entrepreneurs and NGOs in China and later co-founded Philanthropy in Motion (PIM), an organization that provides young people with the funds, training and networks to become intelligent givers. She and her co-founder also developed PIM’s KlipTap, a new crowdfunding platform for social causes that both allows young people to participate and be engaged in philanthropy and which provides tools to run online campaigns at low cost.

Jasmine returned to HKIS to receive her award and address the Class of 2015 at this year’s graduation:

Thank you very much. It is an immense honor for me to be back at HKIS. I remember, not so long ago, I was also seated in the same place as you, Class of 2015. 

I am not too much older than you are and, to be honest, I haven’t figured it all out. In fact, I’ve only just started my journey of discovery. So bear with me as I share with you today what I have learned.

After graduating from HKIS, I went to study in an American liberal arts university, Yale University. College was a life-changing experience for me, but for the most part, it was also quite overwhelming. Everyone around me was extremely talented and extremely driven, and they all seemed to have a plan for success. I felt lost and, at times, felt that I didn’t belong. 

But one thing that grounded me and helped me get over these insecurities, these sporadic periods of self-doubt, was when I immersed myself in volunteer work and service. Instead of asking myself, “what should I do to achieve success,” which is outside of my control and forever elusive, service asks me to consider “what can I do to help others, to make the world a better place.” When we shift the focus from our own achievement to our service in the name of something bigger, then the world is less of a zero-sum game, but one with infinite possibilities for collaboration and creation.

I have to thank HKIS for exposing me to the values of community service, through Humanities in Action, Interim trips and the myriad opportunities to get involved. Including a senior project I did called Ember that involves supporting girl’s education in rural China that I am still working on to this day, seven years later. It is very rare find a school that commits to offering students valuable opportunities to cultivate their social conscience and inspire them to action. 

I ask you not to lose that spirit as you continue your personal and professional journey. Many young people, such as yourselves, delay the process of taking action to address social issues they care about. Society often tells us that we are not ready or not experienced enough to make a significant difference. So we wait and we wait, until we are older, richer, and more successful, until we think we have finally “made it” and can become a philanthropist. But what we don’t realize is our generation has so much potential to start early, to lead the movement, to have our voices heard, to shape decisions now. So two years ago, I founded a nonprofit called Philanthropy in Motion. My mission is to empower the next generation here in Hong Kong and China to make the most social impact. By pooling together collective resources, whether it is our skills, ideas, or our money, we form a young people’s foundation that can channel our resources to make change strategically. 

I’d like to end with a quote from Harry Potter that has especially resonated with me throughout the years. Dumbledore once said, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” As you embark on you're the next stage of your life, you will be picking up many useful skills and achieving important accomplishments. Your character, your service, your choices, will ultimately determine who you are and what you do for the world.

Source: DragonTales Summer 2015