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Welcome Speech by Spencer Chiu '93 - Class of 2013

Hello Senior Class,

Thank you for having me here and it’s a pleasure to spend some time with you here.

I trust all is well and you’re enjoying your last few days at HKIS. I’m sure after all the hard work throughout the years, you’ve willingly allowed senioritis to set in and at the same time, you’ve all mapped out what you’re going to do over the summer before you become a freshman again. My name is Spencer Chiu, class of 93, having attended HKIS from K through 12. To give you an idea of how old I really am, I was actually part of the first freshman class that started in this Tai Tam campus 20 years ago, which was once sparkling new. So like you, I once roamed the halls of this Tai Tam campus, taking in everything what HKIS had to offer.

How was your time at HKIS? How you do see HKIS as the graduating Senior class? As a school, HKIS has a great reputation as being one of the leading international schools in the world. A roster of great teachers and educators, stellar campuses, a place of diversity, and a student body that understands the importance of character and giving.  I must say your parents have a lot of foresight for enrolling you here; HKIS serves a platform to figure out who you are, equipping you with some of the best experiences in school life so you are prepared of what lies ahead, be it college or anything you may want to pursue. What really lies ahead for you? And how to do you take in all the challenges, experiences, and spoils of what life can offer? Well, I don’t have any inspirational advice that I can share with you, as you can easily Google such words of wisdom from greats like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, or even Ali G. If you’re taking the usual route of college, then you can expect an adventurous 4 years ahead – for some of you, it may be 4 years of intense work, even more intense partying or, a 4 year vacation. After college and when you’re cruising into your twenties, some of you will gain 50 pounds, and if you’re a guy, you may lose some or all of your hair. You may working right here and enjoying life in HK, China, in the States, Japan, Brazil or anywhere in the world. You may have developed a passion for charity, sky diving, tattoos or plastic surgery. You maybe on your way in becoming a filmmaker, the founder of the next Google, a chef, or a marine biologist. But I digress. 

My message to you is that you've become bonafide HKIS alumni. So today, as an Alumni Association Board Member, I officially welcome all of you as HKIS Alumni. This Alumni connection is a connection that is powerful, useful, and most of all, genuine. Be sure to look amongst yourselves and make an effort to keep in touch. Because even with all the technology available, it's actually quite easy to lose touch. I can tell you personally that my most lasting friendships originated from HKIS. 

You should also look beyond your class and look to connect with other Alumni. With more than 40+ years of HKIS history, you're actually part of a serious critical mass of individuals who share a connection. And by graduating, you're adding to our numbers as the Alumni population grows every year. Be sure to be active in this network and leverage the HKIS connection.  It will be useful, it will be fun, and it may open doors for you. So I hope that all of you remain active in staying connected with HKIS and the Alumni Association as you go on to another exciting chapter of your lives. 

Last year we came up with the idea of a time capsule for the Senior class and I'm sure this will become a tradition that all of you will appreciate. If I may, my parting advise for you is about time. Time is on your side now, it's actually your biggest ally at this moment in your life, and you have plenty of it. Don't ever waste it and always spend it wisely.

So, thank you for your time, and welcome - Class of 2013 to the HKIS Alumni Network.

The Bob Christian Alumna of the Year Award 2013 goes to...

Michelle Hoeppner-Cagnin '94 - Welcome speech to Class of 2013


Hello HKIS graduating class of 2013.  My name is Michelle Hoeppner Cagnin and I am honored to stand before you today as the Bob Christian Alumnus of the year.


But today is a day of congratulation for you!  Congratulations to each of you for finishing school work and requirements and for entering a new chapter in your lives.  Congratulations to your parents and family members who have guided you to this point and now send you with their blessings to new adventures.  And congratulations to the teachers and administrators at HKIS who have worked diligently over the years to turn this motley crew into high school graduates who will move on to change the world.


I understand that your class motto is a quote from Winston Churchill: 


"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. "


A good quote and quite true.  As a graduate of HKIS myself, I understand that your lives are starting a new chapter.  HKIS has given you a solid foundation in academics, spirituality, and character development.  You are self-motivated learners and world citizens who are empathetic and interested in contributing to society.  You have a knowledge and an appreciation of Chinese culture.  With this foundation, a world of opportunities is now open to you.


That being said, a world of opportunities sounds like a good thing but it can be a bit overwhelming.  With high school graduation, you take on new responsibilities and a continued quest to find your passions and your calling. 


For me, this quest has taken me on a wonderful adventure from the urban poor areas of the Dominican Republic to rural villages in mainland China.  From interactions with those who have power to those who do not realize their own power.  I have been honored to work with the Lutheran church and with international non-profits.  I have used my skills in intercultural communication with my husband's family in Italy.  I have experienced joy, love, heartbreak, and grief.


This world of opportunities is a burden without faith, hope, and love.  For me, high school graduation is the end of the beginning phase of self definition.  At the beginning phase of self-definition, we start to figure out who we are as individuals.  We often learn this in two ways.  The first is through instruction, our family or friends, telling us who we are.  The second is through comparison and rebellion.  When you are growing up, it is important to understand what you stand against and what you do not believe in.  However, as we move into adulthood, I believe that this negative definition of self – a self-definition according to the things we are opposed to – changes.  We start to seek our passions and callings.  We define what we have faith in, the values by which we want to live our lives, the things that we are willing to sacrifice for.  This process usually comes with confusion and sometimes with pain.  My hope and prayer for you is that you continue to struggle and fight and make mistakes on the road to defining who you are and what you want to be.   Saint Francis of Assisi said,


‘Start doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly, you are doing the impossible.’


Traveling mercies to each of you as you find out which impossible things can be made possible though your contributions.  Blessings!