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Earl Westrick - Life After HKIS

Earl Westrick describes his 26 years at HKIS as “the most transformative experience” of his career. DragonTales finds out more…    

At a family celebration

Serving at HKIS for 26 years was the most transformative experience (personally, spiritually, and professionally) of my career in education. HKIS offered opportunity, growth, and nurture which stimulated the transformative life. In my view this was evidence of God’s abundant grace – beyond my prayers. 
Acceptance was the “magic” of HKIS. There were nine in our family, plus one German Shepherd. Wife Marge, the seven kids, and even the dog, thrived on the welcoming acceptance of the HKIS community. When we arrived in 1971, HKIS was four years old. I left in 1997. Seven offspring graduated from HKIS, attended U.S. universities, Marge served eleven years as school nurse, she died in 1987. As an “amputee”, HKIS continued to accept me and encouraged my healing.

HKIS gave me many and varied professional opportunities: high school principal, counselor (student, faculty, marriage), staff and team development, parenting courses, community drug education, deputy headmaster, teacher recruitment, managing the building of the Tai Tam High School and Middle School, Head of School.

The above brief history provides context for describing my life after HKIS. Leaving HKIS was a wrenching experience.

For several months, the most recurrent emotion was being lonely. I missed the vibrant community of students, faculty and staff, parents, and Chinese friends. All those precious relationships were diminished. But the HKIS “tapestry”, woven of many religions, nationalities, and cultures, continued to give warmth and meaning to my life. Amidst all of HKIS’ diversities, the warp and woof of the tapestry was Christ’s presence.

Five Westrick brothers:  Paul, David, Ken, Gregg and Brad


Understanding reverse culture shock helped me move on in my new life. A new house to make into a home, connecting with family and friends, finding a church, and, in short, planting myself in new soil became my

Professionally, I served as an interim principal in a Bend, OR school, facilitated workshops, did some  counseling when requested, served on a church council and several committees. I’m still active in some of these areas, but less frequently. I still believe that life is to be spent for others. However, aging has lessened my living out this belief.   

Rebecca Westrick-Miller and Christine Westrick-Witt 

My personal life is full and varied. Most important are family relationships. There are twenty-nine of us in the immediate family – many baptisms, birthdays, school programs, sports events, graduations, a granddaughter’s wedding, whole-family events, and many “subsets”. I’ve driven across the country several times to visit family and friends.

One of my many blessings living in Sunriver, is that several couples here are close friends from Hong Kong. We have good times.    

Some of my personal interests are reading broadly; gardening (a challenge in Central Oregon); cooking;  following politics; social, educational and foreign policy issues; and pottery. While I have a pottery studio, my skill level and creativity are quite low.  But clay’s lesson for life is important, keep your clay moist. “If it  becomes too dry, it turns to dust and blows away. If too wet it becomes a slurry and flows away.”

Earl (far right) celebrates his 75th Birthday with his children

During most of my retirement years, I’ve participated in a men’s study group, Men in Ministry. We study any topics, many provocative books. Our purpose is to grow in our spirituality and translate the growth into the many possibilities for ministry. Squash was my favorite participatory sport when I lived in Hong Kong. A torn meniscus and subsequent surgery was prelude to an arthritic and dysfunctional knee. On my way to a knee pre-op appointment, I fell and broke a hip. Several hours later, surgery was completed. Healing has been fast and strong and I’m scheduled for knee surgery in January. Care and love from family and friends have been beyond measure.


So, yes, there is life after HKIS. And while scrolling through the old memories is frequent and nurturing, it’s blending them with my life now that gives clarity and purpose to my identity.

Earl is happy to receive emails from former students, faculty and staff at earlwestrick@chamberscable.com.

Source:  DragonTales  Volume 10 Winter Edition 2008