In the last twenty-four hours we’ve met with six of our former Hong Kong students who are studying in Ontario. Thursday night we went out for Chinese food with Ben who was in my fifth grade class and my high school journalism class at ICS. Dave had him in his ninth grade Bible class. We had also taught Ben’s older brother Jonathan who is a chemical engineering student at the University of Toronto. We didn’t get to meet Jonathan because he is doing a work co-op this year in the city of Port Hope. Ben is a first year industrial engineering student at the University of Toronto. Ben hasn’t had time to see lots of Toronto sights yet because he is busy studying. Course loads for engineering students are very heavy. Ben lives in the dorm with a room-mate from Beijing. Ben’s parents were visiting Toronto from Hong Kong and he was going to be spending Thanksgiving weekend with them. Ben has joined the university’s Aeronautics club, Campus Crusade and a group for Chinese students. He’s especially enjoying his math class because he learned lots of the material last year at ICS in his AP math class, so it is fairly easy. One of his classes has 900 students in it. We asked him to tell us a little bit about his last year of high school since we had already left Hong Kong by then. The high light of his senior year at ICS was his Week without Walls trip to Fiji. We had a great visit with Ben reminiscing about ICS events and people and learning about his plans for the future. Friday we had lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant with Jon who is in his third year studying English, history and ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Jon’s family moved to Toronto during his second year of university and he was spending Thanksgiving weekend going on a trip to Lancaster Pennsylvania with them and his girl friend Juliet. Dave taught Jon in his Advanced Placement World History class at ICS and was his basketball coach. Jon was one of the students I chaperoned on a school trip to Israel and I got to know his parents when I interviewed them for the ICS history book I wrote. His mom and dad played a big role in raising money for the new ICS school building. Jon is working as the editor of the lifestyle section of a student magazine called The Gargoyle. He has a staff to supervise but likes to write some of the articles himself. He recently wrote a piece about university students who have tattoos. He also writes for the University of Toronto paper The Varsity and does some tutoring for high school students. Jon continues to work on his music and did some more recording when he was in Hong Kong this past summer. Jon is a popular musician with a well established reputation in Hong Kong. We talked about some of his favorite courses in symphony music and popular North American music as well as a course in historiography. Jon is hoping to pursue a career in journalism when he graduates.
Friday night we went out for Korean food with Asha, Ivan, Howard and Robyn. Asha and Ivan are both students at York University and Howard and Robyn attend the University of Waterloo. Howard is in Toronto for the fall months however doing a work co-op semester and living with his aunt and grandmother. Robyn had come to Toronto for Thanksgiving weekend and was staying with an aunt and uncle not too far from the restaurant where we met. Unfortunately Asha had to leave after about thirty minutes to go to another engagement but we had an excellent visit with the other three. Robyn is studying science and psychology and was very enthusiastic about a cellular biology course she is taking. She is helping a professor with a research project exploring memory capacity with elderly people and she really enjoys it. She thinks working with senior citizens as a psychologist would be interesting. Robyn’s older sister was a former student of Dave’s in his World Religions class and Robyn told us all about her sister’s wedding this past summer which was celebrated with three separate events in Toronto, Singapore and Hong Kong. Howard, a former English student of mine, is studying in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science. He will probably get a job in the future working for an insurance company developing models for insurance policies. He told us about the great work place ethos at the Toronto company where he is doing his co-op work experience. He also did an internship with a similar company in Hong Kong where there was definitely a real distinction between the different levels of workers. People in upper management and middle management had nothing to do socially with each other and kept to their own status groups during lunch hours and breaks. In Toronto things are much more relaxed and everyone, regardless of their level in the company, can mingle and have a good time together. Howard marvels that it is even okay to make fun of your boss sometimes and the boss will take it in good humour. This wouldn’t happen in Hong Kong. Howard told us that he had been part of the company’s community service project that day. Employees are given a longer lunch hour so they can deliver Meals on Wheels to elderly shut- ins in Toronto. Howard said many of the people were anxious to visit and talk so it was hard to keep to their delivery schedule. Howard’s parents and his younger sister will be coming to visit him this summer and when his Dad retires as a Hong Kong firefighter the family hopes to move to Toronto. Howard has many relatives in Toronto and he sees them often. Ivan is studying to be a physical education teacher for middle years and senior years students. His first practical teaching assignment however has been giving art classes at a community centre and he says it is going surprisingly well. His experience as a teaching assistant for art classes at the ICS summer school is proving valuable. Dave was Ivan’s basketball and baseball coach at ICS and I had him in one of my English classes. Ivan has a girlfriend in Washington DC and will be traveling there to visit her for American Thanksgiving. We were so pleased that we got to see some of our former students and also pleased that they are doing so well. There are many other ICS kids in the Toronto area and hopefully we can see some of them the next time we visit.
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