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Distinction

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (June 14, 2018)


I don’t remember much about my higher primary years. I had just moved back from being in my favourite school of all time in London and had to move back to Hong Kong because of my dad’s work. I joined a school and those last two years at the primary school are a bit of a blur to me. I missed my old school and missed my old friends.


But there’s one thing that has stuck with me. There was a class that was for special needs students in my school and I went to help the class on a weekly basis. I also spent some of my recess breaks with students from that class. I remember how I was initially taken aback by how different they looked, how some of them had slurred speech and would take longer to do certain tasks. But as I got to know them, I enjoyed playing their simple games and appreciated their purity, innocence and transparency in expressing their emotions.


And now as I look back, I realized that since that point, I’ve kept my connection with children with special needs. From taking on my first internship to work with children with autism to now bringing my students to meet and help children with special needs, my early childhood experience has left a lifelong mark.


And so when I watched this movie ‘Distinction’, it really touched me. It’s a Hong Kong movie that is based on true events and touches on a range of themes and topics covering education, hope, family, pressure, acceptance and so much more.


The main characters in the film come together to put on a musical and the most interesting part is that it included students from a special needs school, students from a low banding school and also from an elite school. They first come together with misconceptions, prejudices and fears. But as they come to open their hearts and get to know each other, they learn to appreciate one another and it’s a beautiful transformation.


It’s so easy to grow up and go through life only meeting and getting to know people who are similar to us. It’s comfortable, it’s easy and it’s simple. But to get to know someone who is different, someone who we don’t understand, that takes a lot more love and effort. There’s one scene in the film where a girl with severe needs yanks the hair tie off the pony tail of the girl from the elite school, Zoey. At first, Zoey is taken aback but instead of getting mad, she watches the girl fiddle around with the hair tie on her head. She then realizes that the girl wanted to try tying her hair in a ponytail too and was curious about how to do it. Zoey walks over and helps the girl tie her hair up in a ponytail with her own hair tie and it’s a beautiful scene of empathy, understanding and acceptance.


If we can each take the time to reach out, empathise, reflect and accept, our world would be a much better place. And that would be a world of distinction.


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非同凡響


年代久遠,我已不太記得自己的高小生活。當時的我剛搬回倫敦,在我最喜歡的學校讀書,之後又因爸爸的工作需要而回港。回港後,我在一間小學當插班生,惟那兩年的校園生活對我來說有點模糊,只記得我很想念在倫敦的學校和舊朋友。


然而,有一件事深深烙印在我的腦海,那時候的我每星期會在學校裡其中一班特殊教育班當小助手,小息時亦不時會跟那班的同學一起玩耍。我還記得自己第一次看到這班特殊教育生時,不禁被他們的臉容嚇了一跳,又對他們口吃不清、不能獨自完成一個任務的情況感到匪夷所思。然而,當我更深入瞭解他們每一個人時,我開始慢慢享受跟他們玩一些簡單的遊戲,欣賞他們的純潔、天真無邪及無懼釋放自己情緒的勇氣。


當我現在回顧這一切時,我發現自己從那時起就與有特殊需要的小朋友有所連結。從實習時服務有自閉症傾向的小朋友到現在帶領我的學生幫助特殊需要的孩子,童年的經歷的確對我有深遠的影響。


最近,我看了一齣名為《非同凡響》的電影,這套本土電影為真人真事,内容圍繞教育、希望、親情、壓力和包容等主題,當中的動人情節深深觸動了我。


故事的主角來自不同背景,當中包括特殊學校、較低組別學校及名校的學生,他們走在一次參與一場在他們眼中毫無價值的音樂劇,當中的過程充滿誤解、嫉妒和懼怕,惟當他們願意打開心窗、瞭解彼此時,他們學會欣賞對方,在不知不覺間譜出了非凡人生。


與自己擁有相同背景的人一起長大和相處的確是非常容易、簡單和舒適,惟當我們要瞭解一個與自己擁有不同背景的人時,我們需要更多愛和心力。電影其中一幕令我尤其深刻:名校生Zoey被另外一個有嚴重特殊需要的女孩扯掉馬尾,她當下勃然大怒。然而,當她瞭解到那位女孩事實上是希望為自己綁上馬尾,並好奇當中的技巧時,她立刻走過去並用自己的橡筋幫她綁頭髮。這一幕彰顯同情、理解和接納的場景實在令人感動。


當我們願意花時間伸出援手、同情、反思和接受,我們的世界定會變得更加美好、更非同凡響!


2018年6月14日(香港經濟日報)



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