By Damien Hehir, Co-Principal YCIS Pudong
Founder’s Day, always celebrated on the first Friday after the October holiday, took on special importance in Shanghai this year being our 25thAnniversary. Twenty-five years ago, CEO and School Supervisor for the Yew Chung Education Foundation, Dr. Chan and her late mother, Madam Tsang Chor-Hang officially opened the first Yew Chung school in Mainland China. To mark this significant milestone, Dr. Chan and her husband, Professor Paul Yip, came to Hongqiao campus of YCIS Shanghai where the official Founder’s Day Ceremony was held.
During her speech, Dr. Chan spoke of the challenges of getting YCIS Shanghai, then simply called Shanghai International School (SIS), ready for opening on the first day. Dr. Chan, her mother and the rest of the staff worked through the night to get the school ready, and Dr Chan recalled even having to clean the toilets. Roles and hierarchy meant nothing that night, it was all about having the school ready for the children and their parents when they arrived at school the next morning. The school did open successfully, and as we know, the rest is history.
Being at Hongqiao Campus brought back a lot of memories for me. I started my international teaching career at SIS (now YCIS) as a Primary Class Teacher at Gubei campus, and in the second year I became the Music Teacher which involved teaching at Hongqiao campus as well. In that year I remember being involved in the 70thAnniversary Concert, commemorating 70 years since the first Yew Chung school opened in Hong Kong. The school looked very different back then and the building I taught in at Hongqiao has now been replaced. Fast forward, and this year we were celebrating the 86thyear of Yew Chung.
Along with my SLT partners, Mary Yu and Ray Zhang, I was present as a special guest for the 25thAnniversary Ceremony at Hongqiao Campus on Founder’s Day. We were proud to take members of our YCIS Pudong community with us which included: our Parent Relations Staff, a small group of our parents, and five of our Secondary students who are all student leaders in the school. Our group had a photo with Dr. Chan and Professor Yip, participated in the ceremony and enjoyed the refreshments afterwards.
The ceremony was streamed to all of the other Yew Chung and Yew Wah schools across Hong Kong, Mainland China and Silicon Valley in the US. For the first time the ceremony was also streamed on a live app and parents, friends and alumni were able to watch from home, work or wherever they were. In her speech, Dr. Chan talked about the legacy that has been left by her mother and the incredibly rich history that has been created for YCIS and YWIES. Since the very first day, the school has always been committed to developing the whole child, and great value is placed on character development.
Dr. Chan used this opportunity to proudly introduce the Yew Chung Early Childhood Education College in Hong Kong. This College is now approved to offer Bachelor degrees for ECE Teachers. Dr. Chan sees that as going full circle. Yew Chung was originally set up as an Early Childhood school which later added Primary and Secondary. Now, the organization will be able to train teachers to be qualified to teach the ECE children. Dr. Chan is planning to also set up scholarships so that students from low economic backgrounds around the world can go to the college to be trained to teach early childhood, and potentially return to teach in their communities.
Founder’s Day truly was a celebration of the long history of the Yew Chung Education Foundation. It was great to celebrate the day with other colleagues, parents and students, and we look forward to building on the foundation that was set so many years ago, to continue to develop students with great character who go on to make a difference in the world.