Sister Lilly Duggimpudi (Franciscan Missionaries of Mary)
Supervisor of St Rose of Lima's College
Message to students - Annual prize-Giving Ceremony on 4 July 2012
Good afternoon, Miss Frances Tong, the Principal, teachers, students, guests and parents, I am honoured to be here with all of you this afternoon. When your principal, Miss Frances Tong requested me to be the guest of honour for your annual prize-giving day, I could not refuse, though I am very busy with my own school matters. It is because she is part of our school as she is our past student and I am happy to be here to share your joy. Dear girls, it is your annual day, and you should be proud of yourselves for having successfully completed this academic year. I am sure, all of you will agree with me that, life is full of challenges. You must have undergone a lot of challenges and hardships during this academic year, to strike a balance between your academic excellence and extra curricular activities. Among all, coping with the Chinese language is definitely a challenge for all of you as it is one of the core subjects. I know what it means to learn Chinese for a foreigner like you and me. However, I dare to say, learning Chinese is possible but it needs a lot of hard work, determination and self-discipline. We need to practise and make use of every opportunity to master the language. I am actually speaking from my own personal experience.
Twelve years ago, when I first came to Hong Kong, I did not know a word of Chinese, and I could not speak or understand anything in Chinese or Cantonese. Everything was so strange. Sometimes due to my Cantonese intonation, I was misunderstood and misinterpreted by Hong Kong people. But, I never give up, I have a very strong will power instead. I take every single chance to practice and communicate with others all the time in Cantonese. I did not mind making mistakes. Of course I had learnt Cantonese for two years as a full time student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and after that, I began working at St. Rose of Lima's College as a pastoral sister. At that time, although my Cantonese was moderately good and I was able to use it in my daily conversation with our students and teachers, my students sometimes laughed at my Cantonese. Cantonese or Chinese is a very rich language, but getting the right intonation is very important and it is very hard to master that. If intonation is incorrect, the meaning of the word changes completely.
I had many of these experiences. One day I asked one of my colleagues, 「你可否 “綁” 我呢？但他大笑，說：「SR. LILLY, 不行, 我不可以把你綁起來。」那時候我心裡面想：「你反正也閒著，而且這對你來說是一件很容易做到的事，為什麼你不能 “綁” 我？」所以我再多問一次：「下次不用你 “綁”我，這次是最後一次 “綁” 我。」他再大笑一聲，說：「SR. LILLY你的發音不對，你應該要這樣說：『你可否 “幫” 我？』那位同事令我學懂怎樣分別 “綁” (Tie) 和 “幫” (Help)，所以我就學懂了那兩個字的發音和分別。
This experience was a very good lesson for me. On the other hand, my students always cared for me and wanted to help me to master my Cantonese. They used to correct my Chinese and always encouraged and supported me; and gave me a lot of suggestions on how to improve my Cantonese. Every day, students came to help me during recess and lunchtime to listen to my Cantonese and correct my intonations. They were like my little teachers. On the whole, our teachers' and students' encouragement and support made me learn Cantonese. I struggled a lot but today I am happy that I was able to do that and speak Cantonese quite fluently.
有一次，我已經很累，沒有心情說話。但當天有幾個學生來找我，說：「SR. LILLY請你讀出以下一段經文。」我說：「還是不要比較好，你們的廣東話比我好，所以我不想讀出來。你們不用幫我了，我會獨個兒慢慢練習的。」不過學生們沒有放棄，反而鼓勵我說：「SR. LILLY你讀得不錯，你是我們的榜樣，你看看，我們讀了那麼多年英語，但成績卻只是一般。但你學習中文只是兩年的時間，就已經有不錯的成績了。」這句說話令我拿出勇氣來，亦令我受到學生的支持和鼓勵。於是我立即把經文讀出來。這個經驗令我發現身邊學生和老師的支持和鼓勵我，所以我會用心學習中文，這是我其中一個經驗。
Dear parents, why am I sharing my experience with you? This is because I would like to request all of you to extend your full support to your daughters to master Chinese and always encourage them to watch some meaningful T.V programmes in Chinese and let them be exposed to the Chinese culture. I am aware that you and I are coming from different parts of Asia and some of you are also from America. But since you are living in Hong Kong, you need to motivate your children to learn the local language. Honestly, I see great potential in your children to learn Chinese. Last time when I visited the school, I shared my personal experience of learning Cantonese and the difficulties I encountered during that period with Form 1 students. At that time, I felt that your girls were very much interested in listening to my sharing and they were very eager to ask me questions on how to improve their Chinese. Your children are capable of learning Chinese.
So dear parents, once again, I would like to invite all of you to continue to support the school to promote the atmosphere to empower the students with strong Chinese language foundation. Now, in the education system, the school authority, teachers, students as well as parents need to work hand in hand. Parents play a very significant role in children's education. We need to embrace the challenges in education. No doubt our students these days need to learn so many things. But, I would recommend you, dear parents, encourage your daughters to put learning Chinese as their first priority. It is simply because we are living in Hong Kong, and we need to be part of the local community. From my experience, I feel when I speak in Chinese, I am better accepted, welcomed and appreciated by them.
Another reality is that we are facing a lot of uncertainties and we are not sure what the future holds for us. But I am very sure and convinced that we need to take responsibility for the character formation of our younger generation. They are exposed to many temptations in the society and they are curious to experience many new things in life. However, we as educators and you as parents do have great responsibility to guide them in the right direction to become better citizens who can be light to the world shining brightly through their good and right moral behavior, and be salt to the earth bringing life and hope to the people. Of course, we need to give them freedom to make their own choices in life. Yet, we cannot leave them to their own. They are fragile and sometimes confused between what is right and wrong.
So dear teachers and parents, please continue to contribute and extend your full support and cooperation to the school. I am also confident that your principal, Miss Frances Tong, and every teacher at St. Margaret's Girls' College are more than willing and ever ready to extend their helping hands and they value your suggestions and contributions towards students' welfare.
My little advice to you girls is: "never give up, always have positive attitude towards life and face challenges courageously. Believe in God. Nothing is impossible to Him and so set your goals high and try your best to achieve them. No pain no gain" God bless you all.
Rev. Fr. Maurice P. Hogan, S.S.C., Ph.D. ( 何近民神父 )
Message to students - School Opening Mass on 16 Sept 2011
Every day our television screens and other media parade before us images of perfection - people who are more beautiful, thinner, cleverer and more attractive than we are, or can ever become.
In fact, our culture has become one of artificially created longings, portrayed before our eyes every single day. We are invited to buy this, to want that, to go there.
The advertising business keeps putting before us what we have not got, and this makes for unhappiness. And while unhappiness may be good for business, it is bad for people.
Despite the enormous increase in living standards and life expectancy, advances in science and technology that our generation is experiencing, we are no happier than our parents or grandparents were a generation or two ago.
In our world, the quality of our lives has certainly been enhanced, but happiness, apparently, has proved to be as elusive as ever.
But the search for happiness is not about some perfect future when all our needs and desires will be satisfied. Happiness has to do with who we are and what we have, it is not about something we do not have.
Happiness, in fact, is not far away from us, we have only to know where to look. But first, we have to be able to reframe, to see things differently, to alter our perspective on life.
That is what a religious outlook on life enables us to do. It does not reveal to us something entirely new.
Rather, it shows us things we have seen all along, but have never taken any notice of them. Contemporary culture has given us a very narrow outlook on life, one that renders invisible or opaque much of what is all around us.
One result of this is that it makes joy or happiness unnecessarily difficult to find. We miss out on happiness by looking for it in all the wrong places. But happiness is not somewhere else, it is right here where we are. Happiness is life experienced in a certain way. Happiness consists in not taking things for granted, of appreciating what we already have, and of giving thanks.
Is the glass of life half full or half empty? It all depends on how we choose to look at it. If we see the glass of life as half full, we will want to give thanks for the things we now enjoy, things that we did not earn, things that were given to us as a gift. Happiness has a lot to do with relationships, with a quality of life lived with and for others. It has to do with the feeling of fulfillment that we get when we sense that we are valued whether by our parents, fellow members of our community, or by God.
For we human beings are relational beings - those relationships that bind us to other people and to the transcendent reality we call God.
These relationships are not taken seriously in today's culture. But this attitude, I think, is a mistake. We should not easily close ourselves off from a major source of well-being and happiness. Our Christian faith suggests that there are human needs that cannot be met in the marketplace. Yet, we all want to live our lives as well as we are able. But living well is especially a matter of establishing the right relationships between us and other people, between us and the universe in which we live, and between us and God, the source of all goodness.
Christian faith has to do with how we live, how we relate to other people, and to the Other we call God. We do not find happiness when we pursue it. Only when all our relationships are as they should be, does happiness find us.
We say prayers in which we ask God for things we do not have, but we should not forget to thank God for all the things we do have - family, friends, schoolmates, even life itself.
Gratitude is the acknowledgment that all we have and enjoy is a gift. This is one of the greatest religious feelings. To thank God is to realize that I do not have less because my neighbor happens to have more than I have.
Nor am I less worthwhile because someone else is more intelligent or more successful than I am. My faith tells me that I am valued for whom I am, that I am made in the image and likeness of God, that is, as a human person I am a relational being.
That I reach my full potential when I develop a relationship with God and with other human beings. That is why I must learn to cherish who I am and what I have, rather than feel diminished by what I do not have.
There is no simple prescription for happiness, but the daily discipline of thanking God for what we are, for what we have, and for what we enjoy is surely one way that points towards that elusive goal that we call happiness, for which we all long. Appreciating who we are and what we have, and living our life in a spirit of thanksgiving is one of the best ways of turning life into a blessing that in turn gives us a feeling of contentment, a feeling of happiness.
We should not be surprised then that the central act of our faith as Catholics is coming together as a community to celebrate what we call the Eucharist, a Greek word that means thanksgiving.
This is what we are doing today, as we begin our school year. We are asking the Lord to help us to appreciate the wonderful opportunities we have to grow, to develop, to reach our full potential as human beings together with others.
That is why we pray: "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love is everlasting." Amen