Many people often look back at some point in life, and try to think of what earlier years were particularly formative for them. I can think of many critical phases in my life’s journey that markedly affected my later trajectory. Of these, I tend to think that my teenage school years were especially significant.
When I was just entering junior high school, I was youngest in my class, but an older classmate, likely three years older, began to befriend me, and treat me like his younger brother. Herbert literally took me under his wing, as some kind of “side-kick,” or “tudi, or disciple.” I had grown up in church settings, so I was sort of a “nice kid,” but he began to teach me a lot of things I never realized, and never should have learned. Going into a neighbor’s back yard and shooting birds with a slingshot was exciting. Learning to swear the longest curse phrases possible, in Cantonese, was also somehow challenging. Talking about formative years, that part was not so good!
刚进初中的时候，我是班上最小的，但有一个年纪大一点的同学, 大概比我年长三岁的, 开始跟我交朋友，并把我当成自己的弟弟一样。Herbert名义上是我的保护者,把我当作”助手”, “徒弟” 或“门徒”. 我在教会里长大，算是一个“好孩子”，但他开始教我很多我从来没有想到，也不应该学会的事情:进入邻居的后院，用弹弓射击小鸟, 真令人兴奋。学习用广东话发最长的诅咒誓言，也是挺挑战的。谈论塑造时期，那一部分不算好！
But one weekend, my “mentor” went to a church retreat, and came back, reporting he had a sudden conversion experience and was now “saved.” He changed 180 degrees, to my utter surprise. Immediately I lost my “evil mentor,” and I felt a bit abandoned. Thereafter he became so much on fire for Jesus, that he became known in the school as “the saint.” In retrospect, I suspect my former buddy in crime became a new gentler impact on my life for good, and woke me up quickly from a potentially bad ending. Herbert in later life became a doctor, and helped start a Chinese Church in Vancouver, Canada, very similar to what happened in my own life in Cincinnati. Formative experiences can be pretty dramatic.
I had the privilege of going to a rather elite British English language secondary school, known locally as DBS, the Diocesan Boys’ School. It was an Anglican (Episcopalian) Christian school that was established nearly 150 years ago, in Hong Kong, including reputedly the goal to help Eurasian boys, mostly of European-Chinese parents. Eurasian children at the time were commonly discriminated against, and the church was concerned that these marginalized children would be left out of the future mainstream of society. However, DBS’ history has vastly outpaced its original goals, and today it is a leading school in the city for all young men; some people think it is the leading school. To add to its uniqueness, most of the teachers at the time were expatriates mainly from the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth, and one from North America, so it predates, and might be closer to today’s international school flavor.
我有幸去了一个颇为英式的英文中学,当地人称为DBS的拔萃书院的男子中学读书。这是一所英国圣公会（Episcopalian）约150年前在香港成立的基督教学校，据说原来的目的之一, 是帮助父母其中一方为欧裔的欧亚男孩. 当时欧亚儿童普遍受到歧视，教会担心这些被边缘化的儿童会将来可能被排除在主流社会之外。但是，拔萃书院的历史已经远远超过了原来的目标，今天它已成为全市所有年轻人都想入读的学校；有人认为是领军学校。更特别的是，当时大部分教师都是外籍人士，主要来自英国和英联邦国家，还有一个来自北美，拔萃书院是先驱，更接近于现今的国际学校.
A parallel DGS, the girls school, became as highly distinguished, and funny enough I studied also at this girls’ school for 3 years, right after the second world war, when schools were just being re-established after the chaos of the war. In fact, for at least one year, I was only one of 3 boys at the school. Many of my female cousins studied at DGS, and one became the top student. Plus, my American born mother also became the librarian there later in life. So, our family relationship with the DBS/DGS system was quite deep, which included my 2 younger brothers who followed me at DBS. Of course, my experience of attending both schools was possibly the “best of both worlds.” I have always wondered if the girls’ school experience helped make me “more sensitive” in later life, possibly giving me additional insights that a boys’ school would not have given me. There is actually an “Old Girls’ Association” for the alumni: it might be groundbreaking if they accepted my application to join them today, as an “old girl.”
与男拔萃书院相同的，是拔萃女书院DGS，也非常有名，而且很有趣的是，就在第二次世界大战之后，学校刚刚在战后社会还混乱重开时，我在这所女书院读了三年，事实上，至少有一年，我是学校里三个男生中的一个。我的许多女表姐妹在拔萃女书院DGS读书，其中一个是班上的拔尖学生.另外，我在美国出生的母亲,后来也成为该校的图书管理员。所以，我们家族与DBS / DGS的关系颇为密切.其中也包括在我后面在DBS读书的两个弟弟。当然，我能在这两所学校读书可能是“两者兼得”。我一直猜想，在女子学校读书,帮助我 “更加敏感”，在以后的生活让我对人更谅解, 这是在男子学校读书学不到的. 学校有一个“女旧生”校友会：如果他们今天接受我的申请加入 “女旧生会”，那就可能是前所未有的了。
What was particularly novel about DBS was that it’s passions were contrary to stereotypical Asian and Chinese schools, which seemed to focus nearly exclusively on book study. The school took pains to emphasize that life was not just studying, by stressing the importance especially of sports in developing character, and music and arts in developing a full cultural perspective. Because Hong Kong was hugely competitive in everything, particularly in scholastic results for entering the only university at the time, this would turn out to be partly a handicap, when competing with other schools that emphasized primarily academic results.
男拔萃书院特别新颖的是，它与亚洲和中国的典型学校, 只专注于读好书相悖，该校努力强调生活不仅仅是学习，而是注重特别通过体育活动发展品格, 透过音乐美术培养对文化全面的认识. 由于当时的香港社会,在所有事情上都强调竞争力，特别是以学业成绩,争取进入当时唯一的一所大学, 与其他主要强调学业成绩的学校竞争时，男拔萃书院的学生,就比较吃亏。
For example, getting into the only small medical school, which in the prevailing British system is entered directly from high school, was totally dependent only on scholastic results, and nothing else. So much for all rounded character development, and who cares about extra-curricular activities?! Thus, some parents did not like the “dilution” effect of non-book study programs at DBS, and preferred that their children were sent to a more “book knowledge focused” school. My parents were very different, and felt a “well rounded education” was more important than scholastic results. In fact, in retrospect, I don’t even remember my parents pushing me even to study at all! Quite a refreshing contrast to many families of the time. And although I loved the study of books, and read voraciously, even to this day, I really thrived in the school’s multi-cultural and holistic environment, for which I remain highly grateful.
You could say that DBS was way ahead of its time, since nowadays there is probably a much better appreciation of the complexity of youth education, and non-scholastic education is more welcome today, even in Asia. But at the time I was in school, the huge emphasis on sports was quite an anomaly. Track and field were particularly heroic activities for the youth, all kinds of swimming sports were encouraged, and of course British cricket was the elite sport. We even had tennis courts and a great soccer (football) field, which was quite a novelty then, and I think, even now. It helped tremendously of course, that the school was on top of a hill with plenty of space for the kids to exercise, and for the school to expand.
你可以说，男拔萃书院是走在时代的尖端，因为现在对青年教育的复杂性，可能有更好的认识，不单单注重学业成积的教育课程，今天更受欢迎，即使在亚洲也是如此。但是在我上学的时候，强调体育运动的重要是有点不正常的。田径项目，是青少年特别引以为荣的，学校也鼓励各种游泳运动，当然英式板球, 更是精英运动。我们甚至还有网球场和一个很棒的足球场，当时, 我想即使现在,这是颇为新鲜的事物.当然,对此非常有帮助的是学校建在山顶上，不但有足够的空间供学生锻炼，也让学校可以扩建。
My father had been a track star in medical school, especially in long-distance, so he always hoped that I would do something in sports. But contrary to the emphasis of school and father, I just truly loved to read (the term nerd was not invented then, but I qualified) and was only halfheartedly (is there such a word as “quarter-heartedly?”) involved physically in any sports. However, I learned to enthusiastically cheer the sportsmen, and even organize cheering teams for the sportsmen. So maybe even though I was not “in the arena,” it prepared me for a lifetime of cheerleading other people onwards. Later on in my career, I often started, lead and organized many teams of coworkers, to work together, for my many projects in work and church. Cheering others onwards is often what many people say I do well, and oftentimes in adulthood, I would sign off my letters with something like “onwards!” Which I think is a good way to encourage others, since there are many points in life when we all need special encouragement.
我父亲一直是医学院田径场上的明星，特别是长跑，所以他一直希望我能参与体育运动。但是，与学校和父亲事与愿违，我只是很喜欢阅读（“书呆子”这个词不是那个时候发明的，但我是），只是半心半意地（有“四分之一的全心全意”这样的词吗?）参与任何运动。不过，我学会了热烈地为运动员打气，甚至为运动员组织啦啦队。所以也许即使我不是“在竞技场上”，我学会了一辈子鼓励他人。在我职业生涯的后期，我经常创立，领导和组织许多团队，为我在工作和教会许多项目一起工作。很多人说, 鼓励别人继续前进,往往是我做得很好的，成年后, 签署信件时,我常会用“继续努力onwards”这样的字眼。我认为这是一个鼓励他人的好方法，因为在生活中有许多时刻,我们都需要特别的鼓励。
Formative years are truly formative. Their impact and imprint stay with us consciously and unconsciously. I believe, personally, the teen years are among the most important for life……. To be continued in part B