Hong Kong, China, 8 September 2020 -- After listening last Sunday to the Hong Kong and Macau Past pupils of Don Bosco and their provincial delegate, Fr Matthew Chan we are happy to share a deep insight into the past, present and future of our Past pupil in China province. SLOBA (St Louis School Old Boys Association) is among the longest established Past Pupils local association (since 1960) in the whole EAO region. The SDBs took over this Hong Kong school in 1927. Mr. Andrew Yuen has worked since 2003 as a publisher. His dream before retiring is to also work for the Catholic community in Hong Kong.
PAST: As an SLS (St Louis School) past pupil, you were educated in a Don Bosco style. What do you treasure most in your life?
School played a very important role in my growing up (14 years). The school provided me not only with the foundation of my education, but also with a solid foundation of my Catholic faith and values that affected the rest of my life. These values are passed on to my own family and the people around me.
I also treasured the religion study which was taught in English when I was in secondary school. Late Brother Edward Kowala, SDB, who was my Religion Study teacher, put down a good foundation through his teaching of his students. I always appreciated the teaching of Brother Edward and that knowledge I learned from him enabled me to become a Sunday School teacher when I was living in the United States as well as now here in Hong Kong at an English-speaking parish.
The school also provided a safe haven to many of the past pupils, especially those who were underprivileged and the school was always a place they could stay after lessons to do their homework and study.
It is also important to point out that many Salesian priests and brothers were actively involved in the school when I was studying at St. Louis, and were actively interacting with students, not only those they taught directly, but also those they did not teach. Through those interactions, many learned from them in terms of religion, culture and language, as most of them were missionaries from Europe. They were indirectly teaching many things outside of the school syllabus. As a result, many Salesians are still remembered by the past pupils even though a large number of them have already passed away.
PRESENT: How did you become involved in the Past pupils of Don Bosco Association?
After seeing the downfall of academic results from current students of SLS in public exams, it felt like a calling that I could help in some way during my free time. Hence, I first started my involvement with the St. Louis Old Boys’ Association (SLOBA) as a volunteer, giving career advice to current students as well as providing free tutorial service to some current students on weekends.
I was later on invited by the SLOBA president to join the council committee and was elected as the liaison officer for SLOBA. Since I am a baptized Catholic, I am also selected by the SLOBA president to represent St. Louis School at the Don Bosco Past Pupils Federation and participate at the Past Pupils Federation quarterly meetings in Hong Kong.
PRESENT: As one of the Old Boys serving the youth in your alma mater, what are the challenges of your students and what can we learn from the Hong Kong young people of today?
In order to reach out to these youth, it is important to get to know their interests and needs. Taking advantage of modern day technology by using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, can learn of their habits and trends. Through research and understanding, it is easier to formulate activities and networking opportunities to connect these youngsters to their alma mater.
PRESENT: The 150th anniversary of the DB Past Pupils Association (2020) is a precious occasion to relaunch the Association?
It is absolutely a good opportunity to connect all Don Bosco Past pupils together, although we are currently restricted by the pandemic. I personally hope when the world is back in normal, we can once again have an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary.
However, as Past pupils we are also proud that since last February St. Louis School Old Boys Association (SLOBA) along with Salesian English School Old Boys Association collected a large number of donations from many past pupils from these two schools including facemasks, hand sanitizers and even toothpastes. We sent all these items to all Salesian schools in Hong Kong for the use of the clergymen and school staff. We also sent them to the Braga House, which is the elderly home for Salesians in Hong Kong. A significant number face masks were also sent to Salesian facilities in Italy, Spain and India from February 2020, and this is still going on. Moreover, we also gave out toothpaste and other necessities to some of the underprivileged students and their families to go through the tough time during this Covid 19 pandemic.
FUTURE: As an active member of the Salesian Family, what would you suggest to bring the Past Pupils closer not only to their former mentors but to the large Salesian Family?
Currently the Past Pupils Federation in Hong Kong is not penetrating deep enough with the past pupils. Partly we lack new blood in joining the Association and another issue is about communication from each individual Old Boys Association to their Alumni. On a higher level, this issue has to be addressed with solutions to help each of the Old Boys Association from each Salesian schools to reach out to their members. It is worthy to reach out not only to the past pupils, but also to their family members. Events such as School Homecoming Days often capture the attention of past pupils and their family members.
We can also ponder that a sense of belonging and loyalty to Alma Mater can be built during the school days. In the old days, the messages were conveyed by the Salesians during their teachings in school lessons. As fewer Salesians are involved in teaching these days, fewer students know of the Salesians and are less influenced by Salesian ways when there is minimal contact with the Salesians. But we are also grateful for the close guidance of our Past Pupil Delegate, Fr Matthew Chan who accompanies us closely.
FUTURE: Any dream or suggestion you ponder about the Past pupils or Salesian Family?
NB: Hong Kong and Macau have the largest number of Don Bosco schools concentrated in a small area in the whole EAO region. There are 6 secondary schools and respective primary school sections in Hong Kong with some thousands of students coming from all walks of life.