Friday, 27 September 2013

The Spirit of Education - 21 Sept 2013

My alma mater has started the countdown of its 100th anniversary celebration for next year. Formerly known as P.E.S.S, it's steeped in heritage and one of the oldest schools in KL. 

Started in 1914, it's a missionary school set up to teach English to the children living in the Pudu area. It's wonderful the school now converted the principal bungalow into a heritage gallery giving us insights into the history of our early founders and the rich culture of our school.

I went with Wai Leng, my school mate since Standard 1. We studied in the same place for our primary as well as secondary education. Going back there was like taking a walk down memory lane. Everything looked familiar, there're not much changes except some new buildings. 

The luncheon event was held at the school's grand hall. The stage in the hall, like all the other places there, now looked much smaller -- cos we've grown, no longer seeing it from a child's eyes. Most faces were unfamiliar, but we're all alumni of P.E.S.S. and we shared precious memories of the school. 

This is a special picture spanning 3 generations, batches 1937, 1967 and my great buddy & I from 1987. My greatest gain was a chance meeting with an amazing 91-year old alumni, Mrs Chong from batch 1937. No doubt, she's the oldest alumni in the record - she's almost as old as the school! 

The school at that time was run by one of the founding missionary principals, Ms Josephine Foss. In fact, the road leading to the school is named, 'Jalan Foss' in honour of her. We've never met any of the early founders, but this was sooooo close, a chance to meet a student of Ms Foss. 

She's a remarkable woman indeed. She saw the event in the newspaper, but her grown-up kids discouraged her from coming. She's determined, took a taxi on her own and got a bit lost cos the place, according to her, has changed so much from her memory. She used to take a train to school; there're only about 20 students, and Ms Foss used to bring them swimming every Sunday. She could still remember everything like it's not too long ago, including the stage in the hall where she had played 'Snow White'! She looked around, hopeful to meet someone she once knew, but there wasn't. Instead, she met many, many new friends who shared her fond memory of the school.

What an inspiring spirit!

It's the first time I stepped inside the school after Form Five. We've so many legitimate reasons sometimes: kids are small, house chores not yet done, deadlines at work, kids got their enrichment classes, overseas, not safe to go alone, nobody knows me there, no transport, etc etc. 

I hope that I'll still have a spirit like Mrs Chong as age catches up. She overcame all her obstacles and just followed her heart. She was blessed, and she also blessed those people around her. It was a magical day, just to be with so many alumni from all walks of life. This is the true spirit of education, that education is not just about getting good grades but our attitudes to life-long learning no matter how old you are.

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