I start this blog post as the first week of a new semester and the start of a new academic year commences. On Tuesday, August 5, 2014, we welcomed more than 200 new juniors to the college. They attended an introductory ceremony accompanied by their parents, and representatives of their sponsors, in the KYUEM Great Hall. It is always a delight to welcome a new intake to the college.
Meanwhile, for the newly returned seniors and for all the departing students of last year, we now have to get through the last few days before the release of AS and A Level results on Tuesday, August 12. We all hope the results are every bit as good as those of previous years.
Returning to Malaysia from a holiday in our home in Cyprus was a time for some personal reflection for Helen, my wife, and me. Cyprus, like much of the Eurozone, has suffered badly in the last economic downturn and it was sad to hear of tax hikes, salary cuts and high unemployment. It made us very conscious of the need for high quality education leading to equally high quality professional qualifications. It may sound obvious, but the more qualified you are, the more protected you become from the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that all too frequently come our way in today's competitive world.
I never tire of telling people who don't know KYUEM that our students are among the finest young people I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. My colleagues and I care deeply about their individual future prospects, and, I suspect, we are almost as nervous as the students when it comes to waiting for the release of CIE examination results.
Good teachers care. They care about their students: their academic achievements, their overall well being. In a boarding school, if anything, those sentiments are intensified simply because we not only work together, but live together, too.
This has been a tragic year for Malaysia in terms of the two terrible airline disasters, but as I said in my speech on Tuesday, I am also grieving for the people of Gaza - and in particular, for the innocent children and their teachers killed when schools were attacked and destroyed. By any stretch of the imagination, such acts are reprehensible and morally repugnant to everyone. As a teacher, I feel as strongly about this as a doctor must feel if a hospital is attacked. So many promising lives cut short before they reach maturity and so many dedicated professionals killed in their workplace while passing on knowledge and experience to their pupils, is very hard to bear.
The English poet of the seventeenth century, John Donne, is famous for the line: "One man's death diminishes me." He was writing in a crueler and more brutal age than our own, yet the words have equal resonance today.
So, as our new students prepare themselves for the 24 months ahead, please join me in wishing them success, safety and security and a rewarding future career. We are, all of us, very lucky to be at KYUEM and have so much to be grateful for. I sincerely hope that everyone here makes the most of the opportunities that the next academic year will bring.
For my part, I will do all I can to ensure the year goes well.