I’d like to introduce you to a young man whom I have deep respect for. He called me one afternoon a couple of days ago as I was about to leave school, and asked if he could come over to meet me. He is one of my ex-students, but he was not able to make it for the reunion dinner last week, and on his day off, he wanted to meet up with me. I had not seen him or spoken to him for almost 10 years, so of course I said yes, I’d love to meet him. The only trouble was, I said, that my kids were waiting for me at home, so would he like to meet me in school and then come home with me? And so we were off.
At home, he met Mr V, Arjun and Rishi, and everyone quickly became comfortable with each other. My husband, in particular, was very taken with how dignified and yet humble this young man was. In the short time he sat with us, my ex-student filled us in on what he had been doing since I had last seen him. His story is one of hard work, determination and- in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds- success.
He had found English very difficult in school. Despite his ability in the other subjects, failing English soon had him forced out of the academic route, and he was posted to ITE. After completing his studies there, he got a job as a technician. At this point he could have given up and settled for this, which would have been okay, except that he knew he deserved better. As he worked, he made a good name for himself and was soon in a much higher position than someone with his qualifications usually attains, all because of his sincere attitude towards his work. He decided to take up a part-time diploma course at the Polytechnic, which meant that he worked the whole day and then studied at night.
After 3 years he finally got his diploma, and you would think that this would have been enough for him. It would have been, if he had been an ordinary man. But you see, this is no ordinary man. Urged on by a mentor at his workplace who saw the bright spark of intelligence in his eyes, he applied for entry into an Engineering degree course at NTU. It took him 2 and a half years because of the credits he had accumulated in the Polytechnic. He is now a graduate, with a very fine job that involves creative problem solving with a government defence agency. He is also taking courses at the British Council to improve his fluency in English.
The young man’s name, ladies and gentlemen, is Kay Sua. I am proud to have been his teacher, and prouder still to be his friend.