I am sure most people will agree with me that this year has been a tough one, COVID-19 became a massive challenge for organising activities around the world, and indeed in Concord. Safety precautions and measures such as year group ‘bubbles’ and avoiding big group meetups meant that one of the most celebrated event in the Concord calendar was cancelled, the Winter Showcase.
Every year, students and staff at Concord College organise a stage production to be put on in Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury for charity donations. The public are encouraged to come and donate by purchasing a ticket; but with that ticket, they are promised a refreshing and entertaining couple of hours, giving them a taste of different cultures as our students from all around the globe show us what their country has to offer.
It was disappointing knowing the physical showcase had to be cancelled, but we were super excited to be told that it will still go on in another format – as a film. A film circling around the topic of reflection, perfect for this year. Different groups of students got to take part and organise, it seemed perfect… But who could have guessed other countries then put a travel ban on the UK, delaying the entire film. No matter how challenging the circumstances are though, there is always a way. We therefore went online, and planned it virtually. From then on, preparation for the film was non-stop.
For the entire time, I was involved in two pieces, including a drama piece reflecting on the uncertainty about our exams from last year, and another one about my hometown Hong Kong. The first piece was relatively straight forward, thanks to both actors being in the country. It did take a couple of takes, and some time for the Internet to go our way, but we were able to rehearse and record online ahead of the deadline.
The second piece was Hong Kong culturally-inspired, focusing on how negativity can bring us down during adversity, thus how we should express ourselves and keep heading in the right direction – extremely meaningful. However, its organisational progress was a drastically different story: cancellation of flights, quarantine and examinations meant we did not have the time to rehearse or record as planned. So we had to rely on, again, the Internet and some self-discipline. We sent music and dance demos to our friends back in Hong Kong, asked them to learn it, keep practicing, as we have to record it immediately after we are all back in the country. That was a tall order, due to a hectic schedule and a 7-hour time difference. Yet, by constantly staying updated and reflecting our progress, we were able to make this a possibility on 1st April.
On April Fools, we did not go around and prank people (maybe a couple, actually…), but we went to the well-equipped Morris Building to work on our film. Took us one afternoon, 4 people, a guitar, a piano, a microphone, and a laptop. That was all we needed to record our singing piece. In the other room, 6 more people, and one camera. That was all we needed to record our dancing piece. As the Vice President of Hong Kong Society, I have to say after that afternoon, upon reflection, I felt so proud and happy, that we were able to do that. To have achieved this feat even when everyone else told us it was impossible to complete such a complex act. But we did it.
This is the spirit and joy this community bless us with; the unique atmosphere of “getting things done” but also having fun, it just feels amazing. I cannot describe how much I cherish and appreciate: this feeling, and this Concord family. Good show everyone!
Kenneth – 6.1
Trodding it winds down, down, down-
Hear. As the spring air slowly passes away.
Erase it – it whispers as wisps of juncos,
pygmy-sized robins fly by out the bush:
Altars of suppositions; go down, down, down-
Taste. I see, once again; sweet opportunity unveiling.
Hear. As the rustles of the path let me free.
The above is an original acrostic poem I decided to write as a reflection for the blog which I
thought of whilst walking back. Inspired by the long walks to and fro between school and
Acton Pigot, I often find myself engaged deeply in the most random of thoughts, escalating
from happenings on my school day to the point I halt at an existential crisis.
Just kidding (No, really, I’m past that phase). Back to the topic. After more than a year of
coping against stringent quarantining measures, social distancing and remote
communication, we have certainly come a long way; as cases in the U.K are steadily
decreasing. However, a seminal thought which came to me was how much our pacing had
slowed down as a result. Sure, it was an abnormal year, tragic even, but have we not had
more time for many ventures? Exploring interests we would otherwise be too busy for,
spending quality time with our loved ones and finally being able to watch the new season of
that show you’ve been holding off.
Truth is, the picture is clearly not entirely as brightly painted and simple as what I’ve said.
The deceleration on our pacing also stirs negativity, quite evidently, as people also have
more time to dwell on the unproductive realms of the mind. The WHO themselves have
reported that the pandemic has disrupted or stopped mental health services in 93% of the
countries worldwide, where demand has urgently been increasing and it also exacerbated
existing problems for many. Nonetheless, quite often, much of our individual negativity (as
students) stems from within ourselves (excluding all other plausible uncontrollable factors of
course), where we focus excessively upon our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Maybe you
didn’t rank 1st in class for this exam series, maybe you didn’t quite answer that question in
class in the manner you’d have hoped, consequently fearing embarrassment. The fact is that
it’s fine. Take time to walk down the path, focus on what has already been achieved and
realise how far you’ve walked. Sharpen your senses, straighten your back and look ahead –
there is still much to look forward to. Don’t confuse this as recognising yourself as an egoist,
think of it as confidence in healthy moderation.
Perhaps it is the opinion of others upon yourself that you fear? Uncertainty on what’s to
come? I’ve been told by someone I respect very much to concentrate on the facts. Apply the
same concept, even if no one could ever attempt to ‘understand’ you’, you always have
yourself as a source of comfort. Don’t self-infringe unfruitful thoughts. We move on to the
next family of ‘maybes’ – assumptions, in which we tend to actively create. These are simply
unnecessary loads of burden, why carry a heavy stone to school when you have absolutely
no use for it (Okay, I know people can find ways to mess with this analogy but you guys get
the point)? Admittedly, there may be possibilities that your assumptions are true but that is
not until one finds facts to prove/disprove it. So? It’s really just Hobson’s choice here, you
accept it or you don’t, take it or leave it principle. Leaving it? Good, you’ve learnt something
from my ramble. Take it? It’s just another burden, however, what more could you do about it
other than refining yourself further? Although many rough challenges and choices were
made by me across the year, what eventually embeds itself in my mind are the memories
with my friends and teachers, all those small little moments. Only when you conclude what is
most important, you can feel free.
I have come to appreciate the life in Concord very much, the conducive academic
environment and helpful community, ever since I came here in September – learning many
lessons in and out of academia. Maybe this piece was hypocritical, as I myself embody this
form of ‘negativity’; however, it doesn’t hurt to use more time to start change.
Brandon – 6.1