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VINCENT LI：“Alums, It’s the Right Time”Vincent Li ’73sat down with HKIS’s Advancement Office to reflect on his involvement with HKIS, first as a student 55 years ago, then as an alumnus and member of the Board of Managers. Vincent talks about HKIS as a collaborative community of learning, and what drives his 23-year streak of giving to the Annual Fund.Vincent Li and his sister after one of the first CAN services at the RepulseBay Hotel in 1962. When Vincent Li ’73 moved to Hong Kong from New Jersey in 1961, his family joined the fledgling Repulse Bay Lutheran Church (later Church of All Nations) worshipping at the Repulse Bay Hotel. Within two years, Rev. Lenard Galster and Joseph Maché (church fellow-member and American businessman) were working with Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod missionary-educator Dr. Melvin Kieschnick and the Hong Kong Government to explore building a permanent church linked with a new American-system school. “Even in its inception, the idea of HKIS emerged from a collaborative community pursuing education,” Vincent observes.
HKIS’s brand new school was completed in 1967, a modern, light-filled building housing 630 students from Kindergarten through Grade 12. (Today, this building accommodates our Upper Primary School.) Vincent, then a seventh-grader, enrolled in the Class of 1973, the first class to complete all of its secondary education at HKIS. Vincent Li and his family outside the Church of All Nations in 1970. Vincent’s parents valued HKIS’s emphasis on enquiry learning, intercultural understanding, American educational best practice, and Christian religious education. When his father, S. Paul Li, was invited in 1968 to join the HKIS board to help further develop and advance the school, he enthusiastically agreed. “Dad believed it was important for parents to participate in and give back to the school community.”
Twenty-two years after graduating from HKIS, Vincent returned to Hong Kong on expatriate assignment working in finance. In 1998, then-Board Chair Richard Mueller and Head of School Chuck Dull asked Vincent as an alumnus to join the school’s Board, which he initially agreed to do for one year. Twenty-four years later, Vincent continues to contribute actively on the Board of Managers. Hong Kong has had a number of pivotal moments in its history, and 1998 was one. Vincent sees connections with today’s transitions. As a board member, he worked on strategic plans to carry forward HKIS’s mission and student learning results, review assessment of learning processes, improve compensation and professional development structures, and modernize and expand school facilities: “The many school improvements that HKIS is currently pursuing trace back through three or four iterations of past planning. HKIS’s development as a community of learning includes building on collaboration over time. This is how we grow and evolve as an effective, leading institution of education.” The Annual Fund and our Community of Learning One of Vincent’s first tasks on the board was cultivating a newly formed Advancement Committee. Building on groundwork by school leaders Tom Gorman, Joyce Barnathan, Chuck Dull, and Miltinnie Yih, HKIS launched its first Annual Fund campaign in 1999-2000.
Vincent contributed to that first Annual Fund campaign, and has given every year since. When told that he is currently HKIS’s longest consecutive Annual Fund donor, Vincent responded, “I am thrilled every year by the effective approaches and tools used to nurture amazing HKIS students. What I see inspires me to support continued improvement, not only for current students but for future HKIS students as well.” The Annual Fund highlights an essential characteristic of HKIS: Our process of learning builds on participation of the whole school community. Giving to the Annual Fund is one of the ways each of us can support student learning. For example, the Annual Fund currently enables HKIS to embed health and wellbeing resources into our counselling programs; supplement professional development in online teaching; add teaching assistants in Lower Primary; and build special facilities like media labs and robotics labs. The Annual Fund gives our school the unique ability to fund special facilities like the Upper Primary Media Lab.HKIS: An Enduring Community of Learning Vincent notes that the HKIS community of learning extends beyond those who study, teach and nurture on-campus here and now. “Whenever and wherever HKISers connect or gather, it doesn’t take long to recognize how HKIS has shaped and equipped us with unique perspectives and approaches. HKIS learning holds enduring value and relevance in today’s changing world.”
HKIS Alumni can take pride in being forerunners; but alumni hearts can really swell when we see how the HKIS learning that we knew is being modernized and improved. As one of the first batch of graduates 50 years ago, Vincent feels it’s the right time for alums: “Some of us early grads are at the retirement age already. The inspiration of what is being accomplished here is the main reason why alums and current parents should be inspired to contribute and support the development of our school. HKIS truly inspires learners for life!” Click on the image above to see how we leverage the power of place to develop our learning programs.Get in touch with Vincent Li firstname.lastname@example.org