By chance, I returned to the familiar campus earlier this year as an alumni intern, experiencing life at SCIE from a different perspective and making up for a lot of regrets.
At the end of last summer, just as my classmates were starting their university careers, I chose to take a gap year while reapplying to universities. Although I had already graduated from SCIE, I still visited the school regularly, not only to meet with my study abroad tutor and discuss my application, but also to sneak into the House Competition.
So I had an idea: since the application season was over, maybe I could go back to school in a different role and gain some internship and work experience? That same day I sent an email to the pastoral assist principle, who I had been in regular contact with during A2 when I was in the Student Union, expressing my desire to return to SCIE as an intern. I received a reply the next day and was told to prepare for up-coming interviews. After two rounds of interviews, I received a formal notification to report to the office on Friday and go through the induction process.
I got up quite early that day, packed my backpack and set off for the school. After arriving at the school, I received my work badge. Then, I was ready to work with my former admissions teachers and now my colleagues.
I was responsible for the development and maintenance of the school’s English website,which you might browsing now. The new website will all university admissions offices and overseas teachers to understand the students’ abilities and campus culture of SCIE. During the previous interview, I presented my views and evaluation of the current website to the principles, and raised some of the current technical problems. They agreed with my opinions and also hoped that I could be inspired to make the website more three-dimensional from the past four years of my life as a SCIE student. In addition, I was also required to provide photography for various events. After going through the induction process, docking the work and commissioning the equipment, the first day was also over and next Monday will be the first official day of work.
When I arrived early on Monday morning for my regular meeting at the Radiance Theatre, I was warmly welcomed by Mr. Neil Mobsbey, who introduced me to all the staff. After the meeting, many of the teachers who had taught me came for greeting , sighing at the fact that their former students had become colleagues.
The first few weeks have been without too many surprises and surprises, the website update is progressing steadily and as planned I will have a complete upgrade of the whole website before the start of the summer holidays and a large part of the pages will need to be started from scratch. Having familiarized myself with WordPress and Elementor, the two key web design programs, I’m on track. I chose to start with the familiar aspects and began by revising the page introducing the student leadership group. I opted to replace the large text sections with more graphic or interactive modules than I had before.
The structure was optimized and the volume increased from a mind map introducing the overall structure to a dedicated page for each Division. In my work, I also regularly contacted my friends to understand the characteristics and responsibilities of each division and to ensure that the information was accurate. Only from time to time did I find that because of my heavy use of photographs, the existing library of material was not sufficient in terms of quantity and quality to support further website updates, so I grabbed my camera and set off.
Returning to the familiar campus, everything felt twice as intimate, yet slightly different from what I remembered. The vegetation by the creek had grown taller and the shrubs in the corridor were in bloom, but students had not yet returned to campus as the peak of the epidemic had only recently ended. The empty school building looked particularly cold. But it was also the perfect opportunity to collect material for the campus architecture.
I grabbed my new Sony Alpha-1 flagship mirror-less camera with a 16-35mmm F2.8 G-master lens and walked between teaching blocking. Every time I pressed the shutter, the moment of alternating light and dark in the viewfinder always brought back memories of my past, as if I could see myself again. The campus underneath AnTuo Mountain and the old campus in the village of Shui Wei are the symbols of my youth.
In the blink of an eye, the rainy season in Shenzhen has come and gone, and it has been raining non-stop for a week, making everything dull and damp. The website has reached a bottleneck in terms of updates, although the progress is in line with expectations, the pages are a bit uniform from one to another. The good thing is that the photos taken earlier have given new blood to the material library and made it less monotonous overall.
During this time, I also worked with the Headmaster’s assistants as technical support to organize several meetings about the return of students to school. At these meetings, there was no answer to the date of the start of school. It was like waiting for school to start two years ago at the beginning of the epidemic, with no end in sight. The circle of friends was also full of complaints and rumour. There was also often a lot of conflict and even bad blood between students, the school and the PTA due to poor information. When will all this end?
That is, until the day the rain stopped and we received a joint notification from the Education Bureau to prepare for the resumption of face-to-face teaching. In the meantime, like many staffs, I moved into the school’s dormitory to avoid the risks. I arrived early that morning to record the moment of the students’ return to school. The property management team were already in place, checking the information and body temperatures of the arriving students. The principles also came to welcome the students back.
On that day, the lifts were crowded again, the corridors were bustling with people and the football field was filled with a few more running figures. It was like everything had gone back to the way it was before I graduated. It was wonderful to be back on campus and lucky to be back. Working in such a familiar and relaxed environment, I have found the motivation to move forward.
On the website side, more features have been unlocked as new plug-ins have been put in place. At the same time, through learning and accumulation, more innovative and design-oriented elements appear on each new page.
During this time, I have learned to listen even more. I spent more time talking to different people and understanding their ideas than I did when I couldn’t come up with the design I wanted to at the beginning. I also got into the habit of writing down ideas as I went along, and before long the desk divider was covered with ideas that had been spontaneously generated, many of which have been transformed into code and images that appear in the cloud.
It’s almost halfway through April, summer is approaching and graduation season is upon us. Four years is a long time, with memories filling every corner of the campus, so it’s a bit rushed to say goodbye in a week, and four years is also a short time, as it’s just the beginning of a long life, but it takes a lifetime to remember.
This is my fifth Senior Week at SCIE, and everything that happened last year is still in front of me, with many good things and many regrets. I still have the apology I posted in my friends circle after last year’s shouting match: “I’ve spent the whole week preparing for this, but in the end it turned out to be a mess, I’m really sorry to everyone, I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.” There were a lot of things that went wrong on that night that people might not have noticed, but I still can’t get over it, and maybe it’s only through regret that I can feel the beauty of it.
So this year, I prepared even more, stepping on countless occasions with Alan, debugging countless pieces of equipment and running from building to building, just for the sake of better results.
It was slowly getting dark and the night was coming. I waited apprehensively. When the lights went out in the corridors, thecurtains were pulled back and the glow sticks lit up in the hands of the underclassmen, I was instantly relieved that everything had gone smoothly. Next it was time to focus on the shoot. Each of the three cameras had its own role to play, with the wide angle camera taking long exposure shots, the standard lens recording video with the stabilizer and the telephoto lens capturing close-ups from a distance.
I don’t know how long it took, but my shirt was soaked in sweat and the memory card was about to run out of memory when ‘Love Song King’ came on. This was the last song and after this it was time to start the train. I made my way to the departure point, ready for the lighted sign, and waited.
As the glow sticks rained down from the sky, I turned on the lights and led all the A2 students to form a human train, weaving through the school buildings, going down one level at a time, and finally circling the school and stopping at the end of the four-year journey.
I sat at the exit of the circular track as I watched the younger students walk down the steps, finally having a chance to relax.
“The same for you.”
In the blink of an eye, I was back in the office, turning on the computer and working furiously on the massive amount of images, trying to get the initial processing of the photos done as quickly as possible so they could post a friend. It was late into the night.
When I finished the last batch of photos, turned off the lights and walked out of the office, the time on my watch was already 2am late in the night. On the campus late at night, apart from the faint green light from a few emergency lights, there was only darkness, silence and memories.
I shot a total of 340GB of videos and photos throughout Senior Week, including all individual diploma photos for class of 2022, which was no easy to organize and process, and I often worked late into the night.
After more than two months, the English website has been transformed in terms of interface and functionality, with 95% of the pages having been revised and redone. The change log has gone from blank to thick. Long, boring text has been replaced with streamlined presentation and graphics, photos have been given a consistent colour palette, and the combination of audio and video gives the reader a more vivid story.
Before that, I had only studied Computer Science at IGCSE and A-level, with very little study of websites and HTML code. I can say that I started out as a beginner in this job. I am grateful for the support and trust from my colleagues and supervisors, and I have never received any complaints or complaints, even though there have been many problems and errors.
Outside of work, I can still participate in as many activities as I did when I was a student at SCIE. The weekly football matches were a must, and they were exciting. The gym and lounge on the ninth floor of the academic building is a great place to empty my mind. The monthly birthday parties are full of warmth and human touch. At the Staff trip at the end of May, we escaped the city to the long-lost beach, where pampering volleyball on the beach, fresh and delicious seafood feasts and late-night werewolf board games filled the weekend with laughter.
June, the summer holidays are approaching and my internship is coming to an end. The photos and videos I took were sorted and uploaded, the website update log was sorted and handed over to my colleagues along with the standard procedures, and the equipment was returned after maintenance. Perhaps it was time to say goodbye to this place again.
On my last working day, which was also my 20th birthday, I was about to touch the fish and brush up on my friends and then go back in the afternoon to help set up the equipment for tomorrow’s graduation ceremony, but suddenly I was taken by my colleagues to the conference room and my mind raced, thinking about what I had done and whether anything had gone wrong. Just then the headmaster and the secretaries came through another door with a birthday cake in hand. I was flattered and thanked them profusely, not expecting such a big surprise before I left. After expressing my birthday wishes and recognition of my work, we lit the candles together and cut the cake. It was definitely one of the most meaningful birthday cakes ever.
In the afternoon I moved all my equipment to the control room of the theatre for the graduation ceremony of the class of 2022 tomorrow, which is also my curtain raiser. As with last year, parents were not able to attend due to COVID restrictions. Last year, when I attended the graduation ceremony, my parents were only able to take a photo with me outside the school, and they were not able to witness me receiving my certificate from the principle. This year, with the newly purchased live streaming equipment and the support of a new platform, we were able to broadcast the process live to parents.
At night, after a dinner with friends, I went back to the control room to make sure that every piece of equipment was in top working order. Afterwards I “bade farewell” to the equipment to appease the spirit of the machine, to use the black language of the video world.
The next day was a great success with Meo and Brian working together. At the same time, I and a few of my fellow students prepared a surprise for Luke, the Head of Year, and Iris, the Director of Study Abroad, with their bespoke diplomas, as they ‘graduated’ from SCIE together with us. They have put in a lot of work. Luke double-checked with me on every detail of the graduation ceremony. Iris was not only my re-application advisor, giving me valuable advice, but she was also in the office with me and we were always competing to see who would leave the office later.
Sitting in the control room, watching the surprise and joy on Iris and Luke’s faces, I couldn’t help but feel the emotions inside me.
At the end of the ceremony I went up to the stage to direct the group photo, stood in front of all the A2s, Iris introduced me and I received their approval.
Looking at the excellent ones makes it all worthwhile.
So the two and a half month internship has come to an end and I have gained so much. A new skill, a work experience, a lovely group of people, and the best memories. The past five years at SCIE have been an experience I will look back on for the rest of my life.
Once again, after a year: thank you, SCIE, and see you in the future.