Tests, Tests And More Tests… In Life

Starting from this week, I gave my students tests on phonetics. When I say tests, I don’t really mean tests. I actually mean exercises but I want to give them a sense of ‘pressure’.  While learning is fun, giving them some ‘pressure’ (not too much) will help them improve further. After all, we all live in a very competitive world.  The younger generations, especially kids living in remote villages, should learn that their ‘neighbours’ are actually people living around the world, not just those ones living next door. Thanks to the internet which brings people closer and closer.

My Cambodian students taking phonetics test.
My students were working hard on their first phonetics open book test. The classroom was newly painted by the Hong Kong youth and the Cambodian youth two weeks ago. I hope they will maintain this classroom well.

A Cambodian student came to visit the village I work in on Sunday. He’s studying at a university in China on scholarship.  He said he’d never had imagined that the tests and exams would be that difficult in China.  He was an ‘A’ student when he was in Cambodia but for his first semester in China, he failed the exams. He had to re-sit the exams.  He learnt from his experience and when he re-sat the exams, he passed with flying colours.  I asked him to share his experience with the kids in the village. Unfortunately, the kids were only concerned about how he passed the university entrance exam in Cambodia. I wish they were more far-sighted.  The university student was also quite disappointed too.  We talked about technology and computer science and how important they were but the village kids never had interests in them.  They still stick to the traditional subjects and occupations which will be replaced by AI in probably five to ten years. 

Speaking of catching up with technology, I am taking an online course on machine learning. I remember in my first and second jobs, I was in the business analysis field where I analyzed the system workflow in the complicated financial industry. Then I requested to transfer to another department and became a product designer because I didn’t want to deal with systems anymore. I wanted to work with people, humans and of course, I wanted to know how financial products worked too. Now, it’s like I have come back to the point where I started – systems, technology, machine learning. I don’t know if I am better at dealing with machines than humans or I am equally good at both. 😛 (Hey, we need to have positive thoughts, right? :P)

After the trip to Vietnam, a priest asked me to do some reflections.  To start with, he gave me guidance by giving me negative comments. I have to admit that I didn’t do certain things well. I had taken things for granted but it was corrected during the trip once I realized it. But harm had been done to certain people so it was hard to mend it. The next thing I need to do is to do better.  I have, unfortunately, ruined my image though. When an image is ruined, it’s ruined.  It takes time to re-build a better image. Fingers crossed (and pray) that people who know me know that I am still who I am and have never changed for the worse but will only change for the better.

However, when I think back, it was also a good experience for me. If I had never ‘failed’, I would have never known that I had certain flaws in me.  We can’t ‘succeed’ all the time. We have to ‘fail’ sometimes to remind ourselves to stop and think, to learn about ourselves and then to improve ourselves.  The essence of ‘failure’ is to see ‘failure’ itself as a good learning experience and then take the initiatives to improve so that we can be a better person and pass the ‘tests’ in our lives, with flying colours, like the Cambodian university student.

Students pray Hail Mary before the Assumption of Mary feast day.
Preparation for Assumption of Mary on the night before the feast day. Students gathered together at night to pray ‘Hail Mary’.

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