Fifteen years ago, with limited resources and enormous curiosity, Dr. Esther Hanna and I took an adventure to establish a new American school for expatriates' children in Taichung. The school was located in a town house with three bedrooms. Outside the house, we had a small yard. When the officers of the Ministry of Education (or MOE) and the American Institute in Taiwan (or AIT) came to visit the school for the official approval, the AIT officer was so pleased to see a cage in our backyard and inside the cage, there was a rooster and a hen. He said that he had grown up on a farm and been able to go gathering eggs every morning. But it is not easy to share this experience with children nowadays, especially those children who grow up in a city. He thought that we had created a very precious educational environment for today's children; therefore he offered us an official approval immediately. However, the officers from MOE were a bit hesitant before they nodded their heads, since the limited facility of the school would not be approved if it were a Chinese school. At this moment, I realized the beauty of American education is its focus on the students' learning rather than on rules and regulations. On that day, my passion of running an American school was ignited and is still burning today.
During a journey of fifteen years with LAS, I learned American culture and its basic philosophy from daily contact with our teachers and administrators. This year, I am fortunate to be able to sit in the 11th grade American Literature class, and enjoy reading the masterpieces of many American writers, through the teaching of our most experienced English teacher, Mrs. Mary Stein. Through such enjoyable learning, we make our life different. I watched some students who have changed from being shy and timid to being bold and confident, from being silent to becoming very expressive, from being self-centered to becoming caring and concerned for others. These changes have made a great difference in our students' lives. This is the magic LAS has created for its students and even for me.
As the school grew I came through periods of excitement and desperation, moments of joy and tears, times of applause and criticism, occasions of welcome and farewell, just as one does as one's own children grow. All these circumstances and emotions make my life closely attached with LAS.
I appreciate the many generous persons who have been willing to dedicate their time or money or expertise to LAS. With their contribution, LAS was able to grow and develop both academically and in its physical setting. Dr. Mark Thelin worked as school board chair till the time he retired from his work in Taiwan. He assumed his responsibility as board chair and completely trusted me in running school business. I deeply respected his integrity and appreciated his trust. Dr. Esther Hanna is the co-founder of LAS, built the philosophy and set the cornerstone. She was the soul of the school at its beginning stage. Though she is not able to come and celebrate with us today, I would like to dedicate this moment to her with much appreciation. In addition to the persons already named, there are many who are not mentioned here. Parents, teachers, staff and administrators who were once part of the LAS team gave tremendous support as it was needed. It is these people who make history for LAS, it is time that they should celebrate their harvest, and it is they who should be applauded.
Now after sharing these precious memories, I ask myself what can I do for LAS at the next stage of its development, and I want to cry out to you, "Ride, boldly ride” come with me to seek for El Dorado, the elusive excellence that always lies just a bit further on.