A unique experience, 5-7 mins motivated. Thankfully, my older brother,
Morgan, and I both got the scholarship.
Author: Warren Sheng What was 11 years in a boys’ school like? I
Last updated: 11-Apr-06 remember some very clever and some very rich
boys. I remember missing girls. At one point,
When I gave this speech (on 10-Apr) , I was
Haberdashers had over 1,000 boys but only one
fearful that I would go over time as every time I
black, and a handful of Asians and Chinese. I
rehearsed it, I would reach 7 mins or just over. In
can’t remember meeting a single Irish person.
the “live” speech, I omitted a few phrases and
However, I missed Chinese girls more than I
finished at just under 6 mins. In hindsight, I
missed meeting Irish boys. It’s now more
should have used the spare time to explain my
visual aid (see separate document).
Also, because my speeches start life as written
scripts, I think my talks end up with too much
content. Perhaps it would be better to concentrate Historical Interlude
on the talk, not the written version. Now for more history. In 1971, Taiwan was still
called the Republic of China with an important
Introduction seat in the United Nations. By the end of 1971,
The People’s Republic of China had replaced
(Show banana) A “banana” is a racist way to
Taiwan. We would lose our nationality. My
describe someone who is Chinese outside but
father often went on overseas trips, so we
white inside. What am I? Am I even yellow
became British citizens.
skinned to start of with? (show my arm)
I am British Chinese. I eat chips with chopsticks.
This talk is in 2 parts: my family origins and my
schooling. For those not interested in me, treat
this as a mini-lesson in 20th century Chinese More schooling
history. To illustrate my talk, look at the souvenir
Back to my school. At 13, I came top in the end
A4 sheet, which is yours to keep. of year German exam. “Mum, I’ve come top in
my weakest subject!” She asked me what my
My origins and my name result was (around 80%). “Why did your older
brother get 103% in French?” “Because he is
My parents, both top graduates, were born in
superior to me”, I said.
mainland China. China was at war: against the
Japanese occupation and at civil war; the At 18, I went up to Manchester University to
Nationalists versus the Communists. They fled to read dentistry partly to avoid medicine which
Taipei, Taiwan in 1949, where they met, got would have meant being under my older
married and had 3 sons. We were all “made in brother’s shadow for the rest of my life. (He
Taiwan”. (We cannot speak Taiwanese dialect. went on to do 6 degrees.) I dropped out after 2
Mandarin Chinese is our mother tongue.) Taiwan years. During this time, I met some evangelical
was too crowded and under threat of invasion. (40 Christian students. I started to read the Bible
yrs later, nothing has changed!) My parents made they had given me. I concluded that I was a
a brave decision to emigrate to far away England. sinner, that I needed God to forgive me. So, in
1980, I became a born again Christian. Later, I
And so, my mother, my older and younger
bought a really expensive bicycle to raise my
brother and I, arrived in London in February 1965,
to join my dad who had come here 1.5 years
earlier. We were aged 7, 5 and 1. Dad had never Let me bring you quickly up to date. Later, I did
seen my younger brother, Paul. a degree in Management Sciences at Manchester
and then spent 18 years in mostly I.T. I then re-
invented myself as a business and project
My schooling manager. I am currently freelancing but would
All 3 of us went to Haberdashers, a school prefer a salaried job. Please feel free to contact
consistently ranked as among the top 10 in me. My contact details are on my souvenir photo.
England. In my days, this was a semi-private
school; one third of the pupils had a “Free Place”
which meant 7 years of free tuition.
In conclusion, I am not a banana; I am British
At 7, when I was already at Haberdashers’
Chinese. I am here today because of Chinese
Preparatory School, I spent 3 years preparing for
history. I’m glad to be a British Chinese living in
this Free Place exam. If I succeeded, I would save
London. Haberdashers’ was a top class school,
the equivalent of £80K. If I failed, I would be
but I missed girls and meeting Chinese people.
ashamed for the rest of my life. I was quite
My mum was a bit hard on me but I do love her.
Now I’m much happier. I am a Christian, loved
by God. I have a Malaysian Chinese wife and 3
sons. I am a Toastmaster in the best club in
And, I cycle on the same bicycle, which has now
done 98,000 miles. So, even though I am now 46,
I have the body of a… Pause (rummage for
note in pocket) 46 year old.