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20 September 2010

Unleash your potential

By Anthony Cheng, Honorary Member, Hong Kong, China

At its 60th Anniversary, WorldSkills International (WSI) has every reason to congratulate itself. I am sure my other well-placed colleagues will do better justice to this aspect. As for me, I only wish to share some of my personal experiences. My odyssey as a Jury President began and ended gloriously in St Gallen. The years 1997 and 2003 have additional historical meaning to the Hong Kong team. During the former WorldSkills Competitions (WSC), we witnessed the changing of our team flag -  at WorldSkills St. Gallen 1997 on July 1, symbolising the happy reunion with our motherland; during the latter WSC, our team heaved a sigh of relief when they finally came to Switzerland, for the year 2003 was the year when Hong Kong was ravaged by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and was only recovering from the epidemic just before the commencement of the WSC in St. Gallen.

WSC2003 Closing Ceremony
The Hong Kong, China team flying the flag at the Closing Ceremony in St. Gallen 2003

In both the Competitions, the Hong Kong team was befriended with numerous WorldSkillers who had offered their warmest heartfelt congratulations, sympathy, concern, interest and support. If they had any curiosity and doubt whether a small island such as Hong Kong could survive all these heavyweight challenges, their appetites were rapidly satiated in 2004, when the General Assembly was held in this still glamorous Pearl of the Orient and when I, in my last year as the Technical Delegate, performed my swan song for the WSI Delegates. Understandably, all participants returned home, richly satisfied with an indelible fond memory of the two vibrant cities of Hong Kong, China and Macao, China.

How our Swiss colleagues were able and willing to host the WSC in such a short span of time, 6 years, may be mind-boggling to many people outside WSI. Personally, I have found the enthusiasm to work miracles for WSI as it is both infectious and addictive. The herculean responsibility of organising a WSC is daunting, and is getting more and more challenging with the ever-increasing WSI membership; yet the bidding for hosting one is year-by-year highly competitive. In comparison, all other duties seem insignificant. That was probably why before I knew it, I had been volunteering to take up the role of Jury President for five service trades in 2001 while I could only barely cope with one trade in 1997.

The capability of WSI to unleash Members’ otherwise unknown potential is, I believe, one of its many success factors. Implicitly or explicitly, Members believe that ‘if it is impossible, I will do it at once; and if it is a miracle, it will only take me some more time’ (as I was told by Mr Kurt Kern, WorldSkills St. Gallen 1997 and 2003 Organising Committee). Members know that they will not be shouldering their responsibility alone because there are precedents, experienced mentors, able and willing helpers, and above all, a solid foundation of the organisational structure with well-documented procedures that always provides amenable solutions to problems. By this, I mean the powerful team of Chief Experts, Experts, Workshop Supervisors, the Organising Committee team, Technical and Strategy Committee Members, and the Competition Rules and the Standing Orders that are meticulously compiled.

Millenniums before the birth of WSI, our sage Confucius once said, ‘the student of virtue does not contend. If he cannot avoid it, shall the contention be in archery ? He bows respectfully to his competitors; then he ascends the hall, descends and drinks to the winner. Even in a competition, he is still a gentleman (Junzi).’ Such competitive spirit pervades the atmosphere of all the WSCs that I have attended. However, my six years with the WSC is but one tenth of the history of WSI. While we have survived an ever existent psychological peril by resisting the sirens’ seducing lyric of ‘winning a medal at all costs’, we should never be complacent. Always remember to make the WSC a level playing field for our young Competitors.

If you are still on your odyssey, work very hard and have great fun as is promised by every WSC. Meanwhile, let us all celebrate our success at this fantastic 60th Anniversary !

The Hong Kong, China team in Calgary 2009