Interview | Ida Lee: It’s a UWC DNA That We Need to do What We Believe
Interview | Ida Lee: It’s a UWC DNA That We Need to do What We Believe

During 2018 Selection Day, Media Group Zhi Xing students had the opportunity to interview an alumna from UWC Hong Kong, Ida Lee, who served as a volunteer. Ida shared her experience as a change maker after graduating from UWC.  She said:"I will never forget how I got my scholarship to go to UWC, and this is why I often keep going back to UWC, because if there is no LPC, no UWC, there won’t be Ida Lee today.


We can all be change makers in our own way

Interviewer: How many times have you been a volunteer for the Selection?What motivates you to be a volunteer?


Ida: Ever since I graduated, I have been contributing in the selection in various forms - I was a facilitator, an assessor then until recently in the past 3 years I was part of the core team of the selection committee for Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong (LPC), organizing the challenge day and reviewing student applications. That actually interests me a lot because in the past few years, I see a change of applicants answering questions like “What global problem worries you the most?” Back in the days, a lot of people would just say global warming is a big problem. But now, we see more applicants talking about terrorism or even communication with each other because of the popularity of the use of social media. This really keeps my mind fresh and I am intrigued what teenagers find and think about the world today.

  • Hong Kong UWC Challenge Day (Selection Day) with other volunteers (author, 6th from right


Interviewer: That’s interesting. One of the values of  UWC is to be a change maker, how do you try to be a change maker after graduating from UWC?


Ida: I think all of us are change makers in our own ways. It doesn’t mean that you have to join an NGO in order to change the world.  I myself back in the school wasn’t a technical person. I used to be quite bad at math and economics, but I decided to take a personal challenge. So after I graduated from my university I chose to work in a bank. I know that may not be a typical career that all the alumni from UWC would do, but I thought by working in a bank I can put myself in a battlefield of the financial market, try to use this as a platform for me to learn about the world because everything is inter-connected, and that will be one of the ways for me to access to the world in this fast changing world. Banking is primarily a male-dominated industry, for me as a junior female investor, I do trades with clients. I constantly want to prove myself that I am equally competent as other colleagues in my team. And I want to prove this not just to my teammate but also to my clients. I think that I have achieved that over the years, and I have got the trust of my team members and my clients.


I put that forward a little bit more by joining the Women’s Interactive Network in my bank, to further promote that feminism is not something only female advocates about, but male within the workplace can also join too to share this belief. So, if you remember, in past few years, United Nations got this HeForShe campaign which says that man can also help or promote this kind of feminism or gender equality, not just in workplace of course. This is one of the ways for me to make small changes within the work place. I also would like to share how woman can succeed in banking. I went to one of the universities in Hong Kong to join the MBA class to do a little bit of sharing, such as perspectives as a woman in banking industry. How can we break through the glass ceiling? What are the kind of ways that we can encourage young female to continue to stay at work, despite changes in family dynamics, say, you have a kid, you have a family now that you have to strike a balance. We are trying to enhance awareness, and also to implement some kind of measures to equip colleagues at work to both perform at work and at home.

  • Hong Kong UWC 25th Anniversary Celebration, author (third from left)


Impact of UWC Education


Interviewer:  As a female, I feel inspired. What impact your UWC experience has on your life?


Ida: In general, I actually ask this question often to myself and my peers, especially when we have this opportunity to interact with alumni at Selection Day in Changshu when they come to help. I rarely come to think of this before I realized this. Most of us didn’t realized that UWC experiences always hit us when we graduated from UWC. We often don’t think that it changed us that much during the two year period, but probably until we get into the university or workplace then we are more exposed to the world outside, and interact with more people, and we realized that UWC has actually made difference on us gradually.


For example, I also helped in recruitment at work. Nowadays a lot more candidates have perfect CV and fantastic presentation skills. But in a divided world nowadays, there are more emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving skills. How we collectively can think out of the box, to come up with creative solutions, to solve problems that do not exist yesterday. And I think UWC, the way how they trained us, to work in a collaborate environment, really helps us to enhance overall skillsets at workplace. I think also the way to do things, how we address problems, this will be something extra that I truly value as a plus at work place.


To say how UWC changed my life, I think it doesn’t only impact my life, but how I constantly go back to school to help, my family, my friends, my colleges, are all very interested in knowing why I am so passionate about UWC, because if I didn’t attend UWC, I wouldn’t be who I am today. And they will in some ways also found out they are very curious about UWC. I think that is the impact and how influential it becomes, even people around me will also get to know more about UWC. I remember my parents when they first met my friends from UWC, I invited them for a weekend at home. My mom was so excited, she prepared different Chinese traditional food. Oh this is Beijing Duck, and explain what is it, what it symbolizes? I invited my friends from Spain, Sri Lanka and Mexico. It was the first time for my parents to see foreigners at home. After that instance, they will be more understanding on the type of interactions I had in my school. I am very happy that what UWC had changed me also changed my family, friends and people who are around me.

Building lifelong cross cultural friendship


Interviewer: Agree. What is the most unforgettable experience you had in UWC?


Ida: I will say I do have a quite memorable experience when celebrating my 18th birthday at school. Back then we often had celebrations at midnight for each other.

  • Hong Kong UWC 20th Anniversary Reunion


Interviewer: Yeah, same here.


Ida: And I remember my friends had a very good plan in talking to me for a while, pretending that we are just talking about project, all of a sudden they just blind-folded me. And then made me walk around in the school to finish various tasks. Some of them kept my suitcase in the male bathroom beneath the trash can, I had to take my suitcase with me. And on the road I had to pick some flowers. And then in the end, we walked back to the common room where on the table there was a birthday cake with a bunch of friends celebrating for me. I think that is something I really treasure the most. And I still keep in touch with a lot of my friends although most of us stay in different countries now. I think that is the thing I treasure the most.

The world needs dreamers who do

Interviewer: So what advices would you like to give to students at UWC?


Ida: I really like the quote that “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers, but above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” In UWC environment we discuss so much and we always have this idea to change the world. But I think most importantly is how to make these ideas into plans and execute them eventually. That also needs a lot of skillsets that we learned here. I think it’s a UWC DNA that we all have in this mission that we need to do what we believe,especially in the world every day you receive all these kinds of social media telling you fake news or so many different kinds of views. It is so important for us to have that kind of critical thinking skill to judge what is right and what is wrong. And most importantly what we want to do for the world and leverage on the skills to help those in need.

  • Attending UWC ISAK Japan Opening Ceremony


Do my bit to help and generate more scholarship and funding for UWC


Interviewer: Thanks for this very helpful and timely advice.  What is the one thing for which you are most proud of yourself  while studying in UWC?


Ida: I think it would be my graphic design skillset.  Because back then I joined a QuanCai, an ECA called blue print, just teaching people how to use photoshop and how to design. I learned how to do simple photoshop skills, I also joined souvenir team, so I used what I learned in design team and put them in the souvenir team, back then I already helped designing various souvenirs to sell. I was vary fortunate that my souvenir team was in profit.


But most importantly is using what I learnt in LPC and bring it back. Recently we celebrated our school’s 25th anniversary, and I was part of the souvenir team in school despite of me getting off-work at midnight, because I still have a very strong passion to design some souvenir by knowing what kind of product people will like. With the profit we get, it can also be a way to do fundraising - To help and generate more scholarship and funding to the school. To allow more people to benefit from this education. I will never forget how I got my scholarship to go to UWC, and this is why I often keep going back to UWC, because if there is no LPC, no UWC, there won’t be Ida Lee today.


Interviewer: Thank you so much! I am so impressed.

Interview:Flower Zhao, Media Group Zhi Xing

Photo:Ida Lee

Video:Alan Wang; Video edit: Flower Zhao