While studying for my honours degree in Education (Chinese Language and Literature) at the University of Hong Kong, my professor recommended Bristol’s Graduate School of Education for my postgraduate studies. He has a close working relationship with academics at Bristol and believed the Graduate School of Education’s research tradition would be good for me.
Before coming to Bristol, I started working for an educational statutory organisation. My role involved conducting policy research, which I really enjoyed; I decided to develop my skills in this direction and chose the programme in Educational Leadership, Policy and Development at Bristol.
Studying at Bristol was challenging in a positive way; it sharpened my academic, intellectual and organisational skills. I treasured the opportunity to work in England and the confidence this gave me. It is difficult to put my finger on what exactly gave me the confidence – perhaps it came from the realisation that I could cope with the experience of learning new subjects, with new people, in a totally new environment. And all within a very short period of time. Knowing that I can pick up new knowledge and skills quickly and handle whatever is thrown at me is rather reassuring.
I have fond memories of the ‘student conference’ ran with MEd students from Birmingham, which was designed to help us prepare our dissertations. We were encouraged to present the gist and progress of our final research projects in front of teachers and other students and collect their views to refine the direction of our work. It was a very fruitful meeting and I can still recall the sense of achievement I felt after receiving positive feedback from the audience.
Professor Michael Crossley and Dr Elizabeth McNess provided a lot of inspiration and academic support throughout the year as did my fellow students, who are not to be forgotten. Without the intellectual stimulation, academic discussion and cherished friendships I had with them, the year in Bristol simply wouldn’t have been the same.
After Bristol, I moved to London and worked for both national and local educational organisations, where the main scope of my work involved policy research, training and outreach. My working years in England were truly eye-opening, and thanks to Bristol, I had the opportunity and capacity to actualise my dream of working abroad.
Working for Hackney Learning Trust, the local education authority in East London, has to be one of my proudest achievements. I was fortunate enough to be entrusted with the task of developing from scratch a training/outreach scheme for practitioners, teachers and volunteers working with deprived families. Not only was the scheme well-received, it made a difference to the community and I enjoyed the creativity along the way.
My next aim is to make use of what I learned in England to contribute to the education community in Hong Kong. I am currently an Assistant Education Officer (Administration) in the Hong Kong Education Bureau.
My main advice to someone starting out on the same path as me would be: come to Bristol with an open mind and let your academic and social experience shape who you are. The GSOE offers a culturally diverse learning environment for students. Enjoy every discussion you have with your fellow students from all over the world, whether it is about education, global issues, academic essays or your daily life. You will learn something new every day.
I would also advise students to be active outside the academic world – get a part-time job (I worked part-time in a local primary school), join a volunteering team, enjoy English nature with hiking groups and go travelling in England and Europe – make the most of your time in Bristol!