在沒有任何期望下（或可說是當時對玫瑰崗沒有太大認識，而不能作正面的評價），陳智思就是這樣進入了玫瑰崗讀書了。「現在想來，我還不知為何我當時的班主任Ms. Caroline Chan選我為班長呢。」他說回想起當時的Ms. Chan 應該是剛執教鞭不久，那時的她人已經很和善，很年青，他當然不能辜負 Ms. Chan對他的期望。往後兩年，他都是班長，中一及中二的成績更是三甲之內呢。到了中三他更負起更多責任，成為了 Prefect。
現在回想起，陳智思感謝玫瑰崗除了給予年青人在學業上表現的場所之外，還給予他們一個身心多方面發展的機會及平台。雖然會社於他中三才成立，他仍能透過班長及Prefect 的職務發展自己的領導能力。而且老師們都給與同學們很多不同的機會參與，不斷在旁給他們信心和鼓勵。所以現在Bernard仍是十分感謝 Ms. Caroline Chan當年對他的哉培！
他送給大家的忠告﹕何必自怨自憐，相反，要積極面對，隨遇而安。現在陳智思仍跟Mr. Robert Kwan, Mr. Jonathan Kwok, Mr. Patrick Lung, Father Xavier, Mr. Damen Chan, Father Francisco 等聯絡，亦知他對〝玫記〞的情懷。筆者從整個訪問過程中，覺得陳智思是一個重情義的人，他還分享了幾幅他〝死黨〞的照片。他多次提及，中學時期的友誼、生活，是很美好、珍貴的回億，相信他從他最要好的朋友，Peter，Raymond及Edward身上感染了他們的〝行俠仗義的精神，離開後還對玫瑰崗對他提攜作出多次回饋。
最後，我們希望藉此機會多謝陳太（當然還有陳智思本人），她的一句「既然你(陳智思)對玫瑰崗有這份濃情，為何你不為你的母校多捐獻一點？」我們禮堂翻新費用，就由陳智思捐獻了。如果你有機會回〝玫記〞探訪，希望你可走進 Bernard Charnwut Chan Hall 參觀。
Live One Day at a Time, Face Adversity Against All Odds
Between 1977 and 1980, Bernard Chan attended Rosaryhill School (RHS) from Form 1 to Form 3. After that he continued his studies in the United States. When we asked Bernard about his childhood, he described himself as a “naughty” student. Then we wonder how he turned from a ‘naughty student’ to become the CEO of an insurance institution and a family man with various civil responsibilities?
The First Turning Point in Life
Bernard frankly admitted that he was not an outstanding student at first so he was not surprised that he did not get a placement in the secondary section of the school where he completed his primary schooling. He recalled his view of being “placed” at RHS, ‘To be honest, I had never heard of RHS even though I was living so close to her! My parents only wanted to send me to one of those top notch secondary schools. Through connections, a renowned boys’ school located in Kowloon accepted my application.’ However, eventually he chose RHS instead as he really didn’t want to attend a boarding school.
Without any expectations for RHS since he did not know anything about her, he started his first day of school. “I still had no idea why my class teacher Ms. Caroline Chan appointed me as the class president! I remember at that time Ms. Caroline Chan was a very new and nice teacher.” Subsequent to that appointment, Bernard’s responsible attitude never let his class teacher down and he was assigned as the class president again for the next three years. Bernard also studied very hard and he was always ranked among the top three positions in Form 1 and 2.
When Bernard looked back his school days in RHS, he truly appreciated that RHS not only provided her students with a good environment for academic development, her unique school atmosphere also offered them a nice ambiance for personality development. Even though the House system had yet been established until his last year in RHS, he acquired a lot of leadership skills through being class president. He also said teachers in RHS always encouraged and supported their students through various extra-curricular activities. Bernard repeatedly stressed that he was still deeply grateful to Ms. Caroline Chan for her kind guidance and giving him the opportunities to take the responsibilities over the years.
The Second Turning Point in Life
Like what Forrest Gump had said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” When Bernard was preparing to take Economics in college in the United States, he discovered that he had got a rare blood vessel disease, Takayasu arteritis, which changed his life from that onwards. Again, he took the bad news undauntedly.Due to the serious nature of the sickness, Bernard had to be frequently hospitalized, which was exceptionally hard for an 18-year old boy. Bernard finally took it very positively; he decided that he would not sit around and do nothing while fighting his illness in the hospital ward. “I gave it a very long thought. I found that Fine Arts was a course that I could do self-study while I received treatment in the hospital and finally I decided that I should take it instead of wasting my time in bed.” Initially he just wanted to take the course to kill time but gradually he found his passion for art.
I was required to do a certain number of paintings for an exhibition of my works in order to graduate. All other seven students in my class were very professional in art. So I asked myself “I was only a sick amateur and how can I measure up?” As I knew that I didn’t have the artistic skills, I had to think ‘outside the box’ and to come up with creative ideas.” At last, he graduated successfully and he was so proud of his creativities when he showed us his painting in his office.
Bernard never blamed anyone for any of his misfortunes. A lot of things happened out of his expectation but his optimistic attitude helped him a lot whenever he faced adversities: “Learn it if you don’t know it, and face it bravely when situation is against you.”
Learning and Application
Did you know the design of the Legislative Council (LEGCO) logo was orchestrated by Bernard? Did you know how hard it was to get approval from all 60 LEGCO members on things like a bill or a design unanimously? The LEGCO members constituted of various age groups and groups with different political views. Everyone had their own preferences and opinions especially when it came to art and design. So, did you know how Bernard accomplished this difficult mission eventually?
"It certainly required good communication with the designer in advance and I had to give him clear instructions. In the end, I selected two designs from numerous drafts; one that I liked the most and the other one that I hated. Could you guess what the outcome was?”
The healing and recovering period of his illness not only cultivated his passion for art and helped him finish college, it also gave him a deep insight in family love.
"Although lying in sick bed for two months was not a very decent experience, that period in fact gave me numerous opportunities to communicate with my parents as we could talk nights and days. With their love and care for the whole time, we started opening ourselves up. Since then our relations improved and got stronger.”
There is an old Chinese saying; “When an old man on the frontier lost his mare, who could have guessed it was a blessing in disguise?”
Bernard reiterated that no matter how harsh life was, he would never think of giving up. Without hardship and learning, people would never grow up. Only through acceptance and optimism, the worst circumstances or bad karma will turn into positive outcomes and rewarding experiences.
Facing Adversity with Positive Attitude, Move Forward Bravely
Bernard exercises 2 hours everyday. “As my sickness has weakened my cardio and respiratory functions, I have to keep exercising to train the related organs. My organs age faster than those of a normal person. Well, on the positive side, I watch my diet very carefully and I do exercise regularly which will slow down the aging process. Nowadays, a lot of people are just doing the opposite. They do very little exercise if any, attend too many social functions, and they do not watch their diet at all. I believe they might soon be aging faster than me!”
After years of hard work, Bernard’s previous nickname, “Fat Thief”, has left him indefinitely. Although Bernard was quite seen to be tired after a long day of work during the interview, he still kept talking about the good old days with his friends in RHS. He claimed that he had developed the classic Chinese’s “Mr. Q Spirit.” This spirit has energized him to face everything with positive attitude. He would learn from the bad lessons, move on and he would only get stronger.
He reminded us repeatedly during the interview: Don’t keep blaming yourself, stay optimistic, and live one day at a time.
Bernard’s love for RHS has never faded and it can be shown by the fact that he is still in touch with many of his former teachers including Fr Xavier, Fr Francisco, Fr. Perez, Mr. Robert Kwan, Mr. Jonathan Kwok, Mr. Patrick Lung, Mr. Damen Chan, and Mr. Shu Pak Chuen. Moreover, Bernard is also a family man. Despite his hectic work schedule, he tries to set aside a couple of days each week for his family only. He would take every single opportunity to take his son to school. We all admire his dedication to his family very much.Throughout the interview, Bernard gave us an impression that he treasured friendship a lot. He shared with us a few pictures taken in the old days with his RHS buddies. He also repeatedly stated that school life in RHS brought him a great deal of fond memories. We believe that Bernard’s generosity to RHS was also greatly influenced by his school buddies: Raymond, and Edward who also like making contributions back to the society.
At last, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Bernard’s kind wife who reminded him when Bernard was deciding how much he would donate to RHS. She said, “since you love RHS so much, then why don’t you donate a little bit more to your Alma Mater?” The “little bit more” became the lion share of the renovation fund of the New Wing Fund Raising Campaign in 2005. Once again, we are grateful for Bernard’s generosity and Bernard agrees to continuously support RHS and the Rosaryhill School Old Students Association in the future.
Please visit our newly renovated Bernard Charnwut Chan Hall next time when you go back to RHS. Last but not least, we hope we will see you in the coming Golden Jubilee celebration events.