Clearly the focus this term is very much based on the classroom, attending lessons and any support sessions that are organised by departments. Races are often won on the final lap and it is never too late for the last minute push to succeed.
Just before Easter, I had the privilege to travel to Beijing in China, with a colleague from Hull University, Dina Lewis (who is on our Corporation), and Andy Grace, the Principal of the Boulevard Academy. All of us worked together and individually presented 'papers' on some of the innovative liaison work that we are engaged in, as three separate organisations. Dina’s paper on the ‘engagement’ of Hull University with the community was the focal topic, which was extremely well received, and around which both Andy and I were able to tell "our" stories. Our hosts at Beijing Normal University were wonderful in ensuring that we were very well looked after, and able to visit a school and be involved in discussions about some of the educational issues facing China (many of which are similar to the ones we face in the UK). I found the whole experience very moving and as always, it enabled me to reflect on our College. We met some incredible students who were highly articulate, very positive, amazingly bright, generous and confident and were superb hosts. They also had a wonderful sense of humour which made the whole experience fun, enjoyable and enlightening.
These characteristics are universal. I witness them throughout our College on a daily basis in members of our College community who are positive, hard-working and only want our College to be successful in everything that we do. This is what so many visitors say to me when they come to our College and the reason why I believe that our College is so special.
Just before I went to Beijing, we had dignitaries from Thailand who came to our College to meet some of the staff and students who will be visiting Thailand in July. They were overwhelmed by their reception, the performance of our musicians, dancers and even our 1st team coaches, Nick and Michael (aka Pugg), who ‘popped’ in to "say hello". Our friends from Thailand left Wyke feeling welcomed with warm/lovely memories of the day. I have absolutely no doubt that this hospitality will be reciprocated to our students and staff in July.
The line from Lord Tennyson in Ulysses comes to mind:
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield".
This has become a call to the human spirit to never give up even in the face of adversity. I believe that it was also used as an inspirational maxim to greet the world's athletes at the entrance to the London Olympic Village in 2012. I believe that travel and reflection are great motivators to continue to strive. I would urge each and every one of you to continue "to seek" and to be true to your values during the final few weeks before your examinations.
"A person doesn't have to change who he is to become better", Sidney Poitier
As the football season draws to a close, like on many occasions, my beloved Leeds United have fallen short of all the promise that was evident a few months ago and like all lifelong supporters, I am deeply saddened. Indeed, both James Goodchild and I can be found lamenting on what could have been. However, I am really pleased that Hull City (the Tigers) are likely to survive. In this Year of Culture, Hull desperately needs a team that is in the Premier League and to benefit from the accompanying investment as well as publicity.
Next week our Under 19 Boys' football team will be playing in the Association of Colleges' national final at the Walsall Stadium. This is an amazing achievement and a great honour. It is a 'first' for our boys' team and one that is thoroughly deserved particularly as we have been competing against some of the largest Further Education Colleges in the country. Clearly, I know that we will give a 'good account' of ourselves and hopefully, that we will win. However, regardless of the outcome, this needs to be celebrated and as a College, we will all be rooting for our team in Walsall on 4th May.
I am immensely proud and would like to thank all of the staff who have been involved with the team: the coaches, the referees, the squad of players, the whole of our magnificent PE Department, the cleaning staff and our minibus drivers. This team ethos is one that can achieve at the highest level and the metaphor of the success of our football team can be used to illustrate your "drive" for success in academia. Ultimately, you will be judged by your performance in the examinations (much like our football team). However the "team effort" in College in preparing you should not be underestimated: the departmental staff; support staff, the tutors, examinations team, our library staff, minibus drivers, premises staff, IT staff…. The list is endless and each of us has a part to play in your success.
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages." William Shakespeare
Remember, that all of us have to work extremely hard and that success has to be earned.
"So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune", Ruth Ginsburg
Finally, to return to our wonderful team and the cup final in Walsall, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, voted athlete of the century in 1999, said:
"The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning", Pele
Work extremely hard and play hard.