Our world-famous Future Problem Solvers are graduating. They reflect on how much the support of the Manurewa High business and community partners has meant to them.
At the Thank You event for our supporters, held on Thursday 31 October, we asked our Future Problem Solving internationals to reflect on the value of the support they've had over five years at Manurewa High School. Okesene Fatu, Aimee Lew, Aaron Lew and John Chen were our own Fab Four as Future Problem Solvers, winning the opportunity to compete at the Internationals for three consecutive years, and coming fourth in their best year. In their final year at school they enjoyed exploring new challenges that often took them back onto a global stage.
As Aimee says, "every dollar donated, every day a teacher came to supervise, every showcase performance attended, lets us know that people believe in us. People are rooting for us. And when that happens, we begin to root for ourselves. We take small, steady steps and big things happen." We encourage you to read their reflections, and be humbled, inspired, amazed, or as we say: Happy, Confident and Proud.
Hi everyone, I am part of the Future Problem Solving Internationals team as well as the part of the MHS Trades Academy studying electrical engineering. The electrical engineering programme is a first for New Zealand and allows us to get hands-on experience on current electrical work. It gives students like me who are passionate about the growing electrical industry the chance to understand what's possible, and the tools to develop new or improve current systems. So I definitely understand the importance of the partnerships and external supporters can have on helping students like us achieve beyond our wildest dreams.
I am now diligently working towards an apprenticeship with ETCO and hopefully in a few years’ time will be one of the first registered electricians made by this programme.
When a younger version of the people you see before you today, first started high school I guarantee you that we would have never dreamed of what would follow. The Future Problem Solving programme allowed us to represent New Zealand on a global scale. We learned to identify challenges, generate solutions and develop an action plan to implement them. We got to experience culturally unique sights such as the Chicago bean, Disneyland, and Universal Studios as well as being able to expand our perspective on the issues facing the world today by having in depth conversations with other like-minded individuals.
These experiences would not have been possible without the support from ETCO, Hynds, EY, Pip Duncalf as well as the amazing behind the scenes team that handled every little thing in between to ensure we would make the most of these opportunities.
Earlier this year I participated in the International Mathematical Modelling Challenge alongside Aaron Lew, John Chen and Ella Guaio. The challenge issued to us was "What is the carrying capacity of the earth?" - in layman's terms, how many people can our current resources support? The paper we submitted placed within the top five in the world, which gained us an invitation to the Award Ceremony in Hong Kong. While there, we interacted with students from Australia, Hong Kong, Poland and the Netherlands. We were the only public school in attendance out of the five - a real testament to how special MHS is in providing pathways for the huge potential here to be realised. I extend my deepest thanks to Securitek, New Era and Maynard Marks for their donations and equipment which made this trip possible.
I also travelled with the Rewa All Stars to Arizona and L.A. to perform our Fresh Prince-inspired hip hop routine at the World Hip Hop Championships. After viral media attention, Will Smith shouting us out and over three million views of the video on Facebook, we were personally invited by Hip Hop International to perform. The NZ division 'MegaSchools' which we first performed the set for doesn't exist in the championship competition, so for Manurewa High School to be the first high school crew in the world to take the world stage was a tremendous honour. The contributions of Pip Duncalf, Air NZ, Stirling Sports, our dance teachers and arts co-ordinators - and all the support from our community in sharing our video and broadcasting our fundraising efforts - are what helped us realise this dream.
But these accolades, while hugely impressive, aren't what I am most grateful for (as hard as it is to find things I am more grateful for). It's the resilience, confidence and work ethic that these experiences taught me. It's the newfound family I have discovered in my peers, teachers and community. And it's the desire I have developed to help other young people in my community manifest their craziest dreams. The drive to serve is what will see me through every challenge and obstacle that I'll face in the future.
Currently, I write articles for Villainesse that bring the values my culture and community have taught me to the foreground. After high school, I want to study English and Physics at the UoA and uplift my community through writing, journalism and language.
The things I've done would not have happened without the push from people who believed in me. They include our former principal Salvi, who told me in Year 9 "I have this programme. I think you'd be great at it. It's called FPS." Also, my dance teachers who encouraged me to step into every and all genres of dance. And Mr Naicker who convinced the four of us, who were very reluctant, to attempt the IMMC Challenge.
The belief people placed in my abilities, especially when I was young and unsure, changed my own attitude about what I could do. Every dollar donated, every day a teacher came to supervise, every showcase you attend, lets us know that people believe in us. People are rooting for us. And when that happens, we begin to root for ourselves. We take small, steady steps and big things happen.
In July, I travelled to Spain for the Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge, where 100 teenagers from all over the world were brought together for a summer of science. This programme involved 12 research projects, each of which involved working with cutting-edge equipment and world-leading experts. The research project I worked on was artificial photosynthesis, which looked at how we could store solar energy with hydrogen. Surprisingly enough, it turns out a group of teenagers aren’t going to solve the world’s energy problems in one week. But even then, the insight it provided into the forefront of scientific innovation was precious for a budding researcher like me.
Then I was also lucky enough to be chosen by the Royal Society Te Apārangi to represent New Zealand at the XLab International Science Camp, which was at the University of Göttingen in Germany. This programme was over three weeks, and it was really eye-opening because we went in-depth into topics that I only learnt in theory at high school, stuff like CRISPR-Cas9 and gel electrophoresis. It's an experience that’s prepared me really well for life after high school.
My time overseas has convinced me that science is the field having the greatest real-world impact in the face of massive global problems. That's why next year I'm starting a Bachelor of Engineering at Auckland University. I believe New Zealand needs more scientists, engineers and thinkers.
And of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of generous supporters like you. I'm sure you're aware that our school and our students don't come from the kinds of backgrounds where amazing opportunities like this would usually be possible. So I'd like to personally thank Rotary, the Royal Society, Z Energy, Kiwibank, the Ministry of Education for getting me overseas to Europe and I'm genuinely sorry if I've forgotten to mention you. I can't express how grateful I am for your support, and how grateful the school is for your support, because none of these opportunities would have been possible without it.
I’ve been asked to share a bit about some of the opportunities I’ve been fortunate enough to embark on but, more importantly, my gratitude towards the continual supporters of our school who have made these opportunities happen.
I was a part of the Future Problem Solving and IMMC team as Aimee already touched on so I won’t talk about it again, but I wanted to mention it because a trip to the States three years in a row was no easy feat on a financial level and on an organisational level. So, I wanted to reinforce what’s already been said that we feel truly honoured to have the support that we have received. I also wanted to take the time to say a big thanks to Mrs Martin,Miss Giborees, Miss Gibson, Mr Naicker, and Miss Lockie (and I’m sure many other staff) for not only coaching us, but also the mountain of work I’m sure was needed to organise the trips. A big thank you.
This year, I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent NZ at the International Young Physicists Tournament in Poland. It was quite an experience that demanded huge amounts of time and effort but I felt was well worth it in the end. Myself, Aimee and Aaron worked through the summer holidays last year and, after I was chosen, I was working on my presentations pretty much non-stop till the competition in June. I felt extremely honoured to be selected part of the team in a group of 5 students from across NZ, the rest of whom were all from decile 9 schools and above who regularly have students represent in the national team.
The experience not only improved my understanding of Physics principles immensely and my respect for the subject, it improved my ability to communicate effectively and work as part of a team. I also enjoyed connecting with like-minded individuals from across the globe. This trip was made possible by the Royal Society of NZ and many organisations and entities that supported Aaron in his trips. I am deeply grateful towards these individuals who have supported me get to Poland. I also want to say a special thank you to Mrs Colyer who reached out to many individuals for financial support. I hope that one day I will be able to be in a position where I can give back to my community and support aspiring individuals like you have.