Amidst ongoing celebrations for the Canadian International School of Hong Kong’s 30-year anniversary, Expat Living caught up with EMILY PONG, Head of Admissions at CDNIS and one of the school’s much-loved staff members.
Many parents in our city – and cities all over the world – know Emily from their admissions journey at CDNIS. Others have read Sharing With You, in which she reflects on some of the funniest and most memorable moments in her career, and feel like they know her. But did you know that she started her CDNIS journey as the school’s first receptionist in 1993? What a ride!
Over the past (almost) three decades, Emily has transitioned from the receptionist at a little-known new school in HK to the Head of Admissions at one of the city’s most sought-after international schools. It’s an amazing journey facilitated by an institution that holds a special place in the hearts of many Hongkongers.
“As the school grew bigger and bigger, I was given the opportunity to choose my role,” explains Emily. “Admissions was my choice because it offered so much variety.” Back in 1993, CDNIS was a small campus hosting fewer than 100 students. Today, the school bustles with over 1,800 students, and each application is personally reviewed by Emily and her Admissions team. “We know the type of students we want. We’re a very selective school,” she says. “And the parents at our school are friendly and able to easily adapt; it creates a harmony.”
Emily is a walking history of Canadian families in Hong Kong. Her favourite part of the role has been welcoming new generations of families back to CDNIS.
“I love it when those I met as parents come back with their grandkids! It’s amazing and it touches my heart,” she says. “They call me Aunty Emily; I love it and I feel the warmth here.” A fond farewell Now, after 27 years, Emily’s journey at CDNIS is coming to a close – she has announced her retirement. It’s a bittersweet moment as she lets go of the role she’s built and loved so deeply. She is now looking forward to her next role, volunteering as an English tutor, working with low-income students.
“I’m thankful for all the colleagues, parents, students and the whole CDNIS community. I couldn’t do it without my team – we receive thousands of applications each year, so I appreciate their support,” she says. “I have gained a lot, and spent more time being happy than unhappy.”
The team at Expat Living wish Emily the very best in her retirement. You will be missed!
This article first appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.