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Ming Pao Weekly: Clara Lu finds a new world in the sea of books

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

English Translation:

Yao Jue is willing to guide her daughter Clara Lu as she finds a new world in the sea of books

October 23rd 2020, Vol. 2711

Author: Tsui Wan, Photographer: Chung Hon Ping

"When I was young, my dad often told me the story of 'The Hare and the Tortoise'. He said you can walk slowly, but you cannot stop. As long as you keep going, you will see progress." Renowned violinist Yao Jue, daughter of the well-respected Chinese conductor Yao Di, persisted in order to achieve her goal in life as a concert violinist. While growing up immersed in music, Ms. Yao’s two daughters did not follow their mother’s footsteps in music, which Ms. Yao regretted at the time. However, she is grateful and proud that her daughters have persisted in finding their own interest and goals in life.

Yao Jue and her husband Lu Gong have two daughters. Their youngest daughter Clara is 17 years old and is carefree and filled with energy. Yet behind this cheerful persona is someone who is kind and gentle with a hidden story. Ms. Yao recalled "When she was 12 years old, Clara was bullied by her classmates, but she silently processed it on her own. My mother was sick in Shanghai at that time, so I often had to fly back and forth between Hong Kong and Shanghai. On top of this travel, I also needed to manage the music academy and perform various concerts. My daughter did not want to add more stress and worry so she did not tell me anything. Every day at school, she ate lunch by herself and hid in the library to avoid bumping into her classmates.” The problem faced by young Clara stemmed from a stubborn reluctance to follow the trend. Ever since she was young, Clara loved eating ice-cream. One of her most unforgettable childhood memories is eating ice cream with her grandmother as a reward for an intense day of doing homework and practicing violin. Her baby fat thus became a target that her classmates made fun of. Not interested in makeup and fashion, which was a common topic of discussion amongst her year group, Clara was left out and avoided interacting with them by hiding in the library and flipping through books. The books became a window into a new horizon and in the sea of books she found her own world where the ridicule and bullying from her classmates drifted away. Every book Clara read brought new insight and, wanting to share these thoughts with others, she opened an account on social media and in a short time gained more than a thousand followers.

Ms. Yao revealed that her daughter didn't like to read when she was a child and that her academic performance in mathematics was quite poor. "Every time I received her report card and saw her grades I was upset. I looked for the best tutors to help her, but she was just not interested.” However, after falling in love with reading, Clara's grades also gradually improved. Ms. Yao said "the change in my daughter actually inspired me. I believe every parent wants to protect and provide comfort for their children, so when my daughter told me about the incidents at school, I was heartbroken. But seeing that she was able to find her own interests and goals during this difficult time, I realize now that as she grows up, she will have to overcome various hardships in order to gain courage and wisdom.”

Every summer, Ms. Yao designs curriculums for her music camps and arranges performances for underserved children in Hong Kong to nurture their self-confidence and help find their goals in life through music. However, the pandemic this year has brought everything to a halt. To help students maintain their progress, Ms. Yao began teaching online from home, designing curriculums, filming course videos etc. After returning to Hong Kong from the States in March due to the pandemic, Clara witnessed how much students progressed under her mother’s guidance that she said “I want to be like my mother and help other young people in need and share my knowledge with them.”

This urge to help others gave birth to Read For All’s online learning platform where students from subsidized primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong receive free educational kits designed by Clara and her team of young volunteers from different countries on topics such as English Writing, Mathematics, Physics, Film, and Screenwriting. Prior to this initiative, she collaborated with other charity organizations to donate books and this time around, these contacts helped to promote and distribute her new online educational kits, which are intended for students to absorb new knowledge in a creative manner, to schools in Hong Kong. The program was met with much enthusiasm and Clara said, “since the knowledge I gained from books changed me, I want to share this experience with others and in the process of helping those around me, I feel fulfilled that I made a difference.”

At the same time, Clara also started writing her first novel. Although she did not embark on the path of music, her mother Yao Jue believes that parenting is to not impose personal wishes on the children, but instead act as a "navigator" to guide, inspire, and encourage them to find their own path. Although Clara did not become a musician, she has not given up on violin and is currently first violin in her school orchestra. Today while she and her mother are posing with the violin for a photo, she is embarrassed to play with her mother. She laughs: "It's too difficult to be my mother's student! I would rather be my mother's daughter."

Link to Interview Video:


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