By Dr. Thomas Smith, B.Bus. EMBA, D.Phil, Friend of WISS
Tom Smith has been a longstanding friend and partner of the WISS community. Tom has been associated with the school since the first day as WISS was built right next to his home. While never a formal employee, Tom has poured his heart and energy into building up our community and been an essential figure around the school. He is an accomplished artist and has been a patron of the school, as his art can be seen throughout the school and has donated his artwork to many of our charity events. Below, are excerpts of Tom’s letter to the WISS community as his farewell. He gives us his reflection of his time with us at WISS and how he will continue to share “The Spirit of WISS” in his future endeavors.
It is prudent and timely yet very sad indeed that I formally advise everyone on my WISS (past and present) email list who I have become to know over the past ten years plus that Rita and I are returning to Australia.
As I have told so many teachers, staff and students, WISS among many great things, has ‘real Soul’. I have experienced some outstanding personal and professional events during my tenure in China, spanning some twenty years but none to me, more important than my cherished relationship with the WISS family and its very fine, passionate teachers, staff and outstanding students and indeed those wonderful parents; all who make up this amazing WISS Family.
However, we are not disappearing entirely as we will be visiting WISS from time to time and I will continue to donate art for the charities supported by WISS namely the Cambodia project and the amazing students of the Periwinkle group in their quest to help those affected by cancer. They have three of my paintings for this September Sundowner event to help raise more funds for this charity. And of course Couleurs De Chine, helping the poorer children in rural China to obtain an education.
I also wish to take this opportunity to confirm that during my time here and according to my art portfolio register, I have donated to the WISS family 123 paintings. In total over the past 20 years I have donated/sold for charity worldwide, over 3,000 paintings with a market value in excess of 3 Million dollars. An achievement I am humbly proud.
I appreciate the opportunity to exhibit and display some of my art at WISS which I will continue to do so: These paintings are located on the 5th floor in HR and in Fred Ding’s Finance office, as well as in Doreen Garrigan’s office and along the wall on the fourth floor. My art exhibition will also continue at Mr. Jian’s Macarena Spanish Restaurant.
Apart from my family reasons (I have thirteen grandchildren) my ‘permanent’ return to Sydney, gives me an opportunity to continue my work at the highest level in an advisory capacity of my lifelong passionate advocacy in Australian Indigenous and military veterans issues with the Australian Federal government. In addition my work in curbing Slavery and Child Exploitation and abuse. Seeing such atrocities during my 2 year military deployment in the Far East during the mid 1960’s changed my life forever and all of us MUST do more to protect our children, no doubt our global future. Of course my charity work since the age of nine will also continue, including my donating art to help raise invaluable funds for the needy and disadvantaged in China and Australia.
On the subject of my art, all members of the WISS family who wish to purchase any of my art, will be given a 50% discount off the retail price list on the respective art on my website: www.thomasartgallery.com Their payment will be donated in full to WISS for one of their charities. Payments should be made directly to WISS, refer Renee Gian in Admissions.
Two of my major charities I will continue with in Australia is scholarships up to $100,000 annually to have Aboriginal medical students from remote areas in New South wales to become Medical doctors (so they can return to their local communities to help improve Aboriginal health) and my other major charity is to continue my charity work with the Heart Centre at the fabulous Westmead Hospital in Sydney for children. See this link: http://www.heartcentreforchildren.com.au/blog/thomas-smith-s-visit The incredible Heart surgeon, Prof Chard, a Director of this hospital is the brilliant head doctor who so successfully performed my 5 heart by-pass operation in 2012 hence my charity involvement.
In addition, I will now have the time to have published several of my book manuscripts, two about China. As many of you are aware, I have spent most of my adult life in the area of academia and education, beginning in the Australian army training and preparing several thousand Australian soldiers for the Vietnam War and Military Law, back in 1968/69. I continued in earnest my academic studies and went on to lecture at the famed Macquarie University in Sydney under my mentor, English Emeritus Professor John Hunt OBE in their Executive Management Program for five years and Human Resources at North Sydney Technical College.
In closing, I wish the continued success of WISS. I cherish the wonderful friendships I have forged with many teachers, staff and indeed some students, a relationship I will continue, with a keen interest in their development.
We wish you, Tom, all the best and to continue “Inspiring Minds to Shape the Future” as you have inspired so many of us. Thank you for being a part of the WISS family.