Choosing a single number, a single image or a single anything to represent a large and diverse community was never an easy task. Perhaps this is why most democratic elections are so challenging, be it to realise, to follow or to compete in. Yet, they are so intriguing, undeniably magnetising. In a way, voting and elections satisfy one of our most basic human needs to voice ourselves, and in extension, to take part in moulding a solid identity for our community.
A Matter of Logos
While the world anxiously peers over the US primaries — votes that will impact the lives of some 300 million people — one smaller decision was made; the French School of Hanoi donned a new official logo! Through an online vote, almost all students, teachers, staff and parents clearly stated their positions and proudly declared their loyalties.
A few clicks and hard choices later, the result was announced; a blue calligraphy-esque version of the temple of literature will now be ever-present on our walls, websites and minds. The majority has spoken; unfortunately I was not part of it. As the new logo stared at me through the computer screen, I stared back and wondered: where did I go wrong? What could possibly have caused this discord between an essential landmark of my childhood and me?
“Let it go,” my friends all told me, but I couldn’t; I wanted to understand what pushed those around me to vote the way they did. If both wanted the best image for the school, how could our votes have altered so much? After all, Cartesian philosophy clearly says there’s only one real reasonable choice to every problem or dilemma. Which means either one of two things; they’re wrong or I’m wrong.
What was so hard about voting for a logo? The obvious criteria was that it had to embody Le Lycée Français Alexandre Yersin, by that I mean the whole entity, the whole spirit of the school. To me, the French school has always been an existence independent of its surroundings. In its own way, an oasis where alternative ideas and lifestyles can blossom, exempt from the invisible obligations of everyday Hanoi. Even so, could it be possible that this moratorium was only my own self-made illusion?
A Matter of Unity
I will soon become obsolete, a thing of the past; nothing more than another name on the alumni page of the school. Maybe the reason why I can’t understand the new choice of logo is because I’m no longer part of the unity? The end of my days at the French school also happens to be the beginning of a new chapter for it; new communication strategies, new recognitions and a new building on the way.
One sluggish morning, as I opened the closet to choose an outfit for one of the last school days of my life, I reached for the new school shirt. Made of cotton and of a simple white and blue colour combination, it had the new logo printed right in the centre. Despite it being much too large for me, I couldn’t help but feel a small sense of pride as I tried it on. I wore it to school that day, and thought: perhaps I can’t be part of the school’s new identity, but it will always be a big part of mine.
To Thu Phuong is in Year 12 and is shortly finishing her studies at the French School of Hanoi. This will be her last column