Always that Smile

Leo was one of the most unique and inspiring people I have ever met. As a friend who met him through high school music and social studies classes, and kept in touch with him after we both went to university, he has inspired me with his intelligence, determination, and positive attitude.

As humourous as it sounds, Leo’s haircut was sort of symbolic of who he was. Jokingly referred to by many as “The Wall”, it was an object of teasing for some people. But no matter how many people told him to change his hairstyle, he kept that wall standing high. This just goes to show what kind of a person Leo was: someone who was always true to himself and his ideals, and didn’t care whether people liked him or not for it.

He was one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. People would often go to him for knowledge of current events, politics, and many other matters. He knew very well what he was talking about, and he could even provide some extra insight that you wouldn’t really get from the average person. That, and he was an excellent debater. Given a topic that he knew well, he could argue for his case like no one else I’ve met before.

He was perhaps the most ambitious person I’ve met. When asked what he wanted to do in life, he gave some of the most certain answers I’ve heard from someone my age. He wanted to go to law school at UBC and eventually become a lawyer of some sort. He was debating whether he should become a human rights lawyer or another kind of lawyer. He thought human rights would be the most fulfilling job, despite the lower pay for that profession. I think that sort of speaks for itself. I for one think he would’ve made an excellent political leader.

He challenged authority, to positive results. A good example involved him writing a rather controversial article about “wiggers” in his high school newspaper. He included some rather extreme satirical ideas in there, as well as some asterisks in place of coarse language. The head teacher of the newspaper sent him and two of the students in charge of the newspaper to the principal’s office, saying that they were in a lot of trouble. When they got to the principal’s office, the principal told them that he liked Leo’s article and offered them cookies and pop. I guess the principal realized what a bold and controversial move Leo made when publishing that article: a move that even impressed the highest authority at the school.

He had a very positive philosophy on life. He realized that when he was younger and even now, he’d made many mistakes in life, whether it was doing poorly on an assignment or treating a person in a way that he later realized was wrong. He saw these failures in his life as opportunities for self-improvement: he would change his current behaviour to avoid making the same mistakes from his past. Now, he wouldn’t just say he would do these things; he actually did them. Take this example: he went from writing a major fifteen-page essay the day before it was due in Grade 11, to thoroughly researching and writing all of his university essays at least two weeks in advance. That’s what I call determination.

Finally, he had the most optimistic attitude. No matter how stressful or depressing a situation got for him, he would always pull through it with a smile on his face. That, and he always had hope and faith in the human race, no matter how ugly some of its members can be. Always that smile, no matter what.

Leo Chan has made an impression on the hearts and minds of many, and has inspired us all to be better people. He will never be forgotten.

– A High School Friend


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