Winston on the Street

Winston Lee is scaling the shelves at Portland’s landmark Powell’s bookstore. He’s been hunting Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War” series for ages. He made the special trip from Shoreline to Portland just to find this 1960s printing.

Lee admires Churchill. In fact, he admires the former british Prime Minister so much that he took the name Winston when he came to the United States from Hong Kong.

He hunted down those six books with the same passion Winston exhibits in most areas of his life. If he wants it, he gets it. If something is of interest to Winston, it’s worth being passionate about.

He mentions during our encounter that back in his home of Hong Kong, purchasing a car at his age would be unheard of. But here, half a world away from the place he grew up, Winston has managed to pay a modest price – only four figures to be precise – for a fancy ride that he is very proud of.

Winston has a lot to be proud of. He left Hong Kong for the first time when he was 16 to study abroad in Texas. Then he came to SCC, where he’s been studying for two years. At 19, Winston has done more traveling and gained more life experience than many people twice his age.

I ask Winston what he considered the best compliment ever paid to him. “It’s hard to say, not because I always get compliments, because I don’t take them for granted,” he said, humble as ever without missing a beat. “I think I really appreciate them for their word, but still have so much work to be a better person. Never the best Winston, only a better Winston.”

Although he studies political science, and he hopes to transfer to either the University of Washington or George Washington University, Winston doesn’t want to be called a politician. He says the name carries too many negative connotations, especially of selfishness and corruption. He prefers to think of himself as a “person who serves people.”

As the current recognized student organization officer at the college, Winston is a driving force behind building campus community. In this, his biggest inspiration is his mother, who volunteered at a local church while he was growing up.
It was her connection to the community that inspired him to get involved in local politics, first in a pro-Beijing party, then in a party which focused on making change in his immediate community.

While in this party, Winston was coordinator of a youth committee, and went on a four-day hunger strike in an effort to stop the extension of a landfill into his neighborhood.

Just as he worked for change in Hong Kong, he hopes to influence change in other areas of the campus as well. If it was up to him, he'd make his mark on the college by reorganizing the 5 way stop on 160th and Greenwood. In his own words, “Who is the genius from 50 years ago that designed that road?”

Winston is the first person in his family to attend college, and it’s important to him that college be accessible and affordable to everyone who wants it. To him, this looks like two years of free education with a focus on helping those who, financially or otherwise, face a particularly steep challenge in attending college.

“I want to be able to come back as an alumni to see that my work has made a difference while I was here,” he says.

_Stacey Jurss

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