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This Saints on the Hill Story is About Telling Stories

Jim Norman

Hanyan Cai ’22 has spent the last four years using video to tell Canterbury’s story. On Thursday, he used the School’s Saints on the Hill platform to tell his own story about his video journey.

“I got my first taste of video making when I came to the U.S.,” Hanyan shared with the hilltop community. “In fifth grade, my teachers were assigning group projects, so I paired up with my friends. We liked to make simple animation videos on the iPad, and that’s what we did. That taught me I could make videos, and it is pretty easy if you have an idea to talk about.”

Even though his initial dream of being a Minecraft YouTuber didn’t take off, Hanyan continued to feed his passion for making videos all through middle school. “I first used Powtoon, an animation website that does all the heavy lifting for you so you can just drag all the presets there,” he said. “Then I transitioned into more complex video-editing software. It was fun to make something out of thin air and have people watch it.”

He arrived at Canterbury ready to continue developing his video production skills. With tremendous support from both faculty members and classmates, it was not long before Hanyan became the “go-to” student for producing videos on campus.

“The turning point for me was during the spring semester of my sophomore year,” he recalled. “That was when the pandemic really hit the U.S. and we went remote. As a Fourth Form Council representative, I began to talk with others about making a video—a compilation of underclassmen’s clips expressing gratitude towards the graduating class for being mentors and contributing to the community for four years. That was when I realized that video editing was a way for me to bring people closer together.”

Since then, Hanyan’s videos have continued to make his fellow Saints smile, laugh, and cheer. And along the way, he has learned some important lessons. “Videos are special ways to tell stories because you have full creative control,” he explained. “There are so many things that you can do with your creativity, and you can put your own voice and style into it. I also learned how important teamwork and preparation is because, without a lot of people’s support, none of the videos that I have created could have been made.”

He concluded: “I want to thank everyone here for believing in me and putting your faith in my skills, experience, and dedication!”

Assistant Head of School for Student Life Peter LaVigne P ’14, ’16, ’17, ’20, ’23 turned that gratitude right back around to Hanyan. “Without you, we would not have had any of these videos—so thank you!”