The summer when I was in Grade 7, my social science teacher gave us an assignment to create a statue of a historical figure we admired using paper clay.

“It can be anybody from any period of time,” my teacher instructed. “It can be a whole body or a bust. You choose!”

Being a fan of creative projects, my brain immediately looked for a historical figure that I liked, and I found one: Plato, the famous philosopher from the ancient Greece. We had just learned about the three great Greek philosophers – Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – and my favourite was Plato and his Ideal Theory.

“I’m going to make Plato with paper clay!”

Since he was an ancient figure, I decided to make a bust statue mimicking the marble one I’d seen on my textbook. I pulled out a low table at home, and day after day, as cicadas buzzed heavily outside, I worked on my paper clay project, carefully carving out Plato’s face.

After the summer break, my teacher hosted a contest where everybody displayed their statues on the tables and everybody voted for the one they liked most. My Plato was chosen to be the second best in the class.

“It’s interesting how each statue takes after its creator,” said my teacher as he carefully stored away each statue in a box after the exhibition. “Especially this Plato!”

It was a statement that was rather unexpected. I didn’t understand how my white Plato statue had anything in common with me. Nonetheless, this funny comment stuck in my memory.