//vol.14-3 Youth speak
Four youth in their 20s or 30s remember faintly the milestone days 25 years ago when Hong Kong first became a Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China. They share candidly their heartfelt hopes of seeing their birth city continue to grow and evolve.
Ivan was not even born when Hong Kong was returned to the motherland on 1 July 1997. Neither did he hear much about that historic moment from his parents, except that it was “another phase” in their usual busy working lives. But not being physically present during that piece of history has not deterred Ivan from taking a keen interest in amazing historical snippets and exploring the past of his country.
Ivan’s pride in being a Hongkonger is evident when his eyes literally sparkle as he shares more about working towards being a published novelist one day. “Through the educational curriculum in Hong Kong, we explore topics related to the voting system; rule of law; ethics and priorities; rights and obligations, all of which revolve around the individual from a collective perspective.”
“I hope to be able to weave snippets of Hong Kong’s rich history into my storytelling. By regularly contributing to my school’s newsletter and by entering national writing competitions, I hope to polish my skills and cultivate a stronger sense of community. An affirmation of our identities, stemming from Hong Kong’s diverse culture and values is my goal. I cherish life-at-large and want to protect the ethnic minorities. Just like highly acclaimed writers, Xu Xi and Jennifer Wong, pioneers in their own ways, I look forward to finding my own path amid this everchanging landscape of Hong Kong.”
Like Ivan, Annette was not born when Hong Kong was established as an SAR in 1997. Despite the changes since then, Annette’s parents always emphasize the importance of listening to one another’s views when discussing social issues and before taking a personal stance. “It is important to be an active listener especially in this diverse community.”
Beneath her soft-spoken voice, Annette has a caring spirit and is not afraid to push boundaries for the good of the community. “I actively volunteer in outreach services and have seen many people unable to receive dental treatment so I understand how their quality of life has been affected. That is why I aspire to improve public oral health with technology such as tele-dentistry and new materials to prevent diseases. I am a huge advocate of accessible healthcare.”
“A quarter of 12-year-olds in Hong Kong have caries and I am currently doing research on the use of chitosan
to prevent and arrest caries. I hope to visit dental schools overseas to further my research and bring insight back with me. Then perhaps I can come up with unconventional approaches to solve such medical issues in Hong Kong.”
Issac was about two years old when Hong Kong became a SAR, two and a half decades ago. His memory of that significant event is faint but he does remember watching the ceremony on television at home with his parents as a toddler. It was a vivid sea of red against white, he says, filled with men in white uniforms marching on a red carpet. Otherwise, Issac remembers small changes over the years: how policemen’s uniforms have changed colour and how the red jubilee post boxes have disappeared, replaced by green rectangular ones as he was growing up.
Despite other, monumental changes, he also thinks this is a wonderful time to be in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong has always been a favourite for facilitating startup growth because of its high level of internationalisation. It is an ideal place for startups to promote and test their products and services.”
“My wish for Hong Kong is that there will be a wave of significant new businesses and that this will bring a successful global standing. Right now, people only remember the older successes and creators such as Li Ka-Shing, Michael Ying of Esprit and their counterparts of an earlier era. We should collectively aspire to create new ‘role models’ that will keep doing Hong Kong proud internationally.”
Teresa was six years old when Hong Kong was returned to the motherland in 1997. She recalls how her family had wanted to watch the fireworks in Victoria Harbour initially. However, as it was pouring with rain that day, the plan was cancelled and they watched the ceremony on television instead.
Now, Teresa is married herself and has two young daughters aged five and six. She is full of praise for the city’s safety and general stability. “Sometimes my husband works late and if I take my girls out for shopping after dinner, I do not have to worry about our safety even if we return home late.”
“My simple wish for my birth country is that it will continue to be a global hub that enjoys high internet connectivity as well as good international relations. I really hope that by the time my girls are adults, they will want to stay on in Hong Kong, be it for their education or to start families here. It has a diverse culture and it should remain as such.”