The whole time I've been here, I had craved a chocolate twist ice cream cone. After many failures and disappointment, Tuesday was finally the day I would win the battle with McDonald’s, after visiting 3 places that had vanilla cones (but no chocolate). The best part of the day had to be the reaffirmation of the strong CSB/SJU alumni network. Getting to meet and eat a very filling dinner with the alumni and bond over the unique Chinese/Hong Kong cuisine had to be one of the many highlights of our travels abroad. I particularly enjoyed the debate of whether or not the shark fin (in the shark fin soup) was real shark or not. I think we came to a somewhat conclusive “no,” but you didn't hear that from me. Either that, or the topic of underwear/swimsuit shopping for Americans in Hong Kong (usually requiring a double XL at least) made me appreciate the playful humor of current and former Bennies and Johnnies.
Wednesday was a success in terms of exploring the New Territories and informal recycling operations in Hong Kong. By meeting up with Ping Che local, Brother Choi, we strategized the best way to launch Sticky, new drone member of ETL, above these operations without drawing too much attention. We visited two current facilities and one abandoned site (due to a fire). We spoke with Brother Choi about the eroding of local village culture due to development and waste management projects popping up all over the New Territories. We walked away from this exploration with lots of bug bites, surreal confirmations of the informal facilities, and a slightly injured Sticky. The evening was spent enjoying both a local and foreigner favorite, the Hong Kong Horse Races.
Thursday we split up to scrounge up some new b-roll (the footage that plays over the audio during films). Marin and I visited Kowloon Walled City Park and explored the more historic side of Hong Kong. We experienced some more traditional architecture and music within the park as we were guided by a local historian/citizen. The park brought some much-needed relaxed and peaceful time to our tired and worn bodies.
Friday brought on a full day of 5 interviews with a metals recycler representative, a labor rights activist, staff members of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Patrick. Later that night, Patrick treated us to a local delicacy dessert place where we all indulged in some unique Hong Kong specialties. I myself enjoyed a few bites of coconut ice cream/pudding, a chocolate waffle, and drank my first Lychee Juice (shout-out to Patrick for the experience).
Saturday was my chance to get to sit in on Gordon’s class. The multitude of topics covered (from religion to morality to Trump and even compensation laws for asylum seekers) astounded me with perspectives I never would have even imagined. If anything, it reminded me that, as human beings, we should never completely avoid talking about the very aspects of our lives that make us human. Listening is one of the most powerful and influential tools we have as human beings. I know that not only have I been impacted by this group, but all of the travel team has (in some form) been changed by the stories of these asylum seekers. We will keep these stories with us and let them shape and impact the story that we tell in April, and that will in turn (hopefully) affect all of our viewers. That, I believe, is what Extending the Link is all about.
For me, my first international trip would not be complete unless I was ripped off somehow. I wouldn't say don't go to the fortune tellers of Temple Street, but make sure to avoid the seemingly nice lady who will try to give you a group rate, but try to give each of you the same fortune (mostly because I think that was all the English she actually knew). And that's all I have to say about that.
-Mack Kuhl, Researcher