January 6th-7th, 2017
(Friday - January 6th)
Inside a small cement office piled floor to ceiling with electronic devices I met Eric, a half-retired workshop operator in Kowloon Bay. I’m not sure if it was his bubbly personality or contagious optimism, but his passion for bettering the environment and desire to distribute computers to families in need was inspiring to say the least. Eric works to combat the digital divide that deprives under privileged individuals in Hong Kong from having access to basic technology. He takes used computers and makes the necessary repairs for them to be able to be distributed to the those who need them. Experience is very precious and giving students the tools to utilize the internet to succeed in school and enhance their learning is what drives his work. His philosophy that you can reuse anything, reduce what we consume, and that no person is worth overlooking is something that will last with me for many years to come. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interview Eric and I have high hopes for the change he can make in the future of improving Hong Kong’s involvement in electronic waste.
(Saturday - January 7th)
Chungking Mansions was definitely one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had on this trip. This buidling can be describes as a cultural fusion of Hongkongese meeting the flavorful influences of India, Somali, and Ghana in a marketplace of discounted goods and services of all sorts. At the entrance under its hefty gold and dark marble sign, dozens of Indian sales consultants energetically wave flyers trying to sell passerby everything from hotel rooms, suitcases, and jewelry to traditional Indian cuisine. Our lovely girls on the team attracted much attention when entering Chungking Mansions and were immediately followed by dozens of Indian consultants eager to shuffle us to their shops and restaurants inside, as the boys were left alone trailing behind. To finally dismiss the growing number of Indian consultants still heavily pursuing our business after only 3 minutes of entering the Mansions, we took their advice and quickly dipped into a tucked-away restaurant of 4 tables and the delicious aromas of bold, authentic curries and vibrant spices of South Asia. By the guidance of Malia and Erin from their incredible experiences studying abroad in India, the co-D’s tried their best to teach us how to traditionally eat with our hands and shared delicious dishes that reminded them of their second home away from home.
This trip has been one like no other I have ever experienced. It has taught me many things, but overall it has influenced me to appreciate a whole new meaning of the word perspective. With each experience any preconceived notions were transformed as the people I met reveal their incredible stories.
-Marin, Feisty Videographer
(Saturday - January 7th)
We had the immense privilege to meet and interview anthropologist, mentor and author of Ghetto at the Center of the World, Professor Gordon Mathews. Professor Gordon works closely with asylum seekers who are currently in Hong Kong and has studied and written extensively on Chungking Mansions, which are known to be an international hub for foreign traders who are in Hong Kong. He, who we got connected with because of a magical right swipe on tinder (Malia swiped right on a student from Hong Kong University who gave us Professor Gordon's email address), has probably turned out to be one of the most crucial connections that we have made over here. Our interview with him at Hong Kong University was incredible (and I think to some extent made us all question ourselves in our decision of our major.... Mine being Accounting ----> Anthropology), and he then helped us get connected with multiple asylum seekers allowing us a chance to hear first hand from people who have worked with electronic waste in Hong Kong.
To explain a little more, Professor Gordon facilitates a free class on Saturdays at Chungking mansions for asylum seekers who want to practice their english as well as engage in meaningful conversation on a wide range of topics. Malia, Erin, and I had the incredible privilege of sitting in on one of these classes and I’m confident in saying that it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. To be in a room of close to 15-20 people who have all had to flee their countries for a wide range of reasons, and to both listen and participate in conversation with them was eye opening. After class, Professor Gordon, the ETL team, and about eight asylum seekers sat down and had lunch together in Chungking mansion. In this experience, more than ever, I realized that we all have so much more in common than we think. Sure there are going to be differences in opinion, but that comes from differences in our life experiences, but we are all human beings, and this means we all have so much more in common than we think. We feel many of the same feelings, and in the end we all crave to feel appreciated, accepted, loved. So in the end, I can’t say that I ever thought I would be thanking Tinder for one of the coolest experiences of my life, but without it we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have done what we did.
It has been a crazy couple of weeks jammed pack with interviewing, exploring, and making countless memories that I’ll have for the rest of my life. With two weeks down and one to go, I’m excited to see what adventures are still ahead!
-Jason, Finance Guru