Week 13: Me as an individual and my generation

by Jackie Wang

I don't think there is just one word that I can use to define myself as an individual. I am Chinese-American, born and raised in New York City. Back home, I tell people that I grew up in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, but not too many people outside of New York really know what that means. Coney Island is a tourist attraction, known for having a really old amusement park and booths along the boardwalk, although most of these attractions have recently been torn down to create room for new developments. In reality, however, it is a really dilapidated area, and was even more so when I was growing up. I grew up around a lot of crime and poverty, which caused my to parents constant worry about me, often unreasonably. My parents are both from mainland China, and therefore have a very different culture from the one that I grew up with in America. They're a lot more conservative and strict than most American parents, which always made me feel like the odd-man out as I was growing up. I was torn between believing what my parents believed and acting the way my fellow peers deemed "cool" and "normal." I was taught by the media and my peers that "beautiful" was Caucasian and green-eyed and that normal families sat around at the dinner table and said things like "Pass the peas, please" and "May I please be excused?" I, on the other hand, was neither of these things, and my family sat around the dinner table eating white rice and sharing dishes of meats and vegetables. I never really acknowledged it, but I knew that I was different from all of my friends in school.

As I grew up, however, I learned to accept both sides of my identity, rather than fight one or the other. I learned that my parents would act a different way and have some different beliefs than I would, and that's because I am very Westernized. I grew up eating dim sum and loving all sorts of Chinese food, but at the same time, love all other sorts of foods that my parents would never even touch.
I am the middle child in my family--my sister is turning 25 this year, and my brother is turning 11. I am turning 21 in November. Looking at myself, my siblings, and my parents, there are very obvious generational differences. My siblings and I are a lot more free-spirited and liberal than my parents are, and are learning different things in school than what my parents learned. We are also much more technologically advanced. Like I said in my last blog post, this is obvious in the ways that we interact with media. My parents are used to using print media, while my sister and I depend almost solely on the Internet and television. My brother is an even more extreme example -- he is glued to his computer/television/ipod/video games. My brother, at age 11, owns: a cell phone, an iPod touch, a netbook, a Nintendo Wii, and many other sorts of devices. It's not even that he is very particularly privileged or spoiled, such as I suggested to my mother -- my mother told me that all of his friends had all of these things as well, and he felt left out. The generations are getting more and more dependent on technology, and learning to do everything much quicker and efficiently.

I don't really know what exactly my dream in life is yet, which is a little nerve wracking since I'm about to be a senior in college and should be figuring out what I want to do with my life very, very soon. My parents are a lot more practical than I am -- they wanted me to study either business or medicine, because those are areas in which people make a lot of money and do well for themselves. My sister followed this path, and is currently an investment banker. I, on the other hand, decided to go in a very different direction. I am a double major in Media Studies and Psychology with a minor in Spanish. I enjoy having new experiences, and I guess my dream in life would just be to have a lot of adventures. That's part of the reason why I am studying in Hong Kong right now -- it's a brand new experience. I've also studied the Spanish language in Argentina and Spain before, two countries that I had never been to before, with cultures that I had never experienced before. I want to do something in life that I can look back on when I'm older and say that I enjoyed doing it. My parents expect me to be 100% focused on finding a good job and settling down when I finish school--which is not what I have in mind. I want to travel while I still can and have interesting experiences that I can talk about later in life, and hopefully grow a lot while doing so. I guess I can say that my generation, at least in my experience, has become a lot more adventurous, and a lot more open/accepting to a lot of things.

Week 12, Who are YOU?? (by Karen Chan)

“Who are you?” If someone asked me this question now, I may possibly have no definite answer. Last year, when I am in the class of Social Psychology, the professor has asked us to write about 10 sentences begin with “I’m……” in order to identify ourselves.

Many of my classmates defined themselves as a Hong Konger, a student, a sister, a son, a Chinese, an American-born Chinese (ABC), somebody’s boyfriend/girl friend…but for me, I would define myself as a Hong Kong-Chinese people. It seems that Hong Kong is much worthy for me than China, as Hong Kong is a special city in China. And in my point of view, Hong Kong is obviously have a higher level of freedom and human rights, or because I live here, and affected by the culture here. I won’t decline myself as a Chinese, but more than that, I think myself as a Hong Konger.

Besides, I was born in 1989, which has been defined as in the group of “Pro-80s” recently. I may think that different people in my generation- the group of Pro-80s, have very strong and different opinions towards different incident. Since that may because we have a higher concern of society, political issue or livelihood, we may have different point of views and actions taken based on our thoughts and our surroundings’ opinions. For instance the issue of anti-high speed railway protest, I think the Pro-80s can be simply classified in 3 groups: support or protest or no comments about the issue. We may strongly stand for our own opinion, and tend to not believe in something that is leading us to think or do, in stead of our own beliefs.

I found one very shocking news last month that the widowed woman in old Hindu communities, whom would either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. The Hindu women are taught that their life belongs to their husband and people believed that if the wife is burnt to death with the body of their husband; they will go to the heaven together. The news is shocking me not only because of the cruel and uncivil traditions, but also the women have no freedom and human rights at all in the old community. I think the most important value in the society is definitely the freedom and the human rights. In my beliefs, individualism is not self fish, but we should learn how to maintain and enjoy of our rights, meanwhile, not to encroach others.

I don’t want to make a generation prescribed as in ages or something like that, since everybody is an individuals shared different lifestyle, education, culture and religion etc. But my parents is 52-56 years old, born in Hong Kong, live here (Hong Kong) for their whole life; share similar lifestyle with me, supposedly share a similar beliefs with me too. But in reality, they are not. They would think that my pursuit of freedom or human rights is a kind of redundant and meaningless, they tend to/ willing to listen to the government and chasing the harmony of life more.

Thus, why would we have so much different opinions and identity to ourselves and others? Since the media is the most important medium to spread the news and information to the society, most of the culture, self-identity and thoughts is constructing by the media and the society unconsciously. For instance, how you build up an identity of being a man or women? The media, the society and also our parents, whom have already taught by the society, tells a boy should be strong, not wearing dress, talk like a man, love the man-like stuffs but not the pink or cutie thing. But in contrast, a girl is totally different from the man’s living style, and should do all the stuffs that a boy would never do. Otherwise, we may defined as a jerk or an abnormal person.

Consequently, media is just one very important medium to construct our basic culture. Based on the different lifestyle and background, people should have different self-identity and opinions towards incidents. So, who are you?


The society and me ( by Cherry)

I am a 100% mainland Chinese who was born in China, grew up in China and influenced by Chinese culture deeply since my family background. Even though my family moved once from my birthplace to a bigger city in Hubei Province, these two cities are not quite far away. Most importantly, they are all cities near the Yangtze River. My grandparents on both my parents’ sides were farmers and were not well- educated. However, since the generation of my parents, they both studied quite hard and finally succeeded to be admitted to universities and settled down in the city. As my father said, his generation was the turning point of his whole clan. I always think I was lucky to be born in the city rather than the countryside and I owe my luckiness to my parents.

As I know, in my parents’ generation, most of them were born in the countryside. If they didn’t have the chance to get enough education, they had to follow their parents’ pattern of life, in other words, being a farmer. So in order to get rid of the life in the countryside, my parents both chose to study hard. Only in this way can they change their own life and the living standards of my grandparents’ could also be improved. Under this kind of pressure about the future of a whole family as well as one’s own, my parents’ generation shared the values of working-hard, changing life via education, and also making contributions to their hometown, other Chinese poor people, and the whole country. They were born in the 1960s and reached their 20th in the 1980s when China was developing very fast after the lifting of the reform and opening-door policy. In some way, it is the whole generation of my parents’ struggle that brings us the happy life we enjoy today.

As to my generation, the so-called after 90th, we are often criticized as being raised up in the greenhouse and that we can’t bear hardships and hard work when we are compared with our parents’ generation. However, as many peers of mine argued, China is now entering a mental age, we can also contribute to our society even though we don’t have such strong physical appearance. It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? As we are mostly assured the nine-year compulsory education, our generation is relatively well-educated and our life is not as hard as the last generation. As we grew up, what surrounded us were all “selected good things”. For example, we had a class called thought morality (思想品德). We were taught how to treat teachers, elder relatives, respectful persons, etc, what to do when we picked up a purse, what to do when we are insulted by peers. At home, we also received “good education” from our parents because the one-child policy made us the only hope of a family. But in my parents’ generation, most of them had brothers or sisters. So parents’ attention was accordingly divided. As we were the apple of their eye, parents were relatively strict with our behavior. Just like we were taught at school, we shall do some things; we must not do some things. This kind of pressure seemed not self-motivated but put on by the whole society. We even didn’t know why we were so precious as we were in our parents’ eyes but we must live up to their expectations. So, our generation is often called the rebel generation. That refers to those teenagers who are more or less 16 years old and don’t want to obey parents and teacher alike. Anyway, our generation also have various dreams as we have more choices than our parents. Singers, enterprisers, journalists, writers, engineers, etc are our dreams. Compared to our parents, our dreams are more specific. Because we are more informed and know more about every kind of jobs.

Our generation is heavily burdened yet we barely have the chance to test what we learned at school in the society. So a kind of disappointing feeling is often shared by the peers. Disappointed because the things were not so perfect as we were taught, not so easy as we expected. So the first lesson most of my generation should learn when step into the society is to be strong psychologically. We can never rely on anybody else except for ourselves. That’s quite important even compared to the way to pursue our dreams. Because how to handle our emotional problems were hardly taught at school, so we had to pay the bill before we are prepared for our dreams.

I am a common member of my generation and the daughter of my parents. I experienced my generation’s life and also influenced by the last generation. Because we keep close contact with relatives in the countryside, we know the hardships of a farmer’s life. We have access to all kinds of information and we know many things earlier than the last generation. We are warm-hearted inside, compassionate, caring, and mostly hard-working. I contribute to the formation of a whole generation called the after 90th and I also represent some kinds of particular groups in my generation. My dream is to be a journalist who can tell real stories about the world the as many people as possible. In order to achieve that, I together with my peers still have a long way to go.

Week 13 (By Ivan)


I am Wan Yau Yuen. I am a man. I was born in Hong Kong. So I am definitely a Hong Konger. I think the unique Hong Kong identity is east meets west. It is because we are original a Chinese. But we were ruled by British government until 1997. And why I think I am east meets west because we are Chinese but practicing British culture.
The good thing is that Hong Konger knows lot of other culture as Hong Kong is cultural dynamic. We can speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin. And we meet lot of foreigners in Hong Kong. And we can taste different culture in Hong Kong as well. Hong Kong is like a United Nation. However, the weakest point is that we don’t have deep knowledge about each thing. So we don’t have a strong understanding of Hong Kong culture and identity. Although we know many things, we don’t use time to deeply know more about it. That’s why people say that Hong Kong has no identity and culture.


Recent days I saw Twins Concert. I saw a lot of young generations like my age there. I think one of the collective memories in music is Twins. I think my classmates will know who are Twins and their songs. We listen those songs when we were studying secondary school. After ten years, we grow up. But we are still familiar with their songs. And all audience in the coliseum knows how to sing their song. Here is a clip about our collective memory of Twins.

My peers normally are After 80s. They like to be late, lazy, nothing is important to them, materialistic and not trustworthy. But they are also flexible, dynamic and adaptable.


I remember when I was studying primary six. My teacher told us to write what is our future career goal. The answer for me was fireman. Honestly to say that this answer is not true to me. I just came up with this answer to hand in my homework. I really don’t have any answer at that time. And I remember my mum told me that whatever I will do is not important. The thing that she told me to remember is that I need to be a good man for all the time. I am quite impressed by what she said. So when I grow up, I had ever thought I will be doing something related to art, teachers or businessman. But career will be changed due to time and reality. But one thing will not change is yourself. To be good, it doesn’t matter what you do. It is my philosophy.

In the past, a lot of people hope to be rich. Nowadays, people are flooded by materials. They will cherish more then that, not just money but also status. It is a kind of socialization. Our concern shifts from worrying food to worrying no time to consume materials. And people always think being lawyers, doctors or teachers are better than other jobs. However, I think there are no classes for job. We cannot discriminate any type of job. It is nonsense to compare job. It is what society thinks that what is good and what is bad. But we have sense that what suit us or not.

Week 13: Who is Vanessa?

Who am I? This question never annoys me as I may answer you either “I am a Hongkonger” or “I am Chinese”. Accepting the fact that Hong Kong is a part of China no matter in the past, today or in future even Hong Kong was once a colony of Britain, there is no difference between naming myself as a “Hongkonger” or “Chinese”, and so I do not see why people are struggling in admitting their Chinese identity. Yet, when it comes to the question of the social group that I belong to, I hesitate.

To accurately introduce myself, it is never an easy task as my self identity is shaped by the mass media to a certain extent from time to time. Being one of the Post-80s, Compared to my parents and grandparents, I admit that I am living and growing in a more advantageous environment, with stronger financial, social and technological and family support. Meanwhile, I am also facing lots of challenges in the globalized world full of fierce competition. Yet, I did enjoy in a period of joyful, sweet and memorable childhood. Day-dreaming in lessons while fooling around with my brother, neighbors, classmates and friends in outdoor playgrounds or in the corridors of the government housing estates, these are my collective memories. In the primary stage, when the internet had not yet fully penetrated the HK, I fully enjoyed growing up with my peers who have similar understanding and feelings towards our community and the world. However, when the internet started sweeping our life, my peers’ perception and values towards the world has changed and differed from mine. When being updated through the internet become one of my peers’ heavy media usage in a daily basis, using MSN and Facebook to communicate with others is a must to do. However, I would comment myself as a late comer in the use of MSN and Facebook and I am personally not an internet addict. Hence, sometimes I am commented as an extraordinary and outdated youngster among my friends.

As I grow up in a large Chinese family, I am a pretty conservative person when perceiving the world and interacting with others. Perhaps people describe me as timid, I do think that I benefit from behaving well according to what I learnt form my family. The most important goal in my life time is to progress as a competent person to support my family as collectivism is a critical cultural influence. Among all the virtues, being sincere and acting not to violate ethics are the most important values which guide my life.

Man: Week 12 "The Self Identity"

Hello, I am a Hong Kong Post-80s girl. Who told me this? I cannot really remember that. Maybe this was told by my parents or taught by my teachers. At the end of the day, I think that all of us were educated by the politicians through the media. From the 1840s, Hong Kong started to be the colony of the United Kingdom. The rulers wanted to disunite the Hong Kong people and the Mainlanders which could strengthen her governance over the region. The powers always gave speeches or published some documents including the term “Hong Kong people”. With an unobtrusive change and influence, the Hong Kong citizens started to call themselves as a Hong Konger and later taught their children to remember this identity.

However, everyone who is admitted by the Government can define s/he as a Hong Konger. In other words, everyone can be the Hong Konger, same as me. Then, how can I protrude myself as a distinctive individual? At this moment, our name can play an important role. Supposedly, every people have their own names granted by their parents at the day they firstly came to this world and those names should be the unique one.

Besides, when I say “Young and Dangerous” (古惑仔), every Post-80s who has grown up in Hong Kong is supposed to know what I am talking about and have a consonance on that. This movie stirred up an upsurge after its initial broadcast and was shot five more episodes in a series. Afterwards, many people started to ape the movie characters in everything they did and said in the films. Some youths, especially the guys, hoped to be the members and even the leaders of the Triad. And plenty of girls at that time would like to be the lovers of the Triad leader as this was regarded as a pride. Indeed, a series of “Young and Dangerous” was not the encouragement of joining the Triad, whereas to make the people in our generation daring to fight for our own rights. This is what the most characteristic differentiating us from our parents. Because of the social content and cultural constraints, our parents usually tolerated something they didn’t really like and acted in the ways other people ordered for. What’s more? Another difference between the generation of our parents and ours is the definition of success. When our mothers were young, most of them did think that forming a family was the most important thing for a woman. In our generation, we commonly thought that a female is regarded as a success only when she has climbed up to a superlative post, however. Therefore, my mother dreamed of having a family as soon as possible while I would like to be a “superwoman” who can deal with any difficulties and stand at the high position.

Nevertheless, there is a main goal all people from any generation aiming to achieve. That is to acquire the education level as high as possible. Whenever the 1960s, 1980s or 2000s, people believed that obtaining the highest education level is the most essential element for the one to become the most influential and the richest person in the society. And that’s why people try hard to be promoted to the universities. Why do people desire to upgrade as the rich? The implied reason is the materialism stuck in the region for a long history which has been the most important value in the society as well.

Week 13: Who am I? (By Yannie)

Who am I??

Years ago, I liked to chat with foreign net friends with some communication tools on the Internet. When you first ‘meet’ with them, ‘where are you from?’ is always the first question on the window. What I always received is something like ‘I’ am from UK’, ‘I’m from Mexico’, and ‘I’m Spanish’. They never said which city they are from at first but which country. However, when they asked me where I am from. I always said ‘I am from Hong Kong.’ I never said ‘I am from China.’

However, many of them would then ask me ‘Where is Hong Kong?’ They don’t know where Hong Kong is or even never heard it. All the time I had to say ‘It’s in China.’ although I was not really willing to define it in this way. I would more likely to say ‘It’s a former British colony’, especially if they were from UK. I just tried to guide them to think what Hong Kong is in the way I think what it is. What I all hope was that they would know Hong Kong is different from China.

Why I would want them to know Hong Kong is Hong Kong and it’s different from China? Firstly, I was really growing up in British colony. The Governor, the top leader, of Hong Kong is always a British, such as Chris Patten. And I could see the British flag rising and hear British anthem when Lee Lai Shan got the gold medal at Olympic. No one had ever told me that I am a Chinese and I never saw the Chinese flag and listened to Chinese anthem in where I was living, Hong Kong. Growing up in such environment, how could I say’ I am a Chinese’ or ‘I come from China’?

Moreover, our lifestyle and value is different from Chinese. For example, we have freedom of speech, greater human rights and have a sound law system while people who have said something what the Central doesn’t like in China would probably find themselves in prison finally. The image of China to many foreigners is always negative. Chinese always produce ‘killer products’, such as toxic toys and poisoned milk, and fake products and counterfeits. I just wanted to tell them Hong Kong is not that bad, not that negative.

Anyway, with my experience, they don’t care what Hong Kong is and what the difference between Hong Kong and China. They didn’t care whether Hong Kong was a British colony. Hong Kong is China. China is China. That’s all.

At that time, I had to realize that in their eyes I was a Chinese. And I had to admit that ‘I’m Chinese.’