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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
I am Karson, a Hong Kong student studying in university. If somebody asks my identity, I will definitely answer that I am a Chinese instead of “Hong Konger”. However, some people may not. Since Hong Kong was the colonial of Britain before, the sense of identity and belonging towards China is generally low. Even though after the handover, some Hong Kong people are still very insistent about their Hong Konger’s identity. It is undeniable that Hong Kong is only an administrative region of China. We have to clarify the truth, China is our mother country and our nationality is Chinese.
What do I think about my generation?
I was born in 1980s, a true Post-80s. Regarding a series of social movements happened recently, like
- Anti-high speed railway protest,
- Marching to Liaison Office of the Central People's Government during January 1,
- Criticizing the politicians of pro-Beijing camp in City Forum (城市論壇) every Sunday,
- Intensely demanding for the abolishment of Functional Constituencies and
- Supporting the de facto referendum advocated by League of Social Democrats and Civic Party
Post-80s’ youngsters are the most active participator in the above-mentioned social movements. I will describe our generation is becoming more and more RADICAL. Post-80s’ youngsters claim that they are struggling for equality. They claim that the Hong Kong government only concern about the Central government and rich people, the social noises by general publics are being ignored. So, they have to protest and take part in social movements in order to reflect their disappointment towards the government. The purpose is to arouse the attention of the government.
The most important value in the society
Personally, I think the most important value in the society is mutual understanding. To alleviate the problem of youngsters become more radicalized, it is necessary to listen to their opinions. I think there is a room for the government to improve their communications with youngsters. Due to the technological advancement, youngsters are no longer to rely on traditional medium to express their views. They tend to heavily use Internet. So, the government has to make a better use of Internet for collecting various opinions. Setting up some blogs and chatting forums are some possible ways to allow the officials and publics communicating directly.
I do understand that the government is facing a dilemma between executing policies and balancing the social consensus. In current situation, no matter what policies is going to be implemented, there will be some opponents who against it. So, the government should increase the transparency during the execution. For instance, to hire independent companies to collect opinions from different classes of people, different political parties and different age groups. The aim is to make the consultations be more all-rounded and covering the vast majority.
It is an uphill task for the government to strike a balance before setting up a policy. If the government can stick to the principle of equity, I am optimistic that the controversies and conflicts can be minimized.
Week 12: Who Are You?
To be honest, I found it very difficult to answer the question “who are you?”, because I would not call myself a “Hong Konger”, yet, I could not call myself an “American-born Chinese” (ABC) either. Growing up in the U.S. did made me feel like an “American” back then, but after moving back to Hong Kong, I had to readjust myself to the local Hong Kong culture, despite the fact that I still do not understand some local traits. For example, when I first watched the local cartoon movie “My Life as McDull” (麥兜故事), a film that reflects the local society, with some elements hinting towards the local government, I was totally clueless with the slang, the phrases, and the plot itself. While other people in the theater were laughing and nodding in agreement to the movie, I was quite blank and laughed at the wrong places. Thus, if I really had to define myself with a term, I would call myself a “third culture kid”, which “refers to someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture”. This term is also similar to globalization, since third culture kids have often grown up in a “globalized culture”, instead of a single culture. So, I may be familiar with some things in
Two important collective memories I shared with my peers are the September 11 attacks and SARS. Although I was in
Meanwhile, one important value my father appreciated back in his days is survival. In the early days, my father underwent hardships—those were the difficult times when it was hard to get food and daily necessities. He told me that even after he got a job, he only had a salary of $60; out of those $60, he mailed $50 to his relatives in
One of my father’s dreams back then was to find his long-lost parents. My father and my grandparents got separated during the complicated period in
Also, another important value that my father really endorses, even now, is education. This is because back when he was young, he never had the chance to study much because of the hard times. Thus, my father’s dream is to obtain a better education. That’s why my father currently continues to seek education; he would take certificates and diploma courses in order to enhance his knowledge, because he feels that education helps one to be successful. Therefore, my parents are willing to pay more money for my siblings and me to go to university, hoping that we would achieve good grades and have successful careers. Compared to the current generation, I feel that the older generation values education a lot more. This is because back in the days, the older generation rarely had the chance to go to school to learn and was forced to go out and work, while people today were much luckier and could go to kindergarten until high school. In general, generation Y seems to value leisure and entertainment much more than education; education becomes something taken for granted.
However, my generation is generally more open-minded than the older generation. Looking at the news about post-80s, it appears that they are big supporters of democracy and human rights and know exactly what they want for
My parents have always said that I am very fortunate to be able to grow up in this generation, and to have studied and grown up overseas. I think so too. Even though at the beginning I felt like I did not fit in at all after coming back to Hong Kong, I have grown to appreciate all the different and weird experiences that I have gone through—because that is who I am.
“Third Culture Kid”
My dream always changes. I want to be a teacher when I was studying in kindergarten because I feel that correcting other’s homework is a pride job. I want to be a nurse when I was studying primary school because I want to be a White-Angel and save those patients. I want to be a flight attendance after then because I want to travel around the world and see a lot of things. I want to adopt different
culture and live in different environment. Unfortunately, I become no dream until I was 12 years old. My last dream is become a housewife. On that day, I remember my teacher asks all the students to write down our dreams occupation in our student handbook and hand in to her. I was so hesitate that should I write the true answer on it? Will I being laugh by others? Finally, I wrote the truth that I want to be a housewife but the nightmare was came. One day, I got my mother’s call. She told me that my teacher was created a meeting for her and wants she can come with me which is about my dream so that I came with my mother to found my teacher. I almost can remember how nervous I was at that time. “Your daughter wants to be a housewife”. I didn’t know why I was so shame at that time. “Why everyone wants to become a lawyer or doctor but you only want to be a housewife?” I was cried. I really think that this experience really change my life. I really want to ask my teacher why I should be a lawyer or doctor. But I didn’t. I know that why everyone want to be a lawyer, because they can earn a lot of money and have authority to control others. I think that it’s a kind of socialization. Everyone has their role in the world and it becomes part of the sense of me. It seems that everyone should feedback their family and society, so I started to revise my dream and think again do I interest in become a lawyer? Should I change my mind and want to become a lawyer? But does everyone’s dream equal to my dream? Why I can’t have my own dream? Become a lawyer or teacher or doctor almost becomes a norm among my schoolmate at that time. I know that a society itself is formed through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions. I understand that everyone wants to strive for a better life, but why I cannot strive for a simply and quiet life? I don’t want to be a rich person, I just want to be a simply and ordinary people. Why my teacher force me to follow majority’s norm? I really don’t understand. But I accept it. I cannot deny that money is dominated in nowadays. Many people work for their entire life just want to buy a house. I cannot say that I don’t want money, but I prefer earn money in my interested method. Many people when choosing their major subject in university just focusing on the future but not their interest. I cannot say that it is wrong, but I really pride of myself that I can follow my interest in choosing my subject. But how about my dream? I still decided to follow my interest but in a silent way. Because it’s socialization, it’s life.
However, the advantages of Hong Kong are being deemphasized while the influential of China towards Hong Kong as well as the world is sharply increased in the recent years. The rapid development of economic and the great success of Beijing Olympic in 2008 have promoted the international status of China. At the same time, more and more national education and high coverage of news about China are received from the media over these 12 years. Combing with different reasons, my national identity of Chinese is being stronger and stronger. On the other hand, there are several fundamental problems that make China being criticized by the others, such as the problem of fake products and poor condition of human rights. As referring to the question of nationality, I remember a person has suggested a way to answer and I think I will do the same. That person suggested that whether answering you are Hong Kongers or Chinese, the best answer should depends on where you are and what topic is being discussed.
For many youngsters, most of us are confused about our nationality identity but the truth is that we do not take it as a serious issue to think it seriously. The political sense in our generation is relatively low. In contrast, we spend much time and effort on a virtual world. Mobile phone and computer become an essential part of our daily life. The all-in-one function mobile phones and computers have replaced many face to face interaction and real–life social activities with our family members and friends. We share and communicate with others by using the online communication tools such as facebook, Xanga, MSN etc. These communication tools allow us to share our messages no longer limited on text but delivering with images, sounds, video and audience can give instant responses to the sender. Thanks to the technology, many innovative communication styles are being found so as to provide a lot of fun and interesting to us. For example, Facebook is now the most popular communication network. One thing we enjoy most is to receive and give out instant comment with any friends. Sometimes, the comments are supportive and funny which let us feel cheerful. Teenagers are just hard to avoid and even addict on them as we value entertainment and social with friends.
To share about the use of Facebook with my mother, she is surprised about everything. As she is not a computer user, she does not know about the Internet. She is not only surprise with the convenient given in communication of Facebook but also teenagers now are sharing their personal life and feeling with people they even not familiar with. For their generation, people wrote down their feeling or ideas in diary which was not supposed to disclose. Although they also liked talking with friends, they only share their personal feeling with close friends or mostly they kept it as their own secrete. Therefore, it is hard for her to understand why people in our generation type everything on a public sphere.
I have also asked my mother about her media usage pattern or entertainment in her generation. However, due to the poor living condition when she was young, she said it was far away to afford any entertainment, let alone to have a radio. My mother was living in a village in mainland and gave help in the farm. “I only wanted no more farming work!”. When I asked my mother about what was her dream, she told me without hesitation. Finally, she was able to live in Hong Kong and her dream came true. The reason for my mother to leave farming is because of the instability and harshness she faced. Of course, due to the improvement on living condition, what I think and want are very different from my mother. It is hard to tell what I exactly want to do in my future career but I am looking for a job that I can develop myself. In the rest of the time, I can do some volunteer works and visit different parts of the world in order to work out my life in meaningful and enjoyable manners.
The developing of technology and growth of economic change what people pursue in their life as well as our values change. For me, some important values are still preserving and love is one of the most important values for us. The value of love is not only limit on the relationship between couples. People nowadays are also concern and looking for love on their friendship and family members. Although many of us do not know how to work it out, we seek love to make ourselves feeling affiliate and being valued. We value love because most of us still believe love is the core to bring happiness to our life. However, many people think Hong Kong is now a city where people value much on materialism, entertainment and are self-oriented. Despite of the importance of love to us, it is hard to deny that sometimes love have become related to materialism, entertainment and self-satisfaction. For many people, they are friends but they are each other’s partner for games only. Many women want to have true love but they also looking for men who can satisfy their needs on materials. In my opinion, it is difficult to tell it is good or bad, however, it is a way to preserve the tradition value while integrating with the present important value in our society.
No matter things are physically existing or intangible, we would like to preserve which we value in our generation. However, our society keeps changing in every minute. From the media, the life of the older generation is being informed. For example, we, this generation know the song Under the Lion Rock and the plastic bag, “Red, White, Blue” are symbols to represent the spirit of hard-working and flexible of the Hong Kongers but it is hard for us to receive the same sympathy as our parents. One day, the time we communicate with friends via Facebook, Xanga and MSN will also become the collectively memory of our generation.
I suppose the biggest things that have served to define me are—as cliché as they may sound—my city and my family. I am a New Yorker in every sense of the word. I was born two blocks from where I grew up and had never lived anywhere but Manhattan until I came to Hong Kong to study in January for the semester. Like most New Yorkers, I hold the warped belief that the city (this excludes Staten Island, if I’m going to be a true snob) is a separate entity from the rest of the United States; I am a New Yorker first and an American second. I feel that this is important for me to mention because a lot of what I consider to be my political and ideological identity was shaped by the more liberal values of New York City, and contrasts with the more conservative nature of the rest of the country.
Other cities I have been to, such as Los Angeles, Athens, Paris, London, Seoul, Vienna, and especially Hong Kong, all have their charm. But when it comes down to it, none of them match the beauty and complexity of New York. I have a relationship with the city much like I would with a significant other; it aggravates me constantly and never ceases to stun me with its melodrama and numerous flaws. But after each fight, we make up and everything is right again. I feel a love for the city that makes it more than just a city to me.
My family has also played an important role in helping to establish my identity. My father grew up in a stereotypical Long Island suburb to two Irish Roman Catholics. To me, my father’s side of the family pretty much represents what it means to be “all-American” to outsiders: they are staunchly middle-class (both my grandfather and my father’s youngest brother were firefighters), embrace religion, drink a lot, eat a lot, laugh a lot, and love sports. They drive big cars and buy big TVs. They are literally pretty big people. Their kids are quarterbacks on their high school football teams and some of them have joined the military or the navy. Many of them are blonde or red-haired and very fair, and their kids will most likely continue to look that way, although my father was an exception. This is because my mother is from Hong Kong; she moved to the U.S. to get a master’s degree in Chemistry after attending Hong Kong University. She met my father in dental school and married him soon after graduation.
I relate a lot to my mother’s side of the family because I spent most of my childhood at my aunt’s house in Queens on weekends. Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays were spent playing with my cousins, going to Chinese school, attending piano and Tae Kwon Do lessons, receiving tutoring, and being subject to marathon, coma-inducing Dim Sum breakfasts with my relatives. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which meant being Asian made me a relative minority. Being bi-racial has, to this day, caused me discomfort in a lot of situations. Anyone who is will say that. I watched a documentary about President Obama and a good majority of it dealt with his insecurities that he wasn’t “black enough” or “white enough” to satisfy his family or his constituents. I’ve often felt similarly, that my tendencies weren’t “white enough” for my friends on the Upper West Side, and that I wasn’t “Chinese enough” to suit my family.
It didn’t help that I didn’t relate to other kids that well because I spent whole weekends kept away from my friends, and, when I got older, the lack of Judaism in my life meant that I didn’t get to have my own pivotal coming-of-age ceremony, the bat mitzvah. As a whole, I felt pretty removed from people of my own generation until high school. Until that point, I had a very low opinion of my classmates’ intelligence and didn’t have much in common with them. For high school, I went to a specialized science high school, which is a nice way of saying that pretty much everyone who attended was a nerd, closeted or not. In high school I learned a great deal about myself and that there are tons of people in the world who are much more intelligent than I am in multitudes of ways.
I went from a performing arts middle school to a high school that shoved math, physics, and computer science down my throat. I couldn’t remember organic chemistry, but I had no trouble reciting passages from Nabokov’s Pale Fire. My math skills were never developed enough to place me in pre-calculus courses, but I took advanced English courses. I wrote for the school newspaper and went into college thinking I’d become a journalist. By the end of my freshman year the dream was dispelled to make way for a more specific goal: to work in publishing as an editor or in television as a producer. This goal changed because I think that no matter what happens in society, the people who get to control the messages sent out by the media are the ones who have the power. Media is supposed to be a check on government, but it is also a tool to inform the masses—or manipulate them. Therefore, it’s so important to have the right people to decide the kinds of messages that are sent out to the public and how they’re sent out. To me, this was a basic message that resonated throughout this course this semester. I always grew up thinking I wanted to do “something that matters.” This kind of job seems to fit those criteria.
I was born and live in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. I am a 100% local Hong Kong citizen. All the things, people, information and events around me formulate my identity as a Hong Konger. Cantonese is my mother language while English is my major learning instrument. I always go to Chinese restaurant to “Yum Cha” on Sunday with my family. Dim-sum, milk tea and egg tart are some of my favorite foods which represent the dining culture of Hong Kong. I love shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui and sing karaoke in Mongkok with my friends in the weekends. These are part of my daily life, which is closely related to the Hong Kong culture and every Hong Konger will share similar experience and habit.
Because of the demonstration of express railway, society put more concerns on the generation – “Post 80s”, which I belong to. Generally, our generation is always described as impetuous, lazy and irresponsible. To a large extent, such impressions towards post 80s mainly come from the media. For example, the news reporting about the chaos in the demonstration is one of the sources for the media to stereotype our generation. In fact, I don’t think our generation is that bad as the media descriptions. I do love my age and the collective memories that we share. For example, the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and the bad times during SARS are some valuable memories among our age group. For me, joining the 4 June incident gathering last year gives me a deep impression and memory. 2009 is a remarkable year as the incident has passed for 20 years and it was the first time that I participate the event. When I was walking to the Victoria Park, I was wondering the majority would be old men and ladies. Unexpectedly, I saw many youngsters like me holding the white candles, sitting on the grassland. The theme of the gathering was “薪火相傳”and a group of university students came on the stage swearing that our generation would never forget the lesson learnt from history. The atmosphere was very touching at that night and it makes me feel proud of joining the event. From my viewpoint, post 80s is a group of people that is passionate, brave and rightful. And these characteristics are rarely founded in the older generations. Maybe it is because the older generations have much more other concerns other than fighting for justice, just like family and career burden. But no worries, I think now is a good time for us, the post 80s, to fight for the benefits for the society. Besides, some people may think our generation is lack of planning. However, I don’t think it is a weakness to us and oppositely we are flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changeable society. In fact, as a post 80s in the society nowadays, it is really hard to talk about “dream” achievement because of many restrictions and difficulties brought by the social system. For me, living healthily with my family without any worries is already an ideal life for me. The most important value is that no matter what kind of job you get in the future, never forget your reality and conscience.