Some people find it difficult emotionally to interact with these kids. Initially I had some misgivings too. But as soon as you come face to face with such a child, it is hard not to want to something for them, despite everything. And how often can you put an innocent smile on another human being?
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
We played games with them: passing balloons, decorating human Christmas trees, musical chairs, etc. Many of the kids were really not dexterous enough to do some of the actions such as grasping and passing the balloon. Others cannot really comprehend what they were doing and were asked to do. Many could not walk. Some could not even sit up straight. But everyone was caught in the spirit and had great fun. That was obvious from the smiles, laughs and squeals.
I could see that some of our university students were a little apprehensive in the beginning. Except for one or two who had some volunteering experiences before, most did not know how to interact with children with special needs, and were initially just standing there and watching the kids, probably not knowing how to engage them. But soon enough they started to help the kids pass the balloons, lead them through the musical chairs, showed them how to decorate themselves as Christmas trees.
After the party, one of my students thanked me for inviting her to help in the party, and said that the party made her Christmas meaningful. I was thankful to God as well, for letting me be a part of it.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Apparently the government thinks that is it neither old enough nor valuable enough to preserve. If we keep tearing down things that are not that old, there will never be anything old enough to preserve, will there? If we keep valuing things by how much cash can be generated from it, there will only be taller and taller high rises in
Green hills and trees don’t generate any cash. Yet someone is willing to pay billions for the land. So let us remove the hill and clear the way for more money making. Some of you want to keep some of the oldest ones? Put a few of them in giant flower pots! Somehow there seems to be a depressing consistency in government thinking.
Great cities are great not just because they are commercially successful. The people of such cities can inevitably point to a collective identity that they can be proud of – a collective identity of history, culture, people, events, and symbols.
In so doing, whatever collective identity that has been built over the years is being killed bit by bit.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Since many government employees enjoy education allowances, and those education allowances are certainly taxpayer money, the same principle should also apply. From now on, government employees should only be allowed to claim education allowances for education of their children at local non-profit schools.
Government employees who send their children to private schools should not be allowed to claim education allowance. And those who send their children to overseas schools certainly should not be allowed to claim education allowances. Why should
Monday, July 31, 2006
Normally the high school students there have a summer break from mid July to end of August, similar to secondary schools in
Even the headmaster of the school we visited said he pitied the students, who “get so tired”! No kidding.
Hong Kong is facing very tough challenges. We have lost our low-cost manufacturing capabilities. Our labor is expensive. Our land is scarce and expensive. Our creative industries are struggling. Our education system is not producing the kind of students needed to compete in the global economy. Our health care system is stretched to the limit. Our environment is suffering.
Yet we are erecting ever grander government offices as monuments. I hope that further Jared Diamonds will not lump twenty-first century Hong Kong together with Easter Island, Anasazi, and Maya as societies that use their resources in conspicuous consumption rather than dealing with serious challenges.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
It is a form of “service learning” that is now increasingly popular in many countries all over the world. In this case, our students learn and practice new computing skills, learn to teach and interact with Chinese students, interact with each other and the church team, spend a week in a city in China which they would not normally visit, and have great fun in the process.
It was hot! Daytime temperature was about 35 degrees Celsius. Even in the air conditioned classrooms, it was 30 degrees. But it was fun. HuangShi is one of the largest cities in
They were curious and eager. They were very interested in knowing about Hong Kong, about other cities in
They were also interested in Christianity. They felt they are free to believe in what they want and some have been to local churches. Many know, to differing degrees, about Christmas, Easter and Jesus. If you wish to know more about this aspect of the trip, send me email.
Our university students behaved admirably. They were fun-loving and energetic, resourceful, disciplined, demonstrated great teamwork among themselves, and mixed well with the church team as well as the local kids. They are students that we, as their teachers, can be proud of.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
My daughters, like many HongKongers, doubted the usefulness of the march, since the government was not likely to give us universal suffrage anytime soon, if ever. My response is that I should do something if I believe in it strongly enough, even if it seems impossible. If enough people work hard and long enough, the impossible will become possible. If we all wait for the impossible to become possible, they will also remain impossible. Universal suffrage will not solve all our problems, but it is better than what we have presently, and no more than what we deserve.
Eventually our two younger daughters came with me and my wife to Victoria Park before 3 PM. By then more than 2 of the 4 soccer fields were filled. It was really hot. The sun was beating down, everybody was sweating profusely - including many trendily-dressed young people. But all waited patiently, nobody complained. People with umbrellas tried to shade those standing nearby without being asked. There was a quiet camaraderie that was quite moving, and worthy of the hours of sweating and sun-baking by itself.
The first marchers started from Victoria Park at about 3:30PM. Our family started at about 4:15PM and arrived at Central about 6PM. How many people marched? The average between the numbers claimed by the organizers and the police was about 40,000. To me, marching in the crowd, it felt like a lot of people anyway
Monday, June 26, 2006
Many people came to us to buy flags without being asked, since most HK people are quite familiar with this tradition and many want to help. At the same time, there are more people who deliberately avoided us.
We tried to approach people who were not walking too fast, have at least one free hand, and did not look unhappy. Roughly half of those we approached bought flags. Some said they do not have change; we would give them a flag anyway, hoping that they would make a donation next time. It seemed to me we had more female donors than males; but perhaps it was because we were close to the wet market.
I thought parents would like to set good examples for their children; so I was quite surprised that many parents with accompanying children actually declined to give. Apparently this rather counter-intuitive observation is quite well-known in the flag-selling community.
All in all, it was Saturday morning well spent.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Paint thinners dissolve stubborn oil-based paints. We cannot tolerate even short exposure to such fumes. Imagine the effects on your hands and organs after long exposure.
I wonder whether the people who put up such graffiti in high exposure areas ever thought about the people who had to remove them. If they know what the workers have to do to remove the graffiti – and the workers must, at such highly visible areas – would they still insist on putting up the graffiti at such places?
It happened on Fathers’ Day. Judging from the age of the workers, they are most likely fathers too. How would their children feel, when they find out what their fathers have to do for a living?
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
10s of thousands of people in
We will continue to remember June 4th in whatever way we can. Attached is a picture of some of the candles in Victoria Park in the evening of June 4th, 2006. Hopefully, some day soon, we can see the matter properly resolved.
Friday, April 21, 2006
His grave happens to be in the same cemetery as my grandparents. So I would pay my respects once or twice a year, each time I visit my grandparents. Attached is a picture taken on April 5 this year (2006). It can be seen that the place has been tidied and someone placed some flowers there. I have never seen anyone there at the grave site so far. But every time I was there, the site was clean and tidy, so obviously someone has been taking care of the site. I have taken my daughters there, explained his contribution to the modernization of
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
As a result it is getting harder and harder for the professor to tailor the teaching to suit the student. With 100 students sitting together in the same classroom, it is impossible for the professor even to get to know the names of many of the students, by the end of the 14 week semester. How can the professor possibly find out the characteristics of each of the students and teach accordingly? How do you teach computer programming to 100 students, 30 with programming experience acquired in secondary school or junior college, 30 with relatively strong mathematical and science background, and another 40 with arts background and little mathematics? What can the professor do but to pretend that all students are equal and feed them the same menu?
Student-based learning has been touted as the direction to go, in which the student takes charge of his or her own learning, with the professor more as a facilitator than a provider in the process of learning. The students in
In a typical secondary school there are about 40 students in a class, and in the last 2 years typically much less. In the first year in university the class size in the first year is much more likely to be 100 or more. With much frequent contact and a much larger class, what choices does a professor have, but to adopt mass production techniques?
I did my best to get to know my students’ names and what they are like. But it feels like a losing battle all the time.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The walkway was 10 meters above street level, with no elevator access, just sloping ramps on either end. So the maid must have pushed the wheelchair up one of the ramps. They would also have to cross at least several streets even from the nearest residential buildings.
The maid’s left arm was around the old woman’s shoulders, her head touching the old woman’s, tenderly.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The goods and services tax (GST) as proposed in this year's budget is a good idea from the point of view of providing a more stable tax income and a broader tax base. It would be quite reasonable in a more open and democratic society where the tax payer has a more direct say on where and how the tax money so collected are spent. Unfortunately it is not the case in
It can be claimed that the
I am firmly in support of no taxation without representation, and the complementary taxation therefore representation. I trust that many people are happy to pay a little more direct taxes in the form of an universal GST but please give us also the same but deserved right to direct elections and universal suffrage.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
This year’s Hong Kong Marathon attracted a lot more negative attention than past years, due to the bad air, 2 serious casualties, and large number of minor mishaps. I ran in the full marathon and saw the collapsed man on the on-ramp of the
About the thousands of people getting medical assistance, a large number of them were probably quite minor, like mine. I did stop for a bandage at about 15km for a blister, and later to get a dose of ointment for my tired legs which were threatening to cramp up. To me, these are not unexpected risks regularly associated with rigorous sports. In sports, we always try to push ourselves to be faster, stronger, more enduring, more agile, more something or the other. There are always hurts to endure and risks to take. Nothing comes without a price.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
A few days ago I was on a bus and spotted two young men walking on the sidewalk. Something about them caught my attention. They seemed to be walking together – they were consistently side by side, about 2 feet apart; they cross streets together. But they were not talking to each other. Instead, each was holding a mobile phone to his ear. So here we have 2 people walking together, each engaging in his own world and not with each other.
It is said that there are more mobile phones in HK than people. In one way, mobile phones connect us to people from a distance. In another, they disconnect us from people who are right next to us.