ERIN:The ETL team is back from Hong Kong and still has plenty to do while trying to adjust back to normal school life. For some of us that means readjusting to our normal sleep schedules back in Minnesota and for others that means still figuring out class schedules after the semester is in full swing. It was nice to take a breather from constant e-waste thoughts but that didn’t last long as we still have a ton to do before we are ready for our premiere. It is time for our team to buckle down and put together a trailer, finish the documentary, incorporate the act local component, and put on many other exciting events throughout the semester as well. We are eager to show everyone the footage that we got in Hong Kong and discuss what we have learned about e-waste!
Overall, I had an amazing experience being a part of the Hong Kong travel team. The variety of people we had the privilege of interviewing and by the guidance of Patrick suggesting areas to visit, we truly took advantage of our time and experienced some of greatest treasures of Hong Kong’s people, scenery and food. Our travel team is made of amazing people with hilarious, fun personalities from all different backgrounds and majors which gave the development of our documentary the perfect influence of different perspectives that it needed.
The most memorable experience I had was being able to sit on top of Lion’s Peak looking over bustling mainland cities- Kowloon Bay on one side, the city of Sha Tin on the other, and lush green mountains spanning for miles all around them. Taking a step from the chaos of Hong Kong’s city environment (loaded with a over 7.3 million people) and looking at it from a broader perspective made me realize just how much of an impact each seemingly small individual can make on the world and its environment. I am very fortunate to have seen a glimpse of what the human imprint makes on our environment in the context of e-waste. I hope that sharing with my community what I learned can increase awareness of how our actions influence all people as well as the environment.
JASON:1. People around the world are far more similar than we may originally think. If we can have open conversation, we can break down barriers that may keep us separated.2. Hong Kong is an incredible city with a very peaceful culture. The concrete jungle with over 7.2 million people and for the most part, everyone coexists.3. You learn a lot about people when you travel with them. I got to know a lot about 5 pretty incredible people during the 3 weeks we were in Hong Kong. Ask questions, try and get to know people.
During our time in Hong Kong I was allowed to see amazing things, meet incredible people, and learn many life lessons I hope to hold with me for the rest of my life.Perhaps the most important takeaway I experienced during the journey was the ability to put yourself in other's shoes. I have always said this is something I was good at, but I was never able to put myself in such a range points of view. I began to understand this as we sat down to interview people ranging from illegal workers, to high ranking government officials. Another interesting takeaway of mine was the Chinese philosophical system of feng shui. Feng shui is a harmonization between a person and their external environment. To me this shows an attempt for someone to become in balance with the world around them. I hope to consciously keep this idea of equilibrium in my everyday life. Finally, I was able to further appreciate that no matter where you go in the world, people are more alike than they are different. During our travels, I met many people who live extremely different lives than me, but once I got to talking with them I quickly realized that we had much in common. I am extremely proud of all that we accomplished during this trip and so grateful that I was able to learn these unique life lessons.
MACK: WHAT WILL ONE DAY BRING ME BACK TO HONG KONG:~ Never underestimate the power of learning just a few words of the local language, and always be sure to try (even without success) to say them correctly. These are the moments I hold on to most as I come back. In Hong Kong, I was able to connect with strangers through Somali, Cantonese, and even English. These moments allowed me to swallow my pride, promote vulnerability, and radiate respect to the other person.~ By traveling with an objective or goal, I was able to meet, interact, and share special moments with people I never would have if I were only touring Hong Kong. Extending the Link is a title to be taken seriously, and I am forever grateful because of it.~ Humans are connected in ways that we will never fully understand, but I learned to never let this deter me from exploring human interconnectivity (even if I have to fly seventeen hours to do so).
As I reflect on these past three weeks of interviewing more than 20 individuals to include activists, electronic engineers, formal and informal waste workers, and government officials it is difficult to put into words just how much we learned here in Hong Kong (thank goodness we are making a documentary!!). Electronic recycling has only been a fairly recent occurrence yet the rate of its advances is skyrocketing as fast as the electronic products themselves. Therefore while we only toured the small grid of Hong Kong it feels as though we have traveled the globe after hearing stories from African good traders, German technology manufactures, American anthropologists, Iranian asylum seekers, and even many Bennie and Johnny alumni of our institutions now living in Hong Kong. Each person we have met has a unique reason for their relationship with waste, which they kindly shared that we cannot wait to showcase as our film advances!
As you can read from each of our travel members, our team is so gracious for the extremely unique opportunity of traveling to the other side of the world to film. We cannot thank enough our tour guide Patrick Leung for all his local tips of navigating the various hiking paths, double decker buses and local delicacies along with providing Cantonese translations. We are also thankful for Paul Marsnik from the E-scholar program, for arranging a giant CSB/SJU student and alumni meet up in Hong Kong for both a meal and some horse racing. Thank you to the mom’s and dad’s trusting in Erin and I to run their children around the streets of Hong Kong and put them hard at work late into the night when they could have instead been sleeping in during this winter break. And as always thank you to all our donors for making this experience possible.
We have climbed up rooftops, hiked around islands, peaked over iron fences, and flown our drone all across Hong Kong and cannot wait to show you the beautiful resulting shots. Please keep following our journey and do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!!!