I have been working since I was 16. I’ve tutored elementary kids, bussed tables, took calls as a receptionist, interned with marine fisheries, and even done restaurant taste tests. Name the job, I’ve probably done it. However, what I have not been exposed to is professional work, such as for businesses and corporations. The culture of this sector of the workforce is, admittedly, alien to me. As expected, this summer has been an extreme learning experience, not just in technical knowledge, but in soft and professional skills.
I cannot speak for how it is in the United States, but from what I have observed and found out through my company and others’, companies generally take good care of their employees and interns. Last Friday, a recent Hong Kong University graduate coworker invited us to hang out and grab a bite to eat after work. Myself along with 3 other international interns were taken to a very local mall/food center called Kwai Chung Plaza. There was not a tourist in site, locals flooded the place, and the food was extensive and cheap; all good signs. She then walked us to the ocean and at night it was particularly beautiful. While walking there I engaged in a fascinating and concerning political conversation with her on how the political climate in Hong Kong is increasingly becoming unstable and how young people are protesting and angry at the government. They feel ignored. She told me she participated in the imfamous umbrella revolution and protests in 2014. If I had not met her or talked to her, I would never have known.
Tsuen Wan West, overlooking the ocean
The morning following, one of my company’s director’s friend took us out to lunch and then site seeing in the New Territories. It was a distant and strange connection, but such a kind gesture to take four strangers out. We had an amazing meal where she told of her days as a boss and her future plans with her new start up. She also gave us advice about the importance of soft skills and what how our generation lacks these skills; a very interesting conversation indeed. Lunch was then proceeded by her driving around telling us stories and giving us little tidbits of Hong Kong history.
Fiona took us to eat an AYCE Hot Pot
The reason I share these incidences is to express my surprise. I had always thought that work stays at work, besides the occasional office party or team-building activities. Here in Hong Kong, they want to build a personal relationship with their employees, treating them as a friend, and I admire that. They go out of their way to make us feel so welcomed in their city, with no ulterior motive besides their genuine kindness. This has and will rub off on me in the future in terms of hospitality and generosity, as practiced by these locals. There is such a charm to living in a foreign country. Not visiting or coming as a tourist, but living. The amazing conversations and relationships that bloom make one more aware of current issues, international affairs, and culture. Surely, my views and perspectives have constantly been updated and more informed, as it should be.