Connecting People

Students' Effort and Initiatives in Embracing Diversity and Bringing People Closer

Inclusiveness, diversity, and respect are the core values in HKUST that shape our distinctive culture. In an effort to bring people from different backgrounds closer for fostering an inclusive environment, these student leaders took up different initiatives with one simple common goal - Connecting People.

Pranav Raj Daryanani

(Management, UG, Year 3)

Project Leader for Humans of HKUST

They say each one of us has a story to tell, but few ears willing to listen. At Humans of HKUST, we go the extra mile to make sure your story is heard.

Inspired by Humans of New York, Humans of HKUST is a student-driven project set up in 2014 conducting far-reaching interviews with various members of the UST family, featuring personal anecdotes, thought-provoking views, and insightful stories. The project aims to explore the culture, background, and personal experiences of those who call UST their home, and these experiences are then shared through our Facebook page and compiled into an annual book of stories.

Whether it be local or exchange students, alumni, or faculty, Humans of HKUST has proved to be a powerful journey of self-discovery for those who participate, and a great way to widen insight and empathy on campus. At our core, we aim to bring UST-ers closer together in realization that we have more in common than in divide, and that each one of us has a story worth repeating.

On a personal level, being part of the Humans of HKUST team has helped me become more open-minded, less judgmental, and gain insights into the way I see myself and others. Through writing, compiling, and reading these stories, we learn to see a different side of the university and intrinsically learn more about each other – which is what I believe contributes heavily to the success of the page.

With plenty in store for 2018, we are excited more than ever to continue sharing your stories, and want to thank you for your continued support that is helping grow the page faster than ever. Do stay tuned for what we have in store for you next!

Jason Yuen

(Operation Management, UG, Year 4)

Founder of BeOurGuest (BOG) Program

BOG Program aims to facilitate authentic and in-depth cultural exchange experience for students in HKUST through a form of family and local dining initiatives. It was founded in 2015 and lasted consecutively for 2 years. We believe that exchange-in students have a strong need and desire to understand a city with its authentic culture and lifestyle. And these people deserve a better cultural experience offered from school or even from the society. And our ultimate vision is to create a universal culture for every community that the locals can proactively host non-locals, whether they are students or visitors, with an authentic and in-depth cultural experience.

I started the “Be Our Guest Program” when I was in year 2. At that time, there was similar cultural exchange program offered by the school office such as “Exchange Buddy Program”. And I joined the Program for 3 years consecutively and I met exchange students from Germany, Singapore and America. However, from their perspective, they would like to have more authentic and in-depth cultural experience on the campus or even in Hong Kong.  

So what is better than letting the exchange students actually get into a local family to experience? As a result, I launched the program with the vision of providing an authentic cultural experience targeting the non-local students, particularly the exchange students while family home food is used as the main theme as I believe that it is a common interest and topic for everyone!

It was true that we received many non-local applicants whereas the local students are not that active at all (with a ratio of 4:1). As a result, the program for the 1st year was far below our expectation. I tried to give up at that time until I went to UBC, Vancouver for the summer exchange in year 2. 

When I was in the summer exchange, I was in the position as an exchange student. And I did want to immerse myself into the local culture such as the lifestyle, the value, the food, the mindset and etc. However, what I got was only to greet other exchange students or sometimes the local students. I could not have any more in-depth authentic cultural experience to understand Canada! Like what is it all about!? And thus, I determine to continue the program in year 3 because I believe that the exchange students coming to HKUST will also have such a concern and thought! 

The main bottleneck of the program is the recruitment of the local participants. Since it is not common for Asian to host non-local guests with a family dinner at home. So this year, we widened the recruitment targets. For instances, we also recruit faculties and staff for participation. And then both the local registration and success rate surge multiple times as before. 

Since I am currently in my final year, the HKUST BOG Program was handed to the next successors who also shared the same vision “An Authentic Taste of Culture. Another Perspective of Life.” 

Khang Sek Lee / Helen Liao

(SENG, UG, Year 1 / Global China Studies, UG, Year 1)

Core Members of Hall Language Buddy Program

Khang Sek: One fine afternoon, I was checking out my emails as usual and one email title had caught my eye balls, Hall Language Buddy Programme. I clicked on the link attached and found out this big family. Its mission of bridging the gap between international students and local students, and better integrates international students into brand new life interested me to join this programme. As an international student who is fluent in Cantonese, I feel like I would be a suitable candidate to realize the vision.

Helen: When the semester first started I really wanted to keep myself busy, and so I decided to apply to the Hall Language Buddy Programme. The main objective of this programme is to gather residents with different cultural backgrounds and allow them to learn more about other cultures. In order to do so, we try to plan fun events that will attract many different groups of residents.

Khang Sek: The programme is not merely about bridging others, but also getting to know working buddies from different cultural background, both locally and internationally. In the past semester, we worked together and organized an event called “Conquer the World”. Throughout the preparation, we made everything from scratch and made all ideas on papers into reality. Communication and interpersonal skills were developed through a series of discussions and rehearsal. We had to put things in perspective, taking into accounts of some intangible things to ensure every detail is in place for the event.

Helen: Our first event, Conquer the World, took place in early November. Before the day of the event, students could sign up as teams through an online platform or they could walk-in on the day of the event and join one of the pre-existing teams. The event consists of five mini-game stations with each station representing a different continent. At each station, there are different games that originated from the respective continent and all teams rotate through each station. Through such event we really hope that all participants learned something new about a place that used to seem so foreign.

Khang Sek: Aside from event preparation, I also worked with Helen on coordinating the rundown of the event as we were the MC of the event. On the event day, we learned about problem-solving skills where things will always throw at us unexpectedly. We had to handle the circumstances accordingly without our prior knowledge which were challenging to us. Nevertheless, seeing people enjoyed themselves thoroughly by putting aside their routine school works during the event made me felt like it was worthy of all our hard works.

Helen:  Although I have only been a part of this team for a few months, I have learned more than I intended to. I was apart of the student council at my high school, but the council had 20 people and so it was pretty easy to plan and execute events. However, when a programme only has 10 students, it’s a lot harder to execute successful large-scale events, and that’s when every member’s hard work and determination really counts. Being a part of this team taught me the importance of intergrity and responsibility. Once I agree to do something, my team members are counting on me to do my part. And so in order to make an event successful, every member in the team must do their part. I know that I’ll have more on my plate during the upcoming spring term, but I’m still determined to allocate some time to be a part of the team.

Khang Sek: It was indeed a fruitful experience which will nurture ourselves into a better leader by working with a bunch of crazy peers that will go up and down with us. We are coming back stronger soon and will rock it again!