The year of Intercultural Studies can be said to be one most influential period throughout my academic life. I do not find intercultural studies as a discipline nor professional knowledge, but more importantly, an approach and an angle to see the world. Thanks to the excellent, lovely teachers, who teach us what ‘intercultural studies’ is with their board knowledge, patient teaching and self-practice. I believe that even if someday we forgot the experience in class and the knowledge learnt, the close attention to the bottom class, the objectivity to hegemony and the consistent critical spirit of intercultural studies would still be preserved inside our heart forever and impact our daily life continuously.
With a good academic atmosphere, diversified culture and collusion of values, CUHK prompts great improvements to self-cultivation and broadening of horizon.
ICS curriculum provides rich theory studies, which offer significant help to the construction of knowledge framework and allow various choices in further academic research.
Yet, with much emphasis on theories, ICS has relatively practical contents. It covers more on advanced studies but less on social practice.
However, I have gained from ICS a lot of knowledge and viewpoints, and really appreciate the professors and the curriculum. The year in Hong Kong is significant to my further direction.
The year of ICS is fruitful where I have learnt a lot of entirely new knowledge and gained more understanding to the world. The most important is to get to understand some minority groups, from which I learn to place more respect, forgiveness and understanding to unfamiliar people and things, instead of jumping to a conclusion. This is the biggest point I gain from ICS. Teachers are with rich knowledge and diversified personalities, which can be observed from their lessons and knowledge they brought to us.
I first obtained Bachelor of Cultural Studies (2012-2016) in this department, and then MA in Intercultural Studies. Though both are belonging to the Department of Cultural Studies and some might think that they will be overlapping, the reality is that when moving from bachelor degree to master degree, I not only encounter more in-depth topics but also consolidate my attitude to ‘cultural studies’ through my MA studies.
The biggest difference between MA ICS and BA CS lies in the requirements of ‘research’, since master students are demanded to throw themselves into thinking and researching. Even for topics that are already covered in bachelor studies, the advanced learning and requirements of teachers on our research attitude in master studies enable me to keep improving and adjusting my mindset while learning how to affirm values without making critical judgements through solving the doubts encountered in research and experience. During the exploration of different topics, I have found my research interest with ‘research attitude’ and have confirmed my interest in pursuing a career in researching ‘voice actors’. From bachelor studies to master studies, I usually feel like having experienced a reborn (laugh). I do not mean to derogate my undergraduate education or deny my efforts in that period, but I did not carry a proper thinking and researching attitude at that time. When facing the same topic or theory in master studies, the view is completely different. After ‘reborn’, I treasure the way to express and recognize things with words, which serves as a remedy to the yet-well-verged academic research in the past.
Therefore, this year, despite with shame, has also expectation, exhaustion and delight from full engagement into research. I pass the time with various confusing feelings and this year is valuable to me. Thanks department, teachers and fellow classmates!
Activities participated: 1. A trip by tram in text 2. A trip by tram on site
I am glad to have a chance to listen to the detailed explanation by Teacher Poon Kwok Ling on the complex relationships between trams in Hong Kong and Hong Kong literature, like how tram becomes a source of Hong Kong literature creation. He also introduced several local film producers who composed distinguished visual memories with tram as medium. Meanwhile, he spent efforts to put tram-related literature into groups based on their years and introduced them to us. I particularly remember author Ma Long introduced by teacher. In his modern verse Night in North Point, the words are beautiful and the descriptions are touching, triggering my great interest in his works!
Intercultural studies lay stress on textual analysis, detailed reading and other methodologies, which was well illustrated by teacher in a talk. From that, I understand a text can be studied with different viewpoints and dimensions. Furthermore, tram, a unique means of transportation in Hong Kong, is not only an essential transport to residents in Hong Kong Islands but also the carrier of historical memories which are tightly linked to locality. The introduction by teacher has reminded us that the issue of total removal of trams is far more than about functionality. Instead, it is related to the local memory unique to Hong Kong and shared by residents.
I am pleased that the university could invite historian Cheung Po Hung to introduce to us rarely known history about Hong Kong development and interesting allusions. Moreover, in a ride on tram, the school specially rented those traditional ones with old styled seats in order to let us taste in person such distinguished, old styled tram. Till the introduction of Teacher Poon did I know that the seats in nowadays trams have been replaced with plastic seats for functionality concerns.
The historical descriptions of Hong Kong we usually perceive are composed by official bodies (like the government often tells tourists that Hong Kong was at first a small fishing village and gradually developed into a bustling city), many of which are with political purposes. Of course, the historical introduction of Mr Cheng may contain subjective arguments or biases, but at least we can access from him some historical descriptions other than the official ones, which help us understand Hong Kong identity.
I know Hong Kong Island better after the trip by tram. I learn a lot from the explanation about the history of Hong Kong’s trams and Hong Kong Islands, and find this activity very helpful in mastering the history and culture of Hong Kong. The urban landscape and vulgar lifestyle came into our view prompt reflection upon the related questions raised in lessons of urban culture.
By joining this travel by tram, I have my first exploration in Hong Kong’s tram culture and get to know the characteristics of Hong Kong cities. The old, interesting Hong Kong culture struggles to survive in the slits of densely packed tall buildings. I have learnt from one cultural studies lesson the impacts some East Asian cities and global capitalization exert to modern society, and some theories learnt from which echo with the rarely known Hong Kong characteristics the elderly introduced during the trip by tram.
I participated in the cultural tour to old cities in Wan Chai. From the activity, I feel the power of people gathered to protect the original look of society, as well as the deficiency and short-sightedness in planning and holistic consideration. This activity, integrated with ‘critical thinking’ in the curriculum, brings me intimate thoughts of how huge capitalism and business expansion destroy culture and heritage.
When newly admitted, I was attracted by the freshness of Hong Kong as I first stepped in. I was totally immersed in free readings but lacked fundamental understanding and recognition of cultural studies, until one day, I felt like being awaken when being suggested by Miss Chung Yi to leave the so-called comfort zone. From that moment onwards, I started a journey of defamiliarizing my personal experience, no matter they are the meta-narration of nation, analysis of media, or gender studies and urban culture which I felt unfamiliar originally. After almost one month of sleepless nights due to ideological shock, I found the long-built values slowly collapse, and were replaced by the humanistic values developed under the guidance of intercultural studies. I have learnt to dig into an issue through an edge and ponder with empathy. I began to aware multiple values, where instead of searching an answer from books, I started to adopt a more lenient mindset to pay attention to the development of community and their communication with people, rather than simply labelling an issue. Gradually I become aware that intercultural studies have penetrated into my words and actions. It is not only a recognized profession but an ideology I am willing to adhere to and spread. Looking back to my initial choice, I feel fortunate to have studied intercultural studies in CUHK, and am going to be proud of this throughout in my life.
I participated in a cultural tour to Taiwan and would like to share my feelings of this. To me, the biggest common place of the curriculum is the variety in dimensions when observing the world. No matter you visit Taiwan or other place, it will be meaningful and the most rewarding part is the interaction with university students there. Though time is short, we can still have exchange of ideas which cannot be achieved in common journey or travelling. I personally hope to have more interaction with Taiwan youngsters in future. Site visiting is important of course, but the gain will possibly be greater if the trip has a topic, like trip for visiting Taiwan’s military housings or Japanese culture in Taiwan.
I would regard this five-day tour as a ‘cultural tour’, which is different from common travelling because of the detailed contents like being led by teachers, the trip arrangement and academic exchange. The choice of destinations enables us to put what we have learnt in the year of intercultural studies into practice: museum, art gallery, Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, from which we experience the inhabitant culture, politics and history of Taiwan; other wonderful spots include Guling Street Avant-Garde Theatre, Fembooks, introduction to culture of nomads near Taipei Longshan Temple and experience in gay bars near Red House, all of which give us more details of Taiwan. Apart from this, this activity is a great ending and summary of this year’s MA life. Travelling with friendly classmates and excellent teachers helps me reinforce our connection and create memories. When interacting with students and professors of cultural studies in Hsinchu, I met the people ‘in the books’ and have gained better understanding of Taiwan.
As aforementioned, this cultural tour is a practice. As we extended our thoughts and knowledge from Hong Kong to Taiwan, we discovered how different and similar these places are, and such discovery is an extension and breakthrough of knowledge itself. Taiwan is a reflection of Hong Kong and mainland China. Having seen the Taipei Miss Chung Yi narrated in urban cultural studies courses with my own eyes and experienced the issues and research methodology cultural studies students in Taiwan Research Centre concerned, I find ourselves very fortunate to have all such interactions and communications, where the most meaningful part is to adopt the knowledge system of intercultural studies as a starting point!
The trip to Lai Chi Wo gave me the first visit to Hong Kong Islands, to taste authentic poon choi, to harvest in the rice…During this delighted journey, I felt fortunate to explore the landscape and humanities of Lai Chi Wo and view another side of the bustling Hong Kong other than as a global city. Experience and interaction are important in intercultural studies, while this short, one-day tour let me catch a glimpse of the local cultural context of Hong Kong villages. In addition to reading, wide travelling is vital in converting one’s two-dimensional understanding three-dimensional. This is a starting point with a long way to go.
The trip to Taiwan is my most memorable graduation trip. It equally comprises of site visits and academic exchange, from which I have gained a lot. Having most spots to be cultural landscapes allows me to possess an entirely new view to Taiwan’s history, customs and marginalized cultures. As for academic exchange, we visited two universities. I, as a report representative, could have deep exchange of ideas with local students and teachers to know more about their academic viewpoints and lifestyle. Aside from primary schedule, we students could choose our travelling route, making our experience diversified and wonderful. My teachers, classmates and I have meals and rest together, which strengthened our bonding and made us reluctant to part. During this trip, under the guidance of teachers and senior schoolmates in Taiwan, I investigated marginalized areas including gay bars in Red House, Bangka Red-light District and 228 Peace Memorial Park. Such site explorations are important materials in understanding the primary topics of cultural studies. I also brought publications on feminism in Fembooks and was given Body Politics and Media Criticism by Teacher Ning Yin Bing in Centre for the Study of Sexualities, Central University. The books have broadened my horizon in gender studies. Despite the misunderstandings, prejudice and fears triggered by long-term cross-strait isolation, I could always feel how friendly and tolerant Taiwan friends are from academic exchange and casual chatting. Communication and interaction is emphasized in intercultural studies, which requires us to break the bind of either side and take the initiative.
My year in Hong Kong prompts me to fall in love with The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The time as a research student is short but fruitful. Sometimes I wish I could stay in this university forever. I love her for many reasons, one of which is the beautiful campus. You can feel the charm of CUHK from the scenery in different time and places. It is so pleasant to study in this environment! I will not talk much about her beauty, but I believe every junior alumnus will definitely fall in love with their future campus, which belong to her students. Another reason is the nice teachers. The teachers I had most frequent contact with in this year are those from Department of Cultural Studies. The first impression they gave me was that they are easy-going friends and scholars who enjoy teaching and researching. It is this kind of relationship and atmosphere that allows us to devote ourselves into the study in Hong Kong and the area of cultural studies with the fastest speed. The study not only gives me a grasp but has opened a door for us to enter the area and explore our potentials as well as interests. I own unlimited gratitude and respect to the teachers although I cannot list their names out here. The third reason is the knowledge and mindset. Before postgraduate studies, I have yet really explored and thought about a problem in-depth. Rather I just had whole-person development as a good student, while most learning could not be applied. Nevertheless, during this year as a postgraduate, I discovered that I have tightly connected knowledge and mindset with life, as I could analyze social problems more clearly and view myself, the outer world in a more logical manner. A year’s time is really short. May I bless all of you to treasure the future days to be who you are through experiencing, seeing, listening, thinking and practicing!
Observing the world from different angles is what intercultural studies in CUHK aims at. The traditional understanding of culture has to be abandoned, since it does not refer narrowly to the recognition and study of traditional culture but the pondering about this society with a strong critical mindset. When people look outside from the opened window, intercultural studies seems to help me open another window with a transparent hand. This curriculum brings my wish in seeking for knowledge and making judgement as a full-time research student after years of work, while I return fully loaded. With the media culture imparted by teachers, I do not simply see an advertisement when looking at an advertisement like before. Instead, I can subconsciously analyze the nowadays prevalent consumerism and transformation in capital manipulation model behind the advertisement, where the time to treat people like robots is gradually passed and what silently comes is the control of people with their desire for consumption. How shocked I was when I was first exposed to such theories still leaves me a deep impression. In a complicated, rapidly developing society, we have to get rid of the shallow cognition where ‘a mountain is only a mountain’ and to investigate the underlying patterns of social development. We have to go further to investigate who we are, as identity recognition is extremely vital in nowadays society. Teachers make a painstaking introduction to us the various factors contributing to the establishment of identity in order to investigate the de-structuring and re-structuring of identity recognition in this globalized time. The dull theories, after the guide of teachers from the easy to the difficult, sound lively and fruitful. The benefits brought by other wonderful research topics like travel culture, body politics, gender and those tightly related to modern development of China are also beyond imagination.
I still remember the detailed decoding of teacher on ‘inter’, ‘culture’ and ‘studies’. When being asked what disciplines are covered in intercultural studies, I recalled the fresh feeling when I first heard about deterriterialization, as if my bones and veins that had been ossified for 25 years were opened up all at once. Perhaps we can say that intercultural studies teach you how to be a good person. Only when you ponder with deterriterialization can you broaden your mindset and shift your viewpoint to observe the world from another angle. If we can see the world with our eyes but in the broadest dimensions, we can put ourselves in the shoes and learn to respect others so as to make the world better. A person who makes the world better—it is my definition to a ‘good’ person in this point.
The year pursuing MA degree in CRS (2011-2012) is the plainest and simplest time throughout my study. After graduating with a bachelor degree, I inevitably started to panic for the future, feeling confused about what I want to achieve and where I shall stay. I hoped to work on something I like, and in order to “walk on unfamiliar roads, flee to unfamiliar place and seek to know different people”, I picked to come to Hong Kong. Meanwhile, for my passion in humanities particularly the favor to Foucault and Benjamin, I came to CUHK CRS. During my year as a Mphil student, I fulfilled my wish to read massive classics which I have been wanting but did not have time to read, to discuss, chat and even argue with teachers in different disciplines and fellows from different backgrounds. Intercultural studies contain abundant theories and texts while the core is critical thinking—doubt the seemingly reasonable daily matters, not satisfy with social reality, and always reflect upon oneself while criticizing others. The happiness brought is not equal to the direct satisfaction of desire like the joy of consumption but from the more advanced pondering and understanding, which enables people to lead a freer life. May the junior colleagues harvest here!