The journey at CUHK has undoubtedly been enriching and interesting, and I always gained inspiration, reflection, and surprise from the lectures or reading materials.
At the end of my first month at CUHK, I wrote: “I am not sure if there are truths in this world waiting to be revealed, nor do I know where the meaning of life actually lies, but it seems that I can feel the delicate and underlying pulse of history and society more and more, and meanwhile, I am gently getting closer and closer to my own heart and life.” This feeling has been carried through the two semesters of study and writing, and I am always grateful that I have not been deprived of the experience of real sensibility and compassion, and so I am fortunate to be able to get into a state of clarity from the numbness and chaos.
It was not a peaceful year, the shadow of Covid-19 still looms over us all, and the war in Ukraine marked the faltering of peace, but in the midst of the chaos, I was glad that I still had a desk where I could study and write peacefully. Also, I was always inspired by the passion of my teachers and classmates, and it was a journey that I won't regret.
In the future, I hope that my peers and I will remember MAICS; and are always able to hear the cries and whistles from the corners of society and live with warmth as well as enthusiasm for life.
I was fortunate to have face-to-face classes in the first semester this year. I was glad to meet my teachers and classmates and I could feel their passion and enthusiasm. In MAICS, I learnt the dynamics and relations between social structures and cultural representations. The program offered me theoretical knowledge to understand our culture and society in a different perspective. For example, User-Generated Content and Digital Culture taught me how the internet and algorithms shape our minds in this digital age, and how to analyze media culture through the use of big data. The workshops and activities were also helpful resources for my different research projects. Therefore, I am very grateful to my teachers and classmates and would like to thank you for all the support. It was an unforgettable and fruitful year.
This is not the first time I came across cultural studies. In the undergraduate cultural studies elective courses, I came to know about cultural studies scholars’ detailed understanding of everyday experience, focus on marginal groups, and spirit in searching for ways of resistance. However, it is MAICS that makes me truly aware of how cultural studies theory can echo my own life experience, so I am really grateful to our wonderful teachers who show me their passions for research, the enormously free space for academic exploration in all the courses, and my terrific classmates from diverse backgrounds.
Although it is hard to keep thinking critically during the Covid situation and through all the social changes, both the students and teachers still dedicate themselves to their courses. I hope this experience of connection can lead me through the difficulties I might have in the future.
My previous major was engineering, and I worked for seven years as a researcher on algorithms. For me, anything beyond facts and logic was too hard to understand. Fortunately, the MAICS program opened a window for me, which allows me to have a glimpse of the colorful real world. I tried to jump out of the frame of science and technology and started to think about the relationship between technoscience and society. For example, regarding artificial intelligence algorithms, what interested me in the past was their principles, the methods of acquiring the training data, and their efficiency. But in an MAICS class, we discussed how the algorithms would influence our society in different aspects. This kind of discussion is meaningful even though there is no absolute conclusion. Another course taught me that the realm of nature and human can never be separated. As a scientific researcher, I should always keep that in mind. Eight months is too short to explore these issues in depth, and I hope we can continue thinking and discussing in the future.
In recent years, whenever I chatted with friends, I realized that things are not as explicitly answerable as they may appear. The 21st century has witnessed some unprecedented challenges in every aspect of our social and cultural lives. The occurrence of different social issues regarding LGBTQIA, feminism, and animal issues are worthy of our attention and discussion. The field of cultural studies is a subject area that is central to our conceptualization of social science and humanities, while connecting us with a wide array of disciplines like anthropology, history, media studies and literature, just to name a few. Therefore, I have opened up my analytical thinking and gained insights from different perspectives and developed my own critical sense through rigorous academic pursuit and interaction with this “world”, which has made me think deeply on issues relating to politics, justice and freedom.
Cultural studies offered me a chance to re-examine the appearance of things in my life. I am turning from a cultural consumer into an observer. This program is comprehensive, and I am increasingly paying attention to marginal communities, such as sexual and ethnic minorities, the homeless, and others. Also, the non-human world draws my interest, including human-animal relationships, environment, public space and so on. The courses are in-depth and supported by rich and multifaceted historical discourses. For me, the most insightful part of this program is letting me see the unseen. I have seen social struggles under prosperity, governmentality under advanced technoscience, disobedience under popular culture in modern society. And most importantly, I have witnessed the ethos of Hong Kong in our time and made many local friends. Living in this city for a long time, I experienced huge social changes. It is a great honor and privilege in my life to share this home for years, and to have some responsibility for its future. From this program, I care more about the past, present and future of Hong Kong.
Although during the pandemic, many lessons went online, I still had a fruitful journey in MAICS. The topics in MAICS are interesting and unique. I attended a course on the Anthropocene, which was originally not my study interest. We had some close readings of Bruno Latour, who claims that cultural subjects are also closely related to issues that are seemingly divided in the “science” realm. For example, when a country builds dams or nuclear power plants, it's also a problem and concern that cultural subjects should address. Assignments in the form of creative projects can also give us a chance to voice out what we care about, learn and believe to the public. The class ‘Discourse on Hong Kong, Hong Kong Discourse’ also let me rethink Hong Kong, the place I was born, in a deeper and broader way. The courses in MAICS broadened my horizons.
There is no absolute answer in the world of cultural studies. It tells me that everything in front of us is constructed and shaped by human society, and that the problem lies not in blind deconstruction, but in how we look at it. This program provides a variety of possibilities to see the world, and insights into the insufficiencies of the world. For example, the MA research paper made me see the power of the edge and another possibility of life. Urbanscape/Space Studies made me realize the relationship between urban order and modernity while paying attention to the street life eroded by homogeneous consumption of space. Animal and Society Studies told me to put aside the prejudices of "non-us tribes", and to try to look at different creatures from a perspective that transcends species, which echoes the spirit of Taoism.
The eight-month course ended quietly. I am very grateful to all my teachers’ careful instruction and classmates’ warm help. Although we are still in the middle of the pandemic, and most courses are delivered online, the quality has not been affected at all. On the contrary, I feel the relationship between students and teachers has become even closer. We’ve benefitted a lot from our teachers' passionate and innovative teaching. We can also share and give feedback directly in Zoom and explore all kinds of interesting social and cultural phenomena with our teachers in the class.
The curriculums are deeply concerned with marginalized people and minorities. They teach us to critically view socio-cultural issues from multiple perspectives, and understand the underlying ideology and power relations behind the social mainstream. The one-year period is packed and enjoyable. What I learned from this specialized program is more than just direct skills or techniques but more a way of thinking and analysis.
The learning process in this program was like wearing a new pair of glasses for me. Before putting on these glasses, I couldn’t see any problems in our lives because our generation is inevitably affected by mainstream discourse and ideology in education and media. After wearing these glasses, I began to rethink our society and culture from a critical view. For example, the Chinese independent film course of TC Li allowed me to watch many films about marginalized people, and also made me realize the significance of video records, which directly affected my career planning. Also, Janet encouraged us to challenge the heterosexual hegemony in life and challenge ourselves to communicate with people who hold different opinions in her gender course. Although the one-year study is over, the impact of ICS on me has not ended. I hope that I can continue to put the perspectives of cultural studies into practice in every conversation and every action in my daily life.
The past year was an important year for me. Aside from learning many theories, I did not know before, the main difference for me is that my perspective of seeing the world has changed. Minority groups, social inequity have now been my focus. Feminism, the identity of minorities, the elderly people left behind, the overlooked incidents by mainstream media, are all the topics we used to overlook and misunderstand. But MAICS gives us the power to see them. This is not only humanity thought, but also a way to reduce social inequity, promote rights for every single person.
My study interest is in the field of posthuman/posthumanism. One reason is my interest in sci-fi artworks, while the other reason is the idea MAICS has brought to me. Humans are now entering a future society, which in no doubt will bring inequity. The thoughts on how to reduce the inequity are what MAICS brought to me in the past year.
My way of thinking changed. Last year, as a communication school student, I may have asked: "how do you tell good stories about China?". However, now I might ask: "why shall we tell good stories about China? How are ideas of the nation and individuals represented in a good Chinese story?". Furthermore, I may also ask: what is enforced and what is marginalized in a good Chinese story? When adding elements of nation, gender, race, class, cultural identity, globalization, and localization into the same issue, I find that I am unsure about the world. Yet, at the same time, I become more kind and more tolerant.
The past two semesters are just enough for me to take eight courses, become familiar with the trails on campus, and to get to know a group of like-minded friends. We discussed shamanism, illness as a metaphor, and digital refugees. We talked about boy love dramas, the newest games, and discourses of war. We critique while enjoying popular culture, and we complain while trying to convert stereotypes. Friends of ICS, I am looking forward to meeting you again after graduation！
In the initial stage of application, my interest was mainly in the studies of identity and gender. Janet inspired us to reflect on issues like feminism, sexual minorities, queer movements and their underlying power relationships, through image text analysis, guest lectures and well-designed teaching contents. Hence, I could adopt a new vision and perspective in cross-cultural studies. Under her instruction, I also learned to be humble, which is vital for students majoring in cultural studies. In other words, I know the importance to learn and understand everything with modesty, hold everything in awe and veneration, and be empathetic for all people and all things.
Throughout the learning process, I also found some interesting aspects in the project which fully align with my interests. For example, Benny’s courses on digital media studies also motivated us to consider some serious issues, such as human rights, cultural heritage, and communities, with fragmented information in the digital era. By taking these courses, I also learned how to discuss the topic of games. There are also other issues behind games such as women in gaming, transmission, and ways of operation. Furthermore, I am enthusiastic about gaining knowledge by auditing various courses on topics such as documentary production, playwriting, and animals and society. With these experiences, I was able to improve my understanding of the world and society and make a breakthrough in my way of thinking.
I am thankful for what I have obtained in the project! I hope that the epidemic will end soon so I can see you again at CU!
It has been a fruitful year for me in MAICS. This program embraces diversity and inclusiveness where I do not need to identify myself as anything other than a human being, and teaches me to care about all things human and non-human. Furthermore, it equips me with critical thinking and the strength to confront social issues. The process of thinking has always been distressing for me and I found myself weak when facing all kinds of problems about gender, race, and class, etc. It is MAICS that clears up the fog of confusion and sense of powerlessness, which offers me multiple lenses to deconstruct and edge in these affairs, rendering me critical and insightful. I am not afraid of confronting these intractable topics anymore and I try to apply what I have learned to handle these issues.
Outside the classroom, I stroll around the city, immersing myself in its charm. When UA Cinemas, one of the major cinemas in Hong Kong, closed down and the local film industry was anxiety-ridden, I still saw the vibrancy of young local directors in some screenings. Frustrated as curators and artists were by the pandemic, I was still amazed by many well-curated exhibitions and artworks online and offline. While everyone has been saying “the bookstore is dead”, some independent bookstores in Hong Kong have been guarding their places.
The global pandemic made this year unique for everyone. Teaching faculties strove for the visual classroom while students tried to adapt to this new mode of learning. But this also sparked more thoughts of ICS students on digital society, globalization, and so on.
Yes! We never stop thinking and this is MAICS!
I still feel all of the teacher’s enthusiasm and seriousness in teaching even though we are still going to be spent this year under the epidemic. MAICS has not only improved my theoretical knowledge, but also strengthened my ability to think critically, allowing me to re-examine the way of understanding the world, reflecting on universal values and phenomena, and the relationship of how they are constructed between myself and society as a whole. Moreover, my curiosity and imagination toward the future has increased.
I believe that improving one’s thinking ability is precious and far-reaching, so this learning experience is only one part of a lifetime. What I have learned today not only consolidated my foundation, but can also be applied to different upcoming challenges, guiding me to go further during my life journey.
In such a special year, I would like to thank every teacher for their dedication and guidance. In MAICS, in addition to learn a lot of knowledge, the most important thing is that it breaks my many solidified views and brings a lot of new insights. Although most of the time I couldn’t attend the face-to-face lessons with the teachers, I still feel the love and warmth.
Participating in this workshop gave me a lot of new ideas about feminism and gender awareness. I also made a group of very interesting friends who inspired my own potentials.
This year's life is full of vitality and surprises. I didn’t have many opportunities to communicate with teachers and classmates face to face due to COVID-19, but I met many gentle, interesting, and knowledgeable teachers. The gain in MAICS may not be a practical skill, but a far-reaching way of critical and pluralistic thinking about things and phenomena. If to say something regretful, that is there are too many courses I would like to take but didn’t have the time to! I hope in the future I will have the opportunity to listen to the academic sharing of teachers and make up for my regrets.
Participating in the gender drama workshop made me think more about many gender-related fundamentals and gained a variety of ideas from the exchanges with the instructors and other students. The creative process was pleasant and memorable. It was a challenge but also empowered me to explore myself. It was an honor to be together with Meili, Datu and 8 other students in the workshop.
From social movements to the COVID-19, this year we met in MAICS was a year full of unrest. Apart from the theoretical knowledge learnt, I think I gained more experience in this year, where the special social environment has taught me to understand social dilemma. At the same time, I also learned to think through dilemmas and pay attention to the low-class groups in society that are often overlooked.
Even though the online course run through the entire school year, every teacher I met was trying their best to minimize the loss. Many teachers guided us in their own way from the beginning to the end of the online class. The most impressive thing was Prof Lim’s “We are in a hard situation, so please be nice to yourself.”
In CUHK, I really felt the feeling of "university" and "classmates". After every evening class, groups of students, including me, often went down to MTR together, either laughing or continuing to discuss the content of the class. The classmates who we studied with and competed with are excellent, friendly and humble.
Even though the theories learned at MAICS may not immediately help me find a high-paying job, I believe that the impact MAICS has brought me is profound and long-lasting. Empathy, tolerance, critical thinking...these may be the spiritual backing that supports my life in this world of changes.
Finally, thank you all and look forward to seeing you again!
In this tough year, teachers were doing their best to enrich the form of the classroom: online art festivals, screenings, presentations, Q&A discussions changes… Teachers were adding more colour elements to the Zoom online teaching. MAICS is a special and unforgettable experience where cultural studies interacts with realistic situations in the world. It is a starting point for us to think critically about the society.
This one year in MAICS has changed my ways of thinking about the world. My old-fashion views of myself and the world are gradually moving away. We criticize capital, challenge authority and sketch ideals for a better future.
I think this short period of study may not be able to help me find a high-paying job. But on the long road to the future, independent and critical thinking will be my driving force for continuous improvement. And it would be the driven force that helps the young people to change the world one day.
For me, this Workshop is an unforgettable memory, and I am very happy to be with my classmates. If I can learn more methods of drama creation and theatrical performance, it will be more perfect!
Thank Meili and Datu for their careful guidance. In the workshop, we discussed the contents of and wrote the script. Instructors gave us many valuable suggestions for the final script presentation. Every group discussion inspired me a lot. In the process of listening to others and sharing my own experiences, I always found that there were extreme differences between individuals. Even more valuable is that the members of our group have also become very good friends after class. I am very happy and lucky to have the chance to join this workshop.
This workshop has brought us a lot of wonderful time. It was a very fulfilling experience when we explored, discussed and exchanged ideas together for the scripts and performance. I am also very grateful to meet many interesting friends and teachers through this opportunity. I hope there will be more such workshops!
I am very glad to be able to participate in a workshop on gender theatre. Throughout the process, I had a very good interaction with Meili, Datu and all the students, and I was very happy.
In the course, we discussed gender equality, and opened up my views on gender-related topics, such as the first night, open relations, sexual assault cases, etc...
Because of the pandemic, we were unable to perform in the theater. But it also gave us more space for imaginative creation. In the situation where everyone can't meet offline, how to write a script, how to make and present the story, all pose challenges to us. But also because of this, we were also able to try to modify the traditional form of theatrical performance.
Thank you very much Meili, Datu and the students in the workshop for letting us have a good time together. Thanks also to MAICS for providing us with such a workshop, so that we can learn and gain more from regular courses.
In the workshop, I went through the whole process from the creation of the topic, selection of scripts, to the final output of the content. I encountered different voices of gender and had a memorable memory with my friends in my group...
I am very happy to be able to participate in this workshop. Although it was more difficult to carry it out on Zoom in this special period, everyone was very happy to get together online and had good times. I realized and understood the new consciousness that I have not thought about before. It was because this workshop, I began to try script writing and learn how to edit videos. Fortunately, MAICS provided such an opportunity. And thanks to Meili and Datu for this time together!
First of all, I would like to thank all teachers and staff of MAICS for their great support to students in this challenging year. Although we could not meet each other most of the time this year, I could feel the warmth and care of the teachers both inside and outside of the classroom.
MAICS was an experience of a lifetime to me. The courses and readings provided me with brand new perspectives in viewing the world. I re-learned everything I knew in the past, everything about me, the people around me, and the society that created me. I realized that I took many things for granted and that I had never tried to look at the things and people around me as 'what they really are'.
The core of intercultural studies, in my point of view, would be to critically question ‘why things are what they are as presented to us’. This sure is a very difficult question because when a person tries to tackle the question, it challenges nearly every related concept that the person had never questioned: What is ‘human’? What is identity? What is gender? What is love? What is a family? What is a nation? What is power? What is culture? What is re-presentation? What is…And the list goes on and on.
Take me as an example, the training of Intercultural Studies made me jump out of my biases and try to look at 'me' in a critical mindset. I would ask myself one simple yet crucial question: Why I am I? What has constructed 'me' as who I am? When I try to challenge myself with this question, eventually I could critically make sense of the many decisions I make on a daily basis. With the theories I learned from the readings and lectures in MAICS, I could relate the little ‘blessings’ of my life to some huge and complicated power relationships that initially did not seem to have anything to do with my common life.
When I was so fascinated and lost in this search of my place in this world and who I am during my studies in MAICS, at the end of my studies, my teachers gave me a new great challenge: What to do after I have learned all the knowledge and critical thinking? How am I going to live with this new understanding of myself? How may I contribute to bringing change to my world after learning and criticizing the many problems of my world and culture?
I am still searching for my answer to this question. Yet I believe the things I have learned from MAICS would guide me in this journey.
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!