Students. What is a conference without students, whether they are helping in putting the papers into proceeding, clicking the powerpoints, showing us the way or presenting papers. Or just sitting down and telling us about their lives. Tammy is a passionate social activist, very concerned about the welfare of the disadvantaged and underprivileged. Kim Cheng is the same. They are not satisfied with just going out to work in the business world, discarding their hard-earned knowledge in geography. And they taught me about critical geography. Never heard of it? It's a branch of geography very much concerned with social justice. Using geography to study inequality and to advance their social agenda. These students also make the rounds of academic conferences, both university-funded as well as paying their own way, preferring the more serious ones to those which are merely excuses for professors to meet old friends.
(stopped at 9 am this morning. continuing at HK Airport via free WireFi at 1.30 pm) Wonder why these youngsters are passionate about social justice? Some of them have personal stories to tell. One student for instance has a Malaysian mother who's father was detained during the communist insurgency in Malaysia (but he was not harshly treated). On the paternal side, his other grandfather (who was a scholar) was a victim of the Cultural Revolution in China.
Know how much a fresh graduate working in the business world makes in Hong Kong? About 10,000 HKD. Looks like a lot but everything in Hong Kong is more expensive. And many young people choose a 'lavious' lifestyle, going to fancy coffeeshops and discos. With that kind of salary they will still not be able to afford an apartment, unless they find a partner to share. I think it was another student, Puyin [ACTUALLY THAT'S MY WORD), who told me that Hong Kong people would like to own cars and to drive, if they can afford it. Perhaps there is a lesson for transport planners too - make it too expensive to drive. Most Hong Kong students would be focussed on getting a degree and then find a job - but of course there are the exceptions like Tammy, Kim Cheng, Puyin and others.