Abdirahman from Somalia and Ali from Chad both emphasize that in Hong Kong, it is more about the ‘individual’ than about the ‘community’.
Abdirahman: In Hong Kong when you come here for the first time and everyone is rushing to somewhere or from somewhere, life is fast-paced, and it is quite different from where I come from. It’s definitely more relaxed in Somalia, unless you are going to work. This does speak of the way of life of people, how life generally is. If you are someone who is still young and energetic and is ambitious and wants to get something out of living here in Hong Kong, you have the possibility that most the things you want to achieve depends entirely on you, on how hard you work. You are in a place where can take advantage of your talents and your hard work and you try to give the best in the possibility, because the correlation between what you will get back with what you put in are proportional. The more you input to your life, the more likely you are to achieve something.
You depend on your family and friends much less in Hong Kong. If you are in Somalia and something is getting a little tough, you always have a community or family members; here, [in Hong Kong], it’s generally much more individualistic, I go out and get what I want personally and it forces me to keep rushing from somewhere to somewhere. I am always in a hurry somewhere and because of that, I am responding constantly to the challenges around me and I give everything I have. That’s something people should be doing; it is true people should enjoy their life, but if I spend most of my life relaxing and not pushing, I tend to get behind and the people here understand that, so they push themselves just so that they won’t be left behind.
Ali: I believe Hong Kong is really an opportunity; it depends on the person, how he sees his daily life. However, where I come from is more based in the community rather than in the individual. In Hong Kong, the difference is that it is more focused on the individual. I enjoy meeting people with different backgrounds, when they don’t have any relationship with my culture and where I come from. I am learning new things. There was one thing that amazed me in Hong Kong, just after just few months I arrived—I remember I couldn’t speak English and I was in McDonald and I found many people speaking different languages: German, Spanish, French—and that really surprised me because I never saw this in Chad. People in Chad they speak different dialects, but with globalization, when you watch a lot of TV and connect to the internet, there are global languages like English and Mandarin or other languages, but you can’t see a lot of people with these languages from where I come from.
I am sometimes homesick, but actually when I adapt to the place that is new to me, I don’t think where I come from matters that much anymore. Because we are moving with the place. Hong Kong is very unique place; there is something new every day that we can learn, like the workshop that Chihiro gave today about the tea ceremony in Japan. In Chad, tea is something very normal; everyday, there is tea. In Japan, I learned that they make tea unique, beautiful and important. It’s no longer about the tea itself but the process, the way people they share the tea and the way they make the tea.
That’s why to me, Hong Kong is a very unique place, a land of opportunities but you really need to work hard like the ants. Every day I run to go out and I come back home exhausted, working like a donkey, I work hard and still I don’t see much results. The results are really slow, and what I put out is more. Hong Kong is an amazing place to me, and the fact that there is learning everyday, is already something wonderful.