LeeShiu Closing Ceremony Speech
StudentRepresentative of the China Region
Dear Professors, Teachers, ProgramOrganizers, and Fellow Lee Shiu’ers,
It is my great pleasure to be standinghere, and it is also extremely bewildering to deliver the very last speech inthe entire program. I will hopelessly attempt to do justice to such greathonor.
Given this opportunity, I figured I shouldtalk about my expertise, which is, losing things. And then, I am going to talkabout loss and experiential learning. So, just to dismiss any doubts on myexpertise, I will proceed to deliver a list of items that I lost over thecourse of the program. In fact, my losing spree began right on day zero. Thevery day I landed in Hong Kong, to my great despair, my baggage with all myclothes was not to be found on the conveyer belt. But then shortly, I proceededto losing my mobile phone, in Shatian. After that, upon my arrival in Beijing,I lost my wallet containing my passport, and three different currencies, whichattests to the spectrum of locations we visited over this program. But that wasnot the end of it, because I also lost my directions, lost myself multipletimes, and in the last of those incidences, I missed the opportunity to receivemy certificate from Ian in the Youth Forum. But fortunately, in the middle ofall this confusion, inconvenience, and never ending cycle of losing things, Iwas able to gather myself and reflect over it. And I feel like, the loss that Iexperienced in this program went beyond material loss, but was also the loss offamiliarity and the loss of routine, what is the crux of what I want to share.What struck me most about this program, what the loss of geographicalfamiliarity, that being, visiting unvisited places and field-studying in remoteareas. Moreover, it was the loss of routine in that we had a big bloc ofuninterrupted time, to reflect about important things.
One thing I’ve noticed, with frustration, asI have been maturing is: having less and less ability to empathize with thepoor and the less well off in our society. I think that we experience a processsimilar to the simulation of Crossroads, that we experience a mentality similarto the mentality of poverty---when you live under urgency, striving to meetdeadlines, striving to survive semesters, striving to overcome mid-terms andend-of-terms, you find yourself under a mentality of basic sustenance and paralyzedby it. So what Lee Shiu program brought to me uniquely, was a time window tolet go and reflect about our themes. For example, it’s that moment when youwalk into Lin Chuan Middle School, and you are welcomed with synchronizedapplause, and when you gape at unformed students in neat rows awaiting you, youfeel the sense of screaming discomfort, and that’s when you realize you all havethe yearning for equality, and you are actually some of the more privilegedones in society. With that being said, I think this loss of familiarity isreally analogous to blindness, and analogous to Dialogue in the Dark. In fact,I feel like this entire program is kind of like Dialogue in the Dark over afour week span. And I mean that in the sense that, the impact of loss offamiliarity, resembles the impact of utter darkness, and our resulting sense ofvulnerability stimulates us to integrate with others, enhances our sensitivity,and nudges us towards mutual-assistance. For example, my PKU colleagues and Ihave really enjoyed taking you around campus, which was a really fulfillingexperience.
So, I want to borrow my favorite quote inthe entire program, that traveling “provides physical dislocation whichenhances alertness and triggers retrospection.” Hence, in our context, theexperiential learning that I got out of this program was particularlyrewarding, because it provided a humanizing and personal element to thedestinations we visited, and the friendships that we experienced were alsointertwined into these very destinations. And if you think about it, it’sexactly these personal narratives and experiences that form us, that define thegroups and communities that we come from. So just to recap what those commonexperience were, it was listening to lectures together, visiting villages hostingthe marginalized in society, observing the state of living of the less well offin Hong Kong. But then there was the less formal side of our experiences, whichwas, doing roll-call in Cantonese, racing to showers upon return to HuaLiantang, complaining about wifi, complaining about 3 am gathering, complainingabout flight delay, complaining about dress code, gossiping over romance,laughing at Xinlu’s laugh, and you know, it was giving our beloved Ian massivedoses of cultural shock, that led to him being hospitalized right when hereturned back to Hong Kong.
So with that, on behalf of the programparticipants, I would like to express immense gratitude to all the organizersthat made this program happen, and to all the people sitting here that madethis common experience possible. I am incredibly thankful.