Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Hong Kong: See You Soon

Written by: on June 17, 2015

I have a lot of anticipation for our upcoming visit to Hong Kong.

Despite the efforts of Kam Louie in his editorial work, Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image, which allow the reader a beneath the surface look at the micro evolution of this highly regarded global city; it is not the music or film that has created that appetite.

In some ways similar to our experiences in South Africa in 2014, there is knowledge that I possess about Hong Kong’s transition to being part of China after years of British rule. As I learned in South Africa much of what I thought I knew differed greatly from the practical everyday reality of those who were currently living it. So for that reason, I’m interested to unlearn the little I know so that I can more fully understand what is real.

Secondly, having just examined the significance of allowing emerging ideas to be generated through the framework of complex adaptive systems, I am very interested in seeing how Christian leaders are engaging the swirling entanglements of cultures, history and identity in Hong Kong. By Kam Louie’s own estimation, “present-day Hong Kong culture is fascinating because it is a confluence of various cultures from around the world.” (Loc. 300-301) No doubt this confluence of culture poses both challenges and opportunities for those involved in leading churches and ministries. I look forward to hearing how the transitions over the last twenty years have changed, shaped and altered their own perspectives. Ultimately, within this area of focus, I look forward to hearing and seeing what new expressions of the Great Commission are taking place.

Gleaning through the various essays in this book, I noted that several of the contributors alluded to the fact that Hong Kong is determined to be considered as a significant global city. To that end it seems as though some of the infrastructure established over the last two decades has been to present a certain elevated image in the eyes of the world. With that in mind, I also have an interest in discovering more about what lies underneath the cosmetic veneer. My presupposition is that church leaders should have a deeper insight into those realities than the dramatizations driven by the agendas of the music and film industry.

Phen Cheah’s essay, Global Dreams and Nightmares: The Underside of Hong Kong as a Global City in Fruit Chan’s Hollywood, Hong Kong, reflects this idea:

“The importance of culture and, more generally, the power of the virtual image in the making of global cities indicate that global cities have an aesthetic dimension. They seek to appeal to the senses and to desire — for example, to foster luxury consumption, a cosmopolitan lifestyle or a vibrant artistic scene in order to attract talent and capital flows. Consequently, a global city is inherently plastic because it is always in the process of making and remaking itself, or being made and remade, in response to global flows.”

As one who lives in an increasing cultural mix the insights gained from the people we will meet and interact with will be valuable to my research and my own leadership practice.

Speaking of research, I’m also looking forward to Hong Kong, because it will provide an excellent framework to distill the research that my cohort-mates and I have been working at for much of these two years (or more). The fine-tuning of our individual research interests will undoubtedly be impacted by our interactions with our hosts and with one another.   It will be exciting to discover the changes and depth that our research has taken over the course of the year. It will be inspiring to encourage one another through these interactions.

Lastly, I look forward to this trip to Hong Kong because it is so different than my reality – I think. In London, England and even in Capetown, South Africa, I did not feel out of place. As a visible minority in my own country, I felt at home in those global cities. Travelling to South East Asia I anticipate will be very different, I’m hoping it is. It will provide a new challenge to understanding what it means to live as a stranger in a strange land. It will require that I take time to listen and learn from those who belong there.

So exciting! Can’t wait! See you soon!!

About the Author

Deve Persad

9 responses to “Hong Kong: See You Soon”

  1. John Woodward says:

    Deve, as always a wonderful and thoughtful post! I appreciate your personal hopes for your travels to Hong Kong. I did have to laugh, as you mentioned about being a visible minority in your own context, I was reminded of tall friends who have traveled to East Asia, who have expressed great discomfort of being “vertically challenged.” I guess my height will allow me a chance to experience what it is to be clearly a visible minority.

    I am curious though what assumptions you have about Hong Kong. As I mentioned to Ashley, I find I am a blank slate when it comes to most of East Asia. It sounds like whatever assumptions you are bring are already beginning to be challenged and changed. Seems like this has been a major part of our program…which I have greatly appreciated. And I find this one of the greatest blessings of being able to travel: Challenging our assumptions and counteracting our ignorance.

    Thanks again for all your insights these last two years. Your thoughts have encouraged and blessed me tremendously! (And birthday blessings!)

    • Deve Persad says:

      John, my assumptions going in is that we’ll feel the tension between what was (British, democratic rule) and what is (Chinese, communism). How that plays out in a city that is undoubtedly has a cultural mix will be intriguing.

      Glad to be able to process it together with you, and the rest of our cohort.

  2. Ashley Goad says:

    Deve, I will miss your posts…though your last two have been without a series of concluding questions, which I’ve missed most! 🙂 I, too, am looking forward to our time in Hong Kong for many of the same reasons you mentioned. One thing I love about traveling and experiencing God in new ways is summed up well by one of my favorites – Mark Twain. He said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” We do have expectations and preconceived notions, and I’m looking forward to breaking those apart and seeing the real Hong Kong and meeting real Hong Kongers.

    Deve, I can’t believe we’re coming to the end of this journey! What a pleasure it has been to travel this road with you. I’ve learned so much from who you are and how you conduct your ministry and life. Tell me…have you planned out your sabbatical? Looking forward to it?

    • Deve Persad says:

      Ashley, thanks for taking up the slack on the questions. You’re right I’ve neglected them over these last two weeks but have really enjoyed reading everyone else’s questions instead. We are an inquisitive bunch!

      My sabbatical preparations are moving along well. Lord willing, the first half will allow me to focus on and complete my dissertation and the second half will involve a significant amount of rest. It will culminate with a trip to El Salvador with a team from our church.

      I will look forward to spending my birthday with you all!

  3. Deve,

    Sad to read your last post. As you know, I always read your posts. They have often been my devotions for the week. You always have a way of speaking to my soul. I will miss that, my friend.

    I, like you, am looking forward to our cohort’s meeting together in Hong Kong. And I, too, feel somewhat nervous about being there. I have been to Africa, to Europe, to Polynesia, to Latin America, and to the Middle East. But I have never been to Asia. This will be a brand new experience for me. At best, I only know Asia from what I have read, so this will be a challenge. My prayer is that we would carry ourselves as good students of culture and not be insensitive to these new people. I am going with an open mind and an open heart. It is hard to believe that we will be there in a mere three months. Amazing.

    Above all, I look forward to celebrating your birthday again, Deve. That itself should be worth the price of the trip!

    • Deve Persad says:

      Well, Professor, I’ve enjoyed our interaction in these spaces over the course of the last two years. Your engagement with the world and your perspectives on the issues we’re facing are always an education. You’ve taught me much and I look forward to continuing the journey together in a few months.

  4. Deve! Great to read your reflections. Always consistent and thoughtful. I love the fact that you to are looking at what will possibly be the culture as we approach Hong Kong. Asian, Western, or a peculiar mix. I did not get to that essay about the plastic culture, but wow! what a incitement of a culture that is always remaking itself to the global currents and never solidifying into one. This would have lasting effects on children, marriages, religion, and society in general. What can we say to the often “plastic” culture we have in our churches. Whoa!! Great post as always my roomy! I look forward to your dissertation. See you soon in Asia!

  5. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Deve, Thanks for the insightful post as always! I know very little about HK. So our last two books are very informative and helpful to prepare for an upcoming advance. I like you say “I’m interested to unlearn the little I know so that I can more fully understand what is real.” May the Lord help us listen well so that we understand the concern of the KH people. Blessings! See you in HK soon!

  6. Deve…
    First of all it has been such a privilege to take this DMin journey with you. I have learned from you and alongside you (and the others).

    You mentioned, “I’m interested to unlearn the little I know so that I can more fully understand what is real.” Gosh I know you were referring to Hong Kong, but that just might be the “tagline” of this program. What is happening and what is of importance. I just might “steal” it. 🙂

    Your posts and your approach (in your writing and in your presence) reveal this desire to get beneath the plastic — the veneer and the surface. It’s a desire to see the structure, to uncover and from that place see what is necessary.

    So looking forward to seeing you and our colleagues in September. Blessings…

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