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!!