With a father from England and a local-born Chinese mother, receiving red packets at Chinese New Year became as familiar as the exchange of presents each Christmas. I was speaking Cantonese almost from birth and by my GCSE year, had also taken on Mandarin.

I could navigate my way through Tap Mun to Central, haggle my way around Mongkok and felt I was very much a part of Hong Kong’s future as anyone.

With an ESF education I felt I had even better prepared myself for life beyond the city I’d lived in for 18 years.

And then I started politics at university; and realised how little I actually knew about my city, and how much I care.

Politics was never spoken during dim sum meet ups with my extended Chinese family. At Sha Tin College, politics was not an option at either GCSE or IB level. In fact discussions on anything remotely political were almost always replaced by a late night out in Wanchai.

At 18, I was unaware there was a difference between Legco and Exco.

Along with some of the people of my era, I seemed to have grown up thinking Hong Kong operated on a political system similar to that of the West.

It was only when I returned, that I questioned: should international students continue living in Hong Kong without knowledge of its politics?

As residents, should we not care about our city’s future?

The implication of the Occupy Central movement is just one of the indicators that international students need to start considering Hong Kong’s political transition.

Just because the current education system does not provide opportunities to discuss geo-political issues, does not mean we, as international students, should continue living in Hong Kong; apathetic to its changes.

As an international body, students in the ESF are as much a part of Hong Kong’s past, present and future as local students are.

The driving forces of the city’s political and economic climate are there for us to learn, if we look. Radio, newspapers and magazines piled with statistics are not the only ways of keeping updated about regional concerns.

Conversations with cab drivers, hospital nurses and restaurant staff can provide a greater insight into the everyday problems HongKongers face.

For a city like Hong Kong, which has provided an abundance of opportunities, facilitated our growth, yet expected nothing in return, given the current crisis, I believe it is now our responsibility to contribute back

As the future generation, international students like any other Hongkonger, have the right to vote.

In line with the upcoming elections in 2017, should we not expect those with the right to vote to at least have a reasoned opinion on their country?

I can only hope the void between international students and politics will strengthen, so that I can return to the city I love.


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