Stephanie Chartier participated in the 2017 CIEE Summer Global Internship program in Hong Kong. Here’s her story…
Every morning I wake up thirty-one stories overlooking the beautiful Victoria Harbour. From my window I see skyscrapers, mountains, and junk boats. Leaving my residence, I pass men and women from all walks of life.
I see the local Hong Kong-ers hustling to get to work, I see the Brazilian women with her two children who smile at me every morning, I see the Indian lawyer who has told me stories in the elevator about International Human Rights law, and I see my fellow CIEE interns who have never failed to give me a laugh or provide their undying support throughout the trip.
I walk across the busy street and see double busses and speeding trams. I see a Starbucks, a Pizza Hut, a Subway, and a McDonald's, all alongside local bakeries, tea houses, and newsstands. The local woman tries handing me a newspaper among entry of the metro station every morning, even though she is aware that I don’t speak Cantonese.
On the train, I am squished between the hundreds of people who use public transportation everyday, as it is such a convenient way to get around Hong Kong. After two transfers, I get off at Shek Kip Mei station and walk to my office. On my way to the office, I see men and women doing Tai Chi. I see birds in cages, being taken on “walks” and hung in the trees. I see the local grocer unloading fruits and vegetable from the trucks. I see hundreds of parents and grandparents holding children’s hands as they are on their way to school.
In my office, I see dozens of Terrariums, flowers, different kinds of mosses and shrubs, and single mothers with their children finding their purpose in the work force again. The company I work for is a non-profit company that is also a social enterprise called MicroForests. The goal of this wonderful company is to hire stigmatized stay-at-home and single mothers who have had to leave their previous jobs to take care of their families.
I see smiling, empowered women. I see children excited to help their mothers work. I see my coworkers, happy to be doing something for the marginalized and impoverished women and children of Hong Kong. I see my own face in my computer screen, and I am happy. I am happy that I have gotten the chance to help such an important company with such a noble cause.
After a busy day of writing grant proposals, creating advertisements, and helping the mothers and children build the terrariums, I go to a restaurant to meet my CIEE friends for dinner. Hong Kong has a milieu of places to eat, which means I can see a new area of Hong Kong and a new restaurant every night. Sometimes I see a small restaurant with only three tables and one employee and a menu all in Cantonese. SometimesI see a rooftop in Tsim Sha Tsui, overlooking Hong Kong Island, which makes an amazing viewpoint for the daily 8:00 PM light shows. Sometimes I just see my roommate’s hotel room and a bowl of homemade Ramen noodles.
Hong Kong is like no other place on Earth. In Hong Kong, I see Globalization, experience, and opportunity.