Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the tag “Hong Kong International School”

NaBloPoM0 11: Eleven-year-old student in Hong Kong faces down the government

NaBloPoMo_November_smallYesterday, I posted a story about 10-year-old Liva Adelstrop of Bali who took on the challenge of cleaning up the pollution in our oceans: Can One 10-Year-Old Girl Save Our Oceans?

Today’s story features Nellie Shute, an 11-year-old Hong Kong International School (HKIS), Upper Primary School student (grade 6), who takes on illegal trade in ivory. (HKIS is an American international school.)

The South China Morning Post published this article about the situation: “Hong Kong International School removes ivory after pupil’s complaint,” by Danny Lee.

6th grade student, Nellie Shute, with Upper Primary School Principal, Bruce Kelsh. Phto: Michal Garcia

6th grade student, Nellie Shute, with HKIS Upper Primary School Principal, Bruce Kelsh. Phto: Michal Garcia

In an effort to educate children about illegal-hunting and trading in ivory and how this endangers elephants, the Hong Kong government loaned tusks and artifacts from its stockpile of confiscated ivory to schools to put on display.

But eleven-year-old Nellie Shute objected to the artifacts being on display in her school and asked her school’s administration to return the artifacts to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department HKAFCD), contending that the artifacts in the schools did not serve their intended purpose.

Wisely, the school complied and returned the ivory pieces to the HKAFCD where they were placed back in the stockpile of confiscated, illegally hunted and imported ivory.

And look at how much attention has been given to this polite protest by Nellie Shute: an article has appeared in the South China Morning Post, news of this article has been tweeted numerous times on Twitter, the article link has been posted and reposted on Facebook, and blog posts have been written about it. No doubt other news services will pick up the story and repeat it.

Nellie’s protest is bringing world-wide attention to the animal poaching problem. Perhaps the Hong Kong’s government practice of loaning ivory artifacts to schools for education is having some positive effects after all, all thanks to an 11-year-old who wanted to make a difference and spoke up about something she thought was inappropriate.

How big is the trade in illegal ivory?
In this past year alone, Hong Kong customs officials have seized and stockpiled 26 tons of ivory.  But confiscating illegal ivory imports and stockpiling is not enough, according to critics, and evidently has not curtailed illegal hunting and importing of ivory. Many animal rights activists and conservationists believe that destroying the stockpiled ivory would deter further illegal killing of elephants.

Changing the World. One Student at A Time
Liva Adelstorp of Bali (yesterday’s post) reminded us of this Margaret Mead quote:

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Nellie Shute and Liva Adelstorp prove this saying to be true. Many thanks to them for speaking out boldly for their beliefs.

Hello, Dear Readers. Who Are You?

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Challenge Prompt 27

Write a Letter to Your Readers

Dear Readers,

Almost every writing expert tells us writers that we should know our audience when we write.

But because of Internet and its vast network, our writing reaches farther than we could have ever imagined, so that basic writing suggestion simply doesn’t work.

We bloggers write not knowing who our readers are. We know we have readers because WordPress counts them and gives us fascinating statistical reports.

My favorite report shows a colored map and tells me how many readers/views I have, and from which countries they have viewed my blog.

Wordpress stats

I am not surprised that I have views* in the English speaking countries:  United States (7,198 views), Canada (761), United Kingdom (650), and Australia (390). All four together represent my largest audience. But it is amazing to me that I have had readers in Egypt (38), Saudi Arabia (8), Qatar (8), Brunei Darussalem (3), Occupied Palestine (1),  Azerbaijan (1) Latvia (1), and so many more. (*WordPress counts each view of a post separately. If one reader reads three posts, then views= 3).

Why are you reading my blog? Are you learning English? Are you an expat? Are you an old friend?

I can look at sections of the map and think about specific people who might be reading my blog: Is that you, blogger friend Ellen V. Gregory in Australia, reading my post? In Alaska, maybe its Jim, Linda, Joan, Tina, Sherry, or other people I knew when I lived there. Maybe it’s Gary or Mary Jane in Korea; or Kent, Mary, Tammy, Jenny, Leslie in Hong Kong, my friends from Hong Kong International School. In Germany, it might be my nephew, Bill. In India, it might be my friend, Abraham, or one of his family or church members. Maybe it’s my blogger friend Julie Ferrar in France. I don’t know. It boggles my mind.

Equally interesting are the white spaces on the map: Greenland;  Paraguay, Suriname, and French Guiana, three countries in South America; all the Middle Eastern Countries; many countries in Africa; and Papua New Guinea in the Far East. It makes me wonder. Is Internet available in these areas? Is Internet available but restricted? What interest would they have in my blog anyway?

So dear readers, I am curious about you. My world geography is getting better because of your interest in my blog. Seeing your country colored in on the map reminds of visits that I have made to many of your countries, and I have many more countries on my bucket list for visits, enough to last a lifetime.

But regardless of who you are or where you live, I do appreciate your taking the time to read my blog. I know you have many blogs to choose from (does that sound like the arrival speech from the flight attendants on your favorite airline?), and I appreciate your interest. If you keep reading, I’ll keep writing! To you, my heartiest thanks for visiting.

And if you have a minute, let me know who you are and the name of your country. I look forward to getting to know you better.

The Last Meow.

What about us kitties?  Look at our map. We have fans all over the world. How about that!

INternational cat day map.

Meow for now. =(^;^)=

Double Happiness in Marriage. Guaranteed!

A to Z Challenge: D=Double Happiness.

For seven years (1993-2000), I lived in Hong Kong where I worked as principal of the Lower Primary School, Hong Kong International School, Repulse Bay. Living in a foreign territory or country is a challenging, intriguing, and fascinating experience, something not to be missed if you have the chance to do it.

Hong Kong has such diversity in geographic, cultural, and culinary experiences, that there’s always some place to explore, some new store to shop in, some street market to visit, some new food to eat. Even though it is a relatively expensive city, you can find many cheap activities to do. My favorite cheapie was to ride a Double Happiness tram.

Friends and I would take the yellow double-decker bus on Saturday or Sunday from Repulse Bay down to Central to pick up a tram. It was always our lucky day when a red and gold Double Happiness tram would come down the tracks first. Of course, Double Happiness is an advertisement for cigarettes, but we just ignored that!

We climbed to the second level of the tram to sit by an open window where we could see the great scenes of Hong Kong unfold as we rambled, swayed, and jerked along. Of course, people-watching was always high on the list of cheap fun.

Sometimes we would just ride the tram from one end to the other end and back again, just for the fun of it. Other times we would hop on and off at different stops to go to Victoria Harbour to take the Star Ferry to Kowloon; to ride the Victoria Peak Tram up to Hong Kong’s highest point for spectacular views of Central and Victoria Harbour; or to step on the Central to Mid-Levels Escalator, the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world.

As you wander around Hong Kong, you see the Double Happiness symbol in variety of  places. Go into the popular Shanghai Tang store, and you find the double happiness symbol on all manner of brightly-colored silk jackets, pajamas, scarves, hats, letterhead, silver candleholders, and other luxury items. Of course, this popular symbol can also found on soy sauce, rice noodles, matches, and other food items.

What’s the story behind this symbol, and how can it guarantee your happiness in marriage?

Well, what is happiness anyway? We all have our own definitions of happiness, but Confucius (551-479 B.C.) thought you only needed three things to be happy: coarse rice to eat, water to drink, and a bent elbow for a pillow. Our happiness does not come from material things, he said. It comes from our inner spirit and how we live out that spirit in our daily lives.

Connected with Confucius’ idea of happiness is the concept of freedom from hunger. The serfs of Confucius’ time struggled with the lack of food on a daily basis. One Chinese character for happiness, ‘fu’, means a full stomach. “It combines ‘to fill’–made by joining a ‘mouth’, a cultivated ‘field’, and ‘one’ or  ‘united’, with ‘heaven’, the source of abundance.” (From The Spirit of the Chinese Character: Gifts from the Heart by Barbara Aria with Russell Eng Gon)

Sometimes you see the Double Happiness symbol written as it is on this blue and white ginger jar in the picture. In Mandarin, the ‘xi’ character means joy or happiness, while the  ‘shuanxi’ means Double Happiness.

The story of the Double Happiness symbol goes something like this.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), one intelligent young man had to travel quite a distance to the capitol city to take the national qualifying exam for a royal court ministerial position. On the way, he fell sick near a village on the slopes of Donghua Mountain. An herbalist doctor and his beautiful daughter took him in and cared for him.

Of course, he fell in love with the beautiful daughter who helped nurse him back to health. He was committed to take the exam, so he left her with her father. Before he restarted his journey to the capitol city, the doctor’s daughter gave him one-half of a rhyming couplet:

  • Green trees against the sky in the spring rain while the sky set off the spring trees in obscuration…

Only the person who could provide the second half of the couplet could be her perfect partner in marriage.

The young man passed the qualifying government test with flying colors, but the emperor placed another challenge before him. He had to provide the matching line from a rhyming couplet:

  • Red flowers dot the land in the breeze’s chase while the land colored up in red after the kiss.

The emperor was astounded when the young man replied, giving the half of the couplet that his true love had recently given him. The emperor had no choice but to give him the coveted position in the royal court.

Delighted with his good fortune, the young man raced back to the mountains to marry his sweet bride. Now they had two events to celebrate = double happiness. They wrote the symbol for happiness two times, side by side on a piece of red paper and put it up on the wall. They, of course, lived happily ever after in the emperor’s royal court.

Fen Shui masters tell you to place the double happiness symbol in a prominent place in your house (specifically the Marriage and Romance Corner), and if you do so, your marriage will be blessed and happy. Guaranteed!

Well, would you excuse me, please? I have to go dust that special corner in my house and then stir the coarse brown rice. My very happy husband is getting hungry for his dinner. Oh, we’re going out for dinner? Oh well, I tried. Maybe I’ll dust another day.

Now, how about a quick trip to Hong Kong?


Your Turn

Have you ever lived in another country? What were your favorite things to do there?

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