Participation in the project: Assistant Project Manger (Internship), Interviewer, Researcher and AV Editor

Hobbies: Anything Chinese, Sports, Social Services, Reading, and Werder Bremeu

Reflective Log

I felt the road during my “Learning Journey” was bumpy and patchy.  I am sure we will reach the destination with patience, though.  We will get to know what we have accomplished only in hindsight, following the presentation of our project’s findings to the general public and to you, dear honoured guests.

I have to draw solely on my feelings to sum up thoughts regarding my “Learning Journey.”  Feedback was hard to come-by because of the ambitious time-frame.

It was upon one-self to run with it and find solutions to problems.  Urgent day-to-day matters arose constantly and needed immediate resolution. Not to lose sight of the bigger picture was difficult.

The Project: changes and challenges

Ideally, I believed the scope of the project would resemble a football match where we would strive forward, interlinking with short intricate passing – Continental style.  Confidence and artistic skills would stem from hard work and standing to our ideals in honesty.  Success would require commitment, discipline and due diligence.

The problem was that playing this sort of game would require academies to train team-members with this philosophy from early on.  Reality was differing from this ideal.  The run against the clock rather made it resembling a war of attrition.

The differing scope, between ideal and reality, is something I have learned to accept and to get on with in reality.  The time-frame simply did not allow for more planning than we did.  I gradually had to succumb to this approach and be level-headed and committed as Assistant Project Manager in the running of day-to-day matters.  I had to remind myself that I served as first point of call for other volunteers and that I had a lot more to take into account than my own feelings.

Instead of a football match played with short and quick passing, project work resembles an ice-hockey match where few decisive passes and classy coruscant individual efforts have to suffice to get stuck in the match and to drive the puck forward.  Everybody deals with halting opposing players, interrupt the opponents momentum in order to get our game back on track.  But, be prepared, the puck could come back as quickly as you have sent it up forward and haunt you in defence.  Then you have got to be ready to work hard to regain momentum.

I have got to be flexible and enjoy running with the tasks at hand.  And, I should not look ahead too often because it would be disheartening to see the mountain that I will have to climb and this may make the task ahead more scary and daunting. This thought of powerlessness and paralysis would not be helpful.  Instead, try to stand on the mountain and think about how to work yourself to the top, step-by-step.


Private Life: sources of inspiration

This is what happened. Work on detailed tasks and missions took place during day-time. Afterwards, you returned home in the evening. From the office in sub-urban north London, I would get back to the multicultural, chaotic melting pot of my home near Tooting Broadway, from high-fences in an ageing and misgiving middle-class neighbourhood where people would wander lonely on broad streets in the dying light of a wintery afternoon to the great levelling of south-west London’s mixed immigrant population.

After talking to my wife one evening, I realised that we share the same fate with many of these British-Chinese immigrants. We came with no guan xi or favours to this city.

We had no interest in getting rich quickly by cutting corners and selling our souls which might impact negatively on people’s livelihoods. This is not the future we dreamt of.   We wanted to achieve our goals and stay true to our values. We want to do it with the community.

We both were brought up in functioning families and communities and therefore we don’t want to follow the example set by the UK where mistrust and prejudices have put a shadow over communities.  We had no interest in being compromised by the right-wing yellow press mainstream dominating this country.

It’s easier to criticise Europe and foreigners for the ills of this country than to take on the Tesco’s and Primark’s of this world. Really trying to find where social problems start from for a change, is the harder option, I believe. I am sure many British-Chinese migrants might have felt similar when this country which is rife with xenophobia was rearing its ugly head when they arrived as immigrants. I hope these former immigrants have not become like the mainstream.

Individuals: ideas, inspiration and experience drawn from the project

The most inspirational part of this project was the field trip eight core team members undertook through England, Wales and Scotland.  The team managed to see many interesting sites along the way. It provided an insight about how the British-Chinese community in the UK is structured, what mile-stones they achieved as well as the challenges ahead of them in the future.

On more than one occasion, we were accompanied by wonderfully dedicated volunteers who became our friends.  We had interesting chats with senior British-Chinese and local British-Chinese business people about their humble beginnings in the community.

A reminder that not all of these stories have been a success hit us when we passed Morecambe Bay where many undocumented Chinese workers died on the beach in early 2004. They were picking cockle and left the site too late while the tide rose. They had to die an unnecessary and tragic death. And, not one single sign around Morecambe Bay pointed towards what happened here. This is a sign of how quickly we forget. The blind ugly mainstream monster was rearing its ugly head, again.

I remember the interviews I partly had to edit.  One stood out in particular: Nigel Mathers had the pleasure of interviewing Hsiao-Hung Pai who wrote “Chinese Whispers” which deals with the fate undocumented Chinese workers in the UK. I realised then that anger directed against malpractice, short-sightedness, selfishness, bigotry, racism, greed and other social evils is not wrong, it’s much better than apathy. It is justified because otherwise things won’t change the slightest.

Hsiao-Hung Pai took side with those who are affected.  She showed courage in the face of apathy and an indifferent hostile mainstream. I just hope British-Chinese of today have not become like this because this segment of society is dispensable for the future development of any society.

I enjoyed hearing about the Yip’s family ascendancy in the business world, from early beginnings as restaurant workers in Suffolk to the development of their stores. They knew from the beginning that they only could do well if they treated their stuff well and their customers in a fair manner.  The local community provides a dedicated workforce which is enabled to prosper under the stewardship of the Yip family.

Furthermore, I listened with awe to Sir David Tang’s elaboration about the end of the Imperial Examination and Confucianism in 1905 during the turmoil of the late Qing Dynasty.

And, I could see how Ching-He Huang was relishing in memories of her grandma’s cooking and hospitality at the dinner table.

The British-Chinese are wonderful people with loads of potential. Sometimes, it seems the so-called “mainstream society” is not even aware of the opportunities that are provided for having people with such an outstanding heritage in this country. In another moment, I think British-Chinese do not make enough noise about their own achievement. They are not demanding further integration in a more vociferous manner.  You don’t need to hide. Speak up for the British-Chinese and other minorities of this countries.

Show solidarity to other migrants because many generations ago your family was migrating here themselves or they may have ended up in the hands of British colonialists not of their own volition.  You owe nothing to this society.  Make use of your rich heritage and the diversity within the Chinese community. Don’t let this capital go to waste.

I personally would wish for a lot of Chinese or British-Chinese to enter social sciences. It is not a vain field in academia.  Enrich the country in your own way.

I really enjoyed this project very much.  A challenging agenda with interesting people was provided for me. These interesting people were either those that I had the opportunity to work with or they formed the object of our research.  I am thankful for both as countless insights were offered.  The most refreshing aspect was that an environment was available which asked me to reflect my thoughts, suggestions and ideas upon others, and vice versa.  This may weaken one’s own standpoint leading to an impetus to do further research or it strengthens your judgement and spur you on to continue pursuing a certain stream of thought.

I will figure out much later when I think back about this exciting project how much I enjoyed it. It certainly politicised me even more. Even though, I am aware that my fight will always be a fight against windmills.