Kar-Hei_Lam

Participation in the project: Researcher, Interviewer, Photographer, and Narrator

Occupation: Finanical Services

Hobbies: Travelling and History

Reflective Log

My first journalistic assignment began at the Royal London Hospital in East London. Lying in bed was Mr. Yew Chang, a man in his 90s, who was admitted to the hospital a week earlier. Mr. Chang was reading a Chinese newspaper when we arrived at his bedside. Since the format of the interview had not been made clear to him we briefly introduced ourselves and obtained his consensus to proceed with the interview.

All would agree that Mr. Chang would be an idealized interviewee for the Limehouse Chinatown project. Having been a seaman and lived in East London for nearly 60 years Mr. Chang has witnessed the whole transformation process of Chinatown. Interview questions were carefully prepared focusing intently on the surrounding areas and early life of Chinese immigrants. For several reasons I was disappointed with the interview.

I was expecting to hear Mr. Chang’s life story in Limehouse Chinatown almost as if it was like an action movie. I was looking to learn from him about the hardships of early Chinese immigrants living in London. On the other hand I was ready to explore some specific social issues in the early 20th century where immigrants were often subjected to unpleasant conditions. Yet I was unable to sample a trace of such events from Mr. Chang’s memory. In Mr. Chang’s mind choice was possible in any circumstance. He always focused on the positive details.

I felt a little guilt as we had already spent 90 minutes for the interview. I said goodbye at his bedside. But for all confusion surrounding the topics there are now more questions than answers in my mind. I was glad to overcome fears and venture outside my comfort zone during the interview. But there is no pleasure to be had unless something is new to satisfy my curiosity. Perhaps I have hijacked the interview too far to advance my own objectives. Knowing that Mr. Chang is coming to visit the exhibition it is my wish to finish the unfinished business with him – this time with more sympathy but no less ambition.