Sunday, November 9, 2014

Selling Poppies (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1...  (read that first or this part won't make sense)

7) Considered the ethical implication of my actions

This one might take some more explaining, since it since it is not as obvious as the other ones.
During our day of selling poppies, there were a few types of people that my partner and I (along with many of the other groups) encountered:
  • Those who thought that it was another flag day and donated without much thought 
  • Those who understood what it was about and donated eagerly, though this was a lot rarer than the other groups. (which included the aformentioned uni student with five friends and a very nice lady who donate over HK$40 in bills and refused to take more than one poppy)
  • Those who didn't have change or were rushing to class
  • Those who did the classic avoidance strategy of looking down at a cell phone and pretend they can hear you asking to donate
  • And lastly, those who got truly angry and started yelling at us
The last type of people (thankfully there weren't many) were usually older local people who spoke  Cantonese to us and were offended by what we were doing. One lady in particular told us very sternly to "Go back to school!" and "Ask your teachers what this is about if you don't know!"after pointing angrily at the words on the coin bag.

It turns out that on further inspection of the coin bag, the Chinese translation was a bit... off. Roughly translate it reads "England's Royal Veterans Society (Hong Kong and China division). Fundraising for Hong Kong Veteran Soldiers"

The coin bag that started it all...

Now normally this wouldn't cause trouble (after all, the same bags were used by last year's CAS group with no problems). However, you need to remember that the Occupy Central Movement ( 佔領中環) happened recently (and in fact is still on going at this moment, but much less disruptive since talks have been going on between the students and the government) in which the police used tear gas and rubber bullets (which many view as being excessive force) to disperse peaceful protesters (who were mostly student of our age or older) who were against how the 2017 elections were being run. 

This impacted those living in Bramer Hill, as the sit ins on the major roads in central Hong Kong and the disruption of the bus and MTR system, ment that on the first few days it was very difficult if not impossible for some to get to school. The schools on Bramer Hill also responeded differently with some openly hanging out yellow ribbons (symbol of the democracy movement), staging class strikes and handing out fliers, where as other schools remained quiet on the isssue.  

Some "anti-police/government" attitudes also grew out of the protests (along with some "[insert country here] government is trying to take over Hong Kong conspiracy theories") . Many of the older generation soon grew tired of the movement, claming that students should just be thankful for what they have and end the demonstration by going to school, which lead to clashes between the pro-police/mainland (Blue ribbons) and the pro-Occupy (Yellow ribbons).

(I had this picture and didn't know where else to put it)
With this fresh on peoples minds, this probably wasn't the best time to come out saying you are with the "England's Royal Veterans Society" asking for donations for Hong Kong veteran soldiers...  

This made me become more open minded toward other peoples how language and recent events can affect peoples understanding of other issues, as some people genuinely thought we were stirring up trouble by being a part of Occupy Central by getting donations to ex-soldiers.

 It also made me reflect once again about how the history we know and the society we grow up in can effect what think we know, and how little, insignificant actions in one culture can be seen as something wildly different in another.


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