My favorite activity in Hong Kong was the hike on the Dragon Back Trail. We decided to do it in the last week of our trip. Being from rural Jamaica, it was very much reminiscent of the path to my family’s home in Jamaica. It made me home sick. It was such a peaceful and serene environment, that while I was enjoying the hike with my fellow group members and Professor Engler, I couldn’t help but reflect on life and my experiences. If I were to choose a place for seclusion, meditation, prayer and reflection, I would love to do it at the peak of the Dragon Back Trail.
Kowloon was my absolute favorite section of Hong Kong. I think that it was the most ethnically diverse area in Hong Kong. As a Muslim who wears hijab (the head-scarf) I came with the assumption that I would stick out like a sore thumb. I read many articles and writings about Muslims in Hong Kong, it never clicked that there would be Muslims from all over the world here. I expected the Muslims that I would meet to be of Hui descent. On Friday, March 1, 2013, I was determined to go to Jummah (the Friday sermon) at the Kowloon Masjid and Islamic Center. From the hotel I took a taxi to the Central Pier, and from there I took the 10 minute ferry. From the Kowloon Pier, the masjid was a 10 minute walk. When I arrived, I was welcomed at the entrance by a Sister who was from Indonesia. I made my way upstairs to the prayer hall for Sisters. When I entered I was so surprised to see the many different faces of Islam. It was beautiful. It brought me to tears to see that no matter where I went in the world, I was surrounded by Sisters of Arab, African, Asian, and European descent and they all welcomed me. The khutbah (sermon) was given in 3 different languages. Since the largest masjid is located in Kowloon, it has become the central area for Muslims in Hong Kong. Many Muslims live and work close to it, and therefore, it is part of the reason why there is so much ethnic diversity in Kowloon. If I was to live in Hong Kong, I would want to live in Kowloon.
The two week capstone program in Hong Kong was one of the most enriching experiences in my life. I enjoyed learning about the history of Hong Kong and exploring Chinese culture and food. Additionally, I had the opportunity to observe modern western medicine practice in public and private hospitals, as well as experiment some traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and cupping therapy which made this trip an unforgettable one.
Looking back at everything we did and explored in only two weeks makes me feel grateful and fortunate that I had this experience. Besides exploring Hong Kong Island, we also visited incredible places such as Lantau island, Macau, Kowloon and met amazing people along the way. Teamwork and organization of our group was the key to accomplishing our busy schedules.
I strongly believe this program offer students the chance to connect with people and its culture in a very special way. Everyone was so attentive and polite that made our departure kind of nostalgic. Having the chance to meet students from the classes we attended at the University of Honk Kong facilitated our understanding about how family traditions influence patient care.
Making contact with the students was fascinating because we were able to learn how passionated they were about filial piety, which is the most important value in the Chinese culture, that regulates the behavior of children towards their elderly parents. This discussion was very interesting because it led to an exchange of knowledge and cultural values. I believe this program allows UConn and HKU students to really experience a new culture.
I want to give special thanks to Dr. Engler for his effort on expanding the options of traveling to new clinical sites. It was beneficial to visit a public hospital to learn more about the delivery system in Hong Kong.
The capstone study abroad in Hong Kong for two weeks was an amazing experience. We did a lot in two weeks and we all wished we could have stayed longer. The contrast and fusion of eastern and western cultures are everywhere, from the architecture to cultural habits. People were extremely friendly and helpful in the hospitals, schools and even on the streets. Although not everyone spoke English, most people did and were willing to help.
It was very interesting to hear about the local’s perspective about their universal health system and about nursing in Hong Kong. Being immerged in their culture helped us think about the struggles they may have.
We learned that hospital quality control such as patient identification, medication errors, and falls are extremely challenging there. These challenges are better understood when we take in consideration a few facts: government hospitals are free for citizens, there is a local culture of doctor shopping, and quick patient turn over is necessary to serve the large demand. Thus he nurse-patient ratio is high, about 1 nurse for 10 patients in the pediatric unit, which makes harder for them to provide safe care.
We also learned and experienced some traditional Chinese medicine, which is widely practice in Mainland China, but less practiced in Hong Kong. The schooling takes 5 years and students have to go to the mainland to do clinical during the last year because Hong Kong only have small Chinese Medicine clinics and no hospitals.
This is a program for those who would like to travel, meet people from different countries, try new foods, learn about international nursing practices, and explore exotic places.