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Diversity Statement, Grad School, Hong Kong

A young man who grew up in China, diversity for me is something that I encountered and learned to appreciate primarily as a result of my experiences studying abroad, first in Hong Kong and later in Canada. I savor every opportunity to experience greater levels of ethnic, national, and linguistic diversity in my life. As a result of its history, Hong Kong is an extremely diverse social agglomeration, ranging from those whose families have lived in Hong Kong for many generations, to Chinese Mainlanders, Taiwanese, Turks, American and British, the list is very long, especially when one includes the thousands of political refugees struggling to survive on the fringes of society, mostly from other Asian countries.

Throughout my six month stay at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, I made my studies my first priority. But, when I was not studying or in classes, I walked all over Hong Kong. The extreme density of the population facilitates frequent social engagement, sometimes even among total strangers. I enjoyed engaging in conversation on numerous occasions with people from all over the world, speakers of English as a foreign language like I am. English has been the vehicle of my diversity appreciation, opening the doors, making the interaction possible.

Diversity has been and continues very much to be a crucial factor in the great richness of my experience as a Research Intern at the University of Alberta where I have been serving since May of this year, 2015. Jumping at every opportunity, I learn from everyone with whom I come into contact, professors, guest speakers, academic colleagues, friends. Perhaps the most diverse population that I have encountered, however, are the homeless people. Many if not most of them seem lonely, and feeling lonely myself at times, a very long way from home, I take advantage of the opportunity to have some fellowship. I have been shocked and intrigued here in Canada even more so than I was in Hong Kong at the great variety of ways that English is spoken. I absorb it and imitate it; thus, I like to think that these last six months in Canada have not only radically improved my English, but have also helped me to learn to think in English, and to do so in global ways, inspired by the vast diversity of my social interactions.

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