“My time in Hong Kong was short, but the experience was an important turning point in my life. It opened up my mind and changed my thoughts. My study at the College of Business gave me more courage and confidence. Life in Hong Kong let me experience a different culture and learn about the differences among people. I became more open-minded and interested in listening to others, which has greatly benefited me in my personal and professional lives.” Kelly Zhang, born and raised in Shanghai, said as she recalled her Hong Kong experience.
Election for the Board of Trustees
During Kelly’s initial year at CityU, the Board of Trustees called for an election which invited a student representative to sit on the board for the first time. As the vice-president of the Masters of Science in Marketing Association, Kelly was nominated by her classmates to run for election. Kelly, who considered herself an introvert at that time, was reluctant but with the support of her class, she decided to participate. Dorm by dorm and classroom by classroom, she went and solicited votes. This was a big milestone for Kelly who, as a traditional Chinese person, needed to overcome the cultural barrier of “face” (Chinese dignity) when soliciting strangers for votes. Even though Kelly lost the election by a few ballots, the overall experience made her stronger in speaking and communication.
Kelly joined a free Cantonese tutorial class designated for mainland students, hosted by JNMD Club in the community. She was happy to meet so many kind-hearted people. “Trusting others and ‘opening’ your heart to accept others is tough.” Kelly said. Not long after joining the class, she started to see things differently. She saw the generosity of people helping others. This was when she started to open up and trust other people.
Impact of Hong Kong
Her experience in Hong Kong made a significant impact on Kelly’s personal and professional life. She is now an active member of various non-profit organizations in Shanghai. Previously, she thought that charity was a practice only for wealthy people or for celebrities; that the role of the general public was only to donate small amounts of money. After studying in Hong Kong, she realized that each of us can do something to help.
Understanding Cultural difference
In the Western societies, news releases of corporate events are normally published shortly after the event on the same day. In China, the practice is different; event news is usually published one to two days after the event due to the multiple approval processes. It is important to recognize the different practices in different regions.
Kelly experienced such an incident when she was working at Morgan McKinley, a recruitment consultancy, in China. She was working on a national event hosted in China, welcoming the visit of the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Kelly worked with a UK colleague who had over ten years of public relations experience in the UK. The event news report was published in UK on the same day as the opening event (late afternoon, UK time), thus the colleague insisted that the news report in China must also be released on the same day. To this colleague, it was a normal practice that all media groups would follow. She forgot to take into account the cultural differences and time difference between the two countries. This stubbornness may taint their business relationships with the China Medias. Kelly took immediate action to solve this conflict. She spent time to explain the cultural differences to her UK colleague and the incident was successfully resolved.
Words of Advice
"Learn to think from different perspectives and understand that people have their own perspectives because of their unique experiences."
--- Kelly Zhang