Category Archives: Hong Kong

Dave in the Classroom

dave teaches grade oneLooking through some old photos I came across this one of my husband Dave taken in 2010 when we were teaching in Hong Kong.  A new athletic field had just been built at our international school, made possible by a large donation from a wealthy patron.The day the new field was dedicated many high-profile friends of the patron gathered for the ceremony. Part of the agenda was a tour of the school so all the visitors could see our teachers and students in action. Dave was taking a year off from regular classroom teaching in the high school, but he was doing lots of substituting. That day he happened to be substitute teaching in a grade one class. Don’t you think the visitors chose to pause at his door and watch the class in action. The photographer covering publicity for the day photographed Dave and it was his photo that was featured in all the media associated with dedication of the athletic field at our school.  

 It is sort of like the day he was substituting for the very first time in the three-year old class on the kindergarten campus, when the door opened and in walked four Hong Kong Education Institute student teachers to spend the day with him and learn about teaching kindergarten. Non-pulsed Dave put them to work at various activity centres. I wonder if they even knew he’d never taught three-year olds before?  

dave with advisory

Dave with his highschool advisory group in Hong Kong

Perhaps the key to Dave’s success in the classroom at any grade level could be attributed to something he said when he was being interviewed for the school paper just before we left our jobs in Hong Kong.  One of the young journalists asked Dave, “And what are all the different subjects you have taught Mr. Driedger?”  Dave replied, “I don’t teach subjects- I teach students. “

Other posts………..

Dave’s New Chair

A New Sport for Dave

Davey at the Bat

 

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Memories of Sai Kung

Last Sunday at our church’s neighborhood festival I sat beside a young woman who has been in Canada only nine months and has been taking English classes at our church. She told me she was from Hong Kong so I asked in what area of that city she had made her home.  “Sai Kung”, she replied.  Well that got a great conversation going. Dave and I loved the Sai Kung area when we lived in Hong Kong.  Located right on the ocean with some of the best seafood ever, it was a great place to go hiking and golfing and junk boat riding.  Our encounter with the woman from Sai Kung had me looking through my picture files for memories of Sai Kung. 

Our Hong Kong visitor Michelle Sawatsky picking out sea food for dinner in Sai Kung

With our sons at a Buddhist Temple in the Leung Shuen Wan area of Sai Kung

Hiking in Sai Kung County Park

At the Kau Sai Chau golf course on a island just off the Sai Kung coast

Dave picks out his supper at a Sai Kung restaurant

Men playing Mahjong in the Leung Shuen Wan area of Sai Kung

Tai Long Wan Beach – Photo taken just before we hiked down to this gorgeous beach on the east coast of Sai Kung

Our family on a junk boat in Sai Kung

Doing a beach clean up in Sai Kung with my high school students

Golfing with middle school students in Sai Kung

On a  boat in Sai Kung with friends

Hiking through Ma On Shan County Park to Sai Kung

rudy and sue at anthony's ranch sai kung

Our friends Rudy and Sue Nikkel outside Anthony’s Ranch Restaurant in Sai Kung

Other posts…….

Hong Kong Inspiration

Feeling Nostalgic

Chi Lin Nunnery

 

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Good-Bye Lot Sze

Dave and I were so sad to hear this week of the death of Lot Sze.  He was a student at the highschool in Steinbach from 1976-1979 . Although we lived in Steinbach at the time we never met Lot.  When we first moved to Hong Kong in 2003 one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Peter Dick e-mailed him to let him know some Steinbach folks were arriving in the city where Lot worked as a radio broadcaster, movie actor and documentary director. That was all Lot needed to know.  He rolled out the red carpet for us.  He told us people in Steinbach had been so kind to him when he lived there that befriending us was a way to pay that kindness forward. 

Lot orders ox tongue, sweet dumplings and souflee for us at a 150 year old eating establishment in Hong Kong called Tai Ping Koon Restaurant.

Lot took us out for gourmet meals at top restaurants in Hong Kong and gave us a tour of the radio station where he hosted a regular program featuring his legendary movie reviews. He gave us gifts.  He took us to movie premieres.  Lot  was a television director and had made two documentaries about Bruce Lee. He had acted in more than a hundred movies and served as the Chinese voice of characters like Robin Hood and Pinocchio in Disney films. Lot planned a weekend jaunt for us to the city of Guangzhou to see theater shows. He often talked to us about the kind and caring teachers he had in Steinbach and the many friends he made as he served as the organist for Husky hockey games and ran a judo club in town.

Visiting with Lot in our Hong Kong apartment

Lot’s parents encouraged him to move to Canada because they were fearful of the consequences of the takeover of Hong Kong by China. Lot had an uncle who was a minister in a Chinese church in Winnipeg so Lot headed there. His uncle recommended he study at Steinbach Bible College and live in the dorm but Lot chose to go to the SRSS and board with local families. He often talked fondly of Mennonite foods, like farmer’s sausage and vereneki.  He remembered especially the wonderful meals made by Margaret Friesen, the mother of his good friend Kevin.  It was Kevin who contacted us a few days ago to tell us Lot had passed away.  

Jim Peters and Lot enjoying Menonite food

When one of Lot’s former Steinbach teachers Jim Peters and his wife Bonnie were coming to Hong Kong to visit we told them how much Lot missed Mennonite food so Bonnie and Jim smuggled a couple rings of farmer’s sausage into the city in their suitcase.  Together Jim and Dave figured out a way to make vereneki using Dave’s Mom’s recipe and Chinese dumpling wraps.  We invited Lot for supper and after tasting Dave and Jim’s vereneki Lot provided an evaluation of their efforts using a Low German phrase he had learned in Steinbach, “Schmeckt Gut.”

Lot treats us to a night out at the gala movie premiere of the documentary Bruce Lee My Brother

After we returned to Canada in 2011 Lot continued to keep in touch with us periodically but we had not heard from him in quite awhile.  We knew his health was precarious already when we left Hong Kong and things were difficult for him because his entire family lived in San Francisco and so although he had a thriving career in Hong Kong he had no family support. 

This week Kevin Friesen e-mailed to tell me Lot had passed away and his sister Elizabeth was looking for any memories people might have of her brother.   I sent her the four Carillon articles I had written about Lot as well as my sincere condolences. 

We used to call Lot our Hong Kong Santa Claus because he was so incredibly generous to us during our years in Asia. Whenever we thanked him he said he was only repaying the kindness he had received during his three years in Steinbach. 

We were so sorry to hear of Lot’s death.  He was a talented and well known media personality in Hong Kong but we knew him as a kind and caring friend who made us feel at home when we were far from our home and family. 

Other posts……

The Swimmers of Tolo Harbor

Hong Kong Inspiration

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Jon Saved Dave’s Life

dave and jon

Dave with Jon at his wedding in Denver in 2013

Our friend Jon was visiting us in Winnipeg this week and he saved my husband’s life. 

dave and jon hainan

Dave and Jon golfing on Hainan Island

Jon and Dave were at a Goldeyes Baseball Game on Sunday afternoon when a foul ball came screaming into the stands headed right for Dave’s face.  Jon put up his hands and caught the ball saving Dave from a broken nose for sure, but perhaps a fate even worse. He had bruises on his hand as evidence of his daring save.  Thanks Jon. 

Other posts…………………

Colorado Wedding Reception

ICS Reunion in Colorado

Once in a Blue Moon

 

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Leaving Hong Kong

This year many people we worked with and spent so much time with in Hong Kong are leaving the school where we all taught and are moving on to other adventures in different places around the world. Seeing all their “farewell to Hong Kong” photos on Facebook reminds me of our own farewell to the city we grew to love so much.

at the top of mount batur biking in bali

Dave biking with our friend Kathy. She and her family are moving back to the USA.

ics orange

Two of the guys on Dave’s Hong Kong basketball team are leaving Hong Kong this year, Steve is moving to Kenya and Bryan to Colorado. 

book club hong kong

Sue at far left was a member of our Hong Kong book club and is leaving Hong Kong this year after many decades living there. The only person who is still in Hong Kong from this photo of our book club is Meena on the far right. 

cat marylou jazz club

Our friends Cath and Jon are moving back to the United States 

burnetts and wilsons mid autumn

Celebrating the Mid Autumn festival with the Wilsons  who are leaving Hong Kong 

We wish all our friends well as they make the transistion to new living and working situations.

Other posts………

Biking in Bali

Mid Autumn Festival

Jazz Club

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Servant or Slave?

atlantic monthlyThe cover story for the June 2017 issue of The Atlantic chronicles the life of an Asian woman who was an indentured servant for an American family.  The story is written by Alix Tizon.  Reading it I was reminded of a story I wrote about domestic helpers in Hong Kong for the Winnipeg Free Press. 

“I pray to God and the burdens on my heart are lifted.” I am visiting with some workers from the Philippines who have gathered along with thousands of their countrywomen in Hong Kong’s Statue Square. There are groups enjoying each other’s company everywhere you look. Some are eating, visiting, playing cards, styling one another’s hair and trading romance novels. Others are praying, reading their Bibles and singing hymns. There are an estimated 200,000 female workers from the Philippines living and working in family homes in Hong Kong. These ‘helpers’ (the common term for domestic laborers in Hong Kong) are expected to work twenty four hours a day, six days a week, but government regulations dictate they must be given twelve consecutive hours of free time each Sunday. Since the women cannot afford to go to movies or eat in restaurants on their day off, they gather in Hong Kong’s train stations and parks or outside public buildings.

maids hkOne Sunday morning I went down to the heart of Hong Kong’s business district to spend some time talking with the Filipino women in a central plaza there. One group readily agreed to let me take their picture and when I told them I was writing a story for a newspaper in Canada they were happy to answer my questions.

The ten women I spoke with all come from the same rural area in the Philippines. They work in homes in different sections of Hong Kong but on Sundays they meet at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. After mass they gather on the porch of the near by law courts building to spend the afternoon eating and visiting. They tell me their faith in God is what helps them survive the separation from their families in the Philippines and the sometimes cruel and indifferent treatment of their employers. “I pray to God and the burdens on my heart are lifted” one woman tells me passionately, as she lifts her hands and eyes heavenward.

As we visit I discover some of the women in the group have been here for as little as four months while others have lived in Hong Kong for as long as twelve years. Most have young children at home and are university educated. They are nurses, teachers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, computer programmers and businesswomen. They speak several languages. However they can make three times more money in Hong Kong (the government dictated salary is about $600 Canadian a month) than they can practicing their professions in the Philippines. They tell me they need money to pay for their children’s education. “To give our kids hope for the future”, one woman says. They all send a substantial portion of their salary home to their families.

maids hkNot all employers treat their Filipino maids as they should. “They really have incredible power over the women” says Sue Farley who works for an organization that provides support to foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong.  She tells me sometimes the domestic helpers have already been taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen in the Philippines who charge them exorbitant prices for work visas and transportation to Hong Kong. As a result they arrive in the city already owing a large amount of money. If they land up with an employer who is cruel and abusive they hesitate to report them to the authorities. They need to keep their job to pay back their travel loan and send money home to their families who are depending on them. 

Farley tells me some women are sexually harassed. One maid confided she slips a chair under the knob of the door in her room before going to bed, to keep her boss out. Others aren’t as lucky because they have to sleep on a mat on the kitchen floor. One of the Filipino women I spoke to said she sleeps on the floor between the beds of the children in the household where she is employed. That same maid told me she is often hungry. “I can only eat what is left over after my employers have had dinner.”

“We want to go home”, the group of women I talked with told me. “We want to be with our families. But until then God is watching over us.”

Other posts……….

Stick Stick Men

Faithless? Definitely Not

Bamboo Gorge Trackers

 

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Spacious Places in Hong Kong

During October a set of seven reflections I wrote were featured in Rejoice magazine. The theme of the issue was Faith in the City.  Here is one of my reflections.

rejoiceO God you have tested us. . . . Yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

Psalm 66: 10-12

Read: Psalm 66: 1-12

Reflect: We moved to Hong Kong when the city was still reeling from the SARS epidemic. People had become virtual prisoners in their homes. Medical professionals who had risked their lives caring for SARS patients remained isolated from their own families. Businesses were recording millions in losses. Real estate prices had plummeted. Tourism had ground to a halt.

Students at teachers at our school during SARS

Students and teachers at our school during SARS

Schools, places of worship, restaurants, and concert halls had shut their doors. People in our Hong Kong church said SARS was a time when the faith of many was severely tested.   

Hong Kong street sweeper

Hong Kong street sweeper

Yet during the six years we lived in Hong Kong, we watched the city make a remarkable recovery. Expanded sanitation and security departments quickly restored its reputation as a clean, safe place. Slowly the tourism industry blossomed and the economy improved.

chestnut-sellers-hong-kong

Chestnut vendors in Hong Kong

Schools, temples, churches and cultural venues reopened and people confidently returned to the routines of daily life.  

Verses 10-12 of Psalm 66 describe a time of severe testing for the community of God’s people. They have been through fire and water. They have been forced to bear heavy burdens. They have felt trapped. the many faces of hong kongPsalm 66 is a prayer of thanksgiving because God has delivered the people from their time of testing and led them to a place of spaciousness and calm.  

Cities, like the community of God’s people in Psalm 66, often go through times of testing. It may be a natural disaster, political unrest, or a medical emergency. The psalmist encourages people to remember to draw close to God as they go through hard times. God can lead them to a more peaceful place.

Other posts…….

Hong Kong Inspiration

Chestnuts Roasting in Hong Kong

Rejoice

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