By Megan Wong
Through the Agency of Volunteer Service of Hong Kong, I delivered hot meals and necessities to impoverished families around Tsuen Wan, a market town on the outskirts. As I entered each of the homes, I was stunned. On each floor of the buildings where the families lived was a conventional flat; however, the original flat was divided into five more units, each no more than a hundred square feet in area. In front of me, I saw families living an overcrowded yet isolated existence, sparking within me disbelief and outrage. It was difficult to believe I was still in Hong Kong; how could Asia’s “World City” blatantly ignore the vital needs of its citizens.
In a prominent international finance hub, 25% of the city’s population still lives below the poverty line. Hong Kong’s tug of war game between wealth and poverty is insidious and is symbolic of my hometown in its truest form. While walking around the city, constant reminders of poverty bombarded me wherever I wandered, be it a woman digging through the garbage for a meal, or a man kneeling on the sidewalk, begging for money.
Continue reading Volunteering Abroad
By Ross Rozanski
Zip lining above a treacherous ravine. Playing soccer on a rustic ranch. Horseback riding through chilled rivers. Waiting in line at a Burger King at five in the morning. In all of their exciting and exhausting and excellent thrill, I, along with nine other high school students, experienced these activities and more in Argentina. Except for waiting to order a Double Whopper in a line that almost extended out the door on a sub-forty degree night, this Argentinian trip was an experience so full and engaging and just pure fun that few of us ever complained.
During my junior year in high school, I was part of an intercambio program with my high school, in which a group of students from a high school in Buenos Aires lived with us in our homes for one month. The following summer, we were hosted by them in their city. At this point in my life, I had studied Spanish for five years, and I was thrilled by the opportunity to use the language in one of its native lands. We had many great memories when they visited us in Massachusetts, including snowboarding, Patriots games, and small house parties. To say I was ready to hop on the plane already is a tremendous understatement.
Continue reading My Summer in Argentina
By Rachel Essel
When I studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, the only way for me to get around besides walking was public transportation. If you’re not familiar with St. Petersburg’s geography, the city consists mostly of two main islands and sections of mainland and I lived on one of the islands with my host family. Due to the nearest metro stop to me being closed for remodeling, I had to take mostly buses and trams everywhere which made things a lot more complicated.
The first day of school my host mom actually took me there, and we left while it was still dark out to get on a tram, to go to the next closest metro stop to meet my fellow students where a bus would take us the rest of the way to school. It was so confusing and took so long and then my host mom drops this bomb on me: I won’t actually be taking that route to school, that was just to meet at the correct metro stop the first day. So at the end of the day my host mom takes me out to where I will catch a bus that will take me all the way to school the next morning.
Continue reading The Triumph of Navigating a New Bus System