Information Services Office   19.1.2013


Ariel Chou
Former President,
CUHK International Student
Association (ISA)
(Photo by Keith Hiro)
Newsletter No. 411 > Thus Spake... > Ariel Chou Talks about Campus Life

Ariel Chou Talks about Campus Life


Why did you come to Hong Kong to study?

I’m half Korean and half Taiwanese. My father is a Taiwanese businessman living in Korea. I was born and raised in Korea before moving to mainland China when I was in Grade Five. I enrolled at a Canadian international school in Guangdong. I thought Hong Kong very suitable for me to further develop my multicultural characteristics.

Why do you study law?

I always have a keen social conscience and am passionate about justice. There is a lot of social injustice happening around the world. I intend to be a human rights lawyer and really want to go for a few years to those economically underprivileged countries to help the people there. I’m also very interested in international relations and my ultimate goal is to work in the United Nations as a diplomat. I thought the versatility of a degree in law would help me to achieve this goal.

What do you like the most and hate the most about this University?

I really love this campus because it’s big and it’s embraced by nature. But I also hate this campus because it’s too big. I have to walk a lot. So, it’s a paradox.

Why did you become the president of the ISA?

I always wanted to serve at the ISA executive committee because with the expanding community of international students at this University, the role of the ISA has become very important. And representing and serving international students was one of the dreams that I want to achieve when I’m in university. I know that substantial support is needed for foreigners who first come to a Cantonese-speaking region like Hong Kong because I experienced that earlier in my life. At first I didn’t want to run for the presidency because it is such a significant position. I was just a Year 1 student when I ran for it. But the former ISA president convinced me that the job was meaningful and I would learn a lot from it. She also convinced me that I was suitable because of my international experience and multilingual ability. That’s why I ran for its presidency.

How do you contact and bring together international students scattering in different Colleges, Faculties and departments?

Facebook. It is our major communication tool. It gives us flexibility and international students feel that we’re friendlier when we use Facebook to reach them.

What did you achieve during your presidency of the ISA?

I think our biggest achievement was the summer orientation camp. We cooperated with the Office of Student Affairs. I felt really proud of myself for organizing such a big event. And a lot of freshmen expressed their gratitude to us for such a dynamic and interesting orientation camp. We also organized small social events like Dialogue in the Dark, sports events like football and basketball matches, and joint non-local student association dinner gathering.

It seems that local students like to hang out with their local peers, rather than international students. Why is it so?

I think local students are too bound to each other. And one of the biggest barriers is language because they use Cantonese and most of us don’t speak Cantonese. So, it’s really hard for us to communicate and organize events together, and have interaction with them. But I think it’s getting better.

But local students speak English…

When you’re having fun, it’s really hard for you to always speak English when your mother tongue is Cantonese. I understand their situation because I always have an urge to speak Korean when I play with my friends as well.

Can you think of ways to promote the interaction between local and international students?

This question always comes out when we have meetings with our committee members. We have thought of a lot of ideas. For example, we tried to have a movie festival so that local students could come and watch a movie together, and discuss about the cultural differences in the movie. But it turned out that only about seven local students came to watch. So it was very frustrating. It’s really hard. I think we may need some help from the school as well. The CLOVER, for example, is a very good progamme for us to interact with local students.

What about mainland students?

Mainland students are better in terms of the interaction with international students because both of us are the minority. We know what the situation is like for each other. Actually we planned to organize a Halloween party with the Postgraduate Student Association of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. But because it was too rushed, we didn’t do it. But it’s very likely we’re going to cooperate with them next year.

What do you feel about the popularity of Korean popular culture in Hong Kong?

It’s really amazing because some of my Chinese friends know more about K-pop than me. It’s quite ironic that they introduced me to some Korean songs.

Are you into K-pop?

I’m kind of a fan of PSY because he really made people move and shake. You know, everyone is crazy about Gangnam Style now. He used to study in the Berklee College of Music in the States. So he’s very talented.

Will the election of Korea’s first female president help to improve women’s status in Korea?

Actually the gender equality in Korea has improved a lot during the last decade. The status of women was low because many women were housewives. They didn’t work and didn’t have financial independence. But now the world is changing. A lot of Korean females are out there. This big change in Korean political history may have some impact on the old male chauvinist mentality.

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