Ignorance contributes to racism – Let’s do our best to stop it!

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a disturbing trend in the rise of xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and institutionalised racism all over the world and the death of George Floyd has brought much needed attention to this issue.

It is no secret that our city, Hong Kong, suffers from the same problem as well and Ms Shawny Osgerby’s Facebook post on the selection of English teachers solely based on skin and hair colour provides a stark reminder of this problem as well as ICE’s reason for existence.

As you all know, ICE aims to connect people to understand the world and we have collaborated with more than 86 different nationalities for our school projects since 2010.

During the course of our work, we have received enquiries from institutions who wanted us to bring trainers and guests of certain skin colour or nationalities to portray the Native English Teacher ‘look’ in the session. This has always been met with a strict NO from us and will always be a red line that we will not cross.

We firmly believe that we should not provide our students with the idea that only Native English speakers speak good English. It is a global language spoken by over two billion people from Ireland to India, from Nigeria to Nepal and basically from Australia to Zimbabwe. All of us have different accents and that is the beauty of this global language.

Having said that, we are very happy to note that the schools and institutions that are working with us share our vision and have been very supportive of our efforts to create global awareness and competence in their campuses.

For individuals who wish to take the first step in getting to know someone culturally different from them, we would like to provide a few pointers for you to try out!

1. Be curious. The worst thing you can do is to either be totally disinterested or to think that you know it all. If you have that curiosity in you to ask questions, there is a very high chance that the person will be more than happy to fill in the knowledge gap and create topics for further conversation.
2. Don’t just stop at the superficial questions. While food and festivals are good questions to begin with, go deeper to create a stronger bond with the person. Jey is always fond of asking strangers from other countries about the smell that reminds them of home. Think about it. If you are from Hong Kong, what is the smell that reminds you of home?
3. If you do not know anyone from other countries, drop us a message and when the pandemic is over, we will try to organise events for everyone to meet and connect.

It pains all of us in ICE to see the world regressing and turning their back on globalisation as world leaders stoke the flames of xenophobia and nationalism. For those that are weary of the situation and for those who wish to become a global citizen, please join us to realise our vision to create a world of global citizens.