"William Stork, Yale volunteer in Hong Kong"
By Bill Stork
"Does the Yale club here do much?" Cindy asked, as our 'junk' (Hong Kong term for pleasure yacht) was returning from a dinner trip over to Lamma Island. This annual event provides a Yale Club welcome to the recent Yale graduates just arrived in Hong Kong on their way to China to teach English under the auspices of the Yale-China Association. Cindy was one of these English Language Instructors (ELI's), and her enthusiasm for her new job in an elementary school in Changsha was evident! But, she said, she would be back for holidays and wanted to know if the Yale Club here was a place where she could connect.
I thought back over the past several weeks and the weekends soon to come. A week after our July hike, Betty Yip had mesmerized a near capacity lunchtime audience with her experiences as an AYA Community Service Fellow working with the street sleepers of Hong Kong. And while the crowd was not quite as large as the nearly 170 that heard Jonathan Spence on his latest publication, Treason by the Book, there was keen interest in the club's commitment to this AYA program and in Betty's words and feelings for what had been achieved.
"And what was the July hike?" Cindy asked. I tried to explain that it was our summer 'modular event,' with dim sum at noon, a four-hour hike along the Dragon's Back, and then a barbecue banquet at the conclusion of the hike: one could do all or parts if desired! "Much less strenuous than the two-day overnight hike across Lantau Island several years ago!" I explained. "Anything less rigorous?" another ELI asked. "Well, in January there is a piano recital by Boris Berman, head of the Yale Piano Department in the Yale School of Music, and a docent tour of the Treasures of China an exhibit just arrived from Beijing. Dennis Kim, a graduate of the Yale School of Music, is concertmaster for the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and we will have that experience to look for early in the spring.
"And there is some club activity that is just purely social," I added."In mid-August we said good-bye to the 50 or so undergraduates in Hong Kong for the summer, the new Yalies of the Class of '06, and parents at a farewell dinner. Then there is the monthly Third Thursday happy hour, which the Yale Club hosts with all the Ivies in Hong Kong as a way for recent grads to connect and better know one another.
Any time a Yale dean or such is here for a visit it is cause for an open reception. But each season has its highlights; the recruiting and interviewing of Yale prospects in the fall, The Yale Book Awards in the spring; regular events are the Yale/Chinese University student exchange, visiting teams and singing groups, dignitaries, and Alumni College Abroad groups. Wonderful opportunities!" With an event every ten or so days, Cindy was sure that she could find something... but "How do I get included?" I explained that we have a web-site, www.aya.yale.edu/clubs/hongkong/ which is full of information, including upcoming events, and we send out an e-mail newsletter almost weekly. She gave me her email address, and became part of the club!
"How does the club keep coming up with such great ideas?" she queried. The club is like a blender - it provides something for everyone's interest and gets them involved and mixed into the action!
The officers provide the energy and the spark to keep everything whirring! Anyone can volunteer to be a vice president, and at the monthly officers meetings these wonderful volunteers come up with great new ideas, or report on on-going programs... and club coordinator Bob Bonds, who oversees the newsletter and the details of events, provides incredible communications. "At 257, we are a tiny dub, but we ARE ACTIVE!" Lost in thought for a while, Cindy turned to me and said, "Have you ever thought of having...?" and it was then that I knew that the energy and excitement of the Hong Kong club had captured yet another one.
(Click here Bill Stork's views about living in Hong Kong)