Thanks Participants of “To My 19 Year Old Self” #LifelongLearning
Related: “Kempton & 張婉婷 給十九歲的我 (National Treasure) To My Nineteen-Year-Old Self – Mabel Cheung 2.5 hrs chat”
Related: “回應張堅庭導演 #給十九歲的我”
0) Thanking ALL participants and not just the leads (“主角”)
1) Dear Shirley (best friend of 「阿佘」Britney),
2)「阿佘」Britney and family
** 2a) Dear Britney’s Mom,
** 2b) Dear 「阿佘」Britney,
3)「阿聆」Ling and family
** 3a) Dear「阿聆」Ling,
** 3b) Dear Ling’s Parents,
** 3c) Dear Ling’s brother Mr. Wong Lik Tin 王力天,
4)「阿雀」“Birdy” Chloe and family
** 4a) Dear Chloe’s Parents,
** 4b) Dear 「阿雀」 Chloe,
5) Dear「香港小姐」“Miss HK” Katie
6) In Closing
0) Thanking ALL participants and not just the leads (“主角”)
Many have thanked the “lead participants” (“主角”) of the Hong Kong award-winning documentary 《給十九歲的我》“To My 19 year old self”. My thanks go to all appearing in front of camera and behind the scenes, you have taken precious time in these 10 years to shine light on the most precious thing in life, which is life itself.
After taking some time to reflect after watching 給十九 ToMy19 for 6+ times, I’ve found many “Teachable Moments“. I will try to share a few scenes in the film and people that I was deeply touched by. Each of us of course will have moments that touched us more than others because of our own live experiences. And I think that is expected. Here are some of mine.
I will put my thanks in the form of letters addressed to some of the people I watched in 給十九 ToMy19 directly in no particular order. Due to space and time limitation, I’m only able to share small parts of what I want to say so my apologies in advance.
1) Dear Shirley (best friend of 「阿佘」Britney),
Dear Shirley, I wish 給十九 ToMy19 is longer and we audiences of 給十九 ToMy19 get to see more of you on screen in your own words, telling your own stories, including more of you talking about your passion in music. Were you studying conducting in that scene near the end? One thing we got to watch clearly is that you were such a good and loyal friend of 「阿佘」Britney (more on Britney later) in her times of greatest need. Your firm and unwavering support of Britney showed us hope and possibility for goodness in a “Mean Girls” movie-style school environment. Shirley, Have you heard of the “Anne Frank Test“? No? Before I explain it, I want to say you passed the “Anne Frank Test” with flying colours! The Anne Frank Test as told by a Holocaust survivor years ago, is actually a single question: Which non-Jewish friends would risk their lives to hide us should the Nazis ever return? To me, you passed the “Anne Frank Test” when 「阿佘」Britney became an outcast for those periods of time in school and you stood by her all those years when she most needed your support. So much so that years later, Britney remembered your kindness and told others including the Former Principal Ms. Ruth Lee (前任校長 李石玉如) who recognized the good job that you did for your classmate in need. I often quote the Chinese saying, “錦上添花易, 雪中送炭難” and it is rather true for you. These days, I see too many HongKongers who are willing to 落井下石 because they have been primed to quick “Like” and even quicker “Hate” thanks to Social Media (like Facebook) algorithms that have been designed to maximize engagement (another word for “angry”/”hate”/”dislike”).
Thanks Shirley for giving us viewers (young, old, and very old) opportunities to learn to behave like you did for your good friend Britney. In case you and others are interested, I first read about test/concept in The Atlantic, “John McCain Would Have Passed the Anne Frank Test” after the passing of Senator McCain.
2) 「阿佘」Britney and family
2a) Dear Britney’s Mom,
Watching you showing your love of Britney by scheduling and limiting her activities (including limiting her TV time) reminded me very much of the love my own parents showed us when we were little. My parents were busy working like you and Britney’s father and they did not want us children to watch too much TV either “for our own good”. And in the summer holiday, my mom would plan my schedule a little so I would take time to study. You were like my parents, you tried and that was kinda “Universal Truth” of how some parents show love!
2b) My Dear 「阿佘」Britney,
Dear Britney, I wish 給十九 ToMy19 is longer and has more time to explore (even briefly) your current work in nursing. I worry the nursing profession in HK has also been decimated by the Covid19 pandemic like in Canada (shortage of nurses) and US (more shortage). How are things in nursing? Now back to the documentary. Thank you so much for sharing your stages of growth with HongKongers of all ages including students’ parents. So some (not all, but some) of those parents may learn to better love & spend quality and quantity time with their HongKongers students/children. I think every little bit makes a positive difference.
Speaking about parents who didn’t want us children watching too much TV “for our own good”, may I share something with you? Well, when my dear parents weren’t home to stop us from glued to the TV, at one point, they would unplug the TV, tied the TV’s electric cord into a knot, then my dad would tape the whole electronic cord knot onto the side of the TV and signed his name onto the tape itself, yes, as a tamper-proof security feature! Very inventive father! That invention stopped us from watching TV for a few days until I bought an electric extension cord to power the TV! 💞🤔😃💞 Of course, 道高一尺, 魔高一丈, soon they would start to “feel” the back of the TV, and if the TV was hot, it meant we were watching TV “illegally”! And then I discovered water would cool TV down so I just poured cups of water right into the back of TV minutes before they arrived home. Thank goodness TVs weren’t made in China and were more reliable then, and us children did not die from TV explosion from all the water poured into the back of high voltage cathode-ray tube TVs! Kidding aside, we can see in the documentary, your parents worked hard to provide for you. And your parents didn’t get their “training manuals on parenting” as neither did my parents get theirs.
Britney you are so brave in sharing your mental health condition (Depression) and Serotonin medication that may help many HongKongers’ (young and old) in discussing and treating their mental health condition, something that you now know as important given your nursing profession. Mental health condition is something many HongKongers including HongKongers students may have but aren’t brave enough to face or share like you. Britney, you have my deep admiration and I cried (ok, I cry easy) in support of your bravery! In Canada, we are a bit more enlightened as we have the awesome Clara Hughes, a beloved Canadian cyclist and speed skater who has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. Britney, Our dear Clara wasn’t as brave as you because Clara could only share her mental health condition (Deep Depression) in 2011 after she was a full grown adult and a highly decorated successful Olympian winning multiple medals! Britney, you opened up when you were in secondary school and some of your classmates weren’t your most supportive friends except your best friend Shirley which I think we can agree as super cool! Britney, would you agree that Shirley has passed the “Anne Frank Test” as I described above? By the way, have you studied from your nursing training, the concept of Neurodiversity, a term I much prefer? I recently learned about it from the CBC podcasts “Neurodiversity and the Myth of Normal” (part 1) and (part 2). With stories like yours more widely shared, do you think we can be hopeful that HongKongers will be more enlightened in the coming months and years?
3) 「阿聆」Ling and family
Dear Ling, It was a breath of fresh air watching your open, fair, and hard fought school election that determined which of two teams would get to lead the Ying Wa Student Council. Documentary film doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And 給十九 ToMy19 exists in 2022/2023 when the Hong Kong 47 are being accused of breaking National Security Law of Hong Kong for their election related activities and some had been put in prison without bail for 700+ days. Under this context, watching your open, fair, and hard fought school election campaign and the insightful & emotional speech given by Vice Principal Ms. Siu-Fung Chow 周小鳳 became deeply touching & insightful as good documentaries can do sometimes. Maybe I cry too easily, but I cried watching you and your schoolmates’ school election campaign. I want you to know those election campaign scenes touched me.
And watching the clear love between you and your younger brother Mr. Wong Lik Tin 王力天 is an example of the “Universal Truth” that is the unconditional love that exist between siblings. Which led me to fondly remember some experiences with my own sibling. We love each other unconditionally. You and Mr. Wong also taught me more about the further need for inclusivity in Hong Kong which I will expand below.
3b) Dear Ling’s Parents,
Dear Ling’s Mother, You showed and taught me about unconditional motherly love in every frame you appear in the movie. I’m not a smart man but I think and hope your on screen actions has inspired and give solace to other HongKonger mothers who have their own life experiences to live.
Dear Ling’s Father, We got to watch you in a few places in the documentary and I appreciate your special fatherly love. As us children (we are ALL children of our parents, so this includes you, Mr. Ling’s Father) get older, we learn that parents are not given “training manuals” of how to be good parents and sometimes even our own parents make mistakes and that is another “Universal Truth” I myself discovered when I got older. My own parents tried their best. And so did you. The difference is that, I now understand that fact of “parents make mistakes too” better, the change of understanding happened inside me.
3c) Dear Ling’s brother Mr. Wong Lik Tin 王力天,
Dear Mr. Wong Lik Tin 王力天, Thank you for sharing precious moments of your life with us. Thanks especially to you, I have taken the initiative (a few hours) to learn more about Neurodiversity. In the film, your mental health condition is described as autistic (自閉症), of which I’m now more comfortable in using the term Neurodiverse to describe after listening to the CBC podcasts “Neurodiversity and the Myth of Normal” (part 1) and (part 2). And I’ve put a library hold on the book “Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity” (see also audio NPR segment). I know some HongKongers are more progressive than others, and as we learn more about ideas like Neurodiversity so we can, ultimately, bring out fuller potential of Neurodiverse HongKongers to contribute to communities in unique ways as Prof. Temple Grandin (who is neurodiverse herself) talked about in details in the CBC podcasts “Neurodiversity and the Myth of Normal” (part 1) and (part 2) that I hope readers of this post will take time to listen. To quote Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I will tell people reading this to not take my words blindly for it, have a listen to “Neurodiversity and the Myth of Normal” (part 1) and (part 2) and decide for yourself.
4) 「阿雀」“Birdy” Chloe and family
4a) Dear Chloe’s Parents,
You both show your clear unconditional love of Chloe. And in the documentary, Chloe even explained she is not going to leave Hong Kong so she can take care of you both. So sweet.
Dear Chloe’s Dad, You got up everyday to give Chloe rides to school (until the school moved to the Sham Shui Po) reminded me of how my loving late dad took care of us by driving us around to where we needed to go. The pair of scenes that touched me deeply were the ones you held Chloe’s hands when she was little. And then on that rainy day when Chloe was older, she pushed your wet hand away. This is another moment that I call “Universal Truth” as we children all do “this” at some stage of us growing up. Inevitable. Part of “growing up”. This scene made me cried a little as my own 80+ years old dad passed away last year. I wish I had more years to hold my dad’s hands but Covid19 and Hong Kong’s isolation policy robbed us of the final years, final months, final days, and final hours as I watched him over video as he passed on.
Dear Chloe, Watching 給十九 ToMy19, I feel (rightly or wrongly?) you are easy going and yet very principled. Your scenes bought lot of joy and insight to me personally. After watching your wonderful role in “The Nightingale”, I even Google to find and sample longer segments of “The Nightingale” Part 1/2 and Part 2/2 to watch for fun! And watching the scene of you, “Madam” Karen, Ying Wa’s First Police Inspector Ms. Sheila Tong (湯玉英, 英華首位警務女督察), and others discussing the then “Live” Hong Kong protests (“佔中” in the words of Karen) also show your independent minded personality which I admire deeply. I’m almost certain that when I was your age, I would not have the clarity of mind and wouldn’t be able to explain my reasons as clearly as you to a person as experienced in policing as Sheila.
5) Dear「香港小姐」“Miss HK” Katie
Dear Katie, It was heartbreaking watching many scenes of you growing up alone in Hong Kong as it also shines light on real life experiences that more and more families of blended families and parents not living with the children. Of course, it was heartwarming to see you adapted to your American life really well.
6) In Closing, I wish I have more time and words to write about more people in 給十九 ToMy19 that touched my heart and taught me insightful lessons. I think the nice thing about good documentaries is not unlike other things in life, we ultimately decide what we see as “Teachable Moments” to learn from. Good luck and I hope you find your own valuable “Teachable Moments” in life.