Hong Kong
Hong Kong is where “East meets West.” Its constantly changing culture is a reflection of this clash or fusion and also of a society that values tradition in a modernizing society. Through dialogue with my partner about a symbol, a piece of literature, and a proverb, I have realized the beauty of balance that society is capable of cultivating.
The symbol my partner chose was a landscape image of Hong Kong’s skyline, Victoria Harbor, cruise ship, and a Chinese “junk” ship. In this image, one can clearly see the old and the new. Furthermore, the architecture of most of the skyscrapers includes both traditional and modern aspects. The traditional aspect involves the consultation of Feng Shui masters during the planning phases, and the modern aspect is evident in the engineering and construction phases.
While admiring this image, one may begin to recognize the Western influences that entered through Victoria Harbor. For example, most of the names of the companies that own a skyscraper are presented in English. Also, the general industrialization of Hong Kong and its economic model and success may also be largely attributed to Western society. In the cities, Chinese restaurants compete with KFC, McDonalds, and other Western fast food restaurants. In the courtroom, judges continue to wear wigs, a British tradition.
Trade is arguably the largest chain that linked Hong Kong and the West, and the film industry was certainly the largest link of that chain. My partner sent me the literature of Jin Yong, the top-selling Chinese author alive. Although Jin Yong was born in China, he spent most of his life and career in Hong Kong, writing martial arts fiction set in the times of ancient China. He provided one link to “Hong Kong’s history,” but he also led the film industry towards the production of martial arts films. The martial arts genre of film would turn out to be one of the greatest links between the Chinese and the West, as it led to the popularity of martial arts legends such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan in both the East and the West.

My dialogue partner told me, “Hong Kong does not really have its own culture. Although we were once under British rule, we are still Chinese. We were simply Chinese people living in and developing a partially Western society. Hong Kong is sort of like the Asian New York City, but perhaps better.” The idea of not having a previous culture has allowed Hong Kongers to keep an open mind, while developing its own culture and society.
With one of the freest economies, as ranked by The Heritage Foundation, and the best skyline, as ranked by Emporis, Hong Kong is without a doubt a true testament to the wonders of a society that keeps in an open mind to foreign ideas. Their culture is constantly changing as it is continuously molded by Eastern and Western influences. Hong Kong, in a sense, is like America during its early days but set in modern times. Hong Kong is where balance is key; Hong Kong is where “East meets West” to become one.

I Believe
Every man and woman is an individual with their own convictions regarding politics, religion, and everything else. My biology and AP biology teachers have taught me about the countless arrangements of chromosomes and cells that contribute to our individuality, and perhaps more importantly, the medical examiner on one of my favorite shows, Law and Order, also emphasized this point when discussing with detectives Green and Briscoe the possibility that DNA from a crime scene could have belonged to two different men. Throughout human history, several of the greatest literary icons have preached individuality. "March to your own drum…Be your own man," I often hear. However, after taking this class, World Literature, a belief I had always changed my mind about was finally consolidated and strengthened.
I believe that a human being, no matter how unique or different, is like everybody else in the most essential sense. Furthermore, I believe that every life is worth dying for. Every human being is born with a soul and a mind. Feelings are an inherent attachment to this soul, and reason is an innate feature of the mind.
Every man and woman has his or her own story. A set of twins may attend the same school, share a room, and do everything together the exact same way. Yet, if asked to write an autobiography, they will always create autobiographies that differ from one another. These differences can be attributed to the differences in their comprehension of the external world, events, and people. I know these differences exist and find beauty in them, but I believe they would be negligible in the grander picture of life.
In a world of growing racial, religious, cultural, and financial diversity, I have found the similarities through literature, which has provided me a deeper look into the cultures of other people. I have found that most religions value life or state that God is or is part of every man and woman. Love, happiness, and sorrow fill the hearts of every person. Poets and writers of every racial and cultural background express ineffable feelings and thoughts that decades or centuries later, we find connections among, and although we may not fully understand what they were trying to convey, we relate with these people because we have had the same indescribable feelings or thoughts.

Beyond the futile debates, wars, and disagreements, one fact remains true. All of humanity is "one." Every man and woman, with his or her own soul and mind, has the natural desire to feel compassion. Personally, World Literature has renewed this ability, to step into another person's shoes and truly "be" that person if even for a moment. I believe everybody eventually discovers this wonderful power to understand that others can be happy or sad like him or her. And sometimes, when enough people feel the same emotion at the same time, everybody feels an extraordinary emotion and finds nirvana, God, or “perfection.” When I see or hear of the latest disaster or tragedy, I initially feel sad, but later on, I realize that this is another opportunity for humanity to come closer together, connect, and simply be One.