news & events

Jul9

be the change…

My recent trip to Asia included a whirlwind visit through Hong Kong, and it was eye-opening.

I believe that you learn a lot about a person, or a country, by the smallest details. For instance, there are hundreds of cities in the world where you can see spectacular government buildings, monuments, plazas and so on.

But what I find more revealing about a culture’s true character is to see how it treats women, babies, and public toilets. The attitudes which a society displays in these quality-of-life areas reveals a lot about its humanity.

In which case, Hong Kong scores big. In one shopping area, I experienced the most fabulous public restrooms I have ever been in! Lodged between the male and female entrances was a pod shaped structure (see photo) with a baby image on it. This was the unisex baby changing room, for Mums AND Dads. I took a peek inside, and it was better designed and more fabulous than most skin treatment rooms I have been in. The changing table was gel-filled, cushiony and heated! Divine.

Not surprisingly, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with more than 7 million people residing in its comparatively small area (426 square miles). It is considered the world’s most vertical city. Everything goes straight up, and it’s sleek, clean, modern and efficient. Life-expectancy is high, the transportation system is state of the art, and per capita income in Hong Kong is at the uppermost in the world—only Switzerland, Qatar and Singapore have more millionaire-households.

Why? Part of the reason that such consideration is shown to the comfort and well-being of children, not to mention a refreshingly humane view of the need for a clean, comfortable public bathroom, is that Hong Kong is young. Its population has surged only recently, growing radically from only 3 million in the 1960s. The population index, like everything else in Hong Kong, goes straight up.

In this sense, the Hong Kong that we encounter today is a new city. Of course, today’s Hong Kong is the most recent flowering of an ancient civilization: archeologists date human habitation in the area back as far as 39,000 years ago, in the Paleolithic period.

But unlike many parts of the world with a colonial past, Hong Kong does not seem burdened with baggage. Just as young people in their teens have some important lessons to teach their parents and grandparents—see the earlier blog about the “Make Kony Famous” movement, and how teens and even tweens are using social media for social good— the new, emerging Hong Kong enters the party with lots of good ideas to better our world, right now.

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