The Human Side of Life

An inclusive student initiative is building bonds and understanding between the myriad individuals who comprise HKUST

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Be prepared to go beyond technology, timetables and tests if you talk with a member of “Humans of HKUST”.

The project, established and driven by students, conducts far-reaching interviews with a diverse range of HKUST-ers, exploring the culture, background, and personal experiences of individuals across the University’s globalized community. Quotes, moving anecdotes, and thought-provoking views are then shared through Facebook and compiled into an annual book of stories, distributed free on campus.

“Humans of HKUST” has proved a powerful journey of self-discovery for those who join and a great way to widen insight and empathy on campus. “Through ‘Humans of HKUST’, you learn not to judge a book by its cover or stereotype people because they come from an unfamiliar place,” said project leader Jessica Chan (Year 2, Global Business).“I have realized that each person has their own story and that you see them differently after you get to know them.”

The HKUST endeavor, inspired by “Humans of New York” – a similar photo-blog of street pictures and interviews with the citizens of New York, was set up in 2014.  Those involved at the University have included exchange and local students while the main interviewees to date have been fellow students, alumni, and faculty. Hall and facilities staff could be next. Thinking and skills have been further extended by overcoming challenges such as publishing the yearly book and planning a video production.

Members note that “Humans of HKUST” conversations have made them less judgmental, more open-minded, and have matured their understanding of others and themselves. As past administrator and group book editor Simran Thadani (Year 3 Biotechnology) recalled: “When interviewing a distant acquaintance, I went in with one opinion, formed from listening to other people, and came out with a completely different mindset after hearing his own perspective.”

Feedback and comments also indicate that the group’s activities are having an impact on campus cohesion.  “‘Humans of HKUST’ is a way to reach beyond program and social bubbles and busy schedules,” said administrator and interviewer Eamon Suen (Year 2, Global Business). “Through writing the stories, we are bringing out a different side to the University, and by reading and responding to posts, people are learning more about each other and becoming closer. This is what fuels us to keep improving and working on the project.”