© 2009 Steven Wong

Hong Kong chop-socky wackiness, Part 1

OMG! Two posts in one day! What the heck is going on?!? Well, it’s part of my effort to try to blog more often. Plus I’m just waiting on dinner right now, so maybe that’s the real reason.

Anyway, one of the things i wanted to do before i left Hong Kong was to post a few things that I really thought kinda stood out at me. Things that stood out in an amusing way, not necessarily good or bad. Just amusing.

Exhibit A is the picture above. I think it was my friend Dawn who mentioned this to me, but there’s been a proliferation of really awful advertising campaigns by English language schools (private ones, i think). Basically, the adverts look like movie billboards and the teachers are all photographed to look like movie stars.

I’m not sure when this started or who started it but this trend is EVERYWHERE. The picture above was taken in Mong Kok, right on Sai Yeung Choi Street, where all the electronic shops are, just outside the MTR exit. But you can find these anywhere from Sheung Shui in the New Territories to Causeway Bay on the island. They’re on the MTR, they’re on buses, they’re on bus stop shelters, they’re on billboards, they’re everywhere. And it’s just hilarious because… well, I think it’s a remarkable take on just how cheesy HK-style advertising can be.

Anyway, I think the other thing that’s amusing about all this is that I’ve always heard that non-Chinese people are preferred as teachers because of the perception that they can speak English better. Which kinda works against me here if I want to teach English, but on the other hand, if you wanted to learn Mandarin in Toronto, you’d probably be inclined to pick someone who LOOKS Chinese over a European, right? Only after you learn that the Chinese person doesn’t know jack and the European person grew up in China would you think to consider otherwise, right? Right.

Ok, so where am I going with this? None of the people who are featured on these billboards are non-Chinese, or at least non-Asian. I didn’t see a single one. I dunno whether that means that these schools enforce the stereotype because they feel they need to compete with schools that have a non-Asian teacher, but it kinda does to me.