Where do you work and how did you come to be there?
Hong Kong City University School of Veterinary Medicine. I used to work in HK government and due to my experience and large animal background I could help set up one part of the school here. We take our first students in autumn 2017
What are the biggest cultural differences/challenges you come across?
It really is East meets West which means fortunately that Chinese, Caucasian, Indian, etc. can quite often laugh with others outside their type at their group’s own stereotypes and how close they conform to it. But the differences are real. Caucasians are usually more adventurous and less conforming to norms. I find the unwillingness to be flexible often annoying if time is short. With time you can make anyone understand and usually agree with you. Many meetings are, by UK standards, very poorly conducted, some of this being cultural, deferring to the boss and not willing to express an opinion. They are also pretty poor time keepers, late to meetings, late to cinema, late to concerts. Fortunately, I now know quite a lot of Cantonese so I understand a bit about this.
What is a typical day’s work for you?
Up at 6.40 am. On the train 7.20 am. In the office 8 am-5 pm. Often lunching with Chinese colleagues in a local Chinese restaurant, eating workers’ food (I don’t ask the origin of anything) a good time to chat. Meetings, emails, phone calls. Then field visits about once a week. Basically trying with other team members to put the school together. I have been used as a generalist along with another. We nicknamed ourselves the salvage yard. So we pick up pieces of work going pear shaped. For example, a meat inspection course I took over at short notice when one lecturer went AWOL, fortunately fell in with a Kiwi vet to help me. Did with another colleague most of the business plan for the SA hospital and assisted in the purchase of HK’ s largest SA clinic. A project with an Omuras whale, most others ducked away from that. It is a long hard slog scanning in 3D all the bones and printing them out. As it is rare, this is quite an important work and I have been drafted in to take this project, fortunately with the assistance of two Profs from other departments, to the secondary schools of HK. Helping in the documentation for accreditation with the Australian vet board. And trying to get back to my original remit to set up farms.
What is your most memorable moment since being in HK?
Hard to say most of it has been very memorable. The stink of dissecting a whale on a beach ranks high. Getting ethics approval to pluck hairs from some cows for DNA testing and the procedures and licenses required. Teaching and interacting with the health inspectors, telling them things about the meat trade and how to regulate it in practical terms. They had never had a lecturer before who aimed to really “earth” the lecture notes to a living reality. So we had a fun and professional time.
How can we best pray for you?
Relations with all, especially colleagues as it is easy to slip below Christian standards, gossip etc. Secondly my main work setting up the farms, dairy, sheep and goat and all the add-ons I get. This is a major challenge and I also have either to sell the milk or make ice cream - in less than 14 months. Finally, that I would stay healthy. It is too easy to assume good health is a norm. For many it is not.