Arriving in Hong Kong SAR

Monday, December 15, 2008

December 14 Joining the Delegation

All work and no play makes for a dull journey
In the second year of their service as president of AFP, they can select a travel destination from the People to People program. Tim Burcham, ACFRE selected HKSAR and Beijing. Twenty-eight delegates plus five guests have joined the program. Five years ago, AFP opened a chapter in HKSAR. This trip allowed us to visit with Chinese organizations which are a mix of non-governmental organizations and state (Communist government) run. We are fundraisers, teachers, executive directors from non-profits in North America.

Everyone arrives from an overnight flight this morning. After a quick Star Ferry ride to HK Island, because we can and a few delegates want to see it quickly, we gather as a group in the afternoon for the first time. We are very fortunate to have Qi Yi (pronounced Chi Yi) as our national representative from the People to People program. His presentation covers language, history of China, expectations, protocol and gift exchange. He is surprisingly open about the changes and challenges facing China, especially in the last 15 years. However, non-profits are not really non-governmental organizations, more governmental organizations. So while we will have an opportunity to ask questions, the answers we receive may be more the party line than insightful. But we will see as Beijing is later in the trip.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region (HKSAR) of mainland China. If you recall the British returned HK to China in 1997. While HKSAR operates as a very westernized area of China, police, military, laws and commercial enterprises must follow China’s rules. Because of the British rule, most residents speak Cantonese and English and are very open and happy to help visitors. Tourism is the number one industry in HK. This will not be the case in Beijing, or so we are told….

Darwin Chen a well-respected leader in HKSAR spoke to us about philanthropy in China. He has helped lead, form and organize many organizations in China and HKSAR and been recognized by the Chinese government for his work. However, I am not sure which side of the aisle he stands on…as a mouth piece for the Communist party or someone truly trying to help China through transition.

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