Hong Kong (which means “fragrant harbor”) is one of the most international, cosmopolitan, and dynamic cities in the world. The past and present meld in Hong Kong: enormous skyscrapers are built using an ancient technique of bamboo scaffolding; herbal medicine shops abut trendy clothing boutiques; wheelbarrows are parked next to Rolls Royces; and caged birds are taken on walks in the park past roadside fortune tellers.
[Hosting is] fun for adults, too…It’s fun to learn about other cultures. I feel the world is coming to us. You get to realize people are the same all over. There are the same issues. You learn there’s more that connects us than separates us. And you love the kids... They affect you right away, the excitement they bring seeing the country, in just wanting to experience everything, to absorb the experience like a sponge. We’re blessed to have Jeffrey in our lives.–Rodney & Judy Dixon, host parents to students from Hong Kong and Italy
Energetic and hard-working people have built Hong Kong into a major world trade center. The Confucian ethic of proper social and family relationships forms the foundation of Chinese society, which values modesty and patience over aggressive behavior. Chinese families are bound by strong traditions of loyalty, obedience, and respect.
It is not unusual for both parents to work. Parents tend to be protective and to prefer that students stay home as much as possible. Parents also expect to know when their children are going out and where they are going. Many families take part in social activities together, especially on Sunday. Most families live in small urban apartments where personal space is minimal so tidiness is important.
Movies and television are the most popular forms of entertainment. Beach outings and picnics are also common. Favorite sports include table tennis, soccer, skating, squash, badminton, tennis, swimming and basketball. Teenagers usually go out in groups to enjoy these activities. They also like to shop, sing karaoke and hang out in cafes.
All styles of clothing, from traditional to modern, are worn in Hong Kong. The climate is cool in the winter and most homes have no central heating. As Hong Kong is a conservative country, teens are expected to have short, neat haircuts, no visible piercing, and girls are not allowed to wear make-up or nail polish.
Rice is a staple and many dishes are prepared with chicken, pork, fish and vegetables. Fruit is a common dessert. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are expensive and are not a regular part of the diet.
English and Cantonese are the official languages, but Cantonese is the principal language spoken by most people in their daily lives. The religions of Hong Kong include Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity.