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The Best Of Hong Kong
Lifestyle News
By Yannie Chan | June 26th, 2020

Dear Hong Kong is a crowdfunding campaign for a bilingual photobook featuring portraits and stories of 150 people, each from a different country, who now call this city home. The photobook is scheduled for publication in November.

Co-founder Oskar Valles and his team first launched the campaign in 2019, and have interviewed more than 90 people so far, from countries including Ukraine, Indonesia and Congo to Cuba and Pakistan. “It has been a journey into human nature and how we are all so different yet so similar,” Valles described the process.

Dear Hong Kong is a photobook project aiming to promote cultural diversity

Bridging the Disconnect

Despite being an international city, Hong Kong consists mainly of Chinese, which make up 92% of the population. It’s not uncommon for “locals” to never come across a different ethnicity until university or work, and vice versa. Valles and his team want to bridge that gap. “We see the diversity of cultures as an opportunity to learn and grow,” he said. “A better understanding of others’ backgrounds leads to respect and unity. We need more of that these days.”

The bilingual photobook will print the interviewees’ stories in both English and Chinese. People featured include Dr. Mike Manio, a Filipino professor from the faculty of medicine at the University of Hong Kong, teacher and ex-prisoner Dawit Debesai from Eritrea, and former Pakistani pilot Ajmal Samuel who became a Paralympic medalist. 

Filipino professor Dr. Mike Manio from the faculty of medicine at the University of Hong Kong (Photo: Bradley Aaron)

Valles himself has been a Hongkonger for the past nine years. Valles moved to Hong Kong from Spain for a job opportunity and fell in love with the city. “This city has treated me so well all these years, and that’s why I want to give back,” Valles explained. “As a European, I’ve experimented more positive discrimination than negative ones, but I don’t think any of them should exist.”

Founders Oskar Valles (back left), Aggie Lam (back right) and photographer Bradley Aaron (front right) interview well-known cinematographer Christopher Doyle (front left).

The city-wide protests from the past year have also shaped the project in many ways. “While some have expressed an intention to leave, we were inspired by the many others who insisted that they will stay here in their new home,” Valles said. “The sentiment from the long-established ethnic minorities in the city has been really touching. It’s a shared love of a city that transcends cultures.”

Support the Project

There are many ways to support the project. Pre-order the book, nominate a candidate or volunteer your skills and become part of the team. More details at http://www.dearhongkong.org/

Dear Hong Kong’s team of volunteers now consists of over 50 people.