Everyone needs their “group” in university.
Sure, I identify as an introvert, but ultimately human beings are social creatures who crave to be understood and to understand.
It took me about half a year at Cornell to finally find solid communities that I love to be a part of. I found community in student organizations such as AguaClara, Jazz Voices, Cru, and Chinese Bible Study, as well as in my church First Ithaca Chinese Christian Church (FICCC). As I’ve hinted at before, part of the reason why it was hard for me to adjust to Hong Kong at the beginning was because of that loss in community in my school environment. At the beginning of September, I embarked on a journey to find my community in Hong Kong.
Now, three months later, I can say that I have found that community in Agape, an English-speaking Christian fellowship at HKUST. I met two of the leaders of Agape (Andrea and Elijah) while they were tabling in one of the atriums at school. At that time, I was worrying about how I would get plugged into a Christian community here in Hong Kong. I wasn’t sure if there were any Christian fellowships at HKUST to join or even where to start on my search for a church to attend. Just as my mind was wandering to these topics and I was starting to get a little stressed, I spotted Andrea and Elijah’s little table setup for Agape.
To me, it was a great instance of God answering my anxieties and leading me to an answer. I went to them and asked “Are you guys tabling?” I remember them giving me confused looks because they didn’t know what “tabling” meant, which I assume is probably a term that is used mainly in US universities. It was a funny start to our conversation! I talked with them a little bit, asked how I can get involved, and ended up filling out a Google form to get notifications about future activities and the upcoming orientation event.
Over the course of semester, I have gotten to know some of the members of Agape through small group meetings where we discussed God’s Word, in the churches I visited and the church I eventually joined International Christian Assembly (ICA), and through various formal and informal events. We’ve gone kayaking together in Sai Kung, hiking together on the MacLehose Trail, and bonded with each other over dessert at the famous Honeymoon Dessert shop. We’ve gone to the movie theater in Po Lam to have dinner together and watch Justice League. These are the brothers and sisters that I have gotten to know through both intense conversations about serious topics such as career plans or politics and the more mundane aspects of life such as how bad the food in the LG7 canteen is.
Agape helped me find a community in a foreign country. Although I am excited to make my way back to Cornell and enjoy all the little things I have missed about my beloved home in Ithaca (naps on the plush couches and armchairs in Willard Straight Hall, bagels for breakfast from Goldie’s, all-nighters in the Engineering Library), my upcoming departure feels bittersweet when I think that I may not see my new friends for a very long time, if at all. Just when I thought I was beginning to get to know them better, I realized that it is almost time for me to go. But I believe that I am extremely blessed to have been able to meet such wonderful friends and fumble our way together through school, life, and our continual struggle to grow closer and closer to God.
Shout out to everyone at Agape for adopting me to their little family in Christ this semester and for teaching me so much about living life in Christ’s name!
Joining a community at my host school that I could identify strongly with added a dimension to my study abroad experience that I have come to value the most and never even expected in the first place. The diverse population of Agape allowed me to get to know people from all over the world gathered in Hong Kong for university; I got to know people who grew up in Taiwan, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, and El Salvador to name a few. All throughout my semester abroad, I noticed that I had abundant opportunities to not only learn about Hong Kong, but also learn about other places all over the world whether it be through traveling or through everyday interactions with my classmates.
I strongly believe that study abroad is what you make of it and even though I know that there was a lot more I could have done and taken advantage of during my time here in Hong Kong, one of the choices I will always be happy about making here is joining this fellowship.