Local footsteps towards multiculturalism

Bosco Ng spent time doing voluntary service in Sri Lanka, a country where the people that endured the South Asian tsunami and civil war, still smile full of hope and warmth. Enlightened by his experience, Bosco founded WEDO Global—a social enterprise that promotes exchanges between people from different cultural backgrounds and strengthens cultural understanding—which Bosco believes are the key to a peaceful co-existence.

Hidden in Hong Kong is a sizable community of racial minorities. However, as Hong Kong is predominantly Chinese, its people have next to no knowledge about them. “Indians cover their head and Nepalese are security guards,” stigmas are among many similar stereotypes. Bosco hopes to correct the misinformation by bringing the people of Hong Kong to in-depth local visits, thereby enhancing the communication and understanding on both sides.

To Bosco, the footsteps of travelers have the potential to make a long-lasting impact on the local culture, community and environment. Together with his business partner Eva Wong, they hope to bring a new meaning to cultural preservation and knowledge in a push for community-based mode of tourism.

Through planning and organizing workshops, local cultural tours as well as in-depth cultural exposure programs overseas, they hope to provide participants with thorough cultural exchanges and truly local experiences, evoking an urge to explore and reflect on cultural diversity. Through mutual learning and inspiration, participants will have their cultural senses and international perspectives sharpened, and their misunderstanding or stereotypes against others’ cultures lessened. A link can also be created with those local communities to bring about the sustainable development, preservation and promotion of their cultures.

Due to a lack of interaction with local Chinese, some of Hong Kong’s racial minorities have developed weak confidence in life. That’s what prompted Bosco and Eva to hire racial teenagers form these backgrounds as their cultural ambassadors and tour guides for the activities. By introducing participants into their communities, mosques, temples, eateries and grocery stores, they expose their guests to the life and cultures of the other races in the same city. Mutual understanding and respect comes hand in hand with the prospect of a better life for the racial minority citizens.

WEDO Global started to gain prominence and receive compliments after repeatedly organising local tours. Both, Bosco and Eva, believe that in the current era of information, it is necessary for social enterprises and traditional businesses to cooperate in order to succeed together. In other words, different institutions should work with each other complementarily in pursuit of wider services and values for their customers. With that in mind, they synergise with other groups to jointly organise training courses for cultural tour guides, allowing participants to gain a deeper understanding about social issues such as poverty and globalisation. Through interaction and field work, they sharpen their tour skills and deliver higher quality services.

WEDO Global also designs tailor-made itineraries to suit the needs of different organisations. For example, they once created tasks suitable for teenagers, providing them with the opportunity to interact with locals and instilled within them, a deeper interest to know about others’ cultures.

This service flexibility for different client groups is an advantage of WEDO Global.

Bosco says: “We’re glad to be providing training workshops and real work experience for South Asian teenagers, witnessing how their roles as cultural ambassadors and tour guides transform them and make them grow up. In the past they were shy to talk to strangers and dared not look others in their eyes during conversation. Now, they can maintain eye contact with a group of strangers and speak in impeccable Cantonese, all while sharing details about their own cultural background and lives. Their confidence grew after they took part in the training workshops and became cultural ambassadors. Their interpersonal communications skills improved. They ascertained their identity as Hong Kong citizens. They have a stronger interest and understanding towards multiculturalism. All these improvements make me glad.

Eva says, “Apart from seeing the South Asian teenagers improve themselves, we’re glad to know that many participants have built up a more positive impression on racial minorities in Hong Kong. From zero understanding to the ability to distinguish between several cultures and religions—it’s very encouraging to us. Education is like sowing seeds. We might not see the harvest today, but what they have experienced will change their way of thinking, and change the world because cultural misunderstanding and biases are reduced. Everyone will look after and help each other and live peacefully and harmoniously.”

DBS Social Enterprise Advancement Grant aims at scaling up the business development and impact of local social enterprises. In 2014, the Grant successfully helped Wedo Global recruit and train more people belonging to racial minorities as tour guides, to set up new tours to Nepalese and Sikh areas. The grant also allowed them to purchase instant interpretation equipment for their participants to use.

In future, WEDO Global will continue to be community-based and work with racial minorities in Hong Kong to explore and design more interactive workshops on multiculturalism and local tour groups. In the short run, it expects to introduce three projects to primary and secondary schools as well as businesses and charities, namely—an interactive cultural exposure learning scheme, interactive multiculturalism training, as well as corporate social responsibility projects. It also plans to expand the number of locations for overseas in-depth cultural exposure. In addition to its current options of Sri Lanka and Taiwan, it will expand the project to Nepal and Cambodia.

Bosco believes the development of Hong Kong’s social enterprises helps transform the group known socially as “minorities”. Not only does it release a potential workforce, it also effectively resolves the question of having to help these minorities through large-scale resources.

“Minorities” are indeed capable. The problem lies in their lack of momentum and the need for their strengths and usefulness to be trained and used. Social enterprises are a new global trend. More institutes of this kind are being set up around Asia, in places such as China and Korea. Hong Kong’s SEs will gain strength too, where more young entrepreneurs like Bosco are joining the sector. On one hand, they inspire more innovative ideas and business models in Hong Kong, and on the other, they spark progress for the world.

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