With a pile of books in one hand and a circuit board in another (definitely an engineering student) Monisha SHCHERBAKOVA (HSBC Prosperity Hall) makes her way through the bustling crowd. She greets me with a radiant smile and her calming presence is infectious.
To give a little background, Monisha’s father is from India and her mother from Russia. She was born and raised in India, moving within the country a few times and speaking Russian at home with her parents. Currently in the second year of her degree, Monisha majors in Computer and Data Engineering. After she completes her bachelor’s degree, she intends to go to Australia for her postgraduate degree.
With such a mixed background, I cannot help but ask her why she chose to come to Hong Kong. She answers that she wanted to live in a cosmopolitan city that was bursting with an international lifestyle. During her search for universities in places like Hong Kong and Singapore, City University of Hong Kong popped up and she was immediately intrigued. The degree she wanted was provided; there were opportunities for international students like scholarships and exchange programs, as well as an on campus residence. Monisha knew CityU could give her a chance to live in a city with so many people coming from different backgrounds – a place where she felt like she could belong.
This need of belonging stems from her time back home in India, “In the inside, I felt Indian but on the outside, I don’t look like one, so most people did not receive me as one,” she says. For a long time, she thought she was the problem. Identity is partially defined by the people you are with. But her attempts at pleasing others to “naturally fit in” were not always successful, making it hard to socialize and form a solid group of friends. However, since attending CityU, she has realised it is not about fitting in, rather its about finding the right people who bring out the best in you. Ultimately, there will never be a reason to change yourself. Also, since CityU is overflowing with people from diverse upbringings, there should be no pressure to only hang out with people who come from the same physical place as you.
As a result, Monisha has made some life-changing friendships, even though she has only been in Hong Kong for a year and a half. Every person she has met has changed her perspective on the world and she still continues to grow and learn from the people around her.
This one individual displays how every person, no matter who you are or where you are from, has goals and dreams they want to achieve. I hope this first “Through the Looking Glass” feature is an inspiration for our fellow residents and can be the kick-start to a relatable and encouraging series that shall serve as a reminder that even though you may feel alone in pursuing your aspirations, you can always find support and motivation from the diverse range of CityU residents.
Writer: Hanna Suchanya LIM (Alumni Civility Hall)
Photographer & Images: Ellen DING (Alumni Civility Hall), Monisha SHCHERBAKOVA (HSBC Prosperity Hall)
這種對歸屬感的需求源於她在印度的生活經歷。「在印度，我自我感覺是印度人，可是從外表上看，我並不像，所以大多數人並不接受我是他們的一員，」她說。很長一段時間，她都認為自己是問題的癥結所在，苦惱非常。自我認同感很多時需要身邊人來定義，但由於她的混血背景，Monisha 自小便很難「自然融入」任何社交圈子，使得收獲堅固的友誼變得困難。 然而，自從來到城大之後，她就意識到了真正重要的不是努力融入，而是找到能讓你成為更好的人。歸根究底，人本來就不應勉強改變自己來奉承他人。正因為城大四處都是背景不一的人，她不再局限於與同鄉來往。
文: Hanna Suchanya LIM （校友樂禮堂）
攝/圖: 丁琳笠（校友樂禮堂）、Monisha SHCHERBAKOVA （滙豐業昕堂）