Through the Looking Glass: Reshma Punjabi, Home and Growing Up / 鏡中人: 在「家」靠朋友 出外靠成長

(按此看中文版)

When I first met Reshma, my initial thought was, “Dang, this is a legit third-culture-international-school-kid.” (Yes, this is a word now.) I could not believe how many cultures could be mixed and contained within one person. Hence, I am very excited about this piece in which Reshma shares her definition of ‘home’ and her experience of growing up in CityU.

Reshma PUNJABI – majoring in Banking and Financial Services with a minor in Mathematics – resides in Hall 10. This is her final year, however, she plans to extend her studies for one more year. During this time, she will focus on completing the requirements for her Mathematics minor, so she can figure out if she would like to do further studies in a Master of Science in Mathematics or a Master of Education to teach it. “I have always loved mathematics in high school but I want to see if I can cope with it at university level.”

I was very impressed with Reshma’s cultural background. She was born in Taiwan, where she spent one year, before moving to Dubai for another year. Afterwards, she moved to Guangzhou, China and this is where she grew up till she was sixteen. Ethnically, Reshma is Indian and although she has never lived in India, it is the culture she primarily identifies with. With the utmost modesty, Reshma described her language abilities – she can speak English and Hindi fluently, Mandarin at conversational level and Spanish and Sindhi at beginners’ level.

Reshma PUNJABI (right) attended Diwali held in the Student Residence in November 2016. / Reshma PUNJABI 於2016年11月參與了在城大宿舍舉行的印度排燈節。

Reshma’s diverse background influences her meaning of home, “People are my homes, which is why I consider both CityU and China my homes. But once the people leave, CityU won’t be my home anymore.” Thus, CityU is only temporary, a transition, “but in terms of a physical place, I relate to Guangzhou the most, simply because it is all I have seen as a child.”

Reshma enrolled into university when she was just sixteen years old. I was curious to know what it was like for her to basically ‘grow up’ at CityU. Reshma explained that during the first month, she was a completely different person. She used to be socially awkward so it took her a while to catch up with her peers who were already slightly older than her. She experienced a huge jump from being sheltered to being exposed to a diverse community, “At home in China, I attended an international school. I was very enclosed within the Indian community because I found that was a way to stick to my Indian roots, it was where I was most comfortable. And now, even at CityU I tend to stick to the Indian community but I have gotten to know a wide variety of people.”

Model United Nations (MUN) has been a prominent activity, which has contributed to this growth. Reshma wanted to do MUN since high school but was not able to do such extra-curricular activities because of her commitment to academics. Thus, it was a big deal when she heard that CityU offered it. Being involved in MUN provided many opportunities to learn from a multicultural group of people.

A visit to Google Hong Kong’s office. / 參觀谷歌香港的辦公室。
Celebrating Holi with friends. / 與朋友們一起慶祝侯麗節。
Posing in front of a booth at the Joint-hall Mid-autumn Festival Celebration. / 在聯舍中秋晚宴中與友合照。

Apart from her life at CityU, Hong Kong has given Reshma some incredible memories. Just two weeks before my interview with her, Reshma was describing a night consisting of a “series of fortunate events,” where running an errand transformed into a perfect evening with friends. The great company made Reshma realise the importance of random spontaneous night outs. This is just another example, which clearly demonstrates how convenient Hong Kong can be.

Reshma’s tip for current students is to, “try and branch out as much as possible because you really do not know who is going to teach you something.” Even people whom she has not particularly liked or has had disagreements with, have taught her something. She respects them a great deal because of the deep impact they have made in her life regardless of the amount of time knowing them.

Reshma shows us how home does not have to be one place, rather it is about whom you are with. These people will impact you in many ways, whether it is sharing their culture, impromptu night outs, or learning from a disagreement. In all, good quality relationships are an important factor in the formation of unforgettable memories.

Exploring Hong Kong with friends. / 與友一起探索香港。
Enjoying a floor gathering with fellow Hall 10 floormates. / 和舍堂十的樓層宿生一起飯聚。

Writer:   LIM Hanna Suchanya (Alumni Civility Hall)
Images:   Reshma PUNJABI (Hall 10)

~~~

第一次遇到Reshma時,她給我的印象是,「哇!她真是一位擁有三種國際文化的學生啊!」

我不敢相信一個人可以容下那麼多文化,而她對於「家」的定義和在城大的成長的經歷更是引人入勝。

舍堂十的Reshma PUNJABI為主修銀行及金融服務,副修數學的四年級生。「我高中以來一直都喜歡數學,希望可以挑戰大學的數學課程。」為了讓自己更了解之後應否修讀碩士課程,她決定延遲一年才畢業,專注在數學副修上鑽研。

Reshma 在台灣出生一年後移居到杜拜,之後更遷居中國,並在廣州生活至十六歲。即使她沒有在印度居住過,但對自己的印度藉感受尤深。雖然能說流暢的英語和印度語、會話水平的普通話、入門的西班牙語和信德語,她形容自己的語言能力時卻十分謙遜。

Reshma PUNJABI (right) attended Diwali held in the Student Residence in November 2016. / Reshma PUNJABI 於2016年11月參與了在城大宿舍舉行的印度排燈節。

「身邊的人就是我的家,我認為城大和中國就是我家。一旦身邊的人離開,城大亦不會再是我的家,若果以實際的地方的來算的話,我會說(家)是廣州,純粹因為這是我從小就已經在那。」

她16歲的時候就已經進了大學,我亦很有興趣知道她是如何在大學「長大」的。作為年紀較小的新生,在初來報到的第一個月,她在社交上遇到了困難,用了好些時間才能與比她年長的同輩相處,離開保護罩,走進多元的群體裡面。「在中國大陸的時候我就讀於國際學校,長期混在印度社群當中令我感到非常自在,以致我來城大後還是會不知不覺地偏向親近印度裔的同學,但我亦知道要去認識各種不同的人增廣見聞。」

著名的學術組織模擬聯合國(Model United Nations,簡稱MUN)是另一項促進Reshma 快速成長的活動。Reshma在高中的時候因為要專注學業而沒參加,當她在城大得悉有這個活動,她感到萬分興奮,因為模擬聯合國可提供大量的機會從不同文化的人身上學習。

A visit to Google Hong Kong’s office. / 參觀谷歌香港的辦公室。
Celebrating Holi with friends. / 與朋友們一起慶祝侯麗節。
Posing in front of a booth at the Joint-hall Mid-autumn Festival Celebration. / 在聯舍中秋晚宴中與友合照。

其中香港的方便亦是使Reshma 十分驚歎的一個地方,在訪問她的幾星期前,她一次在外面辦事竟然遇上一連串幸運的事情,過了一個完美的晚上。這次的事使Reshma 理解到朋友的陪伴和隨性的去玩樂是多重要。

Reshma 給予同學的小提示:要去拓寬自己的興趣、涉足於不同的事上,因為你永遠不知道那件事會為你帶來怎樣的經歷和經驗。即使一些跟她意見不合的人也能從他們身上學到不同的東西,無論你認識他們多久,他們亦可能對你人生有很大的影響。

最難忘的回憶都是和你關係密切的人一起創造的。你的家在那並不重要,重要的是和你相處的人。

Exploring Hong Kong with friends. / 與友一起探索香港。
Enjoying a floor gathering with fellow Hall 10 floormates. / 和舍堂十的樓層宿生一起飯聚。

文:   LIM Hanna Suchanya (校友樂禮堂)
譯:   黎彥東 (胡應湘爵士伉儷堂)
圖:   Reshma PUNJABI (舍堂十)

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