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Reunion Stories

Golden Friendships and Memories

The University of Hong Kong Arts Association Taiwan Study Tour Group 1965

May 26, 2016

 

It was the Year of the Snake. Elvis Presley was Crying in the Chapel. The Rolling Stones were lamenting that they Can’t Get No Satisfaction. The Beatles were creating time by proclaiming there were Eight Days A Week and were busily engaged in the British Invasion of the US along with other UK bands such as Herman’s Hermits (Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter).

 

It was 1965. For a bunch of HKU undergrads, that year was memorable for reasons way beyond the pop culture icons of that year, and indeed, of the 60s.

 

A group of 22 of us in the Arts Faculty went on a Study Tour to Taiwan. The group consisted of 10 First Year and 12 Second Year students. Under the leadership of the Chairman of the Arts Association, Stephen Lam, the group criss-crossed the island, visiting all the popular tourist attractions and renowned universities of Taiwan. For most of us, it was the first time we had left Hong Kong and visited a foreign region, with a first-ever awe-inspiring mid-tour aeroplane ride to boot. (Plane travel was a big deal in those days).

 

The touring experience was exciting and exhilarating by itself. The marvel of the trip, however, was the everlasting friendships, relationships and memories formed during the tour. From a group of, basically, kids who barely knew one another at the beginning of the tour, we became family.

 

Fast forward 50 years, the idea was raised to have a golden anniversary reunion of what we now call the Taiwan Group. After graduating from HKU in 1966 and 1967, group members had dispersed to various locations and careers. Some members had kept in contact, while most others had not. There had been gatherings of small groups who had been in touch. But it was a daunting task to try to track down all 22 members after all these decades.

 

Fortunately, with the help of the HKU Alumni Office and some leads from members, we were able to locate 21 members. The places of current residence are almost equally divided between Hong Kong and North America (2 in the US, 10 in Canada). One person, Effie Sit, remains unlocated. So, Effie, or anyone who knows Effie, if you happen to read this piece, please let the Alumni Office know how we may contact you.

 

Since leaving HKU, members had gone on to many pursuits and accomplishments. All became professionals serving in various governmental, educational, and corporate offices, both in Hong Kong and North America. With deep sorrow we learnt that a member, who had become a well-known public figure in Hong Kong, had passed away earlier in the year in Toronto. We also recently mourned the loss of a member’s spouse. On the happier side, the Taiwan tour spawned two married couples, one in Hong Kong and one in Canada.

 

It was determined that the main 50th anniversary gathering was to be in Hong Kong during the third week of November 2015. “Mini” reunions involving a few members each also occurred in other locations. Twelve members were able to attend the main event in Hong Kong. The Canadian couple who attended the Hong Kong function also took the opportunity to make a nostalgic 50th anniversary tour of Taiwan, their first visit to the island since the original 1965 tour, revisiting many of the sites they saw 50 years earlier.

 

The Hong Kong reunion programme consisted of several lunch and dinner gatherings, outings to some local attractions, and a tour of our alma mater, HKU, organised by the HKU Alumni Office.

 

 

In many cases, members had not seen one another since leaving HKU. It was absolutely amazing that, despite the long lapse in time, members related to each other during the reunion as if they had never been apart. The friendship, amity, and camaraderie developed during the Taiwan trip half a century ago have not faded a bit. Our hard-earned academic degrees notwithstanding, that sentiment of enduring comradeship is perhaps the most valuable “take-away” we gained from attending The University of Hong Kong.

 

We pledged that we would preserve these treasured bonds by visiting one another as much as possible.

 

Submitted by William Lai on behalf of the 1965 University of Hong Kong Arts Association Taiwan Study Tour Group