Class of ’97: Rabina Rai was born in Hong Kong but feels she will always be seen as a foreigner in city

Rai says she sees herself as someone with multiple ethnicities but will never be truly accepted as Chinese

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 10:00am

Meet the class of ’97, born the year of the handover. Their childhoods tell the stories of Hong Kong’s first two decades after the return to China. Some remember Sars, others took part in Occupy. Now, they’re trying to work out what their future holds – and how Hong Kong’s own uncertain future fits into their plans.

Rabina Rai

“My parents are from Nepal and I was born in Tuen Mun Hospital. At home, we speak three different languages, Nepali, Cantonese and English. I also know a little Mandarin and I studied with local students from kindergarten to primary and then secondary school.

“I see myself as someone with multiple ethnicities, but if you say you are Chinese or a Hongkonger this is not accepted because no one in your family is ethnically Chinese. When I was little I thought I was Chinese and translated things for my mother, and although people were impressed they still saw me as a foreigner.

“Such experiences made me feel like I did not belong here.

“My parents did not really think about whether to leave or stay in Hong Kong when the handover happened. They only thought that the education system here was better than in Nepal, and I would have a better future growing up here.

“As for me, I am a little bit scared about the future, because people say that in China the internet is limited, and people cannot use Facebook.

“From my impression, if you are in China, they will limit many things, and I do not want to live my life like that.”