Class of ’97: Soccer-mad Harrison Chu gave up on his dreams and returned to his textbooks

‘One exam decides whether you will live or die,’ says Chu who believes young Hongkongers spend too much time studying

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.

Harrison Chu Pak-Ho

“I fell in love with soccer at the age of 15. I was obsessed with the pace, power and cool tricks. I felt it was more challenging to do tricks with your feet than your hands, and my idol was Cristiano Ronaldo. I went to secondary school and many of my classmates had that kind of dream.

“We played together every day after class, but eventually we forgot about the dream and came back to our textbooks.

“Young people in Hong Kong spend too much time studying. They are told they must have a degree in order to get a good job, and the only way is by taking exams. That’s why we say ‘one exam decides whether you will live or die’.

“I have just received an offer to study information management at the University of Hong Kong and I’m looking forward to starting in September. I want to join all kinds of clubs and societies and try things I have never done before.

“I feel lucky that I was born after the handover. Since 1997, Hong Kong has been mainly stable and prosperous. It has made great progress in terms of infrastructure, construction and public security, and our parents have supported us by giving us the best they can. I started to pay attention to politics after Occupy. I realised we have problems in our legal and political systems. I’m worried about us losing the freedom of speech. Hong Kong has the rule of law, meaning everyone has the right to speak out. It is very important to the city. It keeps us all informed of the problems we are facing.”