There is a movie from Hong Kong called Shaolin Soccer, and it has a classic line that reads: “If you don’t have any dreams in life, you will look like a salted fish.” It means that if we don’t have dreams, we may as well be dead.
When I graduated from university, I thought that “I have to make my dream come true.” However, after a while, catching dreams seem impossible and spanned across a long distance.
Most people are devoid of ideas and fall into routines of work and domesticity. They have a family and accrue possessions, but never achieve their dreams.
However, when I feel exhausted in life’s endeavours, I wonder; “is my life really like that?” Nonetheless, I turn around and keep living my routine.
For some people, they have to change their routines drastically in order to move forward.
Nelson Lau gave up everything when he moved from Hong Kong to Calgary, and now he studies at SAIT in order to give his son the opportunity of free speech in his lifetime.
“I graduated from junior high school, and after working so many years, I had a luxury dream of wanting to return to school,” said Lau.
Lau, who is almost sixty-years-old, has a happy family with two sons, a dog, and a cat. He graduated from junior high school in 1976, and worked as a property agent and business owner for over thirty years.
Lau had his own business in the territory, and like other Kawasaki ‘die-hard’ fans, drove every weekend in Hong Kong.
“It was a golden opportunity now,” said Lau.
In the last three years, many Hong Kongers’ felt desperate in their city. Some are experiencing tragedy and are looking for an opportunity to escape Hong Kong.
According to Home Office statistics from the UK government, there have been a total of 123, 400 applications for the British National Overseas (BNO) route since its introduction on Jan. 31, 2021, up to the end of March 2022.
All those people have decided to start their new life in a new country.
In June 2021, the Canadian Government confirmed a ‘life-boat scheme’ for people in Hong Kong. The announcement followed the Hong Kong authorities’ decision to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers from the Legislative.
Canada is the third country, after the UK and Australia, to offer some form of guidance to Hong Kongers in response to the introduction of the National Security Law in July 2020.
Testing the New Language
After Lau decided to move to Calgary, he spent three months studying for the International English Language Test (IELTS) in order to enrol in the English upgrading program.
From his limited listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, he overcame his difficulties step by step.
“When I did the listening [2021 exam], I didn’t completely understand what they were talking about,” said Lau.
“I forced myself to study three hours per night. I forced myself to listen to the English Channel, and I gradually began to understand.”
Although Lau gave up his career in Hong Kong, he never gave up on his interest in Calgary. To get a Class 6 motorcycle driving-license, he took a written driving exam within three months of arriving in Calgary. In addition, to get his motorcycle license, he had to memorize almost every single word in the textbooks.
Lau said, “I tried five times before passing the theory exam. My English was not good, and the examination paper had no Chinese version.”
All for the family
Every day, Lau faced different problems, but with determination and persistence, he found a way out. One significant example was finding a junior high school for his younger son to attend.
His son had been waiting for two and a half months for a letter of acceptance from a school, but most schools do not accept new pupils during winter. Consequently, he had been at home since arriving in Calgary.
However, once Lau landed in Calgary in Dec. 2021, he started searching for a school for his son. His English was only at a junior high-school level, but for the benefit of his son, he called and visited more than 10 different schools.
When he felt frustrated, his son asked him “Daddy, I have had nothing to do for over two months, when can I go to school? What can we do?”
When he listened to his son’s questions, he wanted to cry, as he had no answer to give him.
Luckily, one school finally accepted his application, but the school was quite far away from home. Nevertheless, Lau drove his son every morning, and then attended his English class by 10 a.m.
Lau has started from scratch. Since Lau’s wife is still in HK, he is playing both parental roles while he is in Calgary.
In Hong Kong, Lau had a maid. In Calgary, he didn’t know how to cook. His wife continues to remind him to take good care of their son.
Lau tried to think of different types of food while still being committed to his English lessons. Since Jan. 2022, he explained that he has to submit 2-3 assignments with 250 – 1000 words per day.
Lau also overcame his fear of doing an English presentation in his class. Recently, he got another letter of approval from SAIT. He will study Print & Communication for a 2-year diploma program.
I wish him all the best, and I can’t wait to see his graduation pictures in two years.