AIPE Program, Hong Kong | Week 3 – Culture and Corruption

Delaney Bruce

I write this with my AIPE experience drawing to a close, but fortunately this last week has been a busy one. Last Friday we sat our political philosophy exam to close out that part of the course and that night we took part in cultural presentations where groups of students from each of the countries represented shared elements of their own culture. It was interesting to reflect on Australian life and culture (something I don’t often consciously stop to do) but also to see what information about Australia actually circulates in the wider world. More importantly I got to see a great variety of culture and tradition from the other presentations such as a Chinese tea ceremony, Myanmarese dance, Nepalese song, Colombian coffee and Korean beer recipes.

On Saturday, a group of us went on a Buddha-based day trip. In the morning we went to the 10 000 Buddhas Monastery, the stairs leading up to which were lined with a myriad of golden Buddha statues with no two the same. The main temple’s inner walls were lined with thousands of miniatures to round out the 10 000. We then made our way to Lantau Island to visit the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. We took the cable car there which was well worth the fare as it offered great bird’s-eye views of the island’s natural beauty. The Monastery was of impressively ornate design and the Buddha himself was quite a sight atop the hill, his Zen demeanour in stark contrast to the sweating and panting tourists who had reached the summit (myself included).

This week’s classes continued on political economics with topics such as inequality, monetary policy and the GFC, but looking behind them to policies’ potential knowledge and incentive problems. We also had a class trip to Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), who were instrumental in stamping out much of the corruption that once plagued the city. It also seems that they devote a lot of resources to engaging in anti-corruption education and instilling morality in Hong Kong’s youth, which is an interesting contrast to the role Australia’s anti-corruption agencies assume. On Wednesday we had a guest lecture from Andrew Work, founder of The Lion Rock Institute and Editor in Chief of Harbour Times. He offered an entertaining and engaging whirlwind tour of Hong Kong history which was great for filling in gaps in my understanding as well as explaining how things in Hong Kong came to be and how its distinctive character was formed.

All we have left now is the political economy exam, closing ceremony and formal dinner. The three weeks have flown by but the amazing experiences, lessons and people of AIPE will remain indelibly etched in my memory.