Before the finalists’ works are released for voting on Saturday, we’ve shared a selection of our young writers’ entries online.
The participants were given the opportunity to shed light on a particular community concern they each feel strongly about. Many insightful commentaries have been made, the strongest of which appear within these next two days.
Featured below are the submissions of the 2016 Around DB and Life on Lantau Young Writer’s Competition runners-up — Alix Leonard, Marcus Cheng, and Xander Ito-Low. In their entries, they discuss the issues of environmental awareness, teenage addiction, and spectrum disorder. For their laudable efforts, they receive gourmet goodie bags courtesy of Meat Snacks Group.
Congratulations to Alix, Marcus, and Xander!
by Alix Leonard, Year 12, Discovery College (17 years old)
It is only when they are all gone, that they are noticed. Before the alluring twinkling night lights of Discovery Bay stands the vast ocean, the South China Sea, converging with currents of the wild Pacific and the Pearl River Delta. People living here see it as a true privilege to live in such a gem of a place, what with the natural presence of trees and flowers in one of the most environmentally-friendly and closely-knitted communities of Hong Kong. However, there is another aspect that we may not recognise about life around Lantau.
When the sun rises again, the lights turn out and the island is buzzing with people – that is when we notice it. The waste. Smothering our less known and unkept beaches, kissing the shoreline and loitering in the grass – everywhere. Lantau is reputedly known as one of the most natural places in Hong Kong, hosting 45,000 humans along with the symbolic water buffaloes. But to what extent can we call this “natural” island environmentally friendly? Is it really better than the rest of Hong Kong at managing its litter? Its environment? What about the people – how are we, as Lantau residents, affected by this lack of consideration on our behalf?
Gum wrappers. Takeaway boxes. Toothbrushes. Even the most ridiculous things – sandals, for example – are found in the sea around Lantau every day. Small teeth marks etched along the sides of such objects suggest small greedy creatures, gourmand for an opportunity to have a little snack – often with fatal consequences. A small bottle cap to your Watson’s water might not sound like a lot to you – so you carelessly toss it in the sea when you’re done opening it – but it sounds like a lot to fish like carp when they misinterpret it as food, and are slowly asphyxiated by the plastic.
And it’s not just the ocean – public places are all too often equally subject to devastation caused by litter, what with the piles of cans, bottles and fast-food packaging. Should we be surprised? Considering how hugely privileged we are, as primitive beings, to have the mind-blowing facilities we do – most commonly referred to as “recycling bins” – then yes, we ought to. If leaving a Coca-Cola can on a plaza table is such a minor infraction, what is to stop everyone from doing the same?
It remains a puzzle, after pondering over this issue a hundred times, why we, as a society, do not acknowledge the increasingly alarming way in which we are impeding our environment. Contrary to what many people around Lantau seem to believe, effective recycling programs have been implemented throughout the island, transporting recyclables to places ranging from glass recyclers to plastic processors to individual cleaners. Nonetheless, 100% efficiency can never be reached without full communal engagement. Scarily, this is what we are drastically lacking.
As people, we need to collaborate to ensure good use of separation bins. To not only pick up after ourselves, but after one another. To realise how the tiniest of things can be a life-saving blessing, or a detriment to someone (or something) in our environment. To appreciate everything and take nothing for granted are aspects in which we, as a community, need to improve. We are smart-thinking individuals who want to be able to give back to our communities – so why not use them to improve this nation? Why can’t we adopt a simple routine, perform simple actions, and strive towards this notion we preconceived ourselves to? To watch our world desiccate and get poisoned by us is not something we should not even consider. Sooner or later, we will become the carp – sooner or later, we will be asphyxiated by our own imprudence.
To ring the curtain down, it is crucial for us to realise that this problem is much bigger than we want to concede. A degrading environment may not seem like a direct threat to our ecosystem at current – though it is authentic to say that it has started to. Our world deserves to be treated with dignity and respect: it needs to be noticed, before it is all gone.
by Marcus Cheung, Year 10, West Island School (15 years old)
My heart is racing. I can only feel the thumping of my heart, and the pounding in my brain. I can’t comprehend what’s happening. All I know is I’m running for my life, as fast as my legs can carry me, meandering through the crowds away from the police. Desperate for cash to stock up on illicit drugs and alcohol, we frequently preyed on rich women like hawks; waiting for their slightest negligence in order to nick their bags. We conducted this daily routine without an iota of remorse. Our latest acquisition was a stolen golf cart, which we frequently used to evade the hands of justice.
As Alex zooms through the dimly lit Headland road, I feel the cool autumn air blow against my face and I begin to reminiscent. I’m from a well off family. My mother’s a famous lawyer, my father is the director of the largest IT Company, and I went to a prestigious school. Instead of being the top student I once aspired to be; here I am in a stolen golf cart, with a stolen purse filled with money, running away from the police. Suddenly, Alexander wakes me out of my revelry, and gets out of the cart. As we’re walking up the steps to our safe house, Alexander turns around and yells at me.
“How could you screw up? It was supposed to be smooth. We blend in with the crowd, take the purse and leave the beach. Why on earth were you so bloody slow! Do you want to give us away to the police?!
At that moment I felt anger slowly bubble in my chest, then I bursted like a volcano
“Just leave me alone! I’m as loyal as I’ve always been okay! You guys are the only family I have left. If you don’t trust me, go find someone else to work with!”
As I storm into the safehouse, my face red and my mind clouded with a mix of anger and frustration, the worried eyes of Katie land on me.
“Don’t say anything.Just give me a joint and a bottle of beer now.”
I snatch it from her hand, and storm into my room. I light the joint, take sip of beer and slump onto my bed. As I stare at my celling, the flashbacks begin, it goes to 8 months before. “Jhin, your grades are falling down. You used to be getting top of class, now you’re in the bottom of the class, are you alright?”
That was the changing point in my life. How I changed from an A+ student, to the law-defying criminal I am now.
After that moment, my grades only got worse. My parents would scold me because of my poor grades. Gradually, I became more and more irate. Day by day, I would return home later, it started with arriving home at 11pm, then 12, then 3 in the morning. First it started with beer, then cigarettes, then drugs came into the picture. My life was a mess. I would party hard on the weekends, smoked marijuana until the whole house stank, and drank to the point that I would collapse on the floor vomiting. I had no regards for my academics, I gave up and dropped out of school.
When my parents found out they yelled saying:
“We spend countless amounts of money on your education, and this is how you repay us? What type of ungrateful son you are!”
That was the last straw. I had enough of my parents reprimanding me.That night I packed my bags and ran away from the hell that I used to live in.
Back in reality, I tears build up inside of me. I don’t hold it back. I grab my pillow and sob into it. I can no longer hide the tears pouring out of me like a waterfall. I hear the door open, but I don’t look up. I already know its Katie who has come in. She places her arms around me and cuddles me, just like a mother would. I just hide my face in her shoulder and cry.
Katie then breaks the silence saying “You’re a night drifter Jhin. It’s what our parents didn’t want us to become.”
Order in Disorder (Spectrum disorder)
by Xander Ito-Low, Form 5, YHKCC (16 years old)
If you saw someone with a broken leg, standing on the bus, what would you do? Most people would probably put themselves in that person’s shoes and immediately give them a seat. What if it was a disability you could not see? Or undetectable to the human eye? Or lets say a social disability like ASD? It is far more difficult to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, when they have a spectrum disorder. Have you ever seen a person with an erratic and illogical behavior? Have you ever snickered to yourself?
It may appear that there isn’t anything wrong with that particular person, however there may be more than meets the eye. They could have a spectrum disorder.
A spectrum disorder can include a variety of linked conditions. Sometimes extending to one or more traits. Examples of this include Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyper Activity disorder (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Aspergers Syndrome.
Some features of ASD (Autistic spectrum disorder) are: obsessive detailed expertise in a specialized subject, awkward gestures and body language, quirks and emotional indifference.
Such people like this exist in every community, including yours. But are we including their uniqueness and providing them with encouragement?Or are we socially rejecting them?
Lets take a look what a community is. According to the Cambridge dictionary a community is defined as “peopleliving in one particular area or people who are considered as a unit. An abundance of people in our community have various perceptions about this statement. Which is understandable because we are alldifferent in some way.
Should spectrum disorders really be perceived negatively? Or as a tribulation or a gift?We are more likely to overlook a famous persons’ peculiar characteristics.
Many famous and innovative people of our time have delivered their contributions to our society that have changed our views or have taught us to approach things from a different perspective. Some examples are Bill Gates and Grigory Perelman.
Even in the media such disorders areonly subtly exposed. Raising awareness about this predicamentand education should be highlighted.
Have you ever watched Sherlock; if so, what did you think about him? Did you think that he was a person of high intellect or did you think that he was a bit eccentric? Sherlock is actually based ON a person who has ASD. You can infer this FROM the first scene of the series his co-worker asks him if he would like to get a coffee. It is very obvious to the normal viewer that she is asking him to go out on a date, but instead he replies with (the answer) “Black, two sugars, I’ll be upstairs”.
Although it seems that many people with spectrum disorders, become successful in later life, they have to deal with a lot of hardships. This isdue to prejudice towards them. Unfortunately this could mold them into something they aren’t or even break them, so they never reach their full potential. However some are supported and understood,then go on to amazing heights.
What apprehensions do you have regarding your community?
Is it the fact that the surroundings are becoming more and more crowded as time proceeds? Is it the concern that things are too rushed?
Wait! What happened to this picture of people in a community being a unit? A unit that encourages people to live life to the fullest? Well, it isn’t as simple as that. As I was saying earlier that not every community is perfect. However we can still do so much more. So next time you see a person who appears to act odd or unusual, sparethem the glare or smirk. Lend them a hand or share a kind word of encouragement, for this act can make a great impact on a person’s life and this in turn makes a community stronger.
Quote : “I’m always going to have struggles, but with hard work, determination and the support of others instead of having a life I have no control over, I can have the life I’ve always dreamed of.” – David Petrovic
The top three entries will made available for voting tomorrow! Watch for it!
The Around DB and Life on Lantau Young Writer’s Competition 2016 is made possible by Epicland, Hogbites Pork Snacks, Wild West Beef Jerky, and Bundu Biltong.