A few weeks ago I wrote about my experience at TEDxSF V ALIVE! and indeed that was an inspiring experience. Too often we are caught up in the back and forth motion of a routine, which stifles creativity and the desire to explore.

To live a balanced life one needs to be inspired, to step outside of one’s comfort zone and embrace what the greater world has to offer. This can be in the form of acting on a crush, off the beaten path travel or in my case meeting people from diverse and interesting backgrounds. Having had a relatively windy upbringing with both Kiwi and Chinese heritage, I could I am a new breed of generation X’ers born into a supranational identity – never too patriotic as too stifle an inherent desire to explore.

Being armed with this ethos, I signed up for a volunteer event over the weekend to help refugees stranded in Hong Kong. Going into the event, I must admit it has been a while since I’ve done this in IB and the objective wasn’t clear cut to build something tangible.

Upon arrival at the missionary shelter in Tsim Tsa Shui, the entire BarCap was greeted by a friendly group of refugees from a cornucopia of backgrounds. Present were refugees from the Middle East and Africa. As we waited they seemed all very brotherly, able to interact freely without cultural or racial divides. What tied all of these people together was their common predicament of being aliens with no rights in Hong Kong.

As the day progressed we switched locale to a lovely beach on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. We were able to hear their stories individually and the length of time some of them have stayed is truly astonishing – 6 years for some. Behind all the jovial laughter one could really sense the intangible, but nonetheless tremendous impact of being in a foreign land without legal rights.

Imagine yourself to be displaced, and living on a stipend but not able to exercise your abilities to add value to society through employment. Put yourself in a situation where you do this for an extended period. The mind deteriorates because of this limbo state and it was really a testament to the human spirit how these refugees were able to remain cheerful and happy given how long they’ve lived in such a predicament.

For the Somalian refugees, it is an especially sad story given that Somalia has not had a legal government since 1991. More than half the country have been displaced externally. Though Hong Kong may be heaven compared to the streets of Mogadishu, the human free will to achieve will ultimately shine through and thus it is truly sad to see such stifling policies put in place on such capable individuals. In a very market sense, these policies are almost akin to planning.

Though the BarCap team did not build any houses or water taps, we did something just as substantial and that was to alleviate a dozen or so siloed human minds from the stationary nature of their lives. It was interesting to spend a day with them, seeing how they lived I realized I am myself.

Given the hustle and bustle of every mundane, one needs to go out of their comfort zone, explore a little bit, gain a new perspective, be grateful for where they are but always strive for more – to be the most holistic human being one can be.