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A Queen’s oasis in the Far East

A Queen’s oasis in the Far East

Hong Kong is more than 12,000 km from campus, yet Queen’s spirit is alive and well in the bustling “Pearl of the Orient.”

Hong Kong is a big, energetic, and ­diverse city of seven million people, and more than 1,300 residents of this frenetic metropolis have something important in common – they’re all Queen’s grads.

The Hong Kong Branch of the Queen’s University Alumni Association officially counts almost 600 members. “But we know there are a lot more alumni out there,” says Kellogg Ngai, Artsci’97, one of the Branch’s most enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. Kellogg says – only half-joking – that after finding a job and a place to live, registering with the QUAA is the next thing any new graduate in Hong Kong should do.

The Branch membership includes Hong Kong natives who made the long journey to Kingston for their education or who have spent part of their youth growing up in Canada. And then there are Canadian expats who now call Hong Kong home.

Hong Kong Branch stalwarts Hong Kong Branch stalwarts (l-r) Eric Tang, Judge Kin Kee Pang,
and Kellogg Ngai. (Photo by Meagan Fitzpatrick)

Much like the city itself, the Branch is ever-busy. A core group of about 10 alumni serve on the executive committee that organizes social activities and events. Boat cruises in Hong Kong’s famous harbour, hiking trips and other physical activities, charity fundraisers, and pub nights, are just some of the diverse activities that bring Branch members together, while other events help to expand Hong Kong’s Queen’s alumni community.

The Branch is working hard to strengthen the University’s brand in Asia in hopes of building awareness and recruiting top students. “Queen’s isn’t as well-known here as we’d like it to be, and that’s something we can help to change,” said Eric Tang, Com’96, a member of the Branch executive.

Judge Kin Kee Pang, Arts’70, longtime Branch president, reports that when he attends recruitment events, he chats mostly with parents. At age 65, he laughs as he wonders if his age might scare away ­potential students. Not that he’s an “old guy” or thinks like one.Pang still has vivid memories of his own student days in Kingston, when he sometimes dined on “luke-warm” pizza at Lino’s, the now-defunct 24-hour Princess Street eatery that was a popular student hangout in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Pang also has fond memories of the close-knit campus community at Queen’s and of the studious atmosphere. “I do my best to convince potential ­students and their parents that Queen’s is a great university, one that offers a top-quality educational experience,” he says.

Pang, who has headed the Hong Kong Branch since 1992, has also been involved in the QUAA and served on the University Council for a dozen years. His deep commitment to his alma mater comes from a deep fondness for Queen’s. “I love my university. I think it shaped my character and helped to shape my career,” said Pang, who has had a long and distinguished ­legal career and now sits as a High Court judge in Hong Kong. “Queen’s is a ­fixture in my memory,” he says.

Pang is just one of the many well-known and widely respected Queen’s grads in this city. Two others who keep in touch with the Branch are Ian Burchett, Artsci’82, Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao, and David Nesbitt, MBA’70, the head of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce here in Hong Kong.

“Along with sharing many terrific memories of our times at Queen’s, I constantly benefit from the support of fellow alumni in Hong Kong and Macao in helping the consulate general advance Canadian interests locally and regionally,” says Burchett.

The Hong Kong Branch is run by people who are proud and passionate about their alma mater. Kellogg Ngai says one of the things he loved best about Queen’s was the school’s school spirit. That’s something that he and many others are committed to keeping it alive in Hong Kong, half a world away from campus.

For more information about the Hong Kong Branch, please send an email to Branch President Kim Kee Pang at hongkong_branch@tricolour.queensu.ca.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2013-3 cover]