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Mr Samuel Shing Yan YOUNG holds a BA (2008) from the University of Hong Kong. He completed a double major in Japanese Studies and History. Samuel now works for a major Chinese bank in Hong Kong in the corporate banking function with an Asia-Pacific coverage focus.


Memories of Japanese Studies and HKU

Studying in the Department of Japanese Studies was definitely a joyful experience. Together with my friends, we strived hard to achieve a common goal of mastering a new language in just a few years. I felt blessed to share the journey with many classmates who like me had not studied the language prior to university. Together we became largely conversational using only Japanese by the end of Year 2.

In my last year at HKU, I was very lucky that the Department introduced a full suite of lectures tailored for students who had returned from a year of exchange in Japan, and conducted solely in Japanese. Our professors and lecturers developed a lot of interesting innovations in the new curriculum and structured the classes in a highly interactive format. We had a lot of heated discussions and debates, many of which I can still vividly recall the details. They were my best memories at HKU.

I recall spending a lot of time in the library doing research for my essays. I also had many small classes with only 10-20 classmates. Somehow you would definitely be called upon to answer a question or give a comment, and there was no escaping by sitting at the back of the room. The good thing was that it really helped you to stay focused.

I also had the honour of serving as the master of ceremonies in many SMLC functions that were either conducted in Japanese or a bilingual setting (English and Japanese). Some memorable events included a visit by the award-winning writer Ms. Mitsuyo Kakuta, and the grand tea master Dr. Sen Genshitsu. It was really exciting to be speaking Japanese on stage at such formal occasions.

Exchange and Internship Experiences

I went to Kyushu University through the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme in 2006-07. They have a very balanced program for exchange students in terms of exposure to both Japanese language studies and understanding of Japanese cultural or anthropological studies. Initially I had not thought about going for overseas exchange at all and I simply followed my friends to the information seminar. It turned out to be an eye opening experience, and I learned to have an open mind at all times.

I also joined the 10-day KAPIC summer programme to Kagoshima in Year 1. That laid the foundation for me to go on a full-year exchange, and I still have a sweet spot for Kyushu to this day. I did an internship at Mitsubishi Corporation during Year 2 summer.

Life Beyond HKU

I have been in the banking industry since my graduation. At first I just thought about starting with a company where my Japanese language skills could be useful. This thought eventually brought me to a Japanese bank where I spent the first ten years of my career. The first year on the job required quite intensive Japanese language skills and the business Japanese classes I took at HKU were a life saver. After some more time, I went on secondment and spent one-and-a-half years in New York. My exchange experience played a part in deciding to go, as I thought it must be fascinating to see how things are run elsewhere.

Currently, Japanese fluency is not the essential skill set for my day-to-day work as I mainly deal with opportunities in the APAC region. However, the undergraduate experience empowered me to be more resilient to obstacles and to have patience in seeking common ground. I like the Japanese word "Omoiyari" a lot - putting yourself in the shoes of others. The exposure to Japanese culture remains crucial to help me navigate and identify solutions in a daily context with people from different backgrounds.

Interestingly from time to time I find myself being the master of ceremonies in various company events. The experience from HKU helped a lot. It feels a bit like driving a car – once you develop this skill, it’s a skill you don’t forget, and you can easily adapt to different situations.

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