Ziyad Broker (Class of 2023) talks about his GOA capstone project on migrant workers and positive psychology
For his GOA capstone project, which was in the top 3% of the nominations for the GOA Catalyst Exhibition showcase, Ziyad Broker (Class of 2023) focused on positive psychology and how it could cultivate an inclusive migrant worker community in Hong Kong. In an interview with him, Ziyad talks about his inspiration for his project from within Hong Kong and how his interview with his helper Rusdiana shaped how he sees spirituality and his gratitude practice.
For some context, Global Online Academy (GOA) is a nonprofit organization that offers courses covering various topics for students to enroll in. These courses occur on an online platform and are accessible to students of member schools. HKIS is one such school offering its students the opportunity to enroll in these courses during the summer break or the academic year.
Annicka: The first question I wanted to ask you was, what inspired this project? Were any specific experiences that caused you to base your GOA project on this issue?
Ziyad: The project prompt was to look at a group in your community that suffers. From paying attention to the news and reading SCMP daily, I learned about the different issues Hong Kong domestic helpers face. You know, They were mistreated quite a bit during Covid. Reading that, it was the first thing that came to my mind. I also have a domestic helper, and from reading the news, those two experiences combined and inspired my project.
A: What was your biggest takeaway from making this project? Did you learn anything about the conditions of migrant workers in Hong Kong that you didn't know about before?
Z: One of my biggest takeaways was the importance of community to many domestic workers; for example, when you walk outside IFC, you'll see a lot of helpers dancing, or in Central, by the sea sometime, you'll see them sitting and eating together. That sense of community is vital. During Covid, one of the struggles that domestic helpers faced was that they couldn't meet each other as much, in addition to all the discrimination they faced. I think that is something that we have to be aware of as a society and encourage our domestic helpers to meet with their friends as much as possible, just like we would meet with our friends. And that's something I had seen before, but I wasn't aware of how important it was until I did my project.
Some slides from Ziyad's presentation
A: How has this project changed how you see the environment around you? Did this project change your view on religion and spirituality?
Z: It taught me that there's a somewhat-unknown difference between spirituality and religion. Something I've come to appreciate about HKIS is how spirituality is stressed in our education. I realized the importance of understanding your own beliefs about whether there is a higher power–do you have a sense of control in your life? Does some other power or philosophy have some control over your life? Or both? Understanding that can help us live a healthier life is something I learned even through talking to Rusdiana, my helper. She is a practicing Muslim, but she also mentioned some of her friends who are not practicing any religion. Still, they have a strong sense of what they believe in, which helps them live a much better and happier life and be more assured in their capabilities.
A: Do you have a gratitude practice of your own? What does it look like for you?
Z: I have a gratitude jar at home, and every day I write a note with three things I am grateful for and find that it's pretty vital for me. I'm taking many challenging classes, and I have lots of extracurriculars, so it's good to sometimes sit back and reflect on some things in your life that you are happy about. And these things can be very specific, like if I went on a walk one day, then I'd be pleased about that. It can also be things that I'm grateful for every day that I may not necessarily think about, such as having the opportunity to go to HKIS or playing a certain sport, so I encourage gratitude jars; they're my favorite.
Rusdiana and Ziyad
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