Interview—Issue 21 (February, 2017)
In Ada Ho’s new book, the cover shows a young lady posed upside down wearing a big smile. She had graduated from Georgetown University in the U.S., and got her Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard. In 2009, she set up L plus H Fashion, a social enterprise, and has remained on the company executive board. L Plus H is based in Hong Kong specialising in the production of extra-fine knitwear. It creates decent job opportunities for displaced skilled workers and trains young designers, technicians and managerial staff. She also provides consultancy services to many enterprises and to public sectors, NGOs and schools. Meanwhile, she is Honorary Assistant Professor with Hong Kong University.
Recently, Ada started a company with the name of Paxxioneer and made herself the CEO. ‘Paxxioneer’ comes from the word ‘Passion’, which is what Ada looks for in life. Ada likes to travel and talks to people who have passion. ‘These people are not necessarily the knowledgeable ones, but they could encourage others; they could show you a new perspective to the world.’
Ada admits that when she faces difficulties, she seek help from her mentors. She considered herself fortunate and knows it. Many are not and get trapped in the bottom of the well or are lost in a maze and helpless.
‘I hope my network can help them get to know new friends and broaden their horizons.’
When Ada visited Greece, she talked to the local people about the crises they were facing: national debts, refugees and social issues. In Hong Kong, she introduces the ecological concept of aquaponic farming in the New Territories.
‘As we grow up, we tend to lose our curiosity towards life. But when we travel, we are relaxed, become interested and open towards a new environment, and the people from all walks of life. Chatting with them is definitely better than learning from books.’
Ada calls people with a passion for life ‘paxxioneers’. The two ‘xx’s represent two persons jumping up with both arms held high in celebration of a fruitful and passionate life. She wishes that the passion from the paxxioneers will be spread. She is connecting the paxxioneers all over the world with those who might have lost it.
With passion, Ada Ho helps many low-performing teenagers build up confidence, team spirit and positive values. She has produced two musicals with and for them, ‘The Awakening’ and ‘Against the Wind’. Ada also took part in the re-construction works of Sichuan after the earthquake in 2008 and was honoured the ‘Humanitarian Award’ in 2008 by the Women’s International Film and Television Showcase in Los Angeles.
Indeed, she is one of the paxxioneers, who always work with passion, to brighten, to warm and to care for the ‘lost’ people in many corners of life: those who have lost their jobs, their confidence, or a vision or mission in their lives.
Middle Child Syndrome
Ada is a middle child and compared to her other sisters and brothers, she did not feel the attention. She was sensitive as to how fair her parents were to each child. For example, who was most photographed? Whose name got most mentioned by relatives? Such childhood experiences affected her. She cares for the forgotten ones in school and society, and she seems to be fighting for justice. She is fond of the martial art novels of Jin Yung, greatly inspired by the gallantry so brilliantly told. ‘I long to help the weak. I don’t have swords. But I have my mouth and I have my pen’, Ada said excitedly.
For the interview, Ada picked a quiet and spacious cafe in a hotel. We were led to a nice corner, but soon, a couple was soon seated next to us. They were loud. ‘We are forced to listen to the couple. Can you kindly change our table after we finish the main course? The restaurant is so spacious with few customers. Your colleague could have assigned us a better table in the first place. Problems are created if management only thinks of operational facilitation at the expense of customer satisfaction.’ So, Ada advised the manager of the cafe politely. The manager was embarrassed and re-assigned our tables, ‘This is an “occupational hazard”, I can’t help voicing out on an issue of management. I expect to see improvement in this cafe.’ She confessed.
Similar stories are not rare in Ada’s new book. Her brother, who wrote the Preface, let readers in on a secret.
‘There were more boys than girls in our school days. She, as the “feminist”, always fought for the rights of the girls. If the teachers were not fair in grading, she would not let go of them…
‘If I dare not voice out on small issues, I will not be able to voice out at critical moments and to seek justice in life. To me, this is a training process to be brave.’ Ada elaborated.
Heroine @ Divinity School
Ada, the heroine, enrolled in the MACS (Master of Arts in Christian Studies) programme with passion in 2011. She was dissatisfied with the programme. ‘The Divinity School of Chung Chi College is located in the Chinese University of Hong Kong where I expect concrete training in biblical interpretation and in critical thinking and academic discipline. I was disappointed.’
In her view, quality discussion is very important to consolidate and digest the knowledge learnt. ‘We were asked to read many journals and articles before discussion; we were supposed to go deep. At Divinity School, we were spoon-fed with notes prepared by the lecturers. To learn passively is not my expectation.’
Ada also had complaints about certain professors. ‘Some were late to the lectures for 10 to 15 minutes; some delayed the 10-min break by answering too many questions concerning papers raised by students. The failure of time management wasted one-third of my class.
‘The professors are too kind. They tried too hard to accommodate the diverse standards of MACS students. They simply lowered their demand. Basically, you could easily get a pass if you do simple research and come up with a conclusion of some differing viewpoints.’ Ada was well-trained in social science academic writing. A paper with a number of book references would not pose any difficulty for her. ‘Frankly, I gain a pass needing only my writing skill. Not much to do with what I have learned in class.
‘What should be the purpose of theological education? Is it to produce enough pastoral staff or to train up Christians with analytical skills and solid foundation? If it is the latter, how can we lower our standards?
‘In a norm-referenced evaluation for final grading, an E-grade paper might be marked up as a C-grade or D-grade under the system. This discourages a potential A-grade paper producer like me to work better.’
This is Ada Ho, a trouble-maker, unpopular personality, modern gallantry, revolutionist, heroine etc.
‘I always feel discontent with the present situation. Seeing the failures in many aspects of life generates restlessness in me and drives me to improve, innovate, correct and seek solutions.’
Written by Li Kwong-ping; polished by Raymond W.M. Fung