Joshua Claassens, who was born in South Africa and lived in the US and Shanghai, has a great passion for Chinese culture. When he was in Shanghai, he began studying Chinese and learning martial arts from a master.

Subsequently, he returned to the US for university study. While majoring in Business, he chose to minor in Chinese. He is now an exchange student at HKBU. Making the most of this academic year abroad, he is pursuing his passion for traditional Chinese culture by learning tai chi.

In his leisure time, Joshua loves to explore the sights and sounds of Hong Kong. He describes animatedly, “I love seeing Sham Shui Po at night when most of the shops are closed only to be replaced by people selling second-hand clothing, used electrical appliances or electronic products by the pavement. It’s just like a night market. I enjoy watching them hawking their wares from a distance. I also went to Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market at 4 o’clock in the morning with my friend. We watched people scuttling about at work and we each bought a big box of fresh mangoes. It was so much fun!” Joshua thinks every city or even each district has its unique features. What he enjoys most is to explore and find these out himself.

Joshua also hopes to make the world a better place, “I seek to bring about positive change in the world by helping others, and by doing so we are already adding beauty and love to the world.” Through the social entrepreneurship class, he came to know Ms Doris Leung, CEO of Diamond Cab. “Doris told us about the Diamond Sedan Competition. The first thing that went through my mind was ‘That’s impossible!’ After a few days I decided to give it a shot, so I got a team together and started fundraising. In the end, we formed an eight-member team and raised over $6000 to cover the registration fee and to produce the team T-shirts.”

Every step of the way was a new learning experience for Joshua, “In the case of getting the team T-shirts, I sent out emails to apparel companies, sharing with them one by one the vision and value of the competition. Later, one of them agreed to sell us the T-shirts at cost. This proved to me that people do in fact cherish the meaning and value behind an act and don’t just look solely at money and rewards.”  

Joshua describes the competition day as the most beautiful day in his life, “On that Sunday morning blessed with fantastic weather, we assembled at Stanley waterfront in team T-shirts. All the participating teams were in high spirits. There was even a band playing music and later an old man with an electric guitar joined the band spontaneously. The ambiance was so joyous and vigorous! In the competition, we carried a physically challenged person on a sedan made of bamboo. Although we lost in the first round, we won in the next three and ended up clinching the first runner-up title.”

What really impressed Joshua were the smiling faces of the physically challenged, “They were so much happier than everyone else. Seeing their happiness made me contemplate: we dwell on and complain so much about life’s trifles, and that’s very often because we don’t know how to be grateful and content. The competition not only gathers people from all walks of life, but also reminds us to be more inclusive, and to learn new things and make new friends with an open mind. While enjoying our similarities, we also need to embrace the differences.”

Joshua will be leaving Hong Kong this May to complete his studies in the US. Facing a future full of possibilities, he is determined to try his utmost to help people in need.