Recently, Hong Kong has been ranked as the 43rd most livable city in the world by EIU, surpassing Singapore (46th) and Taipei (60th). However, if you look at the World Happiness Report by United Nations, Hong Kong (70th) falls behind Singapore (22nd) and Taiwan (35th). Although these rankings may not tell us the full picture, we can find Costa Rica ranked as the highest-ranked Latin America country in terms of happiness (14th). And from the conversation with our Costa Rica friends, we get their recipe for happiness - the positive mindset.
While most Hong Kong locals see the society going south after the Umbrella revolution, Juan had a different point of view.
"Some locals already left behind the pressures from peers, parents and the society. Now people are awake that they need to do something new. I feel Hong Kong is now more entrepreneurial than ever. "
Juan quoted what is happening in Mong Kok as an example. "Four years ago, you would see similar thing when you walked past Mong Kok every week. Now you can see different activities with different causes every week there"
Amazed by locals who have been running small shops for centuries and even generations, Juan believe Hong Kong has all the willingness, capital and human resources to be an Asia entrepreneurial hub but all it lacks is the execution of ideas.
"There are more than 20 co-working spaces in Hong Kong but most of them are empty. If you go to a co-working space in India, everyone is trying to something. Entrepreneurs are everywhere in Hong Kong but now it may take some time for the transition. "
"When I have social meetings with my colleagues, I feel everyone is so creative that you have some interesting ideas but they just did not execute." Veronica agreed with Juan's comment.
Everyone has the Rights and Responsibilities to Promote Their Home
"Few years ago, we came up with the idea of sharing more about Costa Rica worldwide. Because very few people know about Costa Rica. And I believe this gives us an opportunity to tell people about our country. We have been asking people in Hong Kong the question " What do you know about Costa Rica?" Many people can't answer because we are not loud enough to tell people who we are. And that's why I and Veronica try to connect the dots. There can be opportunities for both parties on travel, study or even businesses. I believe whenever we are more interested in other humans, it brings walls down and people closer."
Over 10 Costa Ricans across different countries are involved in a project named "Somos Pura Vida", a phrase in Costa Rica that locals use to say hello, goodbye, or express we feel good. With a slogan of "We are Costa Ricans and we are Pura Vida", they want to showcase their friendliness, proactivity and positive mindset in a new way.
On the other hand, although Hong Kong may have more international presence than Costa Rica, both Juan and Veronica felt locals can do more to promote Hong Kong.
"There are small places in the world but some you actually heard more about them. Maybe you have no idea about history of Switzerland but you heard about Switzerland. Why? Because they made a lot of efforts to make "Swiss made" with some values. Today if I tell you something is made in Costa Rica, it may not tell you anything but it has to start from somewhere. This is all based on actions. Every huge thing starts by an action."
A Temporary Goodbye to Hong Kong can be a Good Thing
When asked about their opinion on Hong Kong locals, especially young people moving out from this city, Juan and Veronica don't expect many people would move forever given Hong Kong is such a gorgeous place. Juan believed escaping from a place because of the problems would make the situation worse.
"During the economic crisis in 2008, I met a Spanish girl in Edinburgh. She was unemployed at her early 30 and came to Scotland to look for a job. She mentioned most of the youths like her were leaving the country because the youth unemployment rate is over 40%. Then I asked her 'If all the youths are leaving, who is building up the Spanish economy?' She did not have a good answer and I felt the fact that people are escaping made Spain going deeper into the hole."
However, Juan and Veronica believe people should definitely go outside of Hong Kong to explore and develop themselves personally.
"Now we may have more opportunities meeting people from other countries in schools. But being in a different place, interacting with people you are not used to and having to adapt to new lifestyle are different from meeting an International student. The experience outside can create new relationships, new perspectives and even new answers to social problems. I really encourage people to interact with humans who have very different background from themselves. But only the minority in the world is doing this. "
While there are only 5 million people in Costa Rica, it is amazing to meet Costa Ricans who are so proud of their country and even working hard to promote its culture when living overseas. In the past, Hong Kong was known as an industrial center with people working days and nights to create products exported to the world. Now we may call Hong Kong an International finance center. However, if we ask foreigners " what do you know about Hong Kong?" 5 years from now, what would you like to hear as a local in Hong Kong?
If you are interested in the project run by Juan and Veronica, you may visit www.facebook.com/somospv. You can also watch how they conducted interviews in Hong Kong here.