Stage 515370

Caroline Chan

My Show

So, I realised that I should probably make my profile work for me a little.

I am the host/producer of a show on RTHK Radio 3 called Connect2.  Every Sunday at 8:30am, I profile a pair about a topic they're interested in.  It's still early days (six episodes!!!) but I really like.  I hope you do too.

To listen to it live, you can check out the RTHK Radio 3 webpage:

http://programme.rthk.org.hk/channel/radio/index.php?c=radio3

OR in the archives:

http://programme.rthk.org.hk/channel/radio/programme.php?name=radio3/connect2&p=4824

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Never settle for second best

I was at a dinner recently and was asked what I do.  I explained that I now work in radio (yes, my occupation status hasn't changed but that's because I still see myself more as a writer-producer than a presenter.)  There's something about telling people that you work in the industry.  For my part, there's always a sense of pride.  I never realised this until I left the industry.  During that brief stint, I hated telling people what I did.  I would do whatever I could to not say.  And now that I'm back, it's like coming home.

So back to this dinner.  I was talking with this guy and as soon as I told him that I worked in radio, he's like, oh, I was once interviewed for a friend's radio show back in France.  He had taken a trip aboard a cargo ship to South America and the interview had been about that.  I thought that was pretty interesting.  And then he added, when we were growing up, we all wanted to be Disc Jockeys so we could play our music on the radio.

And then I asked, what he did now.  There was a pause and he told me he worked in sales and the look of complete disappointment came over his face.

Now I'm not saying those jobs aren't great but it isn't for everyone and I believe that there is something for everyone.  Even when I was working outside media, I always thought, this is a great job and there is someone out there who would love it, but that person isn't me.

I recently had a guest ask me if this was my dream job.  I thought, what a brazen question to ask.  But it got me thinking.

There's a lot of talk of soulmates and dream jobs.  Some might say these are high ideals and you should just take what you can get.  But I've never been one to settle and I'm glad I didn't because I really think I have my dream job. 

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Blah blah blah...

I've always thought that language is power.  This is unsurprising from someone who was born in Canada to parents who immigrated there.  There are at least 3 languages that you have to learn.  That of your parents and the two official languages.  If you can master those, you're golden.  If you can add more to your roster, then you're flying high.  In high school, on top of the languages I already knew, I was learning Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin.  I don't remember much of my Spanish though I think it sounds a lot like my French.  I can make polite conversation in Japanese.  And I am trying to learn Mandarin by watching Taiwanese dramas.

I must admit that my reasons for learning languages has nothing to do with some higher goal.  It's merely for self gratification and at best of times, a cheap parlour trick.  I like the connections you can make between languages and the connections between the words and the way people think.

People automatically respond better to you if you speak their language, no matter how terrible you are at it.  Language is the great commonality.  I remember once in Canada, I was trying to land a really difficult interview.  The secretary was like, "my boss isn't in the office and I really don't think he'll do it."  I spent 30 minutes trying to convince her to call her boss and ask.  She refused.  Finally, she was like, "okay, maybe I'll do it, Can you leave your name and number?"  I gave her my name and she asked, "are you Chinese?"  I said, "yes."  We then proceeded to have a quick conversation in Cantonese where she promised she would call her boss right away and see what she could do.  Needless to say, I got the interview.

But language is a muscle that you need to exercise.  It will atrophy without proper use.  I feel in some ways, having so many languages at my disposal has caused this.  There has to be some give which isn't necessarily a good thing with this issue.  In Hong Kong, you get used to jumping back in forth between Cantonese and English, sometimes in mid-sentence, that you  forget what the word is in the other language.  You pick the word that best describes what you're trying to say and is the quickest.  Isn't that what communication is all about?

Maybe that's the way of the future - the global language will be a great melange of words and phrases.  One great language to unite us all.

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A voice of my own

I've got my snarky voice on this morning.  I don't know why.  I don't think I'm in a particularly snarky mood.  I think I'm tired.  And when I'm tired, I do away with all the niceties that I normally lace throughout my correspondences.  But I caught myself a few times where even I thought it was a bit harsh.  But I'm not really in the mood to censor or re-write, so the recipients will just have to deal with my tone.

I guess my writing style is a bit different from others.  I tend to write with an emphasis on tone, pacing and cadence.  It sounds kind of weird, but I think words have colours, emotions and energy.  I know, totally flaky stuff, but think about the next time you read something.  Why did the writer choose to use that word and not another.  In the English language, there are enough words out there that have synonyms so really, it's the writer's choice.  So you can colour your phrases with the words you choose.  For instance, in my previous entry, I wrote "makes me take pause."  It's technically correct.  It's just not the most elegant of phrases.  But I didn't want it to be elegant.  I wanted you, the reader, to feel the awkwardness I felt in the situation.  Taking out one word would have kept the meaning and changed the colour.  (Don't you love language?)

Which is probably why my writing is better suited for broadcast.  When you're reading, you might speed through the text and miss the nuances.  In broadcast, you are forced to hear the true nature of the words and their relationship with each other.

I'm told that my actual voice is quite softspoken.  It doesn't really carry snarky very well.  You might hear sarcasm, but that's because of the content rather than the tone and the volume.  But if the occasion calls for it, I can make myself be heard with great force.  One of the survival techniques from years in noisy newsrooms :)

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Because you have to start somewhere...

I was reading an article about Tony Parsons and he made a comment about Hong Kong that rings true for many people who find themselves here:  There's a sense of possibility here, a sense of reinvention - people become who they want to be.

I've been asked many times why I chose Hong Kong.  I could have moved anywhere.  I dreamed of moving everywhere but Hong Kong.  People are still shocked that I ended up here.  But it was the easiest route to an adventure.  I was young, I was a coward and I had enough gumption to know that I needed out of where I was.  So I left and came to Hong Kong.

Now I'm older and Hong Kong has grown on me.  Some move here and adapt to the lifestyle right away.  Others never really do and move away.  I think I'm somewhere in the middle.  Life here still makes me take pause.  I don't understand half the things that happen here (and in my life and learnings, I need to know why things happen.)  I can't stand the weather.  I find it too hot in the summers, too cold in the winters and too wet and rainy the rest of the time.  It's too crowded but this I blame myself because I did choose to live in the most populate area of the territory.

So why do I stay?

It's exactly like what Parsons said.  You feel that opportunities abound.  In Hong Kong, never take "no" for an answer.  If you have an idea, peddle it to everyone you meet.  I mean, everyone.  Tell your friends, your co-workers, your relatives, your friends' relatives, acquaintances, the grocery store check-out lady.  Eventually, someone in Hong Kong will say "yes."

This is a "yes" city where you can be rubbing elbows with princes and CEOs or just plain folk like you who were trying to get out and have an adventure.

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Caroline Chan

Show Host

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Profile Views 10,245
Job Writer/ Producer
Location Hong Kong
Hometown Ottawa, Canada