Embracing Cultural Differences with Empathy
Design thinking is a human-centred approach that can help to identify pain points and define problems with empathy. Bosco Ng, co-founder of social enterprise WEDO GLOBAL, first encountered the idea of design thinking in 2015, while another co-founder Eva Wong studied a relevant course at the Stanford University in 2017. Since then, design thinking has been an integral part of their business. Through using design thinking, they would like to advocate multicultural education and eliminate racial discrimination against ethnic minorities and introduce local Chinese to the ethnic minority cultures. Therefore, they started to collect feedback from participants, and then evaluated the effectiveness of their programmes in addressing the problems encountered by ethnic minorities.
Understanding and Empathy Help Build Harmony and Define Problems
Bosco met Frank, a Sri Lankan who lost his entire family in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, in college, and this encounter completely changed his attitude towards South Asians and inspired him to foster cultural diversity and social harmony in Hong Kong. He then co-founded WEDO GLOBAL in 2011 to encourage participants to meet and exchange with people of different cultural backgrounds and eliminate their bias against ethnic minorities through B2C guided tours.
Bosco recognises that empathy is the first step to identify the difficulties and needs of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. He explored the problems faced by South Asians living in Hong Kong and discovered that language barrier and cultural differences, such as religions and cuisines, are the major obstacles. Believing in the importance of defining problems, WEDO GLOBAL has been trying to identify the root causes of problems hidden under cultural differences, and then develop various initiatives to solve the problems. For example, both Chinese and non-Chinese instructors are invited to help ethnic minority students learn Chinese more effectively so that they can overcome their fear of the language. WEDO GLOBAL also shifted focus on B2B guided tours targeting organisations and schools. As trained ethnic minority guides and cultural ambassadors introduce their lifestyles and cultures, the Chinese participants can have a better understanding of these cultural communities, and let go of their stereotypes and bias.
Encourage Mutual Understanding among Students by Teaching Design Thinking
WEDO GLOBAL also launches events tailored to the needs of the participants and ethnic minorities in light of the specific social environment or circumstances. To foster mutual understanding and collaboration between Chinese and non-Chinese young people, WEDO GLOBAL has been organising the Youth Leadership Programme since 2016 in which the students will learn to master the design thinking skills and be inspired to find ways to promote cultural and social inclusion.
Realising that experiential activities are preferred by students, WEDO GLOBAL redesigned the guided tours to meet their needs and attract their interest. The tours have not only been acclaimed by participating schools, but also prompted the students to get rid of their negative perceptions of South Asians as they interacted and talked in Chinese. All these activities reflect the human-centred and empathy concepts of design thinking.
Pass on the Idea of Social Inclusion through Powerful Design Thinking
Bosco believes that design thinking is an effective thinking process that helps WEDO GLOBAL identify the needs of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong and design different activities for participants so as to encourage them to give back to the society with their knowledge and experience. He also notes that two South Asian participants of the Youth Leadership Programme now study Nursing at the University of Hong Kong, and WEDO GLOBAL also referred a Chinese student who completed the Programme to join the Youth Consultative Group on Racial Equality and Integration of the Equal Opportunities Commission. In fact, many participants became the instructors of WEDO GLOBAL’s Chinese classes and guided tours, and even engage in policy advocacy by submitting their views in policies.