Building houses by the rootless people: Youth, identities, and education in Hong Kong

Chung-Hin Kevin HO, Hei Hang Hayes TANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


In this essay, Chung-Hin Kevin Ho, a history education university student in Hong Kong, narrates his search for civic identity. Composed through a process of critical and reflective dialogue with Hayes Tang, the essay describes the tension between Chung-Hin’s Chinese ethnic and cultural identity and the democratic values held by Hong Kongers. As a student, he and his peers had to navigate these competing conceptions of identity in their coursework and examinations. The youth of Hong Kong, including Chung-Hin, have protested against the Chinese government, and have fought to protect the values of Hong Kong. As a future educator, Chung-Hin has advice for the government administrations of both Hong Kong and China: work with Hong Kongers to help them “build their own house.” Chung-Hin argues that if Hong Kong is to become closer to China, it cannot be done through force or propaganda. Further, Chung-Hin contends that education initiatives that change the history curriculum of Hong Kong schools is not enough to bring the youth of the city to heel. Chung-Hin’s experiences, and his own understanding of history education in Hong Kong, have helped him see that the values of Hong Kongers need to be respected if there is any hope of gaining their trust and acceptance. In this timely essay, Chung-Hin highlights how government policies and historical legacies have shaped his personal experience and educational trajectory in Hong Kong, as well as the other students who are a part of the largest youth protest movement in recent memory. Copyright © 2020 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-294
JournalHarvard Educational Review
Issue number2
Early online date01 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Ho, C.-H. K., & Tang, H.-H. H. (2020). Building houses by the rootless people: Youth, identities, and education in Hong Kong. Harvard Educational Review, 90(2), 282-294. doi: 10.17763/1943-5045-90.2.282


  • Hong Kong identity
  • National education
  • Civic identity
  • Teaching autonomy


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