Many young Hongkongers have left their country because of the social oppression they have faced through the years. From Golden Umbrellas to “zero-COVID,”; their choice to leave their country causes specific difficulties.

One of them is the psychological shock of not being able to say goodbye to loved ones.

In the past three years, Hongkongers have been psychologically worn out.

In 2019, anti-government protests and violent clashes between protesters and police plunged the city into crisis. Then the National Security Law was imposed, according to which acts of sedition, secession, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces could be punishable by life imprisonment.

Following these events was when the communist regime imposed draconian “zero-COVID” policies.

According to The SCMP, of the tens of thousands of people who left Hong Kong in recent years to settle in countries such as the UK, Australia, Canada, and so on, some families have been planning for a year or more. However, many young people in their 20s and 30s only have time to pack their bags before they leave.

Faced with COVID social distancing or family disagreements, the leaving people could not properly say goodbye to their loved ones. As a result, they carry a lot of psychological trauma while coming to a new land to start a new life.

Debby Leung, a former social worker who now facilitates, said, “After you migrate, there are so many things to sort out … but you don’t put dealing with your feelings on your to-do list. Emotions will affect you daily, so you suppress them and think you will deal with them later.”

Debby is currently running a six-session pilot project to help these young people deal with their feelings.

Through drama workshops, Debby led participants through a series of exercises to help them become more aware of their feelings. She asked questions such as whether there were people or things they wanted to say goodbye to after moving or what they wanted to tell themselves back in the time they were in Hongkong till now.

Among them, Vivian, in her 20s, took it as an opportunity to help her face the bad feeling of leaving without saying goodbye to a friend. Her friend had been in prison since the 2019 protests.

In Hong Kong, she often visited her friend in prison. However, the last time they met, she couldn’t say goodbye even though she wanted to. She left Hong Kong feeling guilty when only her mother knew about her departure.

Finally, Vivian wrote an actual letter to that friend.

Vivian told the SCMP, “Then he wrote back and told me he got mad and depressed because I didn’t give him a chance to say goodbye. I anticipated this could happen and after that workshop I felt I had to face this.”

Vivian could accept her friend’s anger, but at the same time, she felt lighter.

Debby’s project was successful beyond expectations. Debby told The SCMP, “I thought it would help them, but I never thought they would want to come back again every week.” Some participants have become close friends and created a WhatsApp chat group. Her group is now talking about their identity and the kind of person they want to be in Vancouver.

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