HKU’s common phrase – Ngo Lok Jong la!

March 16, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

我落荘啦!(pronounciation: ngo lok jong la!) is a frequently heard phrase at HKU. It means, “I have stepped down from my post in the executive committee!” of whichever club/society one belongs to. This sacred phrase is often interpreted as ‘freedom’.

But before I go into details, there are a few other terms one must be familiar with to explore this side of HKU life.

荘: jong is the Cantonese term for the executive committee of a club, society, team or organization in university (I have no idea if this term is also used in high schools). At HKU, most societies form a new jong annually but sessions differ according to tradition. A jong can comprise of as little as 5 to I-don’t-know-the-maximum maybe 15 people. Smaller clubs will naturally have smaller jongs but that does not mean they have less work to do.

上荘: sheung jong (verb) is the act of becoming part of the new jong for the next session.

落荘: lok jong (verb) is the act of stepping down from one’s position as the current jong and letting the newly formed jong (usually juniors) to take over.

AGM (annual general meeting) is when the current jong will lok jong and the proposed jong will sheung jong. At AGMs, the current jong goes through what it has done over the year, and people attending the AGM can raise questions on details of their events during their session. After the annual and financial report have been accepted, the current jong has officially lok jong-ed. The proposed jong will then present their new Year Plan. Similarly, questions can be raised on details regarding their Year Plan and Financial Plan. AGMs can take from as short as 3 hours to as long as I-don’t-know-the-record-but-I’ve heard some say 13 hours.

荘友: jong yau (noun) are your fellow executive committee members such as the financial secretary, general secretary, vice chairman, etc. They are your comrades through thick and thin, the ones you will probably share most midnight suppers with, the battle companions who share your tears of frustration and joy throughout your journey.

上荘: sheung jong (noun) can refer to either the person who held your position in the jong before you, or the entire jong before yours. For example, if you have been elected as the Vice Chairman of the HKUSU Sport Climbing Club for session 2015-16, your sheung jong would be the Vice Chairman from session 2014-15 (me) and also everyone in the jong from session 2014-15.

下荘: ha jong (noun) can refer to either the person who will hold your position in the jong after you have stepped down or the entire jong after your session.

Best of luck to my ha jong and congratulations to the new team captains!

Flow 荘: Flow jong (verb) is to fill your soon-to-be ha jong in on what your session has done, the difficulties you faced, things to take note of etc., before the newbies actually take over. Flow jong is mostly conducted before the AGM and can be anywhere from McDonald’s to midnight dimsum places (I wouldn’t recommend that though, you don’t want to be shouting yourself hoarse to drown out shouts of char siu cheong and siu mais), to a sensible place like Chi Wah.

Now that you know most of the terms, on to the juicy bits!

Being part of a jong is listed in the 5 to-do’s of university life. 大学五件事(daai hok m gin si) [click here for more HKU slang (it's in Cantonese though, sorry about that)] includes staying in a hall, sheung jong, taking up a part-time job, being in a relationship, and…studying (rrright).

Sheung jong is viewed as  a huge commitment, where sleepless nights, skipping classes, midnight suppers, tears of pain and joy are common, and expected without question. Be prepared to commit a huge chunk of your time (this includes holidays, weekends, and sleep time) to serve your society. But what does a jong do exactly?

Every club has a default year plan handed down from previous jongs where there are always a few annual events to be organised, such as Orientation Camps, Registration Day, Welfare weeks, performances, etc to promote your club. Of course, the new jong can do a complete makeover and try out different things as well.

For the past year, our jong has organised outdoor climbing days, orientation camps, set up booths at Registration Day (and other days), had monthly fundays, inter-university competition, etc and it has been quite a ride. From having weekly meetings on campus during summer break to scouring Kennedy Town and buying every single muffin in sight as food rations for camp to teaching ourselves on how to set up a tent in Flora Ho’s sauna-like storeroom, you can say I’ve learned quite a bit.

Basically, if you joined a club out of passion for what they do, sheung jong would be putting that passion into action by serving the club and promoting it to outsiders. The main task of a jong is to keep track of the organization’s finances and paperwork, organise events and projects to tell everyone what your club is all about, why it’s so cool and fun, why you’re devoting so much time into it, and why it’s worthwhile.

For most clubs and societies at HKU, a new jong is formed at around this time every year. Check your Portal email and you’ll notice many societies have sent out notification emails announcing their new executive committee name list for the next session. Have you seen the one from our Sport Climbing Club a couple of weeks ago? That means… Ngo lok jong la!!! Yes, I have officially let go of my earthly attachments to the world, and unleashed my cosmic power to flow from the universe. I am now… FREEEEE!

From how I sound, people will probably think sheung jong is a bad thing. But no, you’ve got me completely wrong. If I could go back in time to a year ago when I still had a choice, my decision would be the same, and I’m not kissing ass at all (because nobody from my club reads my blog). Yes, it will take up a lot of your time, but you’d be surprised at how much you’ll learn from all the preparation efforts you put in for each and every event you organise. These are things no professor can teach you in lectures.

I have learned marketing skills, camping skills, presentation skills, discovered I can have a pretty loud voice (maybe my friends were always just too polite to tell me to shut up) to catch people’s attention, met really cool people, and learned to appreciate the vast amount of effort that goes into organising one simple event. We, the Sport Climbing Club aim to promote climbing to students of HKU and hope that more people will discover exactly how much fun this sport can be from participating in our activities. There is always a sense of achievement when people bother to tell us they had fun and also the only motivation for us to organise the next event. A year as part of the club’s jong has made me realise that amidst all the academic learning we are here to do, picking up some soft skills will go a long way in our future as well.

But I‘ll admit that to be part of a jong does not suit everyone. Maybe you haven’t found a society worth that much of your time yet, or maybe there’re some communication barriers, but as someone who’s already been there and done it, I’d tell anyone who’s considering sheung jong-ing to go for it because this is one of the many things you’ll only get to do in uni, and more specifically, uni in Hong Kong. And though the journey will definitely not be a bunch of rainbows, when you finally see the fruit of your labour, you’ll be glad you did it.

On a side note, your jong yaus will be peng yaus (friends!) for life. I am not exaggerating at all when I say the bond you guys share is unique and there will be topics of discussion that only they can hold with you. So whilst you’re wondering what to do on campus when everyone’s holding AGMs and printing Year Plans, join a society, and even if you don’t feel like jong life is for you, support the current jong, because they’ll need all they can get.

My sheung sheung jong, sheung jong, jong yaus, ha jongs took the time out to celebrate my birthday with me right after our AGM. Thank you!

As of March 2nd, 2015, the executive committee of HKUSU Sport Climbing Club of Session 2015-16 was formed. The Club pledges to bring more exciting sport climbing activities to HKU  and sincerely ask your support for the upcoming year as well.

Climbing is a lifestyle – Mak Man Hong

All photo credits to Bill Yue and thanks to Ming Xun for the HKU slang link!