CyberFair Project ID: 5807

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Changes and Continuity of The Traditional Funeral Industries in Hong Kong
Category: 4. Local Specialties

School: Po Kok Secondary School
    Hong Kong, -, CHINA

11 students, ages 14-17 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 6, 2009. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2004, 2005

Classes and Teachers: Wong Hon Yan

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our community, Hong Kong, located on the southern coast of China with a population of nearly 7 million, is a dynamic financial centre of the world. The city is divided into 3 parts, namely Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. The deep and wide Victoria Harbour allows the busy traffic of huge container ships and cargo ships. As a result, the British colonial government took over the rule of Hong Kong in 1842 for the expansion of trade in Southeast Asia. The border extended from the tiny Hong Kong Island to Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. In 1997, the city was returned to China and was named HKSAR, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The handover did not prevent Hong Kong from becoming the most significant entrepot and financial heart of the country and also in Southeast Asia. The energetic and interactive nature of the city attracts all walks of life from all over the world and results in the unique mixture of cultures from both the east and the west. As a Chinese society, Hong Kong is heavily influenced by Confucian culture which emphasizes filial piety. Since Hong Kong was colonized by Britain for more than a century, a distinct style of burial rites can be found in the city. While preserving the Chinese tradition, it is also influenced by the population structure, political, economic and the cultural context under colonial rule. The burial rites in Hong Kong can thus be described as a mixture of Chinese tradition and Western culture.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project objective is to investigate the industries related to Hong Kong’s burial rites: the funeral service industry and the paper offerings industry. The coffin shops provide traditional Chinese funeral services to customers. The paper offerings industry, on the other hand, is an example of traditional Chinese handicraft. Through manually producing paper offerings, this industry used to support the livelihood of many handicraft workers. These two industries helped us preserve traditional Chinese culture. But in this ever-changing world, how can these industries adapt so that Chinese traditional culture can be preserved? In this report, we will outline the Chinese traditional funeral rites, the changes of the Hong Kong people’s understanding of death, and the situation of the traditional industries. We will also offer some ideas about how can these traditional industries which are related to funeral rites can reform themselves in order to preserve traditional culture. Lastly, we also include some interactive games and psychological tests, hoping they can challenge the ‘death taboo’ of the Chinese People.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):


4. Problems We Had To Overcome

1. Lack of information sources: Probably because of the ‘death taboo’ of the Chinese, there is not much information on funeral rites in Hong Kong. Also, although observing funerals would offer us much more information, it is deemed inappropriate to take pictures during funerals and conducting interviews during funerals is offensive. We therefore decided to learn more about the funeral rites in Hong Kong through exploring the funeral services industry.

2. Time management: As students, we have to do a lot of homework and prepare for examinations. During the Christmas and New Year holidays, some of us also had to visit our hometown. Work can only be done during weekends and after school.

3. Translation problem: Because the research focus is traditional Chinese culture, some key ideas cannot be expressed in English easily. There are also not many English reference books which are relevant to our topic. We therefore have spent a lot of time trying to find the right English words. We thank our teachers for helping us.

4. Interview skills: Since we have virtually no experience of interviewing strangers, when we were doing our first interview, we did not feel comfortable. But we did improve later on with more practices and better preparations.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

“The Chinese people take funeral rites seriously, but the Chinese people are also afraid of talking about funeral rites and death. We, defying the ‘death taboo’, visited coffin shops and paper offerings shops. We hope that others can also reflect on the meanings of death and be aware of the preservation of traditional Chinese funeral rites.”

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Matching the school-based curriculum and new senior secondary education curriculum: The project matches the aims of Liberal Studies in our curriculum, especially in Independent Enquiry Studies, as the common goal is to examine daily lives through field trips, in-depth interview etc.. Students are encouraged to think independently and in a creative and critical way.

Associating the school policies on emphasis on learning activities: Our school outs lots of emphasis on learning through activities outside classrooms. From which, we can understand the interactive relationship with the community and even nature. Several activity days such as field trips to villages, hiking, exploring the nature and visiting the elderly centres will be carried out in the academic year. This is exactly what we are doing in the CyberFair project.

Training on project-learning Our school also devotes lots of resources on the diversity of teaching materials. We are not only given worksheets or exercise to do, but also very inspiring inter-subject projects. Cooperation and team spirit are the crucial elements we need for the project-based learning curriculum.

Applying IT knowledge IT skills have played a very important role in the CyberFair project as we are presenting our product on the Internet. Construction of the webpage, graphic design, adding visual effects and video editing all require our IT knowledge.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

Hardware: 1. Computers with Pentium IV inside 2. 100M Internet connection 3. 3 digital cameras 4. 2 digital video cameras 5. A video editing machine

Software: 1. Macromedia Flash MX 2. Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 3. Microsoft FrontPage 2000 4. Adobe Photoshop 5. Coral Draw 8 6. Ulead PhotoImpact 8 7. Ulead VideoStudio 8 8. Ulead GIF Animator 5 9. Hot Potatoes 6 10. WS-FTP Pro 11. Microsoft Excel 12. Microsoft Word


2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

We visited paper offerings shops and coffins shops, places where young people rarely visit. We hope young people can learn more about these declining industries, so that the traditional Chinese culture can be preserved. Moreover, through interviewing people like Uncle Au Yueng and Ah Shing, we can understand how they deal with various kinds of difficulties in their lives.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

The Hong Kong government has never paid much attention to traditional handicraft industries. Industrialization and the lack of young people joining these industries means that handicraft industries like the paper offerings industry is under serious threat. We think the government should pay more attention to these traditional handicraft industries, so that they will not die out while facing the challenges of mass production. We hope people who visit our website will understand how fascinating these paper offerings are. Hopefully more people will appreciate these traditional handicrafts and therefore become aware of the urgency of preserving our traditions.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

We are grateful for the help of many people. They include Kung Sau Funeral Service’s Miss Lok,Po WA Paper Offering Shop’s Mr. Au-yeung, as well as his wife and his son, and Cheung Kei Paper Offering Shop’s Ah Sing, Their help gave us an opportunity to understand the development of Hong Kong’s industries related to funeral rites.

We would also like to thank the principal of our school, teachers, students and other people who filled in our questionnaires.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

It is now difficult to survive either in the paper offerings industry of the coffin shop industry. In the paper offerings industry, the salary is too low. But there are still people who are willing to utilize the skills they acquired when they were young to provide us with high-quality handmade paper offerings. Their commitment to the industry should be respected. For a coffin shop to survive in the contemporary era, it must adapt to societal changes. As our interviewee Ms Lok told us, business operations must be flexible. The most important thing is how to provide one-stop services and warm services to customers who have just lost their beloved ones.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 5807)

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