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Community Spotlight: The Hard-Working Cleaning Staff at HKIS



Ava Parekh and Jocelyn Tong

February 7, 2024


Note: this interview was conducted in October of 2023. 

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It is important to remember to express gratitude when you see cleaning staff around campus! We wanted to take a moment to get to know our wonderful education support personnel at HKIS. We interviewed both May and then Fong Fong about themselves, the highlight of their day, gratitude and giving, and their favorite part of working at HKIS.


May is from Dongguan in Guangdong. She started working as a cleaner here very recently. Before this, she worked in cleaning, retail, and warehouse. She started working here because she saw a post and was looking for a job. “When I have free time, I like to stroll the streets and eat good food in Shenzhen, especially since the opening of the high-speed rail,” she says. She also enjoys having bubble tea and trendy drinks like sweet tea. 


Regarding her highlight of the week, May explains, “After our work is complete, we, the cleaning staff, eat together and chat. In only a few days, we have become friends because all the cleaning staff are really friendly.”


She is very grateful to her new colleagues because they are all super nice and helped her fit into this new job. Elaborating, she says, “An international school like HKIS has many events. I am grateful that when there have been spills or anything out of the ordinary, we all put in the effort to clean up. To accomplish a task as a team in a rushed situation has been pretty unforgettable.” As an example, when students have an extended lunch or a basketball game, May and her colleagues have to quickly clean the area so that the next event can come in. Along with her coworkers, May is very grateful for her mother-in-law because she helps care for May’s child so she can work. May has an eight-year-old daughter in fourth grade.


May’s favorite thing about HKIS is its natural environment. “Even when it is hot, there is a nice breeze once in a while.” She also thinks the students are very nice and smile at her. She has not had too much contact with the students since she has only been here a few days, but they still smile at her. On the topic of students, she points out, “Of course, cleaning is my job. But something students could do to make our job easier is not to leave their trash around campus when it is avoidable.”


Fong Fong, another cleaning staff at HKIS, was born in Hong Kong. “I’ve worked as a cleaner at HKIS on and off. This time, I’ve worked here since April, so seven months. I’ve worked here before but stopped for a while for health reasons. I had a big surgery, but now I’ve recovered, so I’m back here working.” Fong Fong likes to watch TV in her free time. She didn’t work for a year or more and enjoyed binge-watching shows at home. 


Her highlight of the week is the upcoming holidays: “I’m the happiest on Sundays. Last Sunday, I was sick, so I slept all day resting.”


Fong Fong is also grateful for her mother-in-law. She recounts, “When I did my surgery, I had my skull opened because my brain fluid was leaking. My mother-in-law would bring me food in the hospital, and even after I recovered and was at home.” She is also grateful for her husband and that both of them care for her. “My first marriage was very miserable, but I’ve been very lucky in my second marriage.” Finally, she is also very grateful for her mother because she raised seven children on her own. Her mother is 80-something now. 


When asked about her favorite part of HKIS, Fong Fong replied, “I have made friends here. The teachers and students are pretty good. They always acknowledge me. I am happy working here.” She tells us that she used to work in retail selling men’s clothing but switched to cleaning. “I put a lot into this job, but I am happy working. Students always say thank you when they see me cleaning the toilets.” She says that the students are clean and that it’s just the toilets that are a bit dirty. 


Hopefully, hearing May and Fong Fong’s stories help to humanize our cleaning staff on campus. We encourage you all to express your gratitude to the cleaning staff at HKIS as they put in a lot of effort and care into bettering our days. You never know how far a small smile can go!

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