Brett Stirling ’21 is majoring in Economics and minoring in Finance and Government at Conn. He is a member of the Entrepreneurship Pathway and is also a member of the Connecticut College men's ice hockey team.

It was a Sunday morning in early July on the southeast side of Hong Kong Island. I jumped on the MTR (the subway) and headed toward Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the busiest districts in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Upon arrival, I noticed the MTR was a little more crowded than usual. Thinking perhaps it was just a busy Sunday, I continued on my trip to the Ladies’ Market in search of a knockoff designer belt that my younger sister was in desperate need of. After spending an hour bartering with the locals and sweating in the Hong Kong heat, I decided it was time to lick my wounds and head back to Aberdeen, on the southwest side of Hong Kong, for the afternoon.

On my walk back to the MTR station, I noticed an increasing volume of people who were all wearing black T-shirts. As I neared the station, I lost control of the direction in which I wanted to walk. I'm 6-feet-2-inches tall and 210 pounds, but I was having a difficult time navigating through the masses. As a result, I found myself following the crowd down to the harbor and into the streets where a protest was scheduled to block the roads for the afternoon. I was stunned. I stopped to listen to the chants and watched as a passionate group of people organized to fight for their freedom. After a time, I found another subway station down by the water and made it home safely. I happened to be wearing black that day and I can honestly say I am glad I was.

These protests in Hong Kong are still going on as we speak and the level of violence is only increasing. Could you imagine if the western democratic society that you grew up to love was in the process of being replaced by Communism? Could you imagine a family member being extradited to a foreign land, tried and sentenced in court for something they wrote on Facebook years ago? These are just some of the fears of the Hong Kong people. This experience encouraged me to appreciate the freedoms we have in the United States and showed me that in places all around the world these freedoms are being repressed every day.