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Back to Hong Kong: Return migration or transnational sojourn? - page 21 / 33





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means a dispersal of family members on both sides of the Pacific, a

scattering of parents, siblings and children according to which station

works best for their present stage in the life cycle. It means some

confusion as to where exactly is home. It leads in Simon’s case to him

speaking as a resident in Hong Kong and telling us that “We’ve been

there [Vancouver] for twelve years.” A fusion of ‘here’ and ‘there’ has

occurred in his mind because they are part of a single, if geographically

diffuse, life-world.

And then retirement

We heard numerous examples of the careful synchronization of

space and time in an expanded social field. There was, for example,

discussion about the best age to transfer children to schooling in

Canada, the dominant view being around grade 10 when a sufficient level

of Chinese language and culture had been absorbed, but in time for

preparation for provincial examinations in Canada. This period also

coincided with the much-feared Hong Kong Certificate of Education

Examination, whose avoidance sometimes precipitated family migration

in the first place (Waters 2004). But a prominent and unexpected topic

was the renewed transnational mobility anticipated at retirement.

Retirement is a significant status passage, frequently associated

with migration (Rogers et al. 1992). For many it is a time to move away

from metropolitan cores toward quieter settings with enhanced quality of

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