A Hong Kong-born Nepali woman, who was granted admission to the University of Hong Kong last September, is calling for Hong Kong people to offer greater support for ethnic minority students in the city.

Arlin Rai, 20, a Linguistics and Education student, was interviewed by Wen Wei Po for an article on Friday about the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

Growing up in an underprivileged and single-parent family, Rai said she missed out on the opportunity to learn Cantonese at an early age because she was sent to study in Nepal due to high school fees in Hong Kong.

When she returned to Hong Kong for primary three, she found it very difficult to communicate with local students who were not used to speaking English. Rai found her lack of Cantonese discouraging, but her mother, a former teacher in Nepal, urged her to focus on her English and Math studies, and always brought her and her younger sister to the library.

Last year, Rai was granted admission to HKU, which ranks 27th globally and second in Asia after the National University of Singapore, according to QS World University Rankings.

Rai said her dream is to be a university professor. She said ethnic minority students who can’t speak Cantonese should not lose hope as they can still gain entry to colleges if they work hard. At the same time, she hopes that Hong Kong society can offer more support to ethnic minority students, who usually face more challenges than local students due to language barriers.