Rex Wong and Donald Choi
May 2024

Make it Local

Donald Choi BArch 82 and Rex Wong BArch 03 make sure the RISD spirit is alive and well in Hong Kong. 

Some 8,000 miles separate RISD’s campus and Hong Kong’s Central Market. But for one night in November 2023, the distance didn’t matter. RISD graduates from across four decades met, mingled and reminisced; President Williams shared stories of student work and new campus initiatives. 

It was exactly these types of connections—among alumni and between alumni and the college—that Donald Choi BArch 82 and Rex Wong BArch 03 hoped to foster when they founded the RISD Club of Hong Kong in 2010. 

Wong remembers, “At the time, there were small groups of alumni from the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s that would meet. Donald and I wanted to pull the groups together for a more formal club. And it quickly became a really nice community of people, whether they graduated recently or decades ago, able to connect and share things like our favorite places in Providence or memories of working with different professors.” 

The transition from informal get-togethers to an official club gave alumni in Hong Kong a more direct line to RISD. 

“Connection with the school became one of our goals,” Choi says. “We want to know what’s going on back in Providence and it is important for RISD to have an understanding of the local culture in Hong Kong and the work that our alumni do.” 

Choi and Wong have maintained close ties to RISD. Choi, executive director and CEO of the Chinachem Group and former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, serves on the Board of Trustees. Wong, CEO of Kum Shing Holdings, is an ex-officio Trustee and president of the Alumni Association. Despite demanding careers, they both make time for their alma mater. 

“I don’t engage with art and design production on a daily basis, but I remain passionately interested. There’s still a place for me at RISD and it’s empowering and motivating to know that I can help,” Wong says. 

Summer welcome events are an example of the relationship between the college and the club. In 2015, the Hong Kong Club hosted an event for admitted students and their families, welcoming them to the RISD community and offering encouragement. Inspired by the event’s success, RISD staff supported other regional clubs in hosting similar gatherings. 

Choi and Wong share that members of the Hong Kong Club engage with each other and the local art and design community in a variety of ways. They work with charitable organizations and local schools, sometimes in conjunction with RISD’s Founders Day celebrations, to offer hands-on workshops or portfolio reviews. The club gathers for social events, like a Christmas party inspired by the Artist Ball. 

For Choi, a memorable event in 2017 highlights the myriad ways in which Hong Kong alumni make a difference for RISD. When a number of RISD graduates were in town for an architecture conference, the club invited them to a dinner with new students and their families. 

“These graduates talked about their career paths and why a RISD education is transformative. We were also able to use the event as an opportunity to fundraise for a RISD Hong Kong scholarship. It was really something incredible,” says Choi. 

Wong stresses that no matter where you are on your post-graduation journey, your local alumni club can be there for you. 

“People are always in transition,” he says. “It may be from school to work or between careers. It may be a geographical transition or a new phase in life. The alumni community will always be a place to find common values and it can really serve as an anchor.” 

Choi dedicates so much to the Hong Kong Club because of what RISD has meant to him—in his student days and now. 

“RISD is why I still have dreams,” he says. “It was quite transformative. I got to understand myself so much more. When I experience challenges in my career, I go back to my RISD education to understand the best approach. With the alumni club, I want to share that RISD spirit with our community.” 

To learn more about alumni clubs, visit