Students’ Reflections
A Long-lasting and Sustainable Relationship with Locals
Note: Video is in Cantonese

CJ Tan (BBA Year 3) took a 3-month break from his study in 2011 to volunteer at Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) in Phnom Penh. Below is a video of CJ sharing his motivation behind his decision and the highlights of his service at CCF, recorded by City Telecom (HK) Ltd volunteers during their corporate service trip.

“My friends had asked me why I left Hong Kong for a relatively long period of time for voluntary work. I think my experience here is quite different from what I have done at HKUST, Mainland China or Hong Kong in that I can develop a long-lasting and genuine relationship with the local people. Now I feel I am part of the CCF. I live with the children everyday like we are a family. I believe this is what community service or leadership means. You can welcome other people into your life while sharing your life with them. Recently, the staff of CTI came to CCF for voluntary work. Some of them asked me a few meaningful questions. One of them was about how my actual experience here differed from my expectation before arriving at CCF. To answer that question, both the local cultures and the children’s development had the most impact on me. It takes time for a life to change. I have never thought of being able to notice the wonderful changes in the kids’ lives over such a short period of time, and I believe that every child will have a chance to accomplish his or her dream here.”
- Tan Sze Jye - BBA (FINA) Year 3

The importance of planning and adapting

"The Guizhou service learning trip taught me important lessons on planning and being flexible at the same time. Our job was to interact with local school children. However, the worse-than-expected condition there caught us off guard. The school was made of wood and the classrooms were overcrowded. The children’s level of Putonghua was also lower than expected. As a result, we had to be adaptive to unexpected conditions and scenarios. After the trip, I now understand that the constraints may not be clearly stated in many situations, whether in voluntary work or paid jobs. Hence I learn to prepare for the worst starting from the planning stage.

Throughout our visit to the minorities in the local villages, the face-to-face contact with the underprivileged made me feel both lucky and touched. In a letter written by a local student, he described us as angels in his life. I then understood the impact of our visit to them – it brought them hope."
- Yim Hau Tung Janice - BBA (ECON) Year 2

Building relationships and gaining trust

"We were responsible for planning and teaching personal interest classes for primary school students in Christian Family Service Center. Apart from cultivating their interest, we also tried to observe their personalities and our relationships with them, and make improvements as we progressed. It helped me realize that we should be considerate and innovative when reaching out to others. I also learned the importance of being accepted by the recipients of our service. As we kept motivating and encouraging the children, I noticed that we gradually gained their trust, and they were more willing to follow our instructions.

The service project was a valuable experience for me to learn how to care for others and how to approach people of different ages. What we achieved was not just sharing knowledge. What’s more important was that we brought them happiness, and built better relationships with them and amongst ourselves.
- Jiang Zhitong Clara – BBA Year 1

Spreading the message of a drug-free society

"In view of the alarmingly increasing trend in drug abuse, the TWGH CROSS Centre Anti-Drug Carnival sounded like a meaningful event that could benefit society, and the carnival held on 27 June proved me right. Throughout the preparation of the carnival, I learned a lot about the harmful effects of drugs and the reasons for drug abuse. All these gave me valuable insights to the problem of drug abuse and prompted me to be more concerned about the issue.

On the day of the carnival, despite the light drizzles, we had a great turnout of children and families who visited our game stalls. Our efforts in incorporating drug-related information into the games paid off as the participants did seem to have learnt more about the drug abuse problem while having fun playing the games. I believe we did a great job in spreading the message of a drug-free society. I hope the participants would agree on that!"
- Celine Wong - BBA (ECON) Year 1

Helping despite language barrier

"The Christian Family Service Center Fun Day Out was a challenge for me. I needed to lead a group of children for a full day of events, but all the children spoke Cantonese very fast and my Cantonese was not so good. But precisely because of this situation, I learned how to take care of the children and help them when they needed help despite the language barrier. Though I could not speak Cantonese fluently, I could still give them a hand as long as I really hoped to help them out.

I also realized my own shortcomings after reflecting on this activity thoughtfully. I always talk about my poor Cantonese, and sometimes use it as an excuse for not performing well in group activities. The fact is that I have made up my mind many times to learn Cantonese well, but in the end I couldn’t keep up with my plan after several weeks. The real reasons, to be honest, are simply laziness and lack of persistence. We can deceive others by covering our own faults, but we can not deceive ourselves. In the future, I need to face my problems and solve them with feasible plans, instead of coming up with excuses."
- Li Ruifeng David - BENG (ELEC-HR) Year 2