Volunteering Might Just be For You

Are you looking for a life-changing experience? The chance to get work experience? An opportunity to serve those in need? Then volunteering might just be for you. There are many golden opportunities available to all students at CityU to volunteer in underserved communities in Hong Kong and abroad. Do not worry about the language or having no experience, as there are many volunteering services that do not require specific language ability or prior experience. Enthusiasm to learn and willingness to serve are all you need to become a volunteer.

The City Youth Empowerment Project (CYEP) and Project WeCan (PWC) are the two main programmes offering volunteering opportunities to CityU students.

City Youth Empowerment Project

Launched in 2005, CYEP is a flagship voluntary service-learning programme that adheres to the principle of whole-person development and serves as a bridge between CityU students and the community. Around 6,660 CityU students have participated in various volunteering services under the auspices of CYEP, serving 3,500 people from underserved groups. Service recipients include children, youths, women and the elderly who are facing financial difficulties and social isolation.

As a non-Cantonese-speaking volunteer, you can help primary or secondary school students with their homework. Students come from different backgrounds – some have physical disabilities, some are under the Police Superintendent’s Discretion Scheme, some are from low-income and new arrival families, and some are ethnic minority youths. If you are a loving and caring person, you may volunteer as a care-giver for mentally challenged students as well.

If you are more interested in environmental issues, you can work at Food Angel-Meal Box service as a volunteer. Food Angel collects fresh food from major commercial food vendors and delivers it to the needy.

Yao Lun Shih, a Taiwanese student majoring in Finance, has been a CYEP volunteer since he started studying at CityU. Here he discusses his volunteering experience with the programme.

“In my first year, I volunteered for three services: the carbon trading game, tutoring ethnic minority students and those with disabilities. Both local and non-local students volunteered for these services. Before starting, we had to attend a briefing session that introduced us to what to do and how to do it. I tutored two ethnic minority students and one student with disability for two-hour sessions every week. When I started the tutoring sessions, the students were very shy and wanted to give up on their homework easily. I played some games with them to make them more comfortable in interacting with me. I also taught them an easier way to do their homework and tried to build up their confidence. I like to help people. Volunteer service helps me to be more sensitive in dealing with people. Also, as my sensitivity has increased, I have become more rational and optimistic in facing real-life problems.”

Every summer break, CYEP recruits CityU students to serve underprivileged populations overseas. Last summer, CYEP volunteers went to Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal and New York. Angela Li, a third-year psychology student from Hong Kong, talked with us about her overseas volunteering experience.

“I went to Yangon, which is the largest city in Myanmar, where I volunteered for three weeks at a community organisation. I taught skills and knowledge to children and teenagers who were working in teashops. I can’t speak Burmese, so I always had to rely on translators. Sometimes it was quite hard to communicate with the translators because some of them were not very good at English. People there have a tendency not to follow a schedule and it was especially hard for me because I prefer things to work as planned. I used a lot of gestures, and I also learned to be flexible and to realise that it is all right even when things don’t turn out as planned. I also learned to be more aware of the educational needs of people around the world.”

Project WeCan

Project Flame recently joined PWC, a service leadership programme designed to offer care and opportunities to less-privileged students in Hong Kong and, at the same time, train and equip CityU students to become service leaders. The programme currently offers CityU students opportunities to volunteer as English tutoring mentors, school fashion show mentors, career planning mentors and social service mentors to students in two Band-3 schools. Students in Band-3 schools may lack learning support, and their academic performance is usually not very outstanding. With the help of CityU volunteers, PWC tries to empower these students to improve their academic performance and increase their self-esteem by encouraging them to participate in community services and other activities. No prior experience is required for any of PWC’s volunteer services.

Jazmin Gibeaut, an exchange student from Texas A&M International University in the US, shared her volunteering experience with PWC.

“I am currently volunteering as an English tutoring mentor. I organise a two-hour workshop every week for high school students to learn about debating and other skills. I’ve noticed students’ hesitancy to speak English throughout the workshops. Additionally, there seems to be this constant sense of fear of failing. I encourage them to use English in discussions within their groups. I also share my personal experience as an English as a second language (ESL) student. Above all, I make an effort to make students feel comfortable even if they do make mistakes. We aren’t focusing on perfection but rather on progress. For me, service is a fun and interesting way to learn. I always say that you get paid to solve problems. Now try solving a problem when you don’t even know what it is. Service projects like these provide a glimpse of issues in the community. You experience them first-hand. This understanding makes it much easier to contribute towards a solution.”

Lili Ngai, a local student who is majoring in Chinese, talked with us about her volunteer experience as a social service mentor.

“I am a social service mentor. I help students to plan and organise a booth for a fundraising event. Together, we discuss how to set up our booth, how to design the booth and how to sell products to raise funds for the school. I enjoy working with students. They have a high level of passion and motivation for what they are doing. As organising an event involves coordination with many people, communication is sometimes a problem. So, I have learned how to manage the communication well with a group of fellows by using some special techniques. I have also learned time management skills, as I have to manage my time between volunteer work and study schedules.”

Becoming a Volunteer

Volunteer recruitment starts during the first month of each semester, and volunteering often starts in the second month. The duration of volunteering is quite flexible, e.g., one semester with two hours of weekly time commitment for the service of your choice. It is important that volunteers attend the briefing session and training before starting the service. If you want to learn more about CYEP services, please visit http://www.cityu.edu.hk/youeprj/ or contact youeprj@cityu.edu.hk. Please visit http://www6.cityu.edu.hk/projectflame/ or contact project.flame@cityu.edu.hk if you have any questions or want to know more about PWC.

What are you waiting for? Grasp this amazing opportunity and become a volunteer while you are at CityU. You will have captivating, truly unique and life changing experience. The volunteering experience might just become the adventure of your life. Who knows?