CityU students show commitment to community through volunteer services

Scarlett Leung

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More than 400 local, mainland and overseas students from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have participated in the City-Youth Empowerment Project this academic year, contributing to society through voluntary services. Their efforts have helped more than 440 people in need, including children suffering from chronic illness, those from deprived families, single-parent and new immigrant families and the elderly living alone.

Upholding the principle of whole-person development and serving as a bridge between students and society, CityU organises the City-Youth Empowerment Project to encourage student participation in community service in order to contribute to society and enrich their lives. “This is a golden opportunity for CityU students to learn about themselves through contact with people from all walks of life. They can learn that it is better to give than to take,” said Dr Elaine Au Liu Suk-ching, Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies and convener of the project. “Through this platform, students learn about what they can give back to society throughout their life,” she added.

A series of voluntary activities are held throughout the year. Among them is a project that helps children suffering from Asperger syndrome develop and improve their communication and social skills, and another, the “Uncle Long Leg Letter Box” service, that answers questions posed by primary and secondary school pupils. On 21 and 25 March, Adventure-Ship activities were staged to help youngsters who had come to the attention of police and to assist people recovering from mental disorders. Through a tailor-made training programme, CityU students helped develop their own creativity, independence, team spirit as well as a positive outlook on life.

Oscar Ho Chung-yan, a first-year student of the Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons) in Social Work programme considers volunteer service beneficial to his career development. Having joined the Adventure-Ship for the second time, he said, “I had no idea how to communicate with children at the very beginning. However, since participating in the Adventure-Ship activity in the first semester, I have developed a skill that is vital to my future career as a social worker. In the later project, the participants were a completely different demographic, requiring altogether different communication abilities.”

“The Adventure-Ship activity has provided me with an understanding of how important it is to develop teamwork and trust among team members. It has provided valuable experience outside the classroom. It has contributed a great deal to my life as an exchange student at CityU,” said Kay Wang Jing-xuan, a second year Faculty of Business exchange student from Singapore.

Li Tong, a foundation year student from Shanxi Province, takes part in volunteer services every week. Every Saturday she visits a childcare centre to provide free tutoring to physically handicapped children. “As a newcomer, I wish to learn more about Hong Kong and participating in voluntary work is the best way for me to reach out to the community. I have learnt from the kids that patience is an essential element of successful communication,” she said.

Besides joining the Adventure-Ship in the first semester, she and two other mainland students helped clean the apartments of the elderly living alone before the Lunar New Year. “We were chatting with the elderly while cleaning their homes. That was also the first time I had painted a gate,” said Li Tong, who added that the project not only helped others but also gave her a sense of fulfilment.

The City-Youth Empowerment Project was launched by the Office of Dean of Student Learning and the Youth Studies Net of the Department of Applied Social Studies in 2005, targeting undergraduate residents of the Student Residence. This year, it has been extended to all CityU students. To maximise participation, more one-off activities are organised, such as taking deprived children on a visit to the Hong Kong International Airport, in addition to the on-going programmes.

A certificate presentation ceremony will be organised on 5 April to recognise and reward students who have participated in the project. Beneficiaries of their generosity and representatives of social welfare organisations are also invited.

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