HKBU collaborates with WKF Charity and Education Foundation to launch Project MAIL to broaden students’ vision by service learning
19 Jun 2017
HKBU collaborated with WKF Charity and Education Foundation to hold the inaugural Project MAIL in which local (L), mainland (M) and international students (I), and alumni (A) formed a volunteer group to take part in teaching, exchanges of views and visits to social service organisations in Jiangxi Province. The project’s objective is to broaden students’ vision, to nurture a positive attitude in them by planning and implementing social service projects, and to learn from the experience of their alumni team members.
From 20 May to 2 June, members of this student-driven social service learning project provided voluntary teaching services to Qing Long Chi Jiang primary school and Huang Lung Ling Tan primary school in the province’s Dayu County. They also visited lonely elders and children whose parents live elsewhere, and exchanged views with teachers and students at GanNan Normal University. In the coming three years, HKBU students will visit Dayu County twice a year, in May and December, to continue providing voluntary services there.
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) Dr Albert Chau expressed his sincerely gratitude to WKF Charity and Education Foundation for their suport. He said that HKBU is dedicated to providing service learning opportunities to students so that they can gain knowledge outside the campus and serve society. HKBU not only hopes that students will practise what they learn in their lessons, but more importantly that they are enabled to think more about social issues, such as fairness, justice and building empathy with different communities. In addition, in the process of planning, implementing and participating in these projects, students can build up their team spirit, shoulder more responsibilities and become global citizens with professional knowledge and a willingness to serve.
The convener of Project MAIL and Associate Director of School of Chinese Medicine’s Teaching and Research Division Dr Kevin Yue said that by gathering together local, mainland and international students and alumni to organise this social service project, the University demonstrates its determination and capability to promote service learning. From this project, including the planning and implementing of all activities, the University hopes students can learn how to manage a project, carefully consider the actual needs of the different communities and provide sustainable, suitable services to them.
Dr Yue added that after this pilot trip, the University will consider optimising the Project, such as by expanding the scope of the services, increasing the ratio of non-local students (including international students) and providing social services to other provinces and counties.
Mr Tyrone Siu, an Ex-officio Member of the HKBU Alumni Association Management Committee, also joined the service trip. He was deeply impressed by the HKBU students for their ability to plan and organise most of the activities in the trip and their adjustment of details in a timely fashion in the face of changing circumstance. The students also demonstrated their genuine passion in the trip. As an alumnus, he hopes to continue sharing his experience with students and to encourage them to always do their best.
Rachel Chuang (Sociology, Year 3) and Jacky Poon (Biotechnology, Year 2) said that the most memorable experience for them on of this trip was seeing children burst into tears at the farewell session. In addition, the Project gave them a deeper understanding of Mainland China and insights into how to serve society.
Jacky said some of children they taught were left by parents in their hometown, had special education needs or lacked self-esteem because of insufficient parental care. After one day of observation, his team adjusted their teaching to have a more beneficial impact, with less of an academic focus and instead inspiring the children to dream and think about their futures.
Rachel added that before they came to Jiangxi, they had an exchange visit in Dongguan where they received lots of useful advice. This included using nicknames to build up a friendly image for the children, and tips on how to manage order in the classroom so that children can learn in a relaxed and efficient atmosphere. During the trip, they drew community maps for two primary schools which indicated those facilities that could be improved, including poor playing areas and unclear emergency exit signs. They hope to follow up on these issues in future.
The children of Dayu County had never met foreigners before, so they fought to hold the hands of Joshua Claassens, an HKBU exchange student from the US, and Timothy Berrow from the UK.
Joshua said the trip was a valuable experience for him as he and his teammates, though with very different backgrounds, complemented each other, got along well and worked together to achieve the same goals. From this trip, Joshua found that education in the area is mostly one-way, making it difficult to nurture children’s creativity. Therefore, as well as serving the children, he wants to inspire teachers to change their methods. He promised to go back to Dayu County after his graduation.