Marcus Lau: Love is simply inclusive
27 Feb 2019
Having previously finished an overseas exchange programme, Marcus Lau, a Year Five student from the Department of English Language and Literature, dedicates much of his spare time to volunteering. Now he is a member of HKBU’s Inclusion Student Ambassador Programme, helping students in need to get accustomed to university life. He is also determined to be a teacher and aspires to support students with special educational needs (SEN).
Marcus’s volunteering track record is truly amazing. As a secondary school student, he spent time with some non-profit volunteer organisations and also contributed to society by participating in a number of “food wise” and voluntary teaching activities. While at HKBU, he also travelled to Hungary during the summer vacation in Year 3 with other volunteers from 10 different countries to jointly take part in a voluntary teaching programme with AIESEC, a non-profit organisation. While there, he met some students who inspired him to undertake further volunteering opportunities.
“Although I only stayed there for eight weeks, we had already organised two English language training camps for students there and aroused their awareness of social responsibility through a broad array of activities. In the camp, a six-year-old student who had just recovered from a serious illness told me, ‘You are my only adult friend.’ I then recognised the importance of volunteering to the underprivileged, however insignificant the contribution may be, and that I should go a step further and contribute more.” Following the overseas exchange, Marcus was determined to spend more time caring for students with SEN. In the meantime, he has also endeavoured to equip himself with the necessary skills to support students with SEN or specific learning disabilities.
Upon his return to Hong Kong, Marcus immediately signed up for the Inclusion Student Ambassador Programme, which HKBU launched as part of its efforts to build an inclusive culture on campus. Over 50 ambassadors were recruited this semester. Apart from organising the Simply Inclusive Campaign event, they also joined a series of training programmes and workshops, and took part in some volunteer services on and off campus.
“Through the Programme, we have a better understanding of the inclusion concept, the types of SEN and their learning difficulties, and are also able to interact with students with SEN and help build a more inclusive campus.”
Last year, Marcus also started to be the “helping hand” for a visually-impaired student from the Department of Religion and Philosophy. He helps him borrow reference books from the library and convert the textual information to speech using special auxiliary instruments and software in the University Library. This enables his visually-impaired partner to listen to audiobooks and do his homework. The entire process, from borrowing a book to completing the text-to-speech conversion, often takes two hours to finish. Although Marcus is busy studying, doing his dissertation and undertaking an internship, he is always eager to help his classmate. It is his sincerity and dedication which has helped them become close friends.
“We usually gather together, sometimes having a meal in a restaurant. When I read aloud the dishes on the menu and let him know the options, I can imagine the difficulties he may face while eating alone.” After interacting with students with SEN, Marcus has become truly aware of their needs and hopes he can do more to help them adapt and integrate into university life.
Marcus is now studying for a diploma in education. Once he has acquired his professional qualifications, he aspires to provide more tailored support and services to students with SEN. At the end of last year, he joined an internship programme at a local primary school and met students with SEN face-to-face. He then got to know their learning issues and has mastered the skills required to understand their behaviours and ease their difficulties. With the experience gained from the internship, he has more confidence in becoming an outstanding teacher.
In view of the rise in the number of students with SEN, HKBU organises the Simply Inclusive Campaign every year and promotes an inclusive culture through various events, including seminars, workshops and film with audio description appreciation. In 2016/17 academic year, the University launched the Inclusion Student Ambassador Programme for the first time, enabling disabled students to enjoy life in a campus full of cultural diversity, while also building mutual understanding and acceptance among one another.