Under the leadership of Angela Pok, Leonard Lim, Albert Ling and Lisa Lim, the Taylor’s Student Experience Team led a group of students enrolled in the Taylor’s Talent Management initiative to Hong Kong to experience what community service looks like in one of Asia’s busiest and most developed urban centers. Each student on this team had earned their place by planning and executing a community service project – Chasing Light or Project Freeze – where they had a chance to show some leadership capabilities on campus in other projects. They then had to raise their own support for the trip and be engaged in the planning and strategizing for the activity packed days ahead.
On 1 August 2014 the entire team headed out to KLIA for the five hour flight to Hong Kong, where they were greeted by Mr. Lin Chor, HKI-Ed’s Student Affairs Officer, and their student hosts from the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Partnering with HKI-Ed students and community service organizations, the Wofoo Leaders Network and Transhomers, the students engaged in a variety of community service projects in the city that would give them greater insight into their own community service projects back in Malaysia.
Their first community event was a reading carnival for local children. For this the students prepared stories and little plays to engage the students in interactive learning. They also engaged the children in drama, putting on an improvised play, and in a demonstration of sand art, activities for which there was no language barrier. The preparation of food at Food Angel required no translation either. What struck the students was the quality of the food being prepared. One student described her experience as “like walking into a five-star kitchen!” Rather than using leftovers, as many students anticipated, the food was fresh and of a very high quality.
The students then went to minister care at a nursing home and were immediately struck by what qualified as old age in Hong Kong. Rather than the 60 to 70 years old they expected, they were confronted by 90 to 100 year old residents, some with difficulty hearing and all who spoke Cantonese. In the ‘conversations’ that took place, Taylor’s students were greatly helped by the HKI-Ed students who provided translations. Once past the barrier of shy secrecy, the students listened respectfully to the residents, who shared stories of their lives from long ago.
After a sensitivity session for the blind, called Dialogue in the Dark, students then ministered to the homeless in the Shum Sui Po district of the city, many of whom simply live under the bridge. Audery Chan, the assistant leader for the outreach reflects, “Seeing them, it made me wonder if there were homeless in Kuala Lumpur that I do not see. In a developed country like Hong Kong, we only see them in certain areas, what about a developing country like Malaysia? Does the problem of homelessness exist in Malaysia and I don’t see it?”
As one student noted, “I was amazed at commitment to community service. One of the girls told Mr. Albert that she just had finished her internship. I was wondering what she was doing there. She should be enjoying her summer with her friends shopping or being at the beach. Instead, she was here doing community service, not expecting anything in return. Her passion inspired me.”
Other Taylor’s University students wishing to get involved in community service can contact the Student Development Hub through their website at http://tustudentdevelopment.wordpress.com their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/TUSDH?fref=ts or Student Development Hub coordinator Albert Ling directly at Albert.Ling@taylors.edu.my