Young people experience personal growth from voluntary teaching mission in Mainland (with photos)

     Since the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) launched the Service Corps programme in 2011, a total of 36 young people have joined the mission to provide voluntary teaching services in Shaoguan in Guangdong Province. The Phase IV programme will be expanded to include Meizhou in Guangdong Province as a service area for the first time and is now recruiting young people to take part.

     Participants, in groups of two to four members, will be placed in different schools in Shaoguan or Meizhou to help teachers carry out daily teaching activities and organise extracurricular activities. It is hoped that participants' exposure and experience will be enhanced through the three components of the programme: pre-departure training, field service and visits, and follow-up activities.

     To diversify the programme, the HAB is exploring with the Mainland authorities the opening up of non-teaching service opportunities. Details are to be confirmed.

     Participants in the Phase IV programme can choose to serve for the whole school year (from September 2013 to July 2014) or for one semester (first term from September 2013 to January 2014 or second term from February to July 2014).

     Two delegates who participated in the programme are among those who treasured their experience. Miss Janet Wong had always dreamt of being a teacher, and she resigned from her clerical job last February to join the Phase II programme and volunteered in Shaoguan for five months.

     She said, "Through my daily interaction with the students at Lishi Town Centre Primary School, I have grown and transformed without realising it. It's the students who have made me into a more optimistic, sincere and positive person."

     As Miss Wong is good at badminton and short-distance running, she was assigned to teach physical education to primary one and primary two pupils. As the local children only start to learn English from primary three, she took the opportunity in class to teach her students some basic English such as "left", "right", "up" and "down", hoping to help them acquire the language gradually.

     She said most of her students came from farming villages and would board at the school from Sunday nights to Thursday nights. Sometimes she would make snacks like fruit punch and sweet soup with dumplings for them to share, and sometimes she would take them out for a walk after class.

    Her students often came up to her with a lot of questions. She said, "Once there was a child with a sad and frustrating problem. At that moment I just wanted to help him change his thinking and wished he could regain hope. But afterwards, I have learnt to simplify complicated matters and look at things positively myself."

     Another delegate from the Phase II programme was Mr Oscar Leung, also a working young person. After he was admitted to the programme, he put his accounting career in Hong Kong on hold and went to teach integrated learning activities at Longgui Primary School in Shaoguan.

     At his first class, Mr Leung asked his students to write down their dreams. He wished he could inspire children to set their life goals and have the courage during his stay to start making them happen. "I think it is very important to have a dream. It is what leads you in life," he said.

     With his knowledge in go (weiqi), Mr Leung volunteered to set up a go interest class at the school and hoped to train up the children's thinking through the hobby. He was overwhelmed when more than 200 students signed up for the class.

     The most touching moment during his service had to be his birthday celebrated there. Upon stepping into the classroom, he was greeted with students singing the birthday song for him and pampered with birthday cards and presents made from paper. "There are not many choices locally and you can see that they had given me the best paper in their possession. I was so deeply touched that I almost could not start my lesson."

     Concluding on the changes he experienced upon participating in the programme, Mr Leung said, "I have seen my shortcomings through overcoming new problems in an unfamiliar environment. I will work on improving in those areas in the future."

     He has heard people describing teachers as gardeners. While he believed that the number of gardeners is not enough for the vast Mainland population, he hoped there would be more people joining the mission and working towards a better future.

     The Service Corps programme aims to promote youth development and volunteerism. It seeks to develop the tenacity and potential of Hong Kong youth and encourage them to serve others.

     To support young people in taking part in the programme, the HAB will arrange on-campus accommodation for participants and provide necessary subsidies, including a stipend of RMB3,000 per month and transport expenses for round trips between Hong Kong and the service location, as well as reimbursement of expenses on third-party liability insurance, general personal medical insurance and travel insurance. The HAB will also engage experienced counsellors to support the participants. Participants who have completed the programme with satisfactory performance will be granted a certificate and a cash award.

     Participants must be aged between 18 and 29, and capable of communicating in Putonghua as well as reading and writing simplified Chinese characters. Interested youngsters may download the application form online and submit the completed form together with supporting documents before July 31. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview in August.

     The HAB will hold a briefing session at 11am on April 13 (Saturday) at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum to give details on the programme to interested young people and groups. Those interested can reserve a seat via the Service Corps website.

     For applications or further information on the programme, please call 3509 7001 or visit the Service Corps website at

Ends/Monday, April 1, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:00