Reaching Out Award
Recipients in the 2017/18 Academic Year
Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Journalism and Mass Communication
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
I am a fourth-year student majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication at the Hong Kong Shue Yan University. I have always been keen on studying, enjoying life and participating in out-of-class activities.
First of all, I am extremely honored to be a recipient of the Reaching Out Award this year. I am so grateful to the donors for their generosity, in particular their support for the extraordinary trip I made during this summer vacation. And I am really happy to share with you my interesting experience in Sri Lanka.
My one-week trip was organised by the OCIVA, an international voluntary travelling organisation. What I joined was the Kindergarten Teaching Volunteer Program in Galle, Sri Lanka, which targets at children in local kindergartens. Most of these children come from poor families, and both local school teachers and hardware facilities are scarce. Volunteers are supposed to assist kindergarten teachers in daily teaching. This includes maintaining order and broadening the horizon of students with new knowledge through simple games and activities.
As an island country in Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka has rich cultural heritage and is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean It is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. Upon arrival, I was warmly welcomed by the locals, who are very hospitable and sincere. They always took good care of every volunteer. Before voluntary teaching started, the local organiser provided us with basic training on the local language because the kindergarten children there do not understand English. To communicate with them, we needed to use a little bit of their own language.
We supported a local kindergarten with voluntary teaching. The children there were very adorable and innocent. They uttered “thank you” politely for the small gifts that we had prepared for them. Although we had some games and activities for teaching purpose in mind, we encountered difficulties in actual implementation. Language barrier was one of them. We found that these children could barely speak English, so we had to turn to the local teacher for help or use our body language whenever we failed to put our message across. In the end, we were all reluctant to say goodbye and we could see the same reluctance in the children’s small eyes.
In the days following voluntary teaching, we visited a castle and a tea factory, experienced Sri Lanka’s quaint culture and appreciated its beautiful scenery. But what impressed me most was the friendliness, sincerity and passion of the Sri Lankans: girls on the swing waved to us when our car passed by; local villagers sent us their self-picked black tea leaves; the train stopped for villagers waiting to cross the railway; local children clung to us to prevent us from leaving... Everything there were so warm, peaceful and enjoyable.
Experiencing the local culture by yourself and viewing the landscape with your own eyes is very different from what you get from the television. At school, we may be too concerned about learning and often neglect the beauty around us. In Sri Lanka, I rediscovered the trust and loving bond between people. It seems that in news reporting, sometimes we just look at things from the perspective of the ivory tower. But the fact is “No practice, no gain in one’s wit”. We might have overlooked certain grassroots problems, factors underlying social issues and humanistic considerations. The experience in Sri Lanka has enabled me to see our own culture and society from a new perspective. This should help my future news reporting and enable me to focus more on minute details and human touch when writing.
Thanks again to all the sponsors who gave me this outreach opportunity. With your support, I have been able to gain such an invaluable experience after class, and this is more than textbooks can offer. In future, I am sure that I will make good use of what I have learned and experienced, continue to enrich myself, and follow my heart when moving forward.
Last Review Date: 01/08/2018