Reaching Out Award
Recipients in the 2018/19 Academic Year
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics and Finance
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
My name is ZHAO Binyan. I am a first-year student of economics and finance at the Hong Kong Shue Yan University. I am most grateful to the Education Bureau for giving me the Self-financing Post-secondary Scholarship Scheme Reaching Out Award.
From 6 to 12 January 2019, I was on a Ciwei Live tour in Thailand, where I taught Chinese and English to local children and experienced the local culture. To me, the meaning of voluntary work lies in the rediscovery of one’s true self. As volunteers, we have to get rid of negativity, which may exist as anger, indecisiveness and pessimism, and embrace the delightful, optimistic and positive sides of ourselves. Teaching children in Chiang Mai gave me a temporary respite from the all-consuming city life that I have been leading and a taste of an exotic lifestyle. The children’s smiling faces, the intricacies of silk-screen printing, the pleasurable Thai-style yoga, the enlightenment from living in a foreign land, and the joy of meeting and knowing like-minded companions are memories of the stay that I will be keeping close to my heart.
Known as the Rose of the Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a city that is easy to fall in love with. The locals are friendly, courteous and accustomed to greeting strangers on the streets with their broad smiles. Roads are not densely packed with cars as the dominant modes of transportation are motorcycles and tricycles. The people there may not be living an affluent life but they emanate a palpable sense of bliss and satisfaction.
The school we served was in a very remote area. Consisting of a playground and three bungalows, it only had a handful of teachers, some worn out desks and a whiteboard. Modern teaching facilities were nowhere to be seen. However, the innocent and adorable children were high-spirited, and their vitality was something that I had never seen before. As soon as I stepped into the classroom, they introduced themselves with a great fervor. They would greet me from afar when I ran into them outside the classroom. I used a combination of songs, magic tricks and games to make learning Chinese and English fun. There were times when they got so rambunctious that I had to raise my voice to stop them. But once I heard them clearly pronounce the words I had taught and finish singing a whole song, I would be overcome by a euphoric sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, and all the hard work about being a teacher became irrelevant. Having to teach by day and prepare for the next day’s lessons by night, I came to appreciate the difficulties that teachers have to contend with. Students should cherish their teachers because teaching is toilsome. There was no way for me to pass on a lot of knowledge within a short span of seven days, but I hope that I have opened children’s minds to a bigger world.
Teaching aside, I took the chance to savour Thailand’s colourful lifestyle. I tried my hands at seasoning and making Pad Thai (Thai-style stir-fried noodles) at a local restaurant, which was a lot of fun. With my limited free time, I had a relaxing experience practising the unique Thai-style yoga with a local master and making custom T-shirts with silk-screen printing.
What impact does volunteering have on the world? How does voluntary teaching service change those poor children’s lives? My answer is simple: No matter how limited our strength and contribution may be, learning enables children to broaden their horizons and, in turn, influence the lives of others. More importantly, there are countless volunteers around the world rendering all kinds of service. Together, we can provide an incredible impetus to changing the world, like tiny streamlets converging into a mighty river. I realise from my trip to the Northern Thailand that helping others and contributing to society can be very rewarding both physically and psychologically. I have learnt to work with others as a team and developed a strong sense of service. Charity work requires not only a burning passion but also the ability to look after small issues and the strength to persevere. Voluntary services should be delivered on the basis that we are all equal and the volunteers should be empathetic at all time. I major in economics and finance so, on the surface, this trip seemed to have little to do with my studies. But spending time with the children has deepened my understanding of Thailand, especially the rampant disparity between rich and poor and backward living conditions. It dawns on me that I have great responsibilities: The purpose of studying economics and finance is not to seek personal wealth but to make the world better and everyone happier! In the future, I will apply what I have learnt to help those living in poverty.
Last Review Date: 04/07/2019