Since I was 8 when I was eligible to join, I have been participating in Team Fear; the annual largest youth adventure race in Asia with 900 participants, where my teammate and I bike, run, swim, cliff-jump, kayak, coasteer, rock-climb, etc. This is always one of the highlights of my year and has been a huge part of my childhood memories. Not only is it a lot of fun, it has also shaped and taught me perseverance, risk-taking, positive-thinking, to never give up, and more importantly it is for a very meaningful cause for the community.
An important element of participating in Team Fear is raising money for Youth Outreach, a local charity which supports at-risk youth to grow into responsible members of our community through reaching out, caring, loving, and welcoming them, helping them find themselves and rebuild self-respect and self-confidence, and providing them with a platform to grow and stand up on their own feet. In the past few years, Team Fear and its participants have been able to hand over a cheque of over 100,000 HKD annually to the charity. This was especially rewarding, knowing that I am able to participate in such a fun and challenging event which I really enjoy, but also the incredible feeling after the race looking back at what I have accomplished and knowing that my contributions were for a very worthwhile cause.
Last year, my team donated the most money in the race among others, and to our surprise, we were chosen to abseil down a 60m building in the Youth Outreach building, which was an amazing experience! This November I achieved my first place trophy.
In addition, after organising a football fundraiser tournament at school a while ago for local underprivlidged children to get the opportunity to enjoy sports and improve thier social mobility, I am continuing my collaboration with InspiringHK Sports Foundation. At school, we have the opportunity to help NGO’s we are passionate about to raise funds through our monthly dress down day by getting a bunch of people together to nominate your charity. Therefore, that is exactly what I did, I sent emails and messages to my friends to nominate InspiringHK Sports Foundation as the recipient of the funds. I was able to get over 40 nominations our of the 30 minimum nominations! After that I had to do an interview/presentation in front of the entire Upper School Student Council in order to show them I know about my organisation and provide them for reasons why they need help from our school. I based a lot of my presentation on my experience with the children when I hosted the football tournament, talking about the happiness and joy sports had given them, but I also provided anecdotes of my childhood and how playing sports has had a huge impact in my life by making me more confident and teaching me to never give up, while explaining that the NGO is relatively new and requires funds to provide children free sports training programs (including dance, football, hockey, running, tennis, fencing, golf, swimming, and more!), provide funds for sporting equipment/coaches, and their mentorship program. I have now been successful in getting chosen twice! My first DDD was able to raise over $10,000 for the NGO.
I have been apart of a variety of extracurriculars where I have to work in a team. I believe the best example of working collaboratively with others is my experience in the Awards for Young People (AYP), and most especially during the final expedition of AYP Gold. Our four-day expedition along the Hong Kong countryside would not have been possible without our collaboration as a group. Nearly all of us have been working together as a team since we joined in Grade 9. We have accomplished many things together, and have gotten both the Bronze and Silver awards, and we are an AMAZING TEAM! One reason why we work so well as a team is because we all understand our roles in the team, as we know ours and each other’s strengths. We are also very efficient in all our tasks because we understand the importance of sharing our workload, creating a good team dynamic, and more importantly, supporting each other no matter what challenges come our way. Jameson and Ellie would often be on top of things and would be the first ones up to cook breakfast and make sure that everyone is up and ready for the start of our hike, Elliot and I would always be the ones who try to boost group morale by being hike DJ’s and play out our classy tunes from Spotify with playlists such as Elliot’s “My Cool Playlist” or my “Chester Chan Selects” in addition to bantering around to make our group members laugh andoften carrying larger amounts of weight so that our group could make our chekpoints faster. Helena would be the organised one who would think of the best ways to make our group perform efficiently and effectively during our expeditions. Last but not least, Jenny would help set the pace for our group. One key moment of the hike which I will never forget was when Ellie began to get heat exhaustion halfway into our final expedition. When we knew, the entire group immediately were there for her and supported her, we wanted to make sure that we all would reach our final checkpoint and complete Gold together because we are a team. We offered her electrolyte pills, offered to carry her stuff, etc. Without our team spirit, we would never have completed this challenging expedition.
As evident through many of my previous reflections, it is clear that I have been regularly involved and engaged in a variety of CAS experiences as well as my CAS project, and that I have been committed through them throughout the years. I believe my commitment and perseverance is most clear from my CAS Project AYP, and CAS experiences in playing for the school and club football teams and learning guitar. I have been apart of my CAS Project, AYP since I joined with a couple of my friends when we were in Grade 9. A long-term commitment like AYP has positively impacted my academics. Through this program, I have learned to allocate my time effectively, managing amongst school work,while regularly participating in different extracurriculars such as football and guitar to fulfill my physical recreation, skills, service, and residential project sections in order to receive our award, while regularly attending meetings, lectures, expedition planning sessions, and also the many expeditions which occasionally also overlapped with school. I was able to apply the same positive mindset and perseverance I acquired from the expeditions into schoolwork, utilising the positive pressure to motivate me to work hard, push myself to the limits, and stay organised in order to succeed in my academics. I often also anticipated the work and assestments I had before expedions and made sure that I do my work before any expedictions. I am now in Grade 12, I have completed both the Bronze and Silver levels, and I will soon complete the Gold level once all AYP requirements have been fulfilled.
In addition I have played football since I was 6, and play both school and club football. I have played for the U14, U16 teams, and currently play for the U20 school team and Hong Kong Football Club. We train on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for an hour and a half. I have also learned guitar since I was 8 and have been regularly going to lessons every Saturday.
Click HERE to how I planned my CAS Project, AYP.
A valuable CAS experience which I had this year was completing a Standard First Aid Course at the Hong Kong Red Cross Headquarters, where I learned basic first aid knowledge and skills from trained first aid lecturers in order to be of help, when injuries arise. I also want to be able to pass the exam and receive a certificate which would help me with my AYP service section as well. Investigating this experience required me to do a bit of research regarding first aid courses available in Hong Kong, I not only needed to find a time which would suit my schedule, I also needed to find a course which would teach in English which is harder to find in Hong Kong. I also sent an email to Mr. Hamilton in order to inquire about whether a first aid course would properly satisfy for my AYP service section and if he knew of any first aid courses available in English. Planning for this CAS experience required me to manage my schedule and ensure that the course wouldn’t clash with my other commitments. I also needed to make sure that I knew how to get to the first aid headquarters, and had all the equipment and paperwork. The Action stage is where I completed 30 hours of first aid lectures, exploring very interesting topics such as suffocation & choking, transporting victims, bone, joint & muscle trauma along with an extra 3 hours for the examination. During this time, I also learned many practical first aid procedures such as CPR and bandaging limbs. The Reflection stage was usually done at the end of each first aid lecture, where I would reflect on what I have learned, what I understood, and what I need to learn more about. I would often go home to review my notes and also practice the bandaging and CPR in preparation for the exams. The Demonstrating/Celebrating stage is where I demonstrate what I learned through performing first aid and being the first responder for people whenever someone requires it. In terms of celebration, my friend and first aid partner which I met through the first aid course celebrated together by having a big meal at the nearby food court! It was a great feeling!
One of the most significant challenges I have taken throughout high school has been my participation in AYP. Click HERE to see my reflection on that experience.
A challenge I decided to take on which I really enjoyed was when I enrolled in the Camp Biz-Smart Crowdfunding Start-Ups program in Stanford University in the US last summer to learn basic crowdfunding and entrepreneurship skills and made a Kickstarter page for our innovative product. As a child, I always loved innovative products and was inspired by the creativity and marketing of their advertisements. I would spend hours on Youtube just watching these wonderful American advertisements, and noticed how seriously this creativity is lacking in my own city. My interest in business sparked when I stumbled upon an amazing product online on Kickstarter, Oru-Kayak. A kayak which could be folded into a box and turn from box to boat in just minutes. I was amazed at how a simple idea could turn into a successful business. This was a completely new experience for me as I have never explored or been exposed to this field, but I was excited to take on the challenge.
Throughout the six days of participating in the BizSmart Global Crowdfunding Startup Week and staying at the Stanford campus dorms I was put into an unfamiliar environment, of which I adapted to really quickly. I learned many new and valuable business, entrepreneurial skills including crowdfunding, design thinking, teamwork, leadership, collaboration, idea conceptualisation, and public speaking. I was in a team of five people from different backgrounds, and we worked together in brainstorming ideas, conceptualising our idea which was a backpack which had cooling technologies for your back and a mini fridge (especially useful in hot summer days), prototyping our idea, figuring out the demographics and customer profiles, etc. And finally doing our business pitch in front of real CEO’s from the US. I have also met a lot of new friends from all around the world including the United States, Switzerland, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Spain, Brazil, etc. I was really excited to be in the same classroom with many ambitious and successful teens, there were people who worked for a video producing company, people who had started their own business and sold it for a lot of money, a Youtuber with 5000 subscribers, an Instagrammer with 80K followers, and a skier who represented the youth national team and placed 20th in Spain, etc. Spending my time working, collaborating, playing sports, and hanging out in the dorms with them has inspired me and also helped me enrich my understanding of the world and the cultures of different people around the world, and I believe that it has allowed me to become more knowledgeable and also more ambitious. I am very glad that I decided to join this summer camp, not only has it allowed me to discover my interest in business, entrepreneurship, and crowdfunding, it has also opened me to a whole new network of intelligent and inspiring people, of whom I have built great long-lasting friendships with and am sure I will be working with them in the near future!
Below is the Kickstarter page for our product!
Our Product Prototype
Throughout my years an an IB student, I have learned the importance of participating in extra curricular activities, and taking on new challenges and opportunities. This has allowed me to put my strengths and weaknesses into perspective. I believe that one of my key strengths is my perseverance and resilience for any challenge that comes my way. This is an attribute which I begun to realise when I joined a program called the Hong Kong Awards for Young People (AYP/Duke of Edinburgh Award) in Grade 9. AYP is a program about individual challenge, enterprise, effort, and achievement. I have completed and been awarded the Bronze and Silver Level and will receive Gold Level before graduation. This award is given to candidates who have completed their physical recreation, skill, service, and expedition sections, along with a residential project, which I have been able to satisfy through partaking in activities which I love and am passionate about such as football, hosting a football charity tournament for local underprivileged children, learning guitar, etc.
The toughest part of the program would be the physically demanding and gruelling weather conditions we had to battle through in the expedition sections. During these expeditions we often fought through rainstorms, getting us completely soaked and cold, not to mention the drenched tents and camping equipment, and there being no showers. There were occasions when we felt ill and fatigued, lowering our group morale. So I would keep a positive mindset and remain grounded and poised, taking this opportunity to step up and embrace a leadership role to boost morale and motivate the group to remain resilient. Throughout my 3 years of participation, I have acquired problem-solving and decision-making skills and have been shaped into a strong, perseverant, and determined leader. These critical life skills prepares me for any challenge that comes my way and will allow me to excel in the future.
However, I am also aware of my weaknesses. I have always been passionate and interested about many things, and have always had a explorative mindset. During my two years, a weakness I noticed is that I didn’t always try new things when they were presented to me. A main reason for this would be because I am already participating in many activities with long-term commitments (which I have started from a very young age), and with the DP workload I was unsure if I could manage trying a new activity, while sticking to my other commitments. I noticed this weakness I had, and decided that I needed to make a change. I thought to myself that I should make the most of my high school years while I am still young to try all the things that I wanted to, because in the future it may be even harder for my to try on new things as I have even more work to manage between. Therefore, I decided to take on something new join a Standard First Aid Course with Hong Kong Red Cross and also take part in the Camp Bizsmart Crowdfunding Start-Up course in Stanford University. These activities allowed me to gain new and interesting experiences where I was able to learn something completely new, while also meeting many new friends. This has really motivated me to continue to take on new challenges and opportunities, and I cannot wait for what else is to come!
For my CAS Project, I decided to join the Hong Kong Award For Young People (known as AYP or the Duke of Edinburgh). A program at school which I have been involved in since Grade 9 and have already completed the Bronze and Silver Level, and just have the Gold Level left to complete this year. AYP is a very challenging program because of the many sections it covers, which includes physical, skill, service, and expedition sections, which participants like me are required to complete a number of hours throughout a spread of a couple months to a year (depending on the award level), and for Gold a residential project as well in order to achieve the award.
Needing to complete all the mentioned sections in order to meet the requirements, thus is a long term commitment. Many of the extra curricular activities which I do outside of school which I count as parts of the skill, activity, and service sections of AYP are also a part of my CAS Projects. This includes activities such as football for Hong Kong Football Club and the school U20 Football Team (Physical section), learning to play the guitar every Saturday (Skills Section), Hosting and planning a football charity fundraiser tournament at school for InspirignHK Sports Foundation or participating and volunteering in the Amnesty club at school, learning and getting a First Aid Certificate (Service Section), and participating in the Camp Bizsmart Crowdfunding Start Up Week in Stanford University (residential project)
During the Investigation stages for my CAS Project, I didn’t really have to identify my interests and talent for CAS experiences, mainly because I have been participating in the AYP Program since Grade 9, when I already decided on joining. AYP was something I found very enjoyable since I am a person who really loves nature and enjoys being outdoors. Another thing which did require myself to identify my interests, skills, and talents for my CAS experience would be when I was considering what activities I should count towards my skills, physical, and service sections for AYP. However, this was also relatively easy since I have been involved in those activities like playing guitar, going to football training, and volunteering long before joining AYP, some even for longer than 10 years.
In the Preparation/Planning stage for my CAS Project, I would have to sign up for the activities which I would like to count for my AYP sections (however I have already been doing those activities prior to AYP, so I was able to skip this step). However, I did have to gather all the AYP forms for all sections and go to each person who was in charge of organizing my activity and inform them about my intention to count the particular activity as part of my AYP award. And then hand them into the AYP Coordinator Mr. Hamilton 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the activity for each section. Planning stages for the expedition section is the section which requires the most time and commitment. This is because, in order to begin an expedition, there must be a lot of planning which includes setting up the route, marking the map, finding emergency contacts, a food plan, allocating who brings what, etc. And this requires me to regularly chat and meet with my group to get the logistics and planning done in time for the expeditions. This is especially important because my AYP group and I hike and camp overnight for a number of consecutive days. So having everything well planned and thought out would help the expedition run much smoother.
The Action stage of the CAS Project is essentially where I complete the expedition sections with my friends where we hike and camp overnight for consecutive days and requires lots of strength, fitness, and perseverance. The longest number of days out camping is in the Gold Level where we camp for 4 nights. This is also where I complete the other sections including the skill, activity, and service sections as mentioned above.
The Reflection stage of the CAS Project for the expedition section is usually done at the end of the night when we are at the public campsite or the youth hostel. Where we gather as a group and reflect on the day, and discuss what should be improved on. We also write an AYP report after our expeditions in order to reflect on ourselves, how the well we worked as a group, and evaluate each group members contribution. In order for us to improve for future expeditions. For example, we realized how inefficient we were at packing up our tents and other equipment in the morning. So we decided as a group to have assigned tasks during the morning and wake up earlier in order to boost efficiency.
In the Demonstrating/Celebrating sections I demonstrated and communicated to others about our achievements at the AYP by creating a promotional video in order to attract more students at the school to join. We can also celebrate when we are awarded an award for each level, and finally, the big celebration will be when we are awarded the AYP Gold Award which will be presented by the Hong Kong Chief Executive at the Chief’s office once we are finished with all sections.
One of the most profound experiences I have had this year by far was my CAS Week trip to Fiji. You may be asking, what is there to reflect on, wasn’t Fiji just chilling around on Mana island, and relaxing on the beaches? Sure that was part of it, but what I believe will stick with me the most from the trip was my experience with working at a local Fijian school to help with a construction project including paving a concrete walkway which would from the school gate to the main school block and from the main school block to the washroom block, and also building a shelter over this pathway. Aside from working on this project, we also spent time interacting and playing games with the local schoolchildren, including playing football with the children in the rain! During this time, I was able to learn about their lifestyle and cultures, and I was especially shocked by their living and learning conditions. Despite them being visibly less privileged then us, a major contrast I saw between them and students from our school is the positive attitude they have towards learning and life in general. I found that they were often very happy, always smiling, and always excited to learn something new. This experience allowed me to realise just how fortunate I am to receive such a great education at CDNIS and to be living such a safe, and multicultural city. I have also tried to develop the same positive attitude that the Fijians have towards everything, because being positive is the key to happiness. Something which I remember vividly was when the rain started to pour on the last day, and I was very happy to see that the new rain shelter we built along the pathway allowed students to get to their parents on the other side of the school without getting wet, and that showed how just a bit of hard work can make an impact on the lives of the children at the school.
One of the main challenges I have set myself this year is to successfully complete the Gold level of the Awards For Young People (AYP) Program at our school. I have been participating in AYP (also known as Duke of Edinburgh) since Grade 9 with a group of friends and have already completed the Bronze and Silver Levels. AYP is an especially challenging program because of the many elements it covers. The award is given after the candidate has completed a physical activity, skill, service, expedition section for a number of hours throughout a spread of a couple months to a year (depending on the award level), and for Gold a residential project as well. The expedition section is where the members of my AYP group and I hike and camp overnight for a number of consecutive days. The longest number of days out camping is in the Gold Level where we camp for 4 nights. This requires lots of strength, fitness, and perseverance. Completing all sections of this program also requires excellent time management skills, I personally have to manage between playing football for the U20 school team and Hong Kong Football Club (physical activity), learning guitar (activity), and volunteering for InspiringHK Sports Foundation, the Amnesty International school club and doing a first aid course which I plan to complete during summer this year (service). And more importantly managing between school work and planning for expeditions (which requires a lot of time with planning routes, equipment, meals, etc.) and also the actual 4 day expeditions which will overlap with school. This means I must always be on top of things and prepare for tests in advance, for example for the final AYP Gold expedition I will return on a Wednesday and have a test on Biology on the next day, then on on Sports Science on Friday. Through AYP apart from learning basic skills such as expedition preparation, map reading, navigation (with and without compass), etc. I believe that I have also been able to develop many important life skills which include determination and perseverance by being persistent in achieving a goal despite the countless difficulties coming my way.
Another challenge I have for myself is to continue to work with InspiringHK Sports Foundation, who are a local NGO in Hong Kong who aim to establish and promote equality for the underprivileged youths in Hong Kong through sports and charity, and to improve their social mobility. I have worked with this NGO in the past as part of my personal project, where I hosted a football charity fundraiser tournament at the school which would raise money for their cause and also involve the participation of students from CDNIS and underprivileged children from the NGO. You can read more HERE!
I was very inspired by their work, and have been keeping in contact with its founders Gary Wong, and other key members of the team. During the summer I have discussed the possibility of continuing our collaboration and potentially hosting more charity events like the one for my PP. I proposed forming a school club for their charity, which they were very to happy to hear about. However when I proposed this idea to the school principal, she said that the school is not accepting new club proposals this year. Despite this, I will not stop, I am continually finding ways to further involve myself with this NGO and the cause they support. For example, a few months ago, I saw an opportunity on the Upper School Daily Announcements where the USSC said that they were accepting NGO nominations for the coming Dress Down Day’s. I quickly took this opportunity by trying to get at least 30 students at CDNIS to vote for my NGO as a recipient of DDD donation funds, I was very excited to see that the nominations for my NGO quickly surpassed 30 votes! I then had an interview with the USSC co-presidents, telling them more about my charity, and how the donations would be used. And I am very excited and happy to say that my NGO has been chosen to be a recipient of the DDD funds sometime during this school year! 🙂