When the HFH club offered to bring a group of students to another country to build homes, at first I was interested but unsure because of the workload at school. I was afraid of the consequences, that I may fall behind in my subjects, and it was something I had to evaluate as academics and volunteer service is aspects I both value. However, ultimately I decided to participate in the Thailand and Philippines build trip because I realized that housing is a significant local and global issue, and I wanted to see the issue first hand. As well, I recognized that this opportunity does not come about often. After the trip, I was happy that I decided to go instead of staying in the classroom, since I learned a lot about myself, and had become more open-minded and grateful for the opportunities I have. I also recognized that every volunteer opportunity I take, I get to make a difference in someone’s life, whether it has a small or large magnitude. In this case, I got to help a family by assisting them in getting the basic need of housing.
As an executive of the club Amnesty, I am aware of various problems with global significance, especially ones related to human rights. For example, housing is a basic need that everyone should have. However, a lot of people do not have access to this, locally (i.e. cage homes in Hong Kong) and globally. When our HFH club at school gave the opportunity for a group of students to travel to another country to build homes, I took this opportunity to learn more about the housing issue and see it first-hand. In 2016 I traveled to Thailand, and during this experience, we built a home for a family whose old house was very small and unhygienic. After we completed the house, the homeowner expressed their gratitude and at that moment is when I realised how lucky we were to be in a well-developed country with shelter and many resources other people do not have access to. From then, I have changed to be more open-minded and grateful for everything I have. It made me recognise that I should be more aware of current global issues, and that I should take every volunteer opportunity since I can make a difference in someone’s life.
Working with other people is an important and beneficial aspect when planning and hosting events. For instance, last year, Amnesty and Habitat for Humanity decided to do a collaboration for GIN Week in order to inform upper school students on global issues, specifically human rights, and housing. When we were planning our event, as it was our first collaboration as clubs that year, we had to brainstorm ideas on what we could possibly do. By listening to one another, and building on each other’s ideas, we agreed upon hosting a poverty simulation. After, we decided to split our roles in order to be more efficient. Therefore, we had executives from both clubs in different groups, including research, resource managers, and promotion. I was in the promotion group, therefore I helped out by making posters and telling my peers to participate.
Since 2009, I have been a participant in the 1st Hong Kong Canadian Scouting program, progressing from a Cub, to a Scout, and now currently a Venturer. For this program, we have weekly meetings in which we plan activities, build our skills, or participate in events. Starting from when I was in Cubs, I spent a lot of trying to develop my life and outdoor adventure skills, with the incentive to earn recognition through badges and levels. Often, the requirements can be quite challenging and out of my comfort zone. For example, to earn the aquatic skills badge, I decided to learn how to kayak which I had never experienced without the opportunity from scouts. Moreover, I tried to show my commitment and perseverance through taking on a leadership position. Thus, I was Secretary for one year, and Vice-Chairman for two years in our executive team. Overall, I enjoy this program because it gives me an opportunity to develop personal and outdoor adventure skills, as well improve my leadership, which gives me motivation to continue participating despite the academic workload.
In multiple clubs at school, particularly Amnesty International (CAS Project), we have the opportunity to organize, execute and reflect on events we host. For example, just recently we hosted our annual Vow of Silence event, which is a day where participants do not talk to recognise how many people have no voice (opinion) in society. The process we had to undertake was like the 5 CAS stages: investigation, preparation, action, reflection, and demonstration. In the initial part of our organization of this event, we had to inquire more into the details from last year’s Vow of Silence. Taking note the purpose, time, activities, and the reflection from last year. Using this information, we could plan the event, making sure that it fits with our clubs goal: to advocate for human rights. Planning required communicating with the GIN coordinator, working with the general members to brainstorm ideas for the activities during the event itself, ordering the resources needed, confirming dates, and gathering people to participate. When the date of the event came around, we gave out the wristbands which confirmed participation, and hosted a meeting where we played silent games. For example, we had to line up in the order of birthday, but without using words. After the event, we hosted a meeting with participants to debrief, making sure that the message was conveyed clearly. Personally, I got the message because I found it challenging and frustrating to not be able to express my thoughts. Also, we reflected on the event itself, giving thoughts on what went well and what did not go well. Generally, we found an improvement this year, since we had a briefing with students before the event to let them know why our club is doing this. Finally, we demonstrated and celebrated this process by going to grade six classrooms and telling them what we’ve done, in hopes of inspiring them to join GIN clubs in the future.
Through our Amnesty club at school, I was able to work on skills and build on my weaknesses. Initially, my interest in human rights sparked from my civics class in 2015, as we were learning about current events and global issues. After that, I recognized that there were a lot of human right violations going on, and thus I joined the club the same year to learn more about how to take action. Although I enjoyed being a general member, discussing worldwide events and volunteering for activities, I wanted to challenge myself and take on a larger role. Therefore, in 2016 I was the secretary, and in 2017 I became the vice president of action. Taking a leadership role, especially in a Global Issues Network club, was foreign to me previously because of the lack of experience. Hence acts a challenge because I had to learn about my responsibilities and develop new skills. For example, I needed to understand how to plan for an event that advocates for human rights, as it was different from my planning of a normal activity to have fun. All in all, I am glad that I decided to go out of my comfort zone, because the role as vice president of action has given me the opportunity to develop various skills: planning skills through organizing events, communication skills by talking to other executives and members of the community, as well my leadership skills by taking responsibility for different tasks. For instance, during Family Fun Fair, I assisted in planning the logistics (i.e. sending the proposal to the organizers) and setting up the booth.
Since grade 6, I have been playing basketball on the school team. Naturally, to improve over the years, I had to be able to identify my strengths and weaknesses and create a plan on how to improve. This continued regardless of my skill level or age. For instance, this year in the Girls Under 20 Basketball team, every Tuesday after school we have an hour session where we get to design our own practice based on what we need to work on. Thus, before every Tuesday, we must reflect on our strengths and what we need to improve on to be an effective player on the court. Because I am a center, I would say that my strengths are defending and communicating with my teammates. However, the areas I need to get better at is offensive and defensive rebounds. Therefore, during these practices, I would do drills that help my shooting inside the key, as well as partnering up to ‘box out’ and try to get the rebounds. All in all, I believe that through analyzing my skills, I am able to be more productive in training, and ultimately work on the development of my skills.
Describe a profound experience and/or one that extended over several weeks. Give an example of when you reflected on any aspect of the experience. How did you change as a result of your reflection?
An example of a profound experience would be the Habitat for Humanity build trip to Rayong, Thailand. This was the first build trip that I have been on, and I had learned a lot from it. During this experience, we built a home for a family whose old house was very small and unhygienic. After we completed the house, the homeowner expressed their gratitude and at that moment is when I realised how lucky we were to be in a well-developed country with shelter and many resources other people do not have access to. From then, I have changed to be more open-minded and grateful for everything I have. It made me recognise that I should be more aware of current global issues, and that I should take every volunteer opportunity since I can make a difference in someone’s life. I plan to go on another build trip in the future in order to learn more about the housing issue and see it first hand.
In Amnesty CDNIS, we try to advocate for human rights in the school community. This falls under the area of inquiry: social justice and human rights. Each month, we try to focus on a current global issue and we generate ideas from news articles.
As mentioned above, a lot of our global issues come from news articles. When planning general meetings and events, we research into a human rights problem and think of ideas in which we can educate the school community. The next part of the planning stage would be getting resources, making time allocations and organising the team to convey our message.
This year within our general meetings, we covered several human rights topics such as freedom of expression, the right to life, and freedom of belief and religion. We hosted many discussions, which includes learning about current news and giving our opinions. In regards to events, we hosted multiple for our school community to participate in. For example, for the lower school, we held the Gratitude Project. The students would write cards to those that helped them daily but do not get much recognition: domestic helpers, security guards, bus drivers and bus mothers, cleaners, etc. An example for the upper school audience would be our Vow of Silence. Students would not talk for one whole school day, and the goal was to advocate for freedom of expression.
After these activities are held, we have reflection sessions with the general members, executive members, and supervisor. We look at what went well and what we could improve on for next time. In terms of our events, a common strength was the organisation of resources and the effectiveness for our participants (learning something). However, a weakness would be how we usually do the promotion a bit last minute, so next year we could make a schedule and advocate earlier. Personally, I believe that through these events, I had developed communication, collaboration, leadership and organisation skills. I also gained an understanding of local and global issues, which ultimately made me more open-minded. For example, after participating in the Vow of Silence, I realised how difficult it was to not have your voice heard and not be able to convey what you want to convey.
Demonstration and Celebration
In order to demonstrate the execution of an event, we like to take photos and post it on our Amnesty board. In addition, we donate any funds made to non-profit organisations in Hong Kong dealing with the global issue we are covering at the time.
How will you challenge yourself? or how did you challenge yourself?
This year, it is my first time taking a leadership role in a school club. I am currently the secretary of the Amnesty CDNIS executive team. Although I have taken leaderships roles in other communities such as scouts, this is still a challenge to me because it is a GIN club and the goals are quite different, thus operations and strategies will change. It will require a lot more of generating ideas in order to advocate and make change within the local and global community, as well as participation and commitment.
Moreover, another challenge would be working towards achieving the Queens Scout Award. This award will require the venturer to lead expeditions, complete community service, plan do and reflect on a project, and demonstrate outdoor adventure skills. The goal will be of ‘high’ challenge and ‘high’ skills, and I will at least try to fulfill some of the requirements.
What new skill will you learn? or what new skill have you learned?
As part of the Queens Scout Award (QSA), I hope to learn many new outdoor adventure skills. This includes: camping, aquatic, paddling, winter, emergency, vertical, trail, scoutcraft, and sailing skills. In order to learn these new skills, I will seek help from scouters and participate in more aquatic and outdoor activities planned by myself or peers.
What existing skill will you develop further? or what existing skill have you developed further?
As the secretary for Amnesty, I will develop communication, collaboration and organisation skills. Communication and collaboration comes from working with the executive team to advocate human rights. Organisation skills will develop through my role, as I am in charge of arranging resources and documents. In scouts, as vice president, I will further develop my leadership skills by organising and motivating the team to achieve the QSA.
What is an appropriate level of challenge for you?
An appropriate level of challenge would be pushing myself out of my comfort zone, which means doing things that I have never done before. This will help me develop skills and learn more about myself. In order to measure this, after participating in activities, I will reflect on what I have learned.