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This year, I was an executive member of RESPECT, a club that provides educational support for refugee kids. Every Saturday, I helped out in a one-hour tutoring session with the kids at the refugee union in Sai Ying Pun.
1. How did you become more aware of your own strengths and areas for growth?
Strengths: designing lesson plans, organizing creative activities such as arts and crafts and cooking.
Growth: developing patience and empathy when working with kids. sometimes the kids would be uninterested towards the class content and I had to work on using different methods to motivate them.
2. How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?
In November, the other execs and I brought the kids on a field trip to the HK botanical garden. It was challenging because the kids became over-excited and kept running off. I developed new organizational skills such as getting the kids in groups and holding hands in pairs. I also learned a lot about event planning and figuring out logistics.
3. How did you plan your service experiences?
The other execs and I keep a Google Sheet that tracks all our lesson dates, and who’s responsible for designing that week’s lesson plan. We also send out Google Forms for our general members so they can sign up for our sessions.
4. How did you persevere in action?
I persevered even when the kids would have bad behavior. Sometimes they would have temper tantrums or refuse to do a certain subject because they don’t enjoy it. I would help motivate them using peer pressure (kids are more likely to do something if their friend is doing it) or bribing them with a more fun activity (eg. allowing them to draw/play after they finished a math worksheet).
5. How did you work collaboratively with others?
I worked collaboratively with other CDNIS tutors during group activities with the kids. For example, organizing a math competition for the kids, we would work together to split the kids up in teams and design the questions.
6. How have you developed international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism, and intercultural understanding? How could your international-mindedness be developed more next time you engage in service?
The kids we tutor come from all over the world, but mostly Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt and other North African countries. I take the time to learn about their culture, background, and how school was like in their home country. All the kids speak a good level of English, therefore, I am able to communicate with them.
7. How much have you considered the ethical implications of your actions? How do you know that you made a positive impact? How could you consider ethical implications more the next time you engage in service?
I know I am making a positive impact because I have been in this club for 3 years and I have watched many of the kids grow up and become more comfortable with content from school. Many of the kids also develop more of an interested in learning while participating in our sessions because we always think of creative ways to incorporate learning in games.
In this design project, I will be creating a math educational app for 5-year-old Koda. My research and investigation has developed my understanding in how to create an app that is simple yet effective. An effective app considers both the visual and usability/accessibility aspect of the user experience. Simplicity is crucial in both aspects, as apps are now trending towards a more simple and flat visual design, while a convenient user interface and simple navigation increases functionality. Usability is also one of the main components of app design. Familiar mobile patterns allow apps to be navigated easily, and a finger-friendly design should be considered as fingers are much thicker than mouse cursors. I also looked into the marketing and promotion aspect of app design, and learnt about the habit cycle of cue, routine and reward which was what I believe is one of the key takeaways of my research. The cue (eg. notifications) triggers users to open the app to start the cycle, routine is the use of app that is encouraged by easy accessibility, and reward (eg. medals, levels, number of followers) which acts to strengthen the entire habit loop.
Analysing existing apps also gave me many inspirations for app elements that I can use. For example, I noticed that 3 of the 4 apps I analysed contained some form of personalised options such as flexible settings, fonts, colors and sizes to allow the user to tailor-make a workspace that suits them. I did a little research on Kyurangers and found that each Kyuranger has a designated colour (Ookami Blue, Sasori Orange, Washi Pink etc…) and a weapon of choice (daggers, swords, hammers, nunchakus). My client can be able to design their own mascot and perhaps unlock more colours/weapons as they complete more exercises each can be the “reward” aspect of the habit cycle I’ll attempt to create. However, as my research taught me, I will aim to consider simplicity when designing all the options and effects as my client is only 6 and will struggle to navigate complex apps. All 4 of the apps I analysed also sent out notifications to user’s device, which I consider the “cue” of the habit cycle- an external trigger that will remind the user to log on to the app and complete the day’s worth of exercises. That can be reinforced with “streaks”, a motivation factor inspired by the Duolingo app which encourages the daily use of an app to keep a “streak”. In addition, Duolingo has a variety of lessons structured in different formats to exercise different skills and formats (eg. refer to Duolingo annotated screenshots) and add a sense of variety. Lastly, one of the apps I analysed “FocusNow” had a multi-language feature where they provided both Chinese and English instructions to serve a wider audience. I think that feature would be very relevant to the app I am designing because Koda is an English-Japanese bilingual, and since he recently moved to a Japanese school, Japanese translations for my app can help him become used to learning Math in Japanese.
Just last week I visited Sanya, Hainan during our school’s annual CAS week. Sanya was truly a stunning city, and I took part in many challenging, yet memorable activities. I have reflected on the observations I’ve made during the trip:
How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism, and intercultural understanding?
This trip allowed me to develop international-mindedness and intercultural understanding in a social, environmental and ethical perspective. During the trip, I noticed that Hainan shared many similarities with Hong Kong in terms of culinary culture, living style, and environment. However, there were also many Hainan cultural aspects that I found particularly “unusual”. An example of which would be our shocking discovery of the “animal cruelty” issue in many of the dinner restaurants we visited (we found sea turtles in fish tanks?! I assume they were for consumption as they were placed in the same tanks as the fishes). As an animal activist, I was quite judgemental and disapproving towards this culinary choice, however, I later realized how insensitive I was towards this issue. As a tourist, who am I to judge? Hainan locals have distinct beliefs and values (I learned that turtles actually symbolized power and good fortune), and with the privilege to visit their indigenous land, I must put aside our differences and approach foreign culture with respect and open-mindedness. Besides, that learning experience is proof of cultural diversity (even within a nation) that is crucial in society. However, despite cultural acceptance, I learned to consider the negative implications of the choices we make in our culture. For instance, poorly monitored consumption (and overconsumption) of turtles has now caused dwindling numbers in turtles and a possible threat to the eco-system nationwide. Another observation I made was of the plastic-wrapped eating utensils found in one Hainan restaurant we visited. As a LEDC (ooh humanities terminology 😉 with low life expectancy (a healthcare development indicator), the plastic in Hainan restaurants was probably for hygiene purposes. However, there are positive and negative consequences for every action, and the mass production of these plastic-wrapped utensils adds to waste. The ridiculous amount of plastic we found during our beach clean-up was probably the result of poor management of that waste. If we consider it in a more global context, the plastic dumped in the beaches of Hainan is likely to wash up on nearby shores, including those in HK. Due to the interconnectedness of our globalized world, even a local decision can have negative implications worldwide, which is why we need to be spatially aware of our surroundings and make informed decisions. Thankfully, Hainan is also showing signs of environmental consideration. An example of which would be the Yanoda water shoes that were given to tourists. I noticed the straps were made from recycled plastic bags which was an ingenious and innovative solution to the waste problem in the region. The shoe itself was made from sustainable resources (straw). I believe this innovation has great potential in foreign nations, as overproduction of waste is a worldwide problem.