CUHK CLOVER Programme United Local and Non-local Students to Spread Love, Care and Green Concept in CommunitySupported by CUHK – Hang Seng I‧CARE Local Service Project Scheme
Re-run in its fourth year, CLOVER, a campus-wide cultural diversity cum voluntary service programme held a closing ceremony yesterday (14 April) as a celebration and review of past year’s achievement. CLOVER united local, mainland and overseas students at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) to serve the needy, thanks to the funding support from Hang Seng Bank via the ‘CUHK – Hang Seng I‧CARE Local Service Project Scheme’. With the focus of raising green awareness, 80 student ambassadors from different departments and countries of origins collaborate on a variety of service and activities for 200 newly-arrived children, South Asian minorities, the elderly and the developmentally disabled in the past year. The total number of service hours is 1,026, up nearly 50% over last year.
The student ambassadors come from mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Finland, Switzerland, the US and Nigeria. They organized an array of activities including interest classes and outings for different groups of service targets. Comprehensive trainings on both volunteering and green awareness were provided and students were encouraged to apply the skills learned during their service.
The closing ceremony was officiated by Prof. T.F. Fok, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, and attended by the representatives of Hang Seng Bank and some 100 student ambassadors and beneficiaries. Some benefitted physically disabled persons and South Asian children performed wheelchair dance and Cantonese song singing respectively as a token of thanks to the student ambassadors. The students also shared their unforgettable experience and inspirations gained.
Embracing different cultures
As the student ambassadors are of different nationalities, communication barriers are the first thing they had to overcome. Charles Xu, an exchange student from the US, said, ‘Our service group comprised both undergraduate and postgraduate students from mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the US. Sometimes there were disagreements among us due to our cultural differences, but later we learned to understand and embrace one another’s differences and solved the communication problem. During the service, I shared my childhood experience of migrating from China to the US with the newly-arrived children. I hoped it would help them better adapt to their new lives.’ To promote intergenerational harmony, the student ambassadors also arranged joint activities for both the elderly and the children to encourage interactions.
Promulgating the concepts of green living
The student ambassadors also contributed to sustainable development by incorporating green concepts in their service. Natalie Tsang, a local student, said, ‘We tried to convey the message of green living to the service recipients, for example, by taking the South Asian kids to Kadoorie Farm, and emphasized the importance of environmental conservation.’ The students also arranged innovative activities such as making handicraft with reused materials, organic food cooking and indoor planting.
A better understanding of Hong Kong by non-local students
While helping people in need, the student ambassadors were also benefitted by gaining deeper understanding of Hong Kong society. Amber Chen, a mainland student, said, ‘When I took the physically disabled persons to visit the Avenue of Stars, I was impressed by how the city cares about them with the provision of disabled-friendly facilities, and the care shown by the people around. The experience has reinforced my sense of belonging to Hong Kong.’
Organized by the Office of Student Affairs, CLOVER (Community + Local & Overseas students + Volunteers = Everlasting Relationships) is devoted to promoting cultural integration among students and helping non-local students adjust to their new life. The Service Ambassadors of CLOVER on one hand can make new friends with others of different cultural backgrounds to promote cultural and lingual exchange. On the other, the programme helps deepen students’ understanding of the society and the problems confronting those who need help, cultivate the spirit of giving and sharing and develop a sense of responsibility to society.
About I‧CARE Programme
With the slogan ‘Aspiration through reflection; Renewal through civility’, the I‧CARE Programme aims to promote students’ holistic development through social and civic engagements in Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas countries, and to raise their humanistic and civic awareness. Led by the Steering Committee for Promoting Personal Development through Social and Civic Engagement, the programme adopts an integrated approach and supports students to participate in five programmes, including: 1) Social Service Project Scheme, 2) Research and Study Scheme, 3) NGO Internship Scheme, 4) Social Enterprise Scheme, and 5) University Lecture on Civility.