Students serve Lingnan community through Fu Tei Bookstore
After a year of preparation with collaboration of various parties, Lingnan University’s Fu Tei Bookstore was officially open on 15 February. The Bookstore, with a cafe inside, not only sells first- and second-hand books, but also organises various activities such as exhibitions and talks, providing a space for leisure and reading for students and staff.
From planning, publicity and liaison to collecting and selling books as well as daily operation, Lingnan students, including volunteer students, have been taking the lead and contributing much effort to the setting up of the Bookstore. Some of these volunteer students have taken the courses of “Work and Occupation” or “Society & Social Change” which embodied Service-Learning elements and were instructed by Dr Sharon Chan Sin-yui, Visiting Senior Lecturer of Department of Sociology and Social Policy. They all have the goal to contribute to the community through the Bookstore.
Since the preparation work started, Dr Chan has offered valuable advice and assistance including introducing Service-Learning to the Bookstore, providing opportunities for students to serve the Lingnan community while bringing in volunteers to help run the Bookstore. Recalling how she came up with the idea, Dr Chan said, “An alumnae, Lee Mei-ting, told me that they are going to set up Fu Tei Bookstore with Lingnan’s Students’ Union, Literature Society, Lingnan Cats Concern Group and Lingnan Alumni Concern Group, and they needed many student volunteers to help. As a Service-Learning instructor, I immediately thought of enlisting the help of our students. One of the courses I teach is “Work and Occupation”, and the Bookstore provides an excellent opportunity for students to experience volunteering to understand how to develop cross-sector collaboration in a professional bureaucratic organisation.”
Having decided to introduce Service-Learning to the Bookstore, Dr Chan started to plan for the Service-Learning project with the Management Committee of Fu Tei Bookstore and the Office of Service-Learning. “We had to be clear about the duties of all the parties involved, including community supervisors, peer mentors, the Service-Learning coordinator and the course instructor. Chen Pui-hing, Chairman and Chiu Man-hei, a member of the Bookstore’s Management Committee even registered for my “Work and Occupation” course to play the role of a student mentor to guide students through the project.”
The Fu Tei Bookstore Service-Learning project has been incorporated into the “Work and Occupation” course since last semester. There were 11 students joining the project in last semester, and they were divided into two teams: one was for publicity and design to promote the establishment of the Bookstore by designing posters and posting feeds on social media platforms; the other was for reaching out to academic staff for book donations. In the current semester, nine students are enrolled to get the Bookstore ready for business. Their duties include categorising donated books, setting book prices, deciding the business model of the Bookstore, helping at the Bookstore counter and with talks organised by the Bookstore. In addition to providing a total of 25 to 30 hours of practical service, students need to attend two training workshops to get ready for their first visit to the serviced agency and writing the group proposal. Students also need to attend two consultation meetings to report their progress, so as to meet the curriculum requirements.
What is so special about this project is that the service students provide directly benefits the community they belong to, which is the University. “Generally speaking, in other Service-Learning projects students may not be able to appreciate fully the needs of their serviced clients. However, in the Bookstore project, as students are both service providers and clients, it makes them more able to understand the needs of their clients. Also, they possess a sense of belonging to Lingnan, which helps them build a strong personal network with peer mentors and community partners. Many students consider the Bookstore project very meaningful,” said Dr Chan. She hopes the Bookstore to become a platform for community construction, so that Lingnan students, faculties and staff can be involved in and understand the development of the University more. She also hopes the Bookstore to become another platform for innovative events for the Lingnan community.
With the support from volunteer students and various parties, the Fu Tei Bookstore is now opened with over 500 donated books received, and different kinds of cultural and art activities are on the pipeline. To learn more about the latest happenings of the Bookstore, please click here to visit its Facebook page.