Lingnan students step out to create a better world
Issue No. 73 Nov 2017
Riding on our motto “Education for Service”, Lingnan University is keen on nurturing students with caring mind and commitment to serve the society. We take pride in cultivating future leaders not only knowledgeable in their academic disciplines, but also with civic awareness and social responsibility to build a better world. This year, Lingnan students joined the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), during which they had the opportunity to understand and provide creative solutions for social issues.
CGI U, launched by former US President Bill Clinton in 2007, is a growing community which gathers young leaders around the globe to initiate concrete actions on global challenges across education, environment and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights, as well as public health. Assembling dedicated representatives, experts and celebrities of these focus areas in its annual meeting, it selects and brings together more than 1,000 students to exchange insights with professionals so as to put words into action. Creative proposals from two Lingnan students, Jason Wong Chee-haung (Economics Year 4) and Andy Chau Wing-hin (Economics Year 2), have impressed the Clinton Foundation and earned them a place to attend the CGI U 2017 held at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts from 13 to 15 October with full sponsorship from Lingnan as an appreciation towards their initiative to serve and change the world.
As a recipient of the prestigious Dr. and Mrs. James Tak Wu Awards for Outstanding Service (Student Award) at Lingnan, Jason has always been active in both local and non-local community service projects. “My studies here have raised my awareness on social issues. I have started to ponder over problems around us, not only in Hong Kong but also around the world, and how we can address them,” he said. The enthusiastic volunteer vividly recalled on one of his most unforgettable experiences as a mentor. “Under the Lingnan Off-campus Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.), I was assigned to be the “elder brother” of a child with complicated family background and to be his emotional support. The one-year service had redefined my understanding towards life and human relationships, especially children’s innate privilege to live a joyful childhood,” he shared.
Extending from his reflection on human rights, Jason has written a proposal entitled “Borderless” to advocate for a harmonious environment for refugees and immigrants in Malaysia. Born as a Malaysian Chinese, he has developed a helping heart since serving as a voluntary tutor for English and Mathematics there. “Education helps change the lives of young people. In my proposal, I hope to build a centre for refugees and provide education services and career consultation, which can empower them to lead a better life,” he elaborated on his directions. Despite a myriad of obstacles ahead, Jason is determined to overcome the difficulties and pursue his dream even after graduation, “Everyone, including the refugees, deserves to be widely accepted by the society.”
Talking about his proposal with the theme “Hong Kong! Where were you? The cry for victims”, Andy first introduced an insightful book Where Were You?: A Profile of Modern Slavery written by Matthew Friedman, co-founder of 852 Freedom Campaign. “I was deeply impacted by its interviews with those who have suffered from human trafficking. To my astonishment, a victim said that most of her furiousness is on those who have witnessed but failed to offer a helping hand, instead of those who work for human trafficking.” Through 852 Freedom Campaign, a justice movement to mobilise people across Hong Kong and Asia to fight against human slavery, Andy had a taste of life as a slave working around the clock for tedious factory works, “My empathy for them emerged, which prompted me to advocate for their rights.”
Andy’s proposal focuses on raising public awareness as the very first step to tackle human trafficking. Talented in playing acoustic guitar and keyboard, he would like to compose a promotional song in Cantonese to embed the message in melodies. “Music can reach a wide group of audience,” he hopes that his song can help expose the critical issue of human trafficking not only on social media channels, but also in schools. When he was still a freshman at Lingnan last November, Andy worked with the Chaplain’s Office on campus to organise a film screening of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary on the global sex trade with Sylvia Friedman, co-founder of 852 Freedom Campaign, as a guest speaker. In future, he may look for more opportunities to publicise the issue of human trafficking on campus.
During their CGI U trip to the US, focus groups on different keywords relevant to their proposals enabled both Jason and Andy to exchange knowledge and ideas with student leaders around the world. “We were amazed by how foreign students proactively initiated conversations and challenging questions. Their unwavering perseverance to create a better living environment has indeed set an exemplary example for Hong Kong students,” said both.