HKU The Review2017

ENGAGED WITH THE WORLD HKU has been stepping up opportunities for students to go abroad so it can meet its target of providing all students with an international and a Mainland China experience by 2022. We currently have agreements with 188 institutions on every inhabited continent to accept our students on exchange. Individual faculties and the University also offer programmes abroad for experiential and service learning, internships and leadership development. Common Purpose The HKU-Common Purpose Leadership Development Programme was launched in 2017 and took 68 students to Manila for four weeks of activities that included internship opportunities, immersion visits to organisations such as the World Bank, and talks with people from all walks of life. Delia Von Pflug (Year 2 BJ) was attracted by the opportunity to live in a foreign country and her instinct paid off. Being away from the pressures of Hong Kong “made me less afraid to make ‘mistakes’ or admit my shortcomings, which inevitably made me more receptive to learning,” she said. “Leadership to me is about confidence and I was able to make tangible contributions at the NGO I worked at, which reinforced my confidence in my own abilities.” Nurturing Global Leaders Nurturing Global Leaders (NGL) is the newly-enriched version of the HKU Moei programme (named after a river in Thailand), which was launched by the Faculty of Social Sciences in 2008. Students spend eight weeks teaching English in Thailand, Myanmar or Cambodia, following intensive training in Hong Kong. In 2017, under the NGL banner, the programme added a dimension of community outreach by including local secondary school students to team-teach with HKU students, who were also their mentors. Anson Leung Lap-hin (Year 3 BEcon&Fin), who was based in a remote village in Kayin State in Myanmar, said: “The most memorable thing I learned was how to communicate non-verbally. I needed courage to start a conversation with someone who could not speak the same language as me, and body language was an effective channel for communication.” Melitta Von Pflug [Year 4 BA&BEd(LangEd)] was assigned to Sangkhlaburi on Thailand’s northwest border (her sister Delia participated in the Common Purpose programme). “I still make time every Saturday evening to have access to email because that is when some of the girls that I taught can use computers and contact me,” she said. “I feel that through the HKU NGL programme, I am better able to understand and empathise with children who face challenging and complicated situations around the world.” Mainland Horizons Engagement with Mainland China is a strategic educational and research goal for HKU. Individual staff and faculties have been organising programmes for years, as has the central University. In 2017 we received a generous donation from the Lee Hysan Foundation for Horizons Mingde. This venture, originally titled Project Mingde, was started over a decade ago by the Faculty of Engineering to repair bridges and build schools. The scope is now expanded to enable students from all 10 faculties to gain deeper understanding of local needs and directly apply their disciplinary knowledge to real-life problems. They will explore indigenous environmental features, design suitable community facilities, supervise construction, teach local children and perform health and dental checks, among other activities. They will also reside in the villages and experience the realities of life in rural China. Another ongoing experiential learning programme, Wu Zhi Qiao / Bridge to China, also entails building bridges and other projects in China. In 2017 plans were being made to broaden this programme to include the promotion of rammed-earth technology, cultural heritage preservation and caring for village children left behind when their parents go to work in urban centres. TEACHING AND LEARNING Senthil Asokan [Year 2 BBA(Law)&LLB] wanted to do something meaningful. He spent two weeks working with a large NGO helping people from displaced villages and was able to develop ideas for new projects. “The most important thing I learned was how important work culture can be – their work environment was relaxed and always upbeat,” he said. Joy Pamnani (Year 2 BJ) wanted to challenge herself and be more independent, and she found the experience to be important for personal growth: “I’d gone through some rough experiences beforehand and I was having difficulty extending a hand and making new friends. This trip really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and I met some wonderful people,” she said. Students visit Quezon City’s urban planning farm during their visit to the Philippines as part of the HKU Common Purpose Leadership Development Programme. A lesson with local youngsters in Myanmar. Books in a village community centre built in Gansu province under the Wu Zhi Qiao / Bridge to China Programme. 12 | 13