ThinkSeries Leadership St. James' Settlement Group
Brian Cheng, St. Joseph's College
Joyce Cheung, St. Paul's Secondary School
Christine Chiu, St. Paul's Secondary School
Cosmos Chan, Wah Yan College Kowloon
Sally Chan, Heep Yunn School
It is the old Chinese proverb that tells us ‘It is in giving that we receive’. Today, we, as ThinkSeries leaders, take on the responsibility and exemplify the basic fundamental principle behind it by giving back to the society.
Four months ago, on 22th December, 19 leaders were divided into four different groups. We were each assigned a charity organization to work with and very luckily, the five of us got an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with St. James’ Settlement, a reputed organization that has excelled in volunteer and charity projects for decades and decades.
We, being totally newbies, were given a very tough task to accomplish- to organize a charitable event all by ourselves. While the project has initially appeared to us as a total conundrum, we gradually picked up our paces and tackled each and every single obstacle that once seemed insurmountable to us. And here, we would like to share with you an exhilarating journey that we have taken over the past few months.
The Epic Failure
Inexperienced, unskilled and amateurish, the five of us were dismally defeated by the lack of ideas. Every time we gathered for a brainstorming session, no one verbalized any practical ideas. After strives of hardship, we finally were able to formulate our first plan - to organize a play-day event for underprivileged children. Holding the false belief that children all want to go to off-the-beaten-track places such as wetland parks or theme parks, we planned to take them to those places that they were desperate to go to. With full confidence and assertiveness, we handed in our first proposal which resulted in a total failure. Banned. To have a sweat-and-blood idea banned is truly disappointing, and to have your first idea as a newbie banned is certainly nothing but devastating. However, with this sharp knife slashing our hearts, we were not being defeated yet unexpectedly having a stronger intention to prove to others that we are truly a group of marvelous leaders.
Despite the failure, we were still determined to outshine others. With that, we poured in our total efforts in helping SJS with other projects, too. We, enjoyed an once-in-a-lifetime-experience - we celebrated our valentine’s day, not with our lovers but with our beloved HK citizens. We, took up the responsibility to deliquesce our HK citizens’ hearts, and helped them pick up and retrieve their little angels in their hearts that had been ditched by all hustles and bustles in life. How? We sold boxes of Valentine’s flowers in Festival Walk on this romantic Valentine’s day to HK citizens. The collected money would be channeled to help those underprivileged children, to buy necessities and to improve their lives.
Beforehand, we went to SJS to help them with the making of the flowers. Each and every single box of Valentine’s flowers were made by our own hands. Volunteers all sweated blood to get the fabrication of flowers finished before Valentine ’s Day. We, having tremendous enthusiasm, volunteered to pack flowers into boxes. All the packaging process were done carefully not even a single mistake was allowed, just because we didn’t want to waste anyone’s efforts. We wanted to get every step perfect so that the flowers could be sold out successfully and the fund collected could help those underprivileged children who were in dire need of them.
We went to Festival Walk and turned ourselves into a pursuant salespersons. We squirmed with embarrassment, took a step forward, brought out our courage and stepped up to people. We tried our very best to persuade them to buy the Valentine’s flowers. Despite the weariness of our legs, we still continued with the selling by virtue of the eagerness that we wanted to raise money for the children as much as we could. Watching those handful and handful of boxes of flowers we made before being sold was certainly nothing but enrapturing. A big round of applause bursted together with the sold-out of the last box of the flower.
WOW! Flowers-fabricating process!
Motivated, determined and asserted, we regained composure, pulled ourselves together and depleted every iota of our wisdom and intelligence to formulate a new plan. We have finally come to a unanimous conclusion that we will organize a volunteer campaign, a campaign that will bring hope to children and a campaign that will put together a legion of volunteer aficionados who are willing to give in themselves to give back to the society. We have also come up with a catchy theme for our campaign - ‘Ignite a ray of hope’. We, as leaders, are like candles, we bring warmth to them when they feel cold, enlighten their path when theirs are dark and ultimately, bring the real hope. Our volunteer campaign, by the name ‘Our little efforts, their warmest smile’ was finally born.
Looking in retrospect, why did we hold this volunteer campaign?
Recently, we found that it is a very prosaic situation for teenagers that participate in volunteer work to ditch their recruiting organizations. Many students who have agreed to help the organizers and take part in the event usually do not show up on that day, they are absent just because of their own personal matters. This is indeed very irresponsible of them - students are not willing to commit and sacrifice their own time in volunteer works. In view of the exacerbating situation, we are to organize a campaign, which not only helps the ones we serve but also teaches our student volunteers to take up a genuine responsibility and contribute to their volunteer works.
Eventually, we started to recruit volunteers from our schools so as to develop a group of enthusiastic volunteers. We named them ‘Igniters’ because we want them to ignite a ray of hope for the children that we would be helping with. In order to better equip our ‘Igniters’ with indispensable volunteering skills and their key qualities, we have also hosted a training session for them.
The training session
Organizing this training session was the hardest task we have ever taken up. Being totally fresh to this, we thought that holding a 2-hours-event would be nothing but the simplest task among all those idea-proposing stages. Yet, we were dismayed to notice that we had totally underestimated it. It literally killed us. We had to print circulars, draft posters, design rundown for the event, and do all the mundane paperwork. Having to sleep at 3am every night, we were chronically exhausted.
Having endured all the slavish hard works, our big day came finally. We held our training session at Wah Yan College Kowloon. It is in our recollection that we couldn’t stop redness flooding our cheeks when we were facing 40 students sitting in front of us, waiting for our magnificent opening. Then, our 2 brilliant masters of ceremony, Cosmos and Brian started our programme with a splendid opening. In order to break the embarrassment between one another and to nurture and consolidate friendship among Igniters, we had an energizing ice-breaking game followed by a brief self-introduction session to their newly divided group members. After all these dynamic games, we then jumped-off to some genuine training. A brief prologue of attitudes that we demanded our Igniters to possess to become a good volunteer was given. Commitment, responsibility, passion, enthusiasm. These undoubtedly are the nuts and bolts of being a good volunteer. We were also glad and honored to have 2 social workers, So Fan and Emily from St. James’ Settlement to give us and our Igniters a detailed introduction on St. James’ Settlement and “Grant in Aid” Brighten Child’s Lives Charity Project.
This is the poster designed for our training session.
IGNITERS! HERE WE GO!
Ultimately, our ‘main dish’ came. In order to cultivate our Igniters and shape them into professional and well-prepared volunteers, 5 different scenarios with distinct problems were given to each group. They were then required to come up with solutions when they really face it in real cases. Sometimes people may think that this scenarios-solving session is rather trivial, but it is indeed totally different when you face the real case. Concerning the amusement of this session, a pithy drama was required for each group to present their ideas. We could tell you point-blank that each group really tried their very best to bring off their performance. Their acting was so impressive that we all unanimously agreed that they were born to be an actor/actress. And once again, time flied. Our 2-hours-straining-our-hearts-and-minds event finally came to an end. We finally glamorized and enchanted ourselves on the stage with a flawless ending.
We had devoted all our hearts in those painstaking preparation works and training session, and now, the first main event was due to begin, it was a chance for our Igniters to twinkle themselves.
17/3 “Love & Joy” Lunch Buffet.
The first main event of our volunteer campaign was to help SJS’s Grant-in-aid Brightens Children’s Lives Charity Project with one of their biggest event of the year. We were to deploy a legion of volunteers to help them take children to AsiaWorld-Expo, where they would enjoy a series of exciting performances and a luscious lunch buffet. A total of 2000 plus children were invited to this ginormous event. In order to ensure a flawless operation of the event, we had to recruit 40 volunteers from our schools to assist us. Very fortunately, we were able to fill our quotas in no time and have finally recruited a staggering 52 enthusiastic volunteers.
Bearing in mind the great responsibilities that they had, the five leaders alongside 50 igniters fought off their drowsiness and somnolence and arrived at the venue punctually. We were flabbergasted at what came into our eyes - a majestic, splendid banquet. It was so gorgeous that it made us thoroughly mesmerized, neraly absent-minded. Regardless of the astoundment, we headed out for our preparation works in groups. We needed to set the table, bring children to their respective seats and settle trivial stuffs. Soon, the hall was thronging with people. We were yearning for the opening of the smorgasbord. The grand and awe-inspiring banquet started with a series of opening performances and speeches by different representatives. Then, what we had been longing for finally came. “3, 2, 1!”. The appealing and ravishing lunch buffet was launched under the screams of the kids. They all appeared so excited and all ran out of their seats in no time, prepared to pack their stomach with delicacies. We, as volunteers didn’t have the chance to taste those delicacies. To be blatantly honest, we were completely peckish and famished when we saw those kids ate their food voraciously. Yet, we were able to resist all the temptations and got on well with our work. After a tormenting wave of hunger, we finally were give time to eat our so-called “lunch”. Under such circumstance, we all had to say that these lunch boxes were heavenly-made and they wholly stirred up our appetite after all those exhausting hard works. We were rejuvenated and revivified, concocting to complete our last task - ending children’s perfectly satisfactory journey by bringing them back to their shuttle buses. And here, the banquet was brought to an end and this exhilarating journey ended with a memorable group photo.
OUR GROUP PHOTO!
Five of us leaders have all gained indispensible skills from the organizing of the entire event. The experience has allowed us to build a strong foundation on our leadership skills, organizational skills as well as our communication skills. Deeply convinced in giving back to the society, we promised ourselves, at the end of such a meaningful event, to contribute to the society, to help those in need with all our might, however powerless that we might be now. We, leaders, are ready to take actions now. How about you?