Learning from abroad

Learning from abroad

Young people in Hong Kong find inspiration from some of the brightest and best in a summer exchange with students from Britain and the US

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Elise Choi (Wearing glasses) sits next to tutor Jordan Orosz (centre).
Elise Choi (Wearing glasses) sits next to tutor Jordan Orosz (centre).
Photo: Elise Choi
Crimson Summer Exchange (CSE), organised by the University of Hong Kong, was held at the university from July 15 to 30 this year. The programme gave local students aged between 14 and 18 a chance to meet and learn from young scholars from Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford universities.

HKU sponsored four Young Post Junior Reporters to attend the events. Each returned with some great experiences and fond memories.

Elise Choi Ho-yee, Form Four, Sai Kung Sung Tsun Catholic Secondary School

At CSE, I met many other students from Hong Kong and the mainland and learned why they joined the CSE event.

'I joined because I want to do something special before graduating to Form Seven,' said Stella Chiu from Hang Seng School of Commerce.

Katherine Chan from Shau Kei Wan Government Secondary School said: 'I'm quite shy. I want to meet more friends and [learn to be] more outgoing through CSE.'

The tutor who taught our enrichment class, Language, Literature and Writing, was 20-year-old Josh Summer from Cambridge University. Through the class, I learned to differentiate between American and British English and discovered a little about semantics.

Josh also talked about his life at Cambridge. He told us he spent 10 hours in class every week and he likes to play netball and do charity fund raising. 'I would like to gain practical teaching experience as I want to be a teacher in the future,' he said.

Another tutor was 19-year-old Jordan Orosz from Yale University. She spoke to the class about the purposes of education and involved the class actively in debates and discussions.

I learned a lot about education that I had never really thought about before.

I realised that the teachers organised many activities apart from studying, and that they managed their time very well.

Lois Li Nga-ting, Form Two, YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College

My group went on a field trip to the Science Museum. We had to collect information for a project. The theme of our project was 'Discover Marine Life'.

Our group tutor was Magdalena Wierzbicka, a 26 year-old student from Harvard Graduate School of Education. We had a dim sum lunch before leaving for the museum.

At the museum, we watched a film called Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure.

Claire Chan Lok-yiu, a 15-year-old student at Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School described the movie as 'exciting and interactive', adding: 'I've learned more about the lives of prehistoric sea animals and got interested in the subject.'

We later went to an exhibition called 'Biodiversity in Hong Kong'. It was about local wildlife and also featured information about the human body and electricity. Clement Chan Yin-yui, a 14-year-old student at La Salle College, said the trip made her appreciate the importance of science.

I also attended a workshop, Language, Literature and Writing, and the tutor was an English major from Yale University, Courtney Sender.

We learned about dramatic structure by watching the trailer of Toy Story 3 and reading Three Little Pigs. We were asked to look for conflict, action, the climax and the resolution in both stories, before drafting our own stories based on what we had learned. The next day, we shared our story outlines with our groups before finishing them in 25 minutes. After that, Courtney taught us some more literary techniques.

The workshop has totally exceeded my expectations.

Michelle Yam Yuen-yan, Form Four, Belilios Public School

When I stepped into the classroom, the students were not sitting at their desks quietly but doing things, moving around and actively shouting out responses to questions.

Annika Campbell, the tutor of the poetry class at CSE and a senior year student at MIT, said: 'Hong Kong students are shy to express themselves. It will be better to let students move around the classroom instead of sitting and doing nothing.'

Andrea Han Tsz-mo, a Form Four student at Diocesan Girls' School said: 'Moving around the classroom made me feel more relaxed and made the lesson more interesting.'

Students all agreed that Annika's class was exciting.

'If I put it in my batter, it will make my bitter batter better,' she said, using a tongue-twister to help students' pronunciation. Students shouted out the sentences happily.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Millet, a politics and psychology student at Cambridge University, taught a class on global vision.

'I think interaction is important for today's students,' he said. 'I often give positive comments such as: 'brilliant' or 'impressive' to praise students. It motivates them to perform better.'

Nicholas kept the class engaged by asking questions during the lesson, and the class responded with great interest.

'The lesson really encourages global vision forcing us to ask questions,' said Jessica Ling, a Form Three student at St Mary's Canossian College.

Jennifer Wong Jing-ting, Form Five, Pui Ching Middle School

At CSE, I met my tutor Rui Wang, who is studying Economics in Harvard University. Rui lived in different places during childhood, including Beijing and Japan, before she moved to the US. She told me the experience has not only helped her adapt to new environments, but also offered her the chance to learn new languages and cultures. She found Hong Kong students different from their American counterparts in that Hong Kong students are quieter and have difficulty expressing themselves in English because it is not their first language. But she appreciates the fact that we are more disciplined than American students and listen to teachers.

From Rui, I learned that getting into Harvard is not only about academic results.

As every student who applies to the university is a high achiever, the school looks for those who have other experiences too. That made me realise we need more than just academic interests.

I also learned a lot through the courses I attended.

In the culture class, we played a game that divided the class into two groups. Each group had to share their culture, including language and etiquette. The aim was to make us understand there are many different cultures around the world and that we need to learn about them and accept them. For instance, in Spain, it is impolite not to greet a shopkeeper. In Hong Kong, we barely notice them. After attending the class, I learned that having respect for other cultures is crucial.

In the law class, we played a drama activity in groups involving a crime. After the activities, our tutor talked to us about criminal law.

Before the class, I did not know there are such a wide range of laws. It also taught me the law is everywhere - even when you turn on a light, contract law comes into play with the electric company that promised to provide light in your house.

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