Agnes Ng Wing-hei and Grace Wu, along with three other classmates, received a HK$10,000 grant from MTR to put their plan into practice. Their idea was to organise an eco-cultural tour to Yim Tin Tsai, an island off Sai Kung, for other students and their parents.
The students' project was a finalist in the MTR-CUHK Youth Quality of Life Champion Competition, which promotes quality living among teens. "We choose to visit Yim Tin Tsai because of its rich Hakka heritage," Agnes says. "The island used to be a salt field where villagers harvested salt for a living. The place has a unique culture with its mixed population of Hakka people and Catholics."
First, they had to recruit other tour guides - fellow students. That proved a difficult task during the busy exam period, but the girls managed it. "In the end, nearly 60 students from La Salle College, Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, King's College and our own school showed up for training," Grace says.
The training took a day and a half. Students listened to local conservation experts who spoke about the history of Yim Tin Tsai and learned leadership skills from business professionals.
"Such training was crucial for us to be good tour guides," Agnes says. "We were planning to bring primary school students and their parents to a place that is rather remote. We wanted to entertain them with interesting facts about the area. At the same time, we'd have to be prepared for possible emergencies."
Then came the big day - June 29, the date of the field trip. "We brought 39 people, including primary school students and their parents, to Yim Tin Tsai, a 15-minute boat ride from Sai Kung. It took two and a half hours to hike around the island, visiting the salt fields and villagers' houses," says Grace.
It has all been a great learning experience for the St Stephen's students. "We learned a lot about the history of our city," Agnes says. "We learned leadership skills and how to work as a team."
The trip, she adds, also helped the children bond with their parents.
Eric Yam, a liberal studies teacher at the school, helped the girls pull off their project. "Logistics tend to be complicated when you are organising a tour to remote areas," he says. "We suggest that other schools start with places close to them. Students can start designing their own city route by exploring places with cultural value near their schools. It will be a great outside-the-classroom learning experience."