Heartbeat: Be the change

Heartbeat: Be the change

One glance across the harbour and you see a wonderful sight – the Victoria Harbour skyline displaying its iconic architecture, reflecting the lifestyle and mindsets of the Hong Kong people. In daylight, these skyscrapers replicate life-size giants, towering over the population with style and glamour, while in the evening, they illuminate the night sky with a brilliant array of neon lights and bright colours. Down below on the roads and streets of our beloved city, the population, full of aspiring and competitive people, bustle about from place to place. Similarly, the skyscrapers, perfect at all times, are focused on their ambitious battles for success. Although this focused attitude may be for the betterment of one’s own future, it blinds us from the various issues facing the community. We stress over our “first-world problems” and so become ignorant of the many real problems facing Hong Kong society.

Living in Hong Kong has always been perceived as a high-class, fortunate lifestyle. This is somewhat true for the portion of people who have stable incomes and healthy, wealthy lives, but there is still a large part of the population living either below the poverty line or with serious disabilities. The question is, do we realise, acknowledge and respond to the less fortunate?

The other day on the MTR, I witnessed an entire row of adults, perfectly capable of standing, sitting in the priority seats assigned to people in need. An old lady had just got on the train, and by the look of her teetering legs, she really needed a seat. She turned to the people sitting in the row, engrossed in their games of Candy Crush and Angry Birds, to see if they would be so kind to sacrifice their seat for her. Their level of caring was extremely low, to the point that no one was willing to give up their seat. Is our compassion being replaced by video games? Fortunately, there is still hope for the teenagers and children of my generation who devote their free time to helping others less fortunate than themselves.

Community and service is a very important aspect of life, especially at our school, Renaissance College, where it is encouraged greatly. We learn to give back to our community, and this broadens our skill sets and increases our awareness of the world around us. It also allows us to appreciate what we have and be grateful. Since our school’s opening in 2006, student-led groups, clubs and events have been set up to either raise awareness, raise funds or provide outreach programmes to the local community. One such unique club, Hear to Serve, does exactly this.

Hear to Serve may be one of many student-led clubs at school, but it spreads awareness and serves a very specific set of people whom many students wouldn’t think of reaching out to, making the group very special. The club, lead by two of my friends, Edith Leung (year 12) and Hazel Leung (year 11), targets the deaf and hard-of-hearing by playing games, conducting educational activities, communicating with them and providing them with company. How do they accomplish such a feat, you may ask? How do they communicate with people with hearing impairments? Well, there’s only one solution to that: they learn sign language, and they have. Volunteers must go through a certified sign-language training programme to help out and play an active role in the programme. Nevertheless, there is still space for volunteers who just want to help out from time to time at fairs and events where Hear to Serve can further promote their cause and sell items to raise funds for the non-profit organisations they support, such as the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf.

Inspiring. Empowering. Giving. Edith, Hazel and their group of young volunteers have proven themselves to be compassionate teenagers who have learnt to balance their time among their academics, sports, the arts and social life to serve the less fortunate. They definitely model success and are “skyscrapers” in their own right, yet are very much aware and realise, acknowledge and respond to the problem at hand in a careful and smart manner. Best of all, they do it because they care.

I would personally encourage anyone to join this programme and start up their own Hear to Serve club at school. Even better, why not start your own project to spread awareness, raise funds and serve a cause you are passionate about. If you care, the more effort you will put into it, and the more change you can make.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Gandhi

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