From the dictionary, I know that a ferryman is the person who operates a ferry. However the ferryman that I want to talk about doesn't use a ship at all.
I started volunteering to help underprivileged people after I entered university. When I was living in mainland China before, I didn't have any time to do that. Visiting elderly people, tutoring disabled students, these experiences have both made myself and the people that I served much happier. I wanted to share this happiness I have experienced in Hong Kong to more people and promote the voluntary spirit to my community.
If I didn't come to Hong Kong to study, I would have never had so many opportunities to interact with the local people and see another side of they city. Back home, our understanding of Hong Kong just came from television and movies. To help share my experiences with younger students in my hometown and other districts of China, I called up some friends who shared the same vision with me. Rather than for money, we just wanted to do great and meaningful things.
After we planned the basic programme, I shared our idea with Professor Elaine Au at City University of Hong Kong. She was so glad to see mainland student volunteers so eager to help and promised to give us some funds and support.
After many meetings, we designed a one-week programme that included visiting popular sight-seeing places like Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. We also planned to bring them to visit social enterprises like Dialogue in the Dark, NGOs like the Hong Kong Red Cross special schools that serve disabled students and univeristy campuses. We wanted to give them a comprehensive picture of Hong Kong.
As part of the City Youth Empowerment Project, we invited 18 high school students and 3 high school teachers from Shanxi and Hebei to visit Hong Kong in the summer of 2012. Just like ferrymen, we brought these students from mainland China to Hong Kong and show them a wonderful new world. When they see and understand Hong Kong better, they can share what they learned with their friends back home and then they become ferrymen as well. For us, a ferryman is a person who is willing to share and help people to understand the world better.
In order for us to keep using the term, I registered the name "Ferryman Club of Hong Kong" in 2013. It was so wonderful when I received the official registration letter in October 2013.
Since 2012, we have organised three more Hong Kong camps. In January, we brought nine Hong Kong students to have a winter camp in Beijing and Harbin for cultural exchange.
With the perseverance of our ferrymen, I believe that university students can do more to strengthen the understanding between Hong Kong and China. Ferryman, fight.