The Community Contributor category of the Student of the Year Awards is always a hotly contested division because so many Hong Kong students do so much to help others that it’s hard to pick a winner.
This year sees a new judge in the category, Scarlette Leung, who is the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director for Corporate Planning, Communications and Membership. The Student of the Year Awards are organised by Young Post in conjunction with the South China Morning Post and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club with support from the Education Bureau.
Why do you think it is important for young people to do community work?
I believe community work lets young people see and appreciate the other side of life. The saying of “life changing life” is very true. For example, by participating in voluntary work like activities for the disabled, students can experience other people’s difficulties and see how they are overcoming their challenges, hopefully with our help. They will also get to learn respect for others and the importance of an inclusive society. In addition, working with different organisations in the community helps develop a positive attitude to life and a “can do” spirit, as well as teaching leadership skills. When making charitable donations, the Jockey Club always tries to incorporate elements that encourage and inspire others to take up the baton. These are all things that young people cannot learn from school books. If they learn these lessons, it will be something that holds good throughout their lives and careers. They will also be in a better position to help others and bring positive changes to the community.
What draws you to the Student of the Year Awards?
The Student of the Year Awards is a very long-standing, respected and well-run award scheme, and we particularly like the fact that it recognises and rewards all different types of talent. This year, there are also two new awards – the Best Improvement Award and the Best Devotion to School Award – which broaden the scope of the initiative and better recognise personal achievements and contributions to school and society.
What are you looking for in the SOTY Community Contributor Award winner?
An important thing that I’ll be looking at is the heart that students put into the service, for example, going beyond the call of duty or perhaps making use of their own expertise to help others. Passion for what you do is very important. People who love what they’re doing not only achieve better results for those they help, but also inspire others around them to contribute to the community.
What words of inspiration do you have for this year’s contestants?
I believe that everyone has the potential to become a leader, if given the right opportunities and guidance to discover his or her talents, and that’s exactly why the Jockey Club has organised various sports programmes such as the Youth Football Leadership Scheme to help young people develop their potential as future community leaders. But what’s equally important is that you can’t always wait for those opportunities to come to you – you have to be proactive in seeking them out. From what I’ve read about past years’ winners, many have shown great initiative and determination in bettering their own lives or those of others. That’s what has made these students stand out in the contest, but it’s something we all have the potential to do.
Edited by Pete Spurrier