As this term draws to a close, and with exams just around the corner, everyone feels they need a bit of a break. But while for many people this means relaxing on a beach or playing video games at home, some students chose to take a break from school work to help others in the community.
Week Without Walls is held annually at International Christian School (ICS). It has been running since 2002 and is one of the highlights of the academic year. During that week, students toss aside their school bags to go on adventures and help the community.
The trips are categorised as service and non-service trips. Students who go on service trips spend most of their time helping others and doing work, while those who join non-service trips use the time to try out new experiences and do something that they wouldn't normally be able to do during the school year.
This year, Week Without Walls was held from November 9 to 13. While many went abroad to places including Cambodia and Indonesia, plenty spent their week in Hong Kong helping those closer to home.
Joseph Navin, 14, an eighth grader, was one of the participants who took part in the service trip Nerve-2-Serve, and became an assistant for teachers and staff at ICS for the week.
"It takes a lot of work to run a school and it's not an easy thing to do," said Joseph.
He helped out at the primary school office, doing administrative work. Of course, filing paperwork wasn't necessarily the most interesting thing to do, but he learned how the school is operated behind the scenes.
Other students signed up to help some of the more disadvantaged groups in Hong Kong. The Bridges programme at ICS caters for children with special needs and disabilities. Helping Bridges is just one of the local trips where participants care for students and learn about people with disabilities.
Bridges students normally don't interact much with mainstream students, but the Week Without Walls trip broke down this barrier and helped the students get to know each other.
Every day, two mainstream students were paired with a Bridges student. They took their Bridges buddies around Hong Kong, to place such as Ocean Park and the Science Museum. They helped their new friends with small things like tying their shoelaces, or sometimes just hung out and got pizza.
Thirteen-year-old Kristy Chung enjoys helping others and has participated in service trips for several years. She went to Bridges along with her friends to help out and to try and understand how it feels to have a disability.
Taking care of someone with special needs was a challenging task, but Kristy thought it was worth it when she saw her buddy smiling and having fun.
"The trip showed how everyone is equal and we can be united in many different ways," Kristy says, insisting that the Bridges students are no different from any others.
"It's a blessing to see them interacting with each other," said Mrs Becky Su, a Bridges teacher. "Our students were really happy to have other students come and help them. This doesn't always happen, even if they [mainstream students] see them [Bridges students] in the hallways."
"For me as a teacher, the week was very demanding and tiring. But overall, it was a lot of fun," Mrs Su said, smiling. Like the students who took part, she realised that all the hard work was worth it when she saw the happy children.
Apart from being five days of fun, Week Without Walls is also a time where barriers can be lifted and friendships can be formed.
Find out about the other side of Week Without Walls by reading about the international service trips some students went on! Check out yp.scmp.com to read all about it.