Here at Young Post, we know a thing or two about news reporting. And we also know how learning some reporting skills can really help in other departments, such as language ability.
To learn some of these skills, 40 students came to South China Morning Post Centre in Tai Po last month to take part in a news writing workshop. The workshop was jointly organised by the University of Hong Kong and Young Post to inspire students to take an interest in the news, and consider a future in the world of journalism.
The secondary school students were taught interviewing skills and hands-on writing techniques. Just like a real journalist, they all left the workshop with an assignment: each student had to submit an article about the interview they conducted on the day. The top three had the chance to be published in Young Post.
As well as the group of secondary schools, eight HKU students attended the workshop. They were there to play the role of interviewees, sharing interesting stories of what happens on campus with the bunch of curious young journalists.
The afternoon began with a session on how to ask the right questions during an interview. After getting to grips with the basics, students split into groups to interview the university students.
After that came the second half of the workshop, in which students learned to perfect two different types of news articles: hard news and features. Then, they put what they had learned into practice, as they returned to their groups to write a draft of their articles.
To round off the day, the students got a glimpse of SCMP's monstrously big printing press.
And after weeks of writing, re-writing and editing, the students' articles have finally taken shape. Here are the top three.
Finding a place in global Hong Kong
St Rose of Lima's College
Lee Jee-soo and Richard Na Sang-yeo have a lot of things in common: both are from Korea, and both are in their first year at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). When they talk about their fascinating campus lives, their eyes twinkle.
"Comparing campus life in Korea to that of Hong Kong, the latter is a lot more culturally open. It gives students the chance to meet others from different backgrounds," says Lee.
Perhaps this is why she chose to study at HKU. She had previously studied in Korea and also spent a two-and-a-half year stint in the United States.
Na also says he enjoys the university's diverse culture. Although born in Korea, Na spent 15 years studying in China, sharing the same room with a then-stranger from his hometown, who later became his friend. While there, Na's English improved a lot, thanks mainly to the American and British friends with whom he constantly hung out.
Lee also has international friends. In fact, she has a Chinese boyfriend who was born in Australia and also lived in the United States.
"People always get confused about his identity, and so does he," jokes Lee.
The Korean student is often surprised by the incredibly multilingual people she meets on campus.
"I know a local student who speaks six languages, all fluently," says Lee, who thinks that the diversity on campus may be the reason.
Na, who admits that he sadly doesn't speak six languages, recalls an embarrassing incident caused by his lack of Cantonese.
"Most people told me that I look like a local, and this is a problem," he says. "A staff member once assumed I was Hong Kong student at the university canteen. As I didn't know any Cantonese, I wasn't able to either understand or answer to her.
"It was just so embarrassing, that I started learning Cantonese from that moment," says Na.
Despite this experience, Na still feels he has made the right choice to study at HKU.
"I applied to HKU to learn more about China. [When I lived there before] it was hard for me to get a real [sense of the place]," says Na, who wants to major in political science next year.
"Hong Kong is therefore a better choice," he adds.
Although the campus may boast great cultural diversity, Hong Kong is still not the easiest place for foreign students to settle. Most locals still only speak in Cantonese.
But on campus, the duo benefits from speaking really good English. This has not only helped them to ease in, it has also led to them being handpicked to become student ambassadors for the university. Lee is also a member of HKU's English Debating Team.
When asked just how she managed to master English to such a high level during her short stay in the US, Lee says that in fact her secret was very simple, not to mention unexpected: watch TV every day!
"After all, it depends on your personal attitude," she says, "and whether you are willing to make an effort or not."
We must defend press freedom
Ailsa Li Tsz-wang
Pentecostal Lam Hon Kwok School
Ei Ei San was a top student in Myanmar. But she longed to study in Hong Kong, which she saw as a place of freedom and democracy. Because of its modern, Western-style education, Hong Kong schooling is seen as one of the best in Asia, but also one of the most challening. But that never bothered Ei Ei, who says: “If you want to go into the university, you need to work very hard and become the best of the best.”
Ei Ei did indeed work very hard, and made her dream come true: she is now studying journalism in Hong Kong. But the more she learns about Hong Kong, the more disappointed she feels.
With more and more incidents affecting the freedom of the press in Hong Kong, many of us wonder if the government is becoming a dictatorship, and many have started losing confidence in the people who lead the city.
A first-year student at University of Hong Kong, Ei Ei has achieved a sort of celebrity status in her class because she comes from a country which was once ruled by a military dictatorship.
The freedom of the press was once suppressed by their non-democratic military government, but after the revolution, Myanmar gained its freedom and a new openness in terms of politics. This history led to Ei Ei taking an interest in journalism, which is one reason why she decided to study it at HKU.
However, a series of incidents that are posing threats to the freedom of the press in Hong Kong have left her puzzled and disappointed. With the gradual loss of freedom of the press, it seems that the Hong Kong government is trying to destroy the beautiful dream of democracy that has been growing in Hongkongers’ hearts since 1997. The rejection of HKTV’s licence is a case in point.
“I could not understand the reason for not giving the license to HKTV. The government should support the media, as the media is there to tell people the truth,” Ei Ei says. “Suppressing the press is not the democratic way. It shows Hong Kong government’s non-democracy. Freedom of press must be protected in any case.”
Her classmates are always interested in her opinion on media and democracy because of her unusual background. They often ask for her help on their assignments and profile stories because the view from a girl who grew up under a military dictatorship will be totally different from their own. This has made her quite popular in her class and allowed her to make a lot of friends.
Ei Ei feels lucky to be on the journalism cours, which is like a warm family, where the classmates are all friendly and helpful to each other. Life can be very difficult for international students, but Ei Ei is happy, enjoying her busy life at university in Hong Kong.
Dream weavers know no bounds
Amy Wong Yan-lam
Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College
Unlike many Koreans their age, HKU students Ana Yoon Jin-han and Alison Lee You-suee aren’t very interested in K-pop and kimchi. They are more passionate about chasing their dreams.
The two optimistic girls are enjoying their university life to the utmost, as they prepare for a bright future. Ana and Alison were attracted by University of Hong Kong’s high quality and ranking.
Ana, 22, has lived in Hong Kong since the age of eight, and is studying education.
When asked about her career path, Ana couldn't hide her delight and desire. “I want to be a teacher and teach youngsters,” she says. She is excited about her future, and aware of its countless opportunities, adding: “I would like to achieve many things.”
Ana has already achieved a great deal, such as an internship in New York as part of an exchange programme. She loved it there, saying that it offered a mind-opening experience. “I remember I was in a park, sitting on the grass and enjoying everything around me. It was really different from Hong Kong. I was more relaxed, and I’ve had a bigger mindset since then,”
Ana hopes to become a teacher; she loves kids, and always tries to inspire them. “I reckon it's good to gain more experiences so that I have more resources with which to enlighten them. That's why I'm still equipping myself with knowledge as well as experience,” she says. “Experiences are the vital key to life, and every youngster with a burning, blazing fire should never limit themselves.”
Alison, too, is passionate, but less definite, about her bright future. The 20-year-old arrived recently in the city, and is studying for a double degree in psychology and finance. She opted for two subjects as she is not quite sure what she would like to do as a career.
“I'm 'emotionally vulnerable', so I won't consider working as a clinical psychologist. Though I'll be very happy to work in the finance field,” she says. “I'm still searching and exploring what the future will be.”
When asked about her future plans, Alison replies: “Opportunities are waiting for us everywhere, but what matters is how we discover and make use of them.”
Their dreams of future happiness give both girls a vibrant energy as they continue to carve out their paths towards success. As Ana says: “All you have to do is to embrace your future by exploring the world around you.”