In 2006, we took a group of students to Huang Shi in Hubei province to help run a summer camp on English and robots for a secondary school. That was our first service trip outside Hong Kong, and we were all very excited. It was extremely hot, the food was very spicy, and our Putongua was rather basic. But we enjoyed working with the other volunteers and the local students.
K was only a first year student then, yet he was enthusiastic and was already taking a lot of initiatives. Later he signed on for another project, and another one, …, both local and off shore. He went on all 3 of our Cambodia projects, 2010, 2011 and 2012. In 2010, he was still participating as a student leader. In 2011 and 2012, his role was that of a teaching assistant because he had become a research student.
Now he can be trusted to initiate and manage projects, negotiate with NGOs, and to train other students. He has become indispensable. His experience from service learning is helping him in his studies, in becoming a systematic and level-headed organizer, and a civic-minded citizen. K and others like him are the reasons we believe in making service learning a core component of our academic programs.