Sunday, March 20, 2016

The service-learning experience

Working hard as a team for a challenging cause greater than oneself is one of the most satisfying experiences in life.  That is why I enjoy so much taking students to service-learning projects away from Hong Kong.  Since 2006, I have gone on 19 such trips.  We have conducted robotics summer camps in Hubei for rural high schools, installed a computer laboratory and networks for an orphanage in Gansu, conducted graphical surveys for villages in Indonesia, installed computer networks, installed solar electrical power, and conducted numerous workshops for children, genocide victims and villagers in poverty in Rwanda, conducted computer and robotics workshops for rural schools in Myanmar, conducted surveys for slum dwellers, conducted training for rehabilitating trafficked girls, installed laboratory in a suitcase for rural schools, installed solar electrical power for villagers in Cambodia, and much much more.  

These are the happiest experiences of my past 23 years at the university.  We are able to really teach our students at the moment in the field when they feel the need to learn.  The students truly enjoy what they are doing and learning.  We teachers and the students and our partners share the same purpose.  We can see with our own eyes how we are making an impact in other people’s lives.  Most importantly, there is a genuine sense that we are part of a cause larger and higher than each of us. 

In those moments we can forget about the suffocating bureaucracy, the fierce fighting over resources, the jealousy over opportunities, the frustration over student apathy, and the political jockeying for power in the university.  What we see are the people in need and the opportunity to help.  Our focus is on how we can best help.  The camaraderie is intoxicating.  Watching students learn is gratifying.  Seeing dreams come true is paradoxically both fulfilling and humbling.  

I thank God for the privilege of working on service-learning.  It is not just my job, it is my life and my faith.  

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