This month we will be interviewing candidates to volunteer in Hong Kong next summer

We are looking for undergraduates, or recent graduates, of British universities to volunteer in SPICE, an innovative English summer camp for disadvantaged children in Hong Kong next summer (7 weeks from July 1st).

 Volunteers  pay their own airfares to Hong Kong but pleasant, air conditioned accommodation is provided free of charge – shared rooms, swimming pool on site, open playing fields, near the sea and 5 minutes walk to the MTR (HK’s underground system). An allowance is provided for meals as well as local commuting costs.

 The volunteers will work with 10 undergraduates from the English Department of the City University of Hong Kong (City U) teaching 10 – 12 year olds using English language games, competitions, arts and crafts, sports and outings (no grammar classes).

For further information or to apply please contact us! Also, see blogs of volunteers in 2018 and earlier programmes.

 

Posted in Just Volunteers! News

Amos, who is studying engineering at the University of Edinburgh, joined the SPICE programme in HK last summer. He relates his experiences.

What began as a mere ephemeral thought, became reality as I begun packing my bags for this two-month long adventure in Hong Kong. An adventure towards self-discovery, impacting lives and building life-long friendships with a unique underpinning experience. This programme was of course not without its uncertainties. Aspects such as living conditions, budgeting, and how the SPICE programme was going to unfold frequently eased its way into my thoughts.

To begin, I was humbly impressed with the accommodation provided for us, volunteers. Living conditions were far better than expected and more than what we really required (it even came with a swimming pool!).The friendly staff at the Wu Kai Sha Village who were willing to help us with our varying needs, and the hospitality showered upon us was undoubtedly the cherry on top of the whole living experience. Budgeting, on the other hand was quite a challenge. For someone who loves going out of the way for good food, being in Hong Kong was definitely the right choice for my belly, but not for my wallet. The variety of top end local cuisine could be found in almost every nook and cranny of the city. If you were to skip the food adventures, and choose to dine modestly (or cook), a humble budget would be more than enough to get you through. Furthermore, a decent allowance was provided together with food and transport cost covered on teaching days. What many of us did during the programme was to purchase groceries from a nearby supermarket and cooking back in the apartment. The apartment was well fitted and equipped with a kitchen, and a living room which had a decent ready supply of basic necessities.

SPICE officially started for the UK based volunteers with a two-week preparation period prior to the actual programme. This two weeks was meant to get us up to speed with what the HK interns had covered so far, and to allow us to work together as a whole and within our individual classes. This served as platform to both contribute to the current framework of things and allowed us to execute our activities in front of other teachers to build confidence and gain feedback. This pulled the different elements of the programme together – allowing it make sense and ensured  we did not digress from the objectives. Two weeks, however, was quite a lot of time for the UK based volunteers. We therefore took this opportunity to explore more of Hong Kong’s nature and checked off various famous landmarks whenever the day ended early for us.

During the execution of the programme, many students came with the notion that SPICE was an additional summer class they had to attend. From a kid’s perspective, this is obviously not great. However, I believe great emphasis was placed in ensuring that the programme was exactly not that. With good confidence, I dare claim that many students were surprised at the kind of fun that could actually develop in a classroom, this was at the expense of them being encouraged and pushed to communicate in English. During the first day of the programme, we teachers always made a point to remind the class that making mistakes is alright and that none of us were here to look-down, but rather to help. These hopefully were words of comfort to the students that would cement the notion of trying and moving out of their comfort zone. Without a doubt, by the end of SPICE, many students were unwilling for the programme to end and to part ways. As much as I would say that it was attributed to the way the programme was planned, I dare say that it was more so due to the teacher-student relationship formed. The intentional relationship each teacher wanted with the student, to go beyond a mere one-sided affair.

Lastly, what made this whole programme a success was the people. The coordinators, the HK Interns, and down to the UK based volunteers. It was the common knowledge that whatever we did, whether small or big, we were doing for the students. This influenced the way we interacted and fostered a tight community with a clear goal. SPICE was a great experience, not just for the students, but for the volunteers as well.

Posted in Volunteers' Stories

Lathangie and Tharuni complete their assignment with the Myanmar Refugees and return to Europe for Christmas!

Teaching at MRCLC was definitely an experience that will never be forgotten. On our first day of school, we were pleasantly surprised as the children all welcomed us eagerly and were happy to see new faces. They knew that we were unfamiliar with the school, so they decided that it was their duty to take care of us. For example, they did not hesitate to show us around the school and to take us to the canteen.

We mostly taught two classes – Class D and Class C. There were 4 children in class D and 7 in class C. There was also an opportunity to teach the younger set of children twice of week (11 children in total). We were teaching 3 different subjects each: Lathangie was teaching English writing, history and biology and Tharuni was teaching Maths, English reading and Geography. The children were very keen to learn new topics and thus teaching them was fun. Coming up with games and activities was not difficult as the children were always eager to contribute. Their creativity never ceased to surprise us, and their sense of humour will never be forgotten. We would say that the most challenging thing was to keep our seriousness in the classroom! Planning lessons whilst taking into consideration any difficulties that one child might face was challenging too, but it taught us important skills.

Lathangie teaching Class C.

Tharuni teaching Class D.

Working for MRCLC was not only about teaching the children but also about learning from them. We were so touched by their kindness and their willingness to make us feel welcome. Watching them sing, dance and play the guitar was truly a blessing because the children are extremely talented, and they are very modest about it. (MRCLC children once won a talent show!)

Some of the drawings by the students.

Even though they were going through a rough time, the children always made sure that we were happy and at ease. For instance, they would always offer us cakes and biscuits. One child once brought us mangos and another one made us bracelets!

Mangos covered with salt and chilli flakes, a very popular snack amongst the children.

Aside from teaching, during our stay in Malaysia we were able to meet some wonderful people. Notably, the Headteacher Fam, Miza, Uncle James and Dr.Saradha made us feel welcome from the first day. They were always there to answer any questions we had. We felt very lucky to have met these wonderful people and felt inspired by their fight to improve the lives of refugees in Malaysia. We were fortunate enough to have enjoyed many dinners with them and we hope to stay in touch with them.

In Malaysia, we also participated in Church gatherings. This was a time in which we were able to connect with the wider Myanmar community and to enjoy many delicious Myanmar dishes with them. Although there were language barriers, members of the community made us feel welcome at all times and were happy to have us participate in gatherings.

Our first Church gathering.

A Myanmar dish: Fish Noodles. The Children were always very helpful in telling us what the food is and sometimes even showed us how to eat it!

Lunchtime meal. We really enjoyed Myanmar food during our stay and were lucky enough to be able to taste a variety of dishes.

 

We are very fortunate to have been on this wonderful journey. Our stay in Malaysia, especially the children and all the other people we met are unforgettable. We hope that in the near future, we will be able to go back to Malaysia and visit everyone.

School party on the last day of school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Volunteers' Stories

Call for Volunteers in Malaysia for 2019! A life changing – and fun – opportunity!

There are vacancies to work in the Building Bridges programme in Malaysia throughout 2019.

The assignment involves teaching at a Myanmar refugee school and a local children’s home (approximately 30 hours per week.)

Free accommodation and a small food allowance are provided. A 10 -12 week commitment is required.

For more information please contact us.

Posted in Just Volunteers! News

A Video of the SPICE Summer Programme HK 2018

This video was taken by the coordinator of the SPICE Programme  which ran in HK this summer. 

This is the second of three 7 day English ‘camps’ that run each summer for disadvantaged children. This one was held in the port area of Kwai Chung.

(See the second part of the video for the really exciting activities!)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorised

A Moving Video Tribute to the Children Mathieu Worked with in Malaysia

Mathieu volunteered with the Building Bridges programme in Malaysia this summer.  Like many of our volunteers his own experiences in life influenced his wish to help these children.

Here’s a video of my stay in Malaysia thanks to the BBBB programme. It was a truly enriching human experience so I tried to convey that through this video.

 

Posted in Volunteers' Stories

A Volunteer Shares her Photos from a Return Trip to Malaysia

Most volunteers in Kuala Lumpur say they enjoy their assignment. And several have returned more than once but Alexia holds the record for the most return trips to the Myanmar refugee school (although Mike and Emma put in the longest time). She recently sent us some pictures.

Alexia with some of the teenagers at the school. Many have now left to help earn money to support their families, a sad but understandable decision.

Below, with the programme coordinator, on an outing with the children. Our coordinator is always keen to broaden the horizons of the children beyond their immediate surroundings.

In the local playground with the children. There is no outside area at the school so this is an important place for the children to be able to run around.

 

Volunteers and local Myanmar teachers socialize after school hours.

Children between classes.

The children manage to make their situation fun regardless of their limited opportunities and often grim personal situations…..

Sport and music really help. Here our football team poses. They might not win any big matches but they are proud of their team nonetheless!And jamming sessions after class are always popular!

Posted in Volunteers' Stories Tagged with:

Monica Comes Back to Visit the Myanmar Refugee School

In 2017 Monica and her partner came and volunteered at the Myanmar refugee school in KL during a career break. They spent several months working with the children before returning to Europe.

This summer Monica returned to the school to show her mother where she had worked and to introduce her to the children who had made such an impression on her.

 

While she was there she once again teamed up with our programme coordinator to do some activities with the children.

 

She also introduced some new games (!)

 

…..and ran a painting contest using some of the supplies she had brought for the children.

 

Posted in Volunteers' Stories

Volunteers in Kuala Lumpur take Myanmar refugee children to celebrate Deepavali!

Last Tuesday was Divali, or Deepavali, the Hindu Festival of Light. The celebration of the victory of good over evil. On the Saturday before Deepavali, our two present volunteers from the UK who are both of Tamil origin, decided to take a group of  Myanmar refugee children from the school to Kuala Lumpur’s Little India to show them how the festival is celebrated. They were accompanied by our Programme Coordinator who is always keen to ensure that the children experience different activities! She gave us a summary  of the day.

The teachers gathered the students at the meeting spot in Little India just before 12 and reminded the students of the safety rules. In the case anyone got lost they were told where to meet!

The group, of 11 students, 2 volunteer teachers and myself made our way around Little India. The convoy always had one teacher at the front, one in the middle and one teacher at the end of train to ensure none of the students get left behind.

The place was very festive, endless shops with manifold  colours brightening up the whole street. The main thing was to explore the culture and get a small taste of what the Indians in Malaysia do for Deepavali.

Lathangie  and Tharuni  [our two volunteers] brought the children to the shop where they sell traditional Indian clothes such as Saris, Punjabi and Pajama. Afterwards, they brought the students to a shop where religious statues and prayer materials were sold.

 

After the tour the group had lunch at a Sri Lankan restaurant which had a buffet with a plentiful choice of food for the kids, who loved the experience and were able to take their pick of whatever they wanted.

After the tour of Little India we headed for the National Museum (Muzium Negara) and the Orang Asli Craft Museum and Malay World Ethnology Museum.

From this visit the group learned there are many similarities between the Malaysian old tradition and livelihood with their own tradition and livelihood back in Myanmar.

At the end of the visit the group made their way to a small coffee shop inside the museum to have some cakes and rest while waiting for the van to arrive.

It was a great day, we all had a lot of fun – but the children also learned a lot.

On the day itself Tharuni and Lathangie organized more Deepavali activities for the children as Tharuni explains…

On Tuesday (day of Diwali) we met up with the some of children locally. Firstly, we brought them to our flat to draw some henna, as this is something most people do in our culture around the time of Diwali.

The kids were able to do this amongst themselves so they also found it fun to draw on each other’s arms.

Then we handed out bangles to the girls and gave out some bindis which the girls really enjoyed wearing.

We gave the children some spicy and sweet snacks (the kids are used to eating very spicy food) which they liked. Finally, we took the children to the playground nearby where we lit up some sparkler sticks (very safely of course). We ended the night by making sure all the children got home safely!

 

 

Posted in Volunteers' Stories

Roshan taught in HK this summer with 4 other UK students and 10 HK undergraduates

SPICE 2018 – Hong Kong

It is safe to say that these past couple of months in Hong Kong will never be forgotten. Upon arriving, I was greeted by the other UK volunteers who arrived a couple of days before me and we walked back to our accommodation at the Wu Kai Sha YMCA Youth Village. The accommodation which was provided for us was surprisingly nice, we have to share a room with one other UK volunteer which was not a problem and on site there’s a swimming pool, games room and many other activities. The Youth Village is very near to the pier, a beach as well as two shopping malls and a market. All of the aforementioned points along with the staff who were always friendly made the stay very enjoyable.

 

A couple of months before flying to Hong Kong, the UK volunteers and Hong Kong interns did a personality test to divide us into groups for each of the classes which represented different countries (The Philippines, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Brazil). Once these groups were set, we were able to get in contact over WhatsApp and share ideas for the programme. The first time we met with the Hong Kong interns and our two team leaders, Kylie and Brian, was at the welcoming dinner. We all got along so well in our individual teams and as a whole group which made this experience even better. The difference between the welcoming dinner and the farewell dinner was clear to see, we were one unit. The farewell dinner was an emotional goodbye with many tears shed.

 

In order to best prepared for the upcoming weeks, we had two weeks of training with the interns during which we created activities suitable for the children.After deciding what we were going to be teaching, we tested out the activities to make sure that the children would understand and enjoy that which we had planned.

 

 

The layout of each of the three programmes was as follows: two outings and five days teaching. Spread across the teaching days were activities such as science activities, making food from the country and sports.

 

 

 

One of the outings was to Epic Land which is a large indoor centre for children, there were many activities which the students had not tried before such as Air Trek and trampolining. Some of the other activities were Ballistics, Black Hole, Rainbow slides, Kids Zone.

For our other outing we had the chance to visit the Hong Kong Country Club where they offered bowling, table tennis, air hockey and much more. Despite these varied activities, the children’s (and the teachers) favourite time of the day was the buffet and assortment of desserts.

 

 

 

The final teaching day was International Day where each class had the chance to visit the countries of the other classes. The day was led by the students (little teachers) who taught the visiting students about their country and taught them to play their games.

 

Overall, the whole experience was something I highly recommend. It was great to be able to help children improve their confidence as well as their English level. The choice to deliver these lessons through fun activities was a good choice as they already have English classes at school so through SPICE they were able to know that learning English can be fun. This programme also allowed us UK volunteers to have a unique way to experience Hong Kong as we were here with a purpose but also had free time to explore all that Hong Kong has to offer. We also spent some of our time exploring with the Hong Kong interns so we saw Hong Kong from a local perspective as well as making very good friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Volunteers' Stories