Lisa was chosen as one of the UK volunteers for SPICE this year, she is now back at Edinburgh University……..
This summer I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong to volunteer for 7 weeks alongside 4 other UK students. I was volunteering with SPICE, a summer English programme for disadvantaged children. Looking back at my time, there are many highlights, experiences and challenges that I will always remember. Arriving in Hong Kong I was taken back by the beautiful scenery, the area we stayed in was residential but had great views. The accommodation was basic, but nice with a small kitchen and fridge we could use. The staff in the village were very helpful and the grounds were lovely, with a swimming pool and running track you could use if you wanted. There was also a big shopping mall with lots of food options and MTR station a 10 minute walk away from the which was really handy.
We spent the first two weeks of the trip getting to know the Hong Kong interns and planning the programmes. Each class was led by two Hong Kong interns and one UK volunteer. We helped to plan some activities, as well as practice delivering them. There was also time to explore Hong Kong during these two weeks.
Before I knew it, I was in the first of three schools taking a class, along with two Hong Kong interns. For each programme we taught a class of between 12 and 16 children aged 10-13, each programme lasting 7 days. The days were not like a traditional school day but consisted of fun activities to encourage the students to speak English through activities including games, crafts and sports.
A definite highlight for the kids (and adults!), were the outings to Epicland and Hong Kong Country Club, as children were able to have fun and try new activities, they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to.
Some classes were more challenging than others, with children ranging from having no English to being more able speakers. However, it was very rewarding to have a child progress from having little confidence to speak English at the start of the week, to chatting in English by the end of the week. Some children even taught us a bit of Cantonese!
The trip was a great way to experience life in Hong Kong and find out more about education, culture and the history of Hong Kong, compared to just spending a short holiday in tourist areas. Although this summer was not without its challenges, with Hong Kong facing its own political challenges, it did not ever feel unsafe. With the help of the locals we were able to keep ourselves up to date with what was taking place, it was a fascinating time and interesting to gain different perspectives on what was taking place. Overall, I would recommend SPICE programme to anyone who has the chance as it was an exciting an