Can you introduce a bit about yourself like your name, and what are you doing currently?
My name is Harry, and I am currently a medical student studying at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. I’m one of the volunteer leaders for the tutoring volunteer service held in Yau Ma Tei on Tuesdays and Fridays.

How did you get in touch with HandsOn Hong Kong?
I had just finished working as part of a medical student service group when I decided I wanted do some services outside of the medical field. So I googled for volunteering opportunities in Hong Kong, and I found HandsOn Hong Kong online!

What drive you to provide volunteer service to the community?
I think seeing the impact – short or long-term – is what drives me to continue to serve. I want to be able to impact people around me now, even as a university student, instead of waiting until I graduate to make a difference. When I’m able to see the change, whether it’s the confidence I give the students, or the improvement in the marks of their schoolwork, it makes me realize that I have the ability to affect others positively, and I want to make use of my skillset in academics.

What is the impact of your volunteer work?
At the tutoring service, we work one-on-one or one-on-two with the ethnic minority students. In the short-run, helping them to study for their dictations and to complete their homework can help them improve their scores. However, I think that it really is a matter of empowerment. Some of the students feel as though they will never be able to achieve better scores. They dislike the work, or find it too challenging and don’t want to learn. With the encouragement and guidance of the tutors, I really hope that the students are able to realize that they have the potential to succeed in school. I hope to show them that it is possible for them to score good marks if they worked hard. And lastly, that they will truly enjoy the process of learning instead of treating school as just another chore.

If you would need to recommend others to join HandsOn Hong Kong, what are the reasons?
There are two main reasons that keep me working with HandsOn. Firstly, I was attracted to the wide range of programs. I’ve joined at least 5-6 different ones, from food recycling to elderly home visits to teaching English, and they are all truly different and eye-opening. I could try a lot of different services to see what I enjoyed. I never thought I’d ever enjoy sitting around on the street peeling corn until I went food recycling, but I really liked it and helped out through my summer vacation. I’ve made lots of fond memories and unique experiences from each of the different services. Furthermore, it’s quite non-committal. As a medical student, I’m constantly having to balance my studies with everything else. Fortunately, HandsOn’s service programs are all one-time (and has cancellation policies too!), so I don’t have to commit a huge amount of time like a standard service programme and then lose time for studies. Even as a volunteer leader I have tons of flexibility with when I’m able to help.

Any interesting story or touching moment you had in your volunteer work experience with HandsOn Hong Kong?
I’ve been at my service for almost a year now, and I remember the first time when one of the students exclaimed “Mr. Harry!” and sat down next to me to be tutored. It sounds pretty normal, but it was significant to me because it made me realize that the relationship I had built with the student was beyond just student-tutor. I felt that I had become a friend of theirs, and their willingness to sit with me proved that I was making a positive impact in their learning experience. I’m also equally touched when the students tell me about their backgrounds, families etc., which shows I’m not just a stranger, and that they look forward to and enjoy being taught by me. (Also, they know a lot of American pop music, which I thoroughly enjoy discussing with them!)

Any other suggestions you want to share with our HandsOn Hong Kong volunteers, supporters, and other readers?
To new subscribers: Try a large range of service programs! You don’t know what you might like. Take advantage of the huge calendar and find something that fits your schedule! To the other volunteers: Keep it up! Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a huge impact, but just know that your one time really makes a difference even if you can’t see or feel it.

Be the Change. Volunteer.