Serve & Learn
Service Learning Trips are intense experiences where we learn about a place, its culture and people through hands-on community-based service projects, also gained authentic cultural experiences which we can’t get from a traditional classroom. In the past winter break, HKUST Connect facilitated 4 teams of students to Lantau Island in Hong Kong, Jiangxi in mainland China, Cambodia and Neour to make a difference in the local communities.
Together we fly high - Lantau Island Service Learning Camp
Located in Shek Pik, South Lantau Island, Tung Wan Mok Law Shui Wah School is one of the schools for social development in Hong Kong. It provides education and counselling to students with moderate to severe behavioral and emotional problems, or those coming from troubled families, in order to help them return home and integrate into mainstream schools as soon as possible. 

In early 2016, Education Bureau announced the plan to relocate the school to Tuen Mun and aroused public attention. Opposed by different stakeholders in Tuen Mun, teachers' and students' feelings were hurt. There are many difficulties and challenges during the students' growth. Despite these, they are just kids that need our help and care. Therefore, a group of volunteers went there in Jan 2017 to show their support and care, and helped decorate the School.
“During the 4 days of leading, serving and chatting with children in the beautiful Tung Wan Mok Law Shui Wah School, I realized the importance of care and respect to individuals, and my strengths and weaknesses in contributing to a team or a community.” said by Brian SIU (SENG, UG, Year 1)

Brian thinks that this trip gave him a chance to see how people can be so unique outside the shackles of a mainstream school. With less pressure from academics and fewer distractions, they learn music, drama or other stuff, and they can be very dedicated to it. This trip has been eye-opening for him. He had gained a renewed understanding of special education and care-giving in general. He hopes that Hong Kong can be a less toxic and more loving society, and think that this trip gave him valuable lessons on how decisions should be made so that the society can be more inclusive for everyone.
Cambodia Service Learning Trip
Cambodia is a developing and charming country recovered from a tragic past. The level of education in Cambodia has been improving, but there is still an educational gap when compared with other developed countries, especially in the areas of technology and science. Will you join us to give them a helping hand?
The project aims to continue our support to the children and youth at Cambodian Children’s Fund, Who Will Village, Wat Opot Children's Community and a local primary school. The team will devote their project to organizing useful educational activities and interactive STEM workshops so as to narrow the educational gap in developing country and help their youth to develop their full potential.
“Before I left to Cambodia, I was a bit tired of all the works I had to do, not just the preparation for Cambodia trip but also the final exams and the lab. I was already bit exhausted, so I worried whether I could fully enjoy this trip. But, when I just arrived at the airport at Phnom Pehn and saw the scenery on bus to Takeo, I already had some feelings that I could fully have fun and gain something from this trip.” experience shared by Sarah OH (Biotechnology, UG, Year 4) after she came back from Cambodia and thought back about the experiences in Cambodia on the way back to HKUST.
Sarah genuinely thought that this could be the most memorable trip she ever had a learning experience. As its title says, it was truly a service “learning” experience for her. She didn’t think that she could learn so much from other trips as this trip did.
Overall, the trip to Cambodia was a life-changing experience for Sarah, thanks to the participants and the children in Cambodia. Final year in university is the moment where many students struggle to make decisions about their future. As a final year student, she thinks that she was very lucky to join this trip and this experience definitely played a very important role in decision making for her future.
Jiangxi Service Learning Trip
Jiangxi is an inland province located in southeastern China, with agriculture as one of its major industries. Villagers there go to work in wealthier provinces for a higher income while leaving their children behind with their grandparents. To serve the 'left-behind children' living in remote villages in Jiangxi, HKUST Connect has been organizing Jiangxi Service Learning Trip since 2013. Although the school we visit was renovated, resources provided to the 'left-behind children' are still very limited. We are now recruiting HKUST volunteers to go to Jiangxi in the upcoming winter to continue our genuine support to the children. Would you like to be one of the volunteers to empower the 'left-behind children' on their lives?

Participants will design and organize activities and workshops to show their care and affection to the ‘left-behind children’. They will also visit an organic farm managed by a Hong Kong founded social enterprise, to understand its operation and explore its impact on the local community.
“The 7-day journey marked a beautiful page in my diary. The page contains many happy faces, the much beautiful scenery of the village, and many reflections on myself and on society. To me, it is absolutely a fruitful experience.” said by Candice HUNG (SBM, UG, Year 2)

This trip has broadened Candice horizon and let her to have the first-hand experience to explore new things, such as the living style of the left-behind children. Candice’s concepts on left-behind children were based on the secondary school education and the news reports. And this time she can reach them in person. Through home visiting, and chatting with family and kids, this trip showed the students another side of left-behind children which is not the same as what they searched on the internet. This amazing journey allows Candice to learn from their peers and children in Jiangxi, and more importantly, reflect on themselves and on society.
Nepal Service Learning Trip - Exploration Team
According to the United Nation, Nepal is one of the least developed countries since 1971. It suffers from high levels of hunger and poverty. Despite these challenges, Nepal is making steady progress, with the government declaring its commitment to elevate the nation from least developed country status by 2022. Unfortunately, a magnitude of 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on 25th April, 2015, and soon after on 12th May, 2015, there was another 7.3 earthquake. Entire villages were flattened in many districts of the country. Nearly 10,000 people died, 23,000 were injured, 800,000 homes were destroyed and over 45,000 people were displaced. Are you willing to make a difference in this country?

Collaborating with Light On Nepal, we are involved in the school rebuilding project for Shree Ganga Milan Secondary School. The school provides education to 270 children, ranging from Grade 1 to 10. It has six blocks, one of which (with 8 classrooms) was partially destroyed by the earthquake and will be included in the project. Helping the reconstruction progress is just a stepping stone for us to get into the communities, and so enlighten local students by sharing our culture and knowledge to them.

“I am truly thankful for the Nepal exploration trip experience. Even though we have not started with any actual programs, the experience has broadened my horizon, and has given me the opportunities to connect with the locals and understand their stories. ” said by Alexis YIP (Global China Studies, UG, Year 2)

Through the experience in the trip, there are two things that had Alexis incredibly inspired. During the visit to Friends for Nepal Himalaya Development Aid, she was so touched by the dedication of the organizers when they were introducing HKSUT student to the Children’s home. Alexis could dearly feel the love they have for the children in need, even though they are not blood-related…... Despite the sufficient financial support, she thinks it is the loving heart the organizers have that made the NGO such a happy place for children and the neighbourhood. Alexis thinks that they do often have a lot of distractions on a trip, but having passion and good intentions in serving people is important, as they drive us to our actions. 

HKUST Connect - Service Learning Trips