For my summer 2019, I decided to spice things up by taking a trip to somewhere I’ve never been before, Hong Kong, to try something new: teaching underprivileged kids.
Early on in my second year, I started contemplating about what to do for the following summer, while scrolling through mycareerhub, I stumbled upon SummerbridgeHK. In a nutshell, Summerbridge is a summer school dedicated to giving underprivileged children in Hong Kong a happy and safe environment to learn a range of different skills in English. But when I actually integrated myself into the SB community, I realised Summerbridge was a lot more than just a summer school. I will roughly explain what it is in the following paragraphs.
In June, we started the programme with staff orientation. To be honest, I was dreading the first day, I was nervous and anxious about meeting new people, especially since I was still adjusting to the Hong Kong environment. I was worried about giving off a bad impression. However, after I got over the initial introduction, I found the whole atmosphere very comfortable. My coworkers were very friendly and approachable. Moreover, I felt it was okay to be different. I then started to come out of my shell. The week of orientation flew by and I made some friends with my colleagues, friends I will treasure for a very long time. We then prepared to meet our kids and officially kick-start our summer.
I never thought I would have so much fun with my kids and I could tell Summerbridge meant a lot for these kids too. Because of certain circumstances, our last week ended quite abruptly. Many things were cancelled and our kids’ last day came very suddenly. My kids would tell me they never wanted to leave Summerbridge because they never felt so much warmth, love, care and support from anywhere else; they felt accepted for not fitting in with the social norms. They would also tell me “I can’t chase my dreams because I have no money to,” which was probably the most heart-wrenching thing I heard. The pressure of growing up in a money-oriented and emotionally toxic society really took a toll on them, and for the first time ever, they were relieved from that pressure, but sadly only temporarily. Many kids bawled their eyes out on the last day, knowing they had to return to the ‘real’ world. My heart ached for them.
Finally, I must say Hong Kong has been amazing. After spending 3 months here, I have discovered a whole new culture, and gotten in touch with my Asian roots. From the 5 weeks I spent with my kids, they taught me how to love and care for people around me. They showed me that even a small and simple gesture like a high five or a hug can make the biggest difference. In conclusion, I feel that I learned more from these kids than they learned from me.
Hong Kong is a beautiful place. Thank you for reading my blog 🙂