By: Johnny F.
While travelers always use the quote ‘seeing is believing’ to justify their wanders, the summer of 2016 had really been a life changing experience to immerse myself within two developing countries across South East Asia and realize how fortunate I am to be born and raised in an internationalized city like Hong Kong.
To ensure inclusive and quality education for all
Receiving 12 years of free education in Hong Kong, I have never truly realized how fortunate I am until witnessing the struggle for children of my age or even younger, trying so hard and putting in so much effort just to grasp the chance to attend classes. During the stay in Cambodia, I was settled in an NGO that serves as the accommodation for students with an underprivileged family background, but studied hard enough to obtain a scholarship and being enrolled in universities in the city. Spending some nights listening to their stories, it has made me proud to learn about the passion and commitment they had for shaping the future of their society regardless of the challenge they have been facing; but on the flip side of the coin, the story has become less exciting when I thought about those talent within friends and schoolmate back in their hometown remain undiscovered and unpolished just because they are not lucky enough to be seen.
If you still remember the story of how Justin Bieber being discovered by Sony through a home recorded YouTube video before turning him into one of the most famous singer worldwide, leaving behind the legend that everyone can become a star as long as you’ve got the talent; the comparison between Irish Cua, the daughter of my home stay family who got a really lovely sweet voice, and Bieber himself might give you a whole new picture of the story. Having discovered the talent within music in their young age, Bieber was given the opportunity to learn playing piano, drums, guitar and trumpet, receiving proper music training from qualified teachers; while for Irish, joining the church choir instructed by the priest whom might not have much knowledge about music would probably be the only option her family can think of that is close to practicing music. Besides, while Bieber upload videos of him performing recorded by a nice condenser microphone that shows the nice qualities inside his voice together with a decent video recorder; the Cua family do not even own a computer and don’t even mention those drum sets, microphone and recorder that appears in Bieber’s video.
While charities and volunteers are paying so much effort trying to improve the situation and provide more opportunities, it has come to my attention that how much we as outsiders are working on has truly benefited the local society.
Are we really Helping Out?
During the stay in Cambodia, I have been helping out an NGO from the States called Travelling Stories. The Organization had been collecting second hand books, especially readers that are designed for young children in the western countries, and sent them to developing countries in order to set-up libraries among different neighborhoods. Although having such a noble intention and great plan, the library had not became popular among the locals as 99% of the item are written in English, a second language that even top students can barely master. On the other hand, there are small local publishers in the country trying to script and record their local Khmer tales and myths, stories that reflects their origin, their ancient beliefs and their tradition practice, which lack attention from the generous supporter out there but could have done a great contribution to both education and cultural heritage if there are more capital invested on them.
This experience and the paragraph about humanitarian douchery attached in the blogging instruction has allowed me to have a second thought about international volunteering and our impact towards the local society. After all, we, as the people who travel aboard, are those who enjoyed the greatest benefits from the programs, having the opportunity to see a totally different side of the world, gain new experience that we might never come across in Hong Kong; while for the locals, the benefit gain from our service are fully dependent on our commitment, our attitude and how serious are we treating the task assigned to us. Referring to my business immersion here in Bohol, I have actually worried the lack of knowledge in terms of business administration, accounting and management would be a hindrance towards the consulting process before I came. While lucky enough that I have been allocate to work with an holiday accommodation, that I can make good use of the skills I gain through my previous year of internship within the industry; and I really hope that this course can go on in the upcoming years so that there will be better trace of the true impact we as business students has brought to the local community.