PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2009, 12:00am

Count your blessings and help others

Recently, I went on a charity trip to Xiaba Primary School in Fuyang, a small town in Guangxi province. We stayed there for five days, living with the students and teaching them English.

There are only three teachers at the school. Teaching in small towns is not a well-paid job, so only a few young people are willing to do it.

Because there are so few teachers, students have to take turns to study: they go to school for one year, then take a year off.

Before the trip, I hoped that I could bring happiness to the Xiaba students. In the end, they brought a lot of happiness to me.

Although their school was old, and many of the desks were broken, the students always had a smile on their faces. When we walked past the classrooms, we could hear loud voices. But the students were not playing - they were reading aloud from their textbooks.

The students were genuinely grateful to be at school, and didn't worry about things like fashionable school bags. Some of them didn't even have shoes.

This made me realise how materialistic we can be in Hong Kong. We worry when we don't have the most up-to-date phone or most fashionable bag.

But we are blessed just to have the chance to study and enough money to buy clothes and food. We must learn to be content with our lot. We should help those who are not as fortunate as us.

Lai Po-wa, Wong Shiu Chi Secondary School

Increased chances with language

My school is planning to add Spanish to the curriculum next year. I think it's a really good idea.

I am really looking forward to it because I would love to learn a foreign language.

I was really excited once I heard that we may have Spanish lessons next year, and I think the school is doing the right thing.

About 350 million people around the world speak Spanish. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. By learning it, we can enhance our travel experiences to Spanish-speaking countries and learn about the culture there.

We can use our new language skills to watch Spanish films, read Spanish books and listen to Spanish music.

It can also improve our job prospects, giving us a better chance of working overseas or with multinational companies.

In conclusion, I think learning Spanish will be really useful. I can't wait to start.

Lock Kar-see

Everyone wins if we reduce plastic waste

It is understandable that plastic bag manufacturers have expressed their disapproval about the new bag levy. It means, of course, that companies will buy fewer products from them.

But it is impossible to have a policy which pleases everyone, or one that is both commercially and ecologically beneficial. The bag producers may have to give in for the sake of environmental protection.

But I don't believe the levy alone is enough to really make a difference. The government should do more to promote the ideas of 'reducing and reusing' rather than just recycling. Reusing things helps cut down energy use and the cost of recycling.

What's more, recycling uses a lot of energy and does little to help reduce pollution.

Our planet will be far healthier if we use less and stop throwing so much away.

Sarah Lai, Yuen Long Merchants Association Secondary School