Leading Lights: Good Hope School student volunteers receive gift of new skills in return, learning martial arts and sign language


The group set out to serve the community, but they also learned a lot from the elderly and disabled students they worked with

Nicola Chan |

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Student volunteers from Good Hope School learned many things from their mentors.

Ever wanted a chance to show your mentors how much you’ve learned from them? One group of girls from Good Hope School had the chance to do just that, and on stage, no less.

Back in February, some 240 student volunteers learned skills from a group of elderly people and students with physical disabilities, and together they showcased their talents in a variety show.

Held in the open space of Ping Shek Estate in Kwun Tong, the show opened with a lion dance to celebrate the Lunar New Year. There were eight performances in total, including Ba Duan Jin – a common form of the Chinese martial art known as qigong – Tai Chi swordplay, a chair dance, magic, and two Chinese songs performed in sign language.

“I used to think that sign language was something that we don’t have to learn because we don’t need it in our daily lives,” one of the participants, Charmaine Lim Hiu-san, 14, told Young Post.

Good Hope School students Kathleen Wong, Charmaine Lim, Mandy Chan learned a lot during their volunteering experience.
Photo: Nicola Chan/SCMP

“But after learning how to sign the song, I realised what an important tool it is for communication for some people,” she said, adding that performing with people who used sign language on a daily basis made it even more meaningful.

Kathleen Wong Ka-yee, 13, who performed Ba Duan Jin with some elderly people, spent three months preparing for the show, but said they were only able to meet and rehearse with their mentors two or three times. “We really had to be self-disciplined and self-motivated, and practise on our own,” she said. Though, she said when she did get to meet with her mentors, the seniors helped a lot by correcting her gestures and posture.

The experience also made Kathleen reflect on her former lack of concern for caring for the elderly. “They are a group in our society that needs to be cared for, but are often overlooked,” she said. “On the surface, it may seem like we were doing a service to them and the students with physical disabilities, but it was really them who taught and inspired us.”

Charmaine agreed, and spoke of the difficulties they faced during the show. “It was raining that day, and because we were such a big group, some of us had to sit in the rain even though we set up some tents. It was kind of difficult, but everyone still focused on the performance.”

Good Hope School students performed along with their mentors who taught them new skills.
Photo courtesy of Good Hope School

Kathleen said it was challenging to focus on her qigong movements while having to take care not to slip on the wet floor.

The only Form Three student performer, Mandy Chan Hiu-man, 15, said her greatest obstacle was stage fright. She was responsible for the opening Chinese lion dance. “It was my first public performance. I was so worried that I might mess up the dance moves until I saw that people we really getting into our performance,” she said.

“I was great to see people clapping their hands. We were very happy that our hard work was appreciated,” Kathleen added. “It was also really satisfying to know the elderly and physically disabled students were proud of our performance. Seeing the big smiles on their faces was really heart-warming.”

Mandy also said she learned that when doing community service, “we should always think carefully about the needs of our target group before we serve, and worry less about our own limitations”.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

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