|17 July 2012||
With the support of the Kerry Group Kuok Foundation and HKU Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS), a group of 14 students participated in the project “Poverty and Exclusion Alleviation” (Project PAEAN) in Xiushui, Jiangxi Province, China this summer.
Project PAEAN aims to raise the awareness of students of the difficulties and challenges faced by underprivileged populations, and to cultivate a lifelong sense of social responsibility among these students for the betterment of these deprived groups. From June 17 to 24, 2012, the Project PAEAN team made their first exploratory trip to a rural village in Xiushui to understand the life and situation of the villagers. Students were divided into three teams to cover education, enterprise and medical service, and to carry out field studies and service.
Louie Tang (BSc(ActuarSc), 2012), who joined the trip as a student intern of CEDARS, excelled in his leadership role and learnt a lot from his first trip to rural China.
"It was not until a few days before the trip that I knew I would be going with other students to Xiushui. At first, I was a bit worried. I felt the pressure of leading and being responsible for 13 other students of the same age in an unfamiliar place, yet I was also thrilled as I know pressure can drive one to learn and grow”.
As a PhD student in Biochemistry, Bryan Ho reflected on the urban way of living after the trip.
“After such an experience in rural areas, I could not help but feel that we can live our lives in a much simpler way and be more environmentally friendly. Our buildings do not have to be lit up throughout the night and not all the lights have to be switched on; we can do with half of it. Much of our leftover food would probably be considered edible in rural areas. We are all able to live with significantly fewer resources and in a sustainable manner. The earth is in need of this change urgently as we see and hear the depletion of resources and extinction of species on a daily basis”.
This trip was not a one-off project, and the students are planning to give continuous and constructive support to the villagers. After the trip, they reported back on their learning and are developing project ideas to help change the poverty situation or narrow the poverty gap.
Alexander Chan (BEng, Year Three) summed it up:
“As our short exploration trip concludes, I must say I am thankful for this learning opportunity. There is indeed still much to be done and it seems that a lot of problems have to do with policy, existing structure and the lack of resources. But we do understand that poverty alleviation is not a one-off process and what we must do is to focus on the best we can do for them. If we can move ahead in this direction, I am confident that we can create a positive lasting impact on their community”.