The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) today launched a university-wide community engagement program in preparation for the implementation of the 4-year undergraduate curriculum in 2012. Called “HKUST Connect”, it involves the entire university community – students, faculty and staff members – in a well-coordinated effort to develop sustainable partnerships with the community at large.
Dr Rosanna Wong Yick-Ming, Executive Director of The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said at the launching ceremony, “I have always believed that education serves a public purpose. This is because putting knowledge to work is how a society progresses. For this reason I find HKUST Connect a very exciting and relevant process which nurtures in students a desire to engage in the community through responsible and civic endeavors, while also strengthening their commitment to service. On these foundation stones rest Hong Kong’s successful and sustainable development.”
HKUST President Tony F Chan said, “HKUST Connect is significant in three dimensions – Conscience, Consolidation, and Commitment”.
“First, HKUST Connect represents a united conscience for advancing justice, hope and basic goodness. Second, it is a consolidation of efforts from different levels of the university for one common purpose – to promote the well-being of self and others through an integration of service and learning. Finally, it signifies the University’s continued commitment to community engagement involving lasting relationships,” President Chan said.
Prof Kar Yan Tam, Dean of Undergraduate Education, said, “The mandate of HKUST Connect is to nurture engaged learners who take charge of their own learning and actively apply their human capital to address community needs and social issues.”
To facilitate students’ personal advancement and ride on their passion, the University has adopted a graduate-student mentoring model in developing community engagement initiatives.
In putting this model into practice, a group of 2009 HKUST graduates have been hired to join HKUST Connect as Service Learning Co-ordinators responsible for project planning and implementation.
Miss Ren Leung is one of the Service Learning Co-ordinators. A Physics graduate, she was inspired to take up this post by her own experience in social service.
“One of the most life-changing experiences for me was taking part in the Sichuan Social Service Program in June this year with 40 other HKUST students and staff, to provide service to the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake last year. After the trip, I realized that it is not a matter of whether we can contribute to society, but how we would like to contribute. Being a Service Learning Co-ordinator is, I think, the best way I can make a contribution,” she said.
The Sichuan Social Service Program was organized by a group of committed students and staff, in which Mr He Yuheng, 2009 Physics graduate, was a key player.
Mr He was also the recipient of the first “Roy To Community Service Award”, also presented at the ceremony. He is at present staying at HKUST to pursue his MPhil studies. A student from the Mainland, Mr He played a key role in organizing service trips to Sichuan and various parts of Guangdong. Apart from being committed to social service, Yuheng was also a top student – not only did he graduate with first class honors, but he was one of only seven students in the School of Science to be presented the Academic Achievement Award.
The “Roy To Community Service Award” was set up in memory of HKUST alumni Mr Roy To, who lost his life in a car accident in Inner Mongolia during a service trip in May 2008. The Award is presented annually to the student in HKUST who best exemplifies the commitment to community service.
HKUST Connect is funded by the University Grants Committee and the private sector, including a donation from Mr Senta Wong, Chairman and CEO of Wong’s Kong King International (Holdings) Limited.
About HKUST Connect
HKUST Connect is an initiative set up to mobilize the entire university to build on existing efforts in raising civic awareness, and be actively engaged in learning and service activities for the benefit of the community. Students will connect their service with their academic experiences and realize their unique role in the community. Faculty and staff will facilitate these activities to enhance student learning as well as deepen their own commitment to education with a public purpose. The University will collaborate with community organizations, education institutions and corporations to organize meaningful projects that assist, inspire and build up their recipients.
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