College News Main Headline

IFTM students volunteer on project to support education in Congjiang

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

A group of 20 IFTM bachelor degree students used the Christmas break to travel to Congjiang County to volunteer on a project to support education at a local school. The county is in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, in the southeastern part of Guizhou Province.

The project took place from 20 to 26 December at the Congjiang Second National High School. It was jointly organised by the IFTM Volunteer Circle, the IFTM Alumni Association and the Education and Technology Bureau of Congjiang County, and sponsored by the Higher Education Fund of the Macao SAR Government.

The organisers’ aim was to strengthen English-language education in Congjiang, and to promote exchanges between young people in Guizhou and Macao. The project followed the direction set in 2018 by a cooperation framework agreement between the People’s Government of Guizhou Province, the Macao SAR Government, and the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao SAR, regarding poverty alleviation in Guizhou.

IFTM Alumni Association representatives Mr. Mickey Chang Lok Hang and Ms. Mio Un Mio Chang also took part in the trip to Congjiang. They brought with them items donated by the association, to support the school’s work. The items included books, English-language dictionaries and sports equipment.

IFTM Lecturer Mr. Fang Xing accompanied the volunteers. He says the project was meaningful, allowing IFTM students to demonstrate their capabilities, while improving interpersonal communication and public-speaking skills.

The IFTM group witnessed not only the challenges of high school education in Congjiang, but also the dedication of local teachers in terms of tutoring their students and assisting in poverty alleviation, says Mr. Fang. He adds that the volunteering project allowed the IFTM students to “deeply understand the value and significance of community service”.

IFTM student Sofia Lam Huang, who took part in the trip, agrees. “The smallest gesture or action – for example, bringing a small souvenir to the students – can make their day,” says the Hotel Management undergraduate.

Heritage Management Bachelor Degree Programme student Nicole Liu Tianai says the most important thing in relation to the project was to make Congjiang students aware of the value of formal education. “Although you can get immediate benefits by dropping out of school to work, studying is a long-term investment for your own good,” she notes. “It will give you far greater returns than part-time work, and not just regarding a difference in salary.”

Win-win experience

On the first day of the official programme of the event, the group of IFTM students participated in a national-flag raising ceremony at the Congjiang Second National High School. They listened to speeches by the school heads, learning more about the educational philosophy being implemented at the institution.

Throughout the programme, the IFTM students cooperated with the school’s team of English-language teachers. They participated in teaching activities in a variety of ways, to instil positive attitudes to study, and increase students’ interest in learning the English language.

In the classroom, the IFTM students practised textbook-based dialogues with the pupils, and taught them English vocabulary through various games or songs. They also shared examples of their own study experiences at IFTM, and of their secondary-school studies, and urged young people in Congjiang to explore their interests and find a career direction.

In evening time allotted to solo study, the IFTM students reviewed textbook exercises and test papers with the Congjiang pupils. The IFTM group also organised evening movie sessions with English-language films.

Through a week of tireless effort, the IFTM volunteering group developed friendship links with the students and the teachers at the Congjiang Second National High School, offering them encouragement and support. Many of the IFTM students that took part in the activity say it helped them realise that volunteering is not only beneficial for those receiving support, but also conducive to the personal development of volunteers.

Rae Zhang Ruiyuan, a student in IFTM’s Tourism Business Management Bachelor Degree Programme and a member of the volunteering group, comments: “Volunteering activities may not lead to material profits, but they reward us with spiritual gains and enhance our capabilities, which is often more important.”

Other IFTM students taking part in the visit to Congjiang say they felt the volunteering project expanded their understanding of a career in education.

“I experienced the hardship and responsibility of teachers,” says Alice Jin Xiaoxuan, an IFTM student enrolled on the Tourism Business Management programme. She adds that joining the volunteering activity in Congjiang made her “more responsible and patient.”

In post-event reflections, the IFTM volunteering group members expressed hope they might take part in similar activities in the future, if possible with a longer duration of stay in Congjiang. They also suggested that online distance learning could be arranged as an additional method to support education efforts in the Congjiang Second National High School.

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