ExCo Elections 2020: Service Candidates
With the ExCo elections looming on the horizon, Junto interviewed this year's Service candidates to learn about their plans for next year. Below are the responses of Elanna Mak (10) and Kezia Leung (11).
Tell us about your biggest potential policy initiative.
My biggest policy is to redefine service as inclusive, innovative, and fun. We are all happiest and most fulfilled when we are doing something bigger and more important than ourselves. I want to extend service opportunities to members outside of service clubs by encouraging clubs to reach out beyond membership so that their initiatives will impact the entire HKIS community. We can’t all participate in 15 different clubs, but if a friend asks to volunteer together for a great service opportunity, many of us would say yes. We all have pockets of time to give to volunteering, and we have to break down the idea that volunteering for a cause is exclusive to club membership. For example, someone that really inspires me is my friend Sophie who pulls me into volunteering for her sustainability initiatives. If we’re trying to make the world a better place, we should be inspiring and including others to join us. My biggest hope is to make service something that is enjoyable, encouraging, yet also social for the HKIS community.
Many students have mentioned that they lack the time to participate in weekly service opportunities, even though they would really like to. In order to solve this dilemma, as Senator of Service, I would actively engage in breaking down the obstacles that prevent us from serving directly. I want to create more service opportunities that fit into the demanding lives and schedules of every HKIS student. This is where I think that technology has a huge role to play in improving our ability to deliver help and service directly to those in need.
My biggest potential policy initiative is to welcome students to volunteer with their skills, talents, and passion. To achieve this policy I want to create more collaboration across service and nonservice clubs. From people interested in robotics, tutoring, art, basketball, theater, anybody can use their talents to serve. I’m grateful for clubs who already collaborate like using a musical talent to serve the elderly. I’d like to encourage more of this. In an SOS program that I lead, we attempted to perform a skit, but we could’ve been better if we invited the drama club because together we can create a powerful message for the children. I want to incorporate the skills of students to serve. To fulfill this, I want to provide service day opportunities where I will partner with different clubs in the High school to a service club. Volunteer opportunities should not just be limited to club marketplace and students should have the opportunity to serve at any time.
One of the initiatives I want to create that brings the community together is called a "box of blessings". Students from all grades have the opportunity to pack a box during the Christmas season with donated goods. These boxes are meant to bless the people in need. This will be a time during flex where friends, homerooms, and grades can collectively come together to serve on campus. Groups of friends or individual can then decorate these boxes however they like.
For students that are still searching for their passion to serve, they can have an opportunity to experience direct service. This is how I can also encourage direct servicing for all students. A group of volunteers can join me to deliver all the boxes to different organizations that I've worked within the past. We can then directly meet with the organizers and the people receiving the gifts! These opportunities will allow people who are unsure about service and are still finding their passion but also for people who are excited to help others!
Many service clubs almost exclusively run donation campaigns like bake sales as opposed to direct service initiatives. How would you encourage clubs to run direct service initiatives?
If I was elected as Senator of Service, I would encourage clubs that partner with international organisations to consider using technology to promote face-to-face interaction online. For example, online-mentoring kids in need or FaceTiming non-local communities we serve in order to create and deepen relationships. I am a big believer that technology can improve the way we deliver service and impact the lives of others. For example, during this Covid-19 outbreak, I partnered with a local charity, Hope of the City, and created exercise videos for underprivileged children in Hong Kong who live in subdivided flats. This was done to give them opportunities to have physical activity as well as to reduce stress. Although we can’t be together physically, this is a form of service that is direct and speaks to their immediate needs. Additionally, I would encourage all service clubs to consider participating in local initiatives with direct service opportunities. Service starts within your own community, and there is still tremendous need in our HK community right now.
One of my main goals as the senator of service is to connect our community and collaborate with another. One way we can create a united community is working together. Firstly, I want to enhance communication among all service club leaders to share ideas and to solve problems. In the group, we can discuss challenges, solutions, and needs for our club. For example, if my SOS program that I lead needs more volunteers that day, I can ask the group if anybody is willing to volunteer for that day. SOS clubs are direct service clubs. People who may be unsure but interested can volunteer for those days. We could provide volunteer opportunities to one another. Many clubs are already running direct service initiatives but it's unknown to the school. I also want to create a monthly service update in student life to showcase photos from sessions and updates about the work from all the service clubs. We have to share our knowledge and experience with the school for others to be motivated to run direct service initiatives.
I also want to encourage donation run service clubs to host a service day. This day can be one a month, once a quarter, once a year, it's up to the club's decision. This could be a day of volunteering or even supporting social workers. Students can volunteer at the organization or even gift social workers with care packages (express their appreciation). The more we communicate, the more we can learn from one another and solve each other's problems.
I also believe students need volunteer training to start direct service initiatives and create a larger vision for their club. As a leader in the SOS committee, I've helped organize volunteer training for SOS, where we invite experienced people to lead the training. Direct service may be intimating for many, because some might think they need experience or a "serving" talent to help the community. With volunteer training, I hope this will encourage leaders to run direct service initiatives because everyone will have an understanding of the club mission. Direct service needs to be fostered, and I believe training and collaboration will efficiently lead to more direct service.