Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PAYM Singapore – Hong Kong Youth Exchange Programme 2009 Day 2

13 February 2009

The buffet breakfast at the hotel was great, especially the customised omelette prepared by the chef. Little would we know that the breakfast would remain the same throughout our stay.

We departed at 9.30pm for a visit to the Agency for Volunteer Service. AVS is a non-profit organisation that provides volunteers from other organisations a platform to interact as well as be trained. As a centre for volunteers, it is represented by many Hong Kong celebrities including Karen Mok and Alan Tam.

We returned to the hotel for the Welcoming Lunch Reception at the Crystal Ballroom. We were joined by representatives from the Hong Kong Commission on Youth and Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government.

Alex and Wan Chien presented a skit to depict the Singapore way of life. She acted as a tourist from Lala land and he acted as a Singaporean trying to show her around the island. After the skit, the NDP 2007 song Reach out for the Skies began and the Singapore delegation danced in sync, bringing accolades from our Hong Kong friends.

In the afternoon, we went on a visit to Maryknoll Convent School. This is a redbrick school, with part of its structure preserved as a heritage. Walking around the school reminds me of Jay Chou's movie. Our Hong Kong friend Florence, who is also the former deputy head of the student council of Maryknoll Convent School, facilitated this visit.

We broke up into small groups and interacted with the students. The students are all leaders in their own groups. Some of them also participate in volunteer organisations outside school. They were knowledgeable, answering our queries as well as also asking important questions to find out more about Singapore.

I learnt a lot from the one-to-one discussion as we explored the school compound.

This photograph reminds me of schools featured in movies.

The students gushed in to take this photo!

Next, we had a sharing session with YMCA Young Members Council. Our counterparts presented their organisation structure and then our delegation leader Kenneth presented PAYM's structure.

We were divided into groups where we shared our experiences in organising youth activities with one another. We learnt about how the different organisations set out to reach youths of various age groups.

We settled dinner at the traditional Mido Cafe.

In each of the dinner sessions, our Hong Kong peers would mingle with us and we get to know one another better. At Mido, Hock Rong and I enjoyed our chat with Khezar, a Pakistani born Hong Konger. He caught my attention when he came to Singapore, but I didn't have chance to interact with him the other time.

We learnt that he is volunteering in an organisation that stands against the discrimination of South East Asians in Hong Kong. He had organised protests which involved a few thousands of people. He lamented to us how discrimination of the minorities is that severe in Hong Kong. As a Muslim, he usually eats at home as there are few Halal restuarants. When we were dining, he only ate vegetable noodles.

After dinner, we went on a visit to YMCA Young Night Drifters Service. YND social workers patrol the streets at night (from 11pm) to look out for youths. The social workers would reach out to these youths by checking to see if they are experiencing any family problems, by providing them a place to develop their skills (music, hip hop dance, etc) and also a place for them to perform. This is to minimise youth crimes.

We were honoured to be able to join in their night patrol. We stopped by a pier where youths like to hang out at. There was a group of teenagers dancing at the open space. The social workers told us that they already knew the group and we interacted with the youths to find out why they stayed out late and also watched a break dance performance.

As the bus drove past a wholesale centre, Shirley shared with us that apples were her favourite when she was young. One day when at the wholesale centre, her parents bought her a crate of apples. She ate several in one day and then grew tired of apples.

It was a long day, ending at 1 am, but it was a very fruitful experience...

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