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Transformative Service-Learning experience

Outstanding student gives back to society through innovation


“Learning to Serve, Serving to Learn”.      

A new education model is changing young lives. Engaging students’ hearts and minds in the phenomenally rewarding task of giving back to society, Service-Learning (SL) is fashioning a new generation of lifelong learners and agents for change. PolyU is proud to champion this model by nurturing graduates with the altruism, passion and talent needed to tackle socio-economic challenges in innovative yet responsible ways.

In 2012, PolyU incorporated SL into its curriculum, enabling students to benefit from this new education model. Every year, about 4,000 PolyU students are engaged in SL subjects which last for one or two semesters. SL not only broadens students’ horizon, it also enhances their learning and development as a civic-minded professional. Outstanding student Paul Szeto Chun from the Faculty of Business is an exemplar with his long-term commitment to initiate and take part in meaningful community services, through which he has induced positive change in his own life as well as other people.

Self-Initiated Pj - 2Paul took his first SL course in Year 1, delivering vision health services to children and the elderly in Hong Kong. This cause was close to Paul’s heart: as a sufferer of severe myopia, he was keenly aware of the importance of eye care. His enthusiasm for helping those in need won him a SL Scholarship, set up to encourage talented young people to assist PolyU in the development of SL or form their own service teams.

Eager to do even more, Paul and six teammates launched their own SL project to introduce basic ophthalmology knowledge to local primary schools. They designed a series of innovative games that allowed young children to experience colour deficiency, ocular migraines and blindness. As many as 140 pupils benefited, gaining an invaluable understanding of ways to keep their eyes healthy.

Exchange - 3cPaul’s enthusiasm for service did not wane over time – quite the opposite! In January 2017, with the support of the Lee Hysan Scholarship for Service-Learning Exchange, he had the opportunity to broaden his global citizenship and perspective on SL at Lund University in Sweden.

“I went to a designated supermarket every other day to collect leftover food and distribute it to homeless people or people with mental health problems,” explained Paul.

Participating in these sustainable development and environmental protection programmes planted an important seed of inspiration.

This idea of saving food lingered in my mind after returning to Hong Kong and urged me to think about how such actions could be practised in this city.

Paul knew that if he wanted the world to change, he had to take serious action. The wasteful behaviour of Hong Kong’s many restaurants was a good place to start. Working with a few like-minded fellow students, Paul developed an online platform, Food Savior, that encourages restaurants to sell surplus food at bargain prices. Already wildly successful, this simple yet revolutionary approach to tackling food waste is a win for restaurants, customers and the planet.

PolyU awards SL scholarships every year to enable aspiring SL student leaders and ambassadors like Paul to reach out to communities locally and globally in search of solutions to real-life problems, while pursuing their personal growth in life-changing ways. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more about or contributing to PolyU’s efforts to cultivate a new generation of caring and responsible leaders of change.

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Publishing date: December 2019

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