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Student Activities Week

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Place Based Learning Programme

12 - 20 Nov 2016

3A Lam Chin Yau, Viviana

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."This is what Winston Churchill said in his first speech as the Prime Minister of the UK. During the Student Activities Week, we did the same.

We shed blood as we tripped on rocks or scraped our skin on sharp objects. Yet we learnt to continue despite the pain, to endure whatever hardships that might come our way to taste the fruits of success. We offered toil as we worked to complete our first fishing net, to make our own salted eggs, and to mash our first bowl of bean congee. We shed tears for the abandoned and deserted villages and for the people who had to leave their hometown. We dripped with sweat as we trekked along paths and struggled up hills, learning that nothing could be achieved if we didn’t strive for it. 

Most importantly, we all found courage in ourselves. The courage to face and overcome our fears of buzzing insects and giant spider webs. We had to have the courage to step out of our comfort zone and into nature, narrowly avoiding stepping on cow patties; the courage to continue our explorations despite weariness or fear; the courage to admit that we’re not perfect, and that sometimes we needed help; the courage to stand up for what you think is right, and the courage to accept that you could also be wrong. Courage is not proving that you are fearless, but rather the triumph over what you fear.

 

3G Qian Hau Man Karen

The ruins of Kuk Po, the quaint villages of Tai O, and the delicate crystals in the salt farms of Yim Tin Tsai... Our visits to these three rural areas in Hong Kong which I never even knew exist proved to be an incredibly valuable learning experience.

Though we were armed with basic knowledge about analysing the sustainable development of different places in our Liberal Studies lessons, learning outside the classroom and being on site was a whole new experience. Friendly tour guides showed us around, giving us the opportunity to experience the local heritage and culture. We were shown the process of making salty egg yolk and black bean congee. An experienced elderly fisherman, who had grown up in Tai O and started fishing as a child, taught us how to knit a fishing net. In Yim Tin Tsai, I was fascinated to learn about the once thriving salt-making business, which had been the livelihood of all the villagers up till decades ago.

Most exhilarating of all was the abandoned village of Kuk Po, which was well worth the gruelling hour-long hike each way. As if stepping straight into a movie set, the mysteriousness of these ruins fueled our curiosity and we explored a few of the derelict old houses. Our group even braved the half-broken rickety staircase and made it to the second-storey. Looking down from above, we saw the layout of what was once a vibrant village surrounded by lush greenery. While nature had stood its ground and kept on flourishing in its natural habitat, the houses were all in a state of disrepair and most of the people had abandoned their homes, moving to the city to start a new life.

It was truly heartbreaking to see so much priceless cultural heritage being deserted, which prompted us to think about ways to save Kuk Po and many other rural areas from slowly wilting away. We often believe urbanisation and preservation cannot co-exist, therefore the latter is invariably sacrificed in the name of progress. Our cultural heritage, tangible or intangible, form a significant part of our roots. Even if total preservation is impossible, it is important to look for ways for adaptive reuse and revitalisation.

 

3B Tan Ka Ying Carina

I learnt the most out of the excursion to Tai O – the once rural fishing village but now a tourist attraction preserving its local culture. Tai O is located in the Western coast of Lantau Island. Once you get off the boat, you will be greeted by the welcoming Tai O locals, authentic stilt houses and an amazing view. With its pretty setting on the coast framed by the mountains, and all the activity surrounding the harbour, the traditional seafood market, and the daily life in the stilt houses, it is the ideal place if you want a get-away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Tai O is a traditional fishing village and its salt farming can be dated back to the Song dynasty. We all had fun making salty egg yolk and red bean congee and knitting fishnet – an valuable opportunity to experience the livelihood of Tai O villagers back then. During the fishnet knitting workshop, we were taught to use the traditional hand tools. We tried to secure the nylon knots in place, but it was not as simple as we thought. The instructor knitted the nets with skilled hands, a bit shaky though due to his age, he did it at ease. We got to know the hardships of fishermen, whose income is often not stable due to the weather, pollution and overfishing, and could barely improve their quality of life over the years. It was no wonder that the fishing industry in Hong Kong has been declining as many turn to more stable jobs in the city.

Even today, many developing countries still rely on the fishing industry as a source of income. However, with increasingly severe problems like overfishing in the coral triangle, use of destructive fishing methods and water pollution, it is harder for them to fish, and they are resorting to use fishing methods like trawling, end up creating a vicious cycle. The short trip to Tai O was not just a field trip filled with fun, it has prompted us to think out of the box, take on a global perspective and be concerned about global issues such as sustainable development.