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Service Learning Programme

17 - 25 Nov 2018

Coastal Environment

4A He Yixuan & Kong Suet Ying
The amount of garbage entering the ocean has been increasing, with eight million metric tonnes of mere plastics being dumped into the ocean annually. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is illustrative of this alarming issue, with piles of marine debris shot out by the gyre accumulating in the centre of ocean currents or on beaches along the coastlines.

However, hearing is different from seeing with your own eyes. During the SAW, we went to four beaches, namely, Shek O, Shui Hau Wan, Tap Mun, and Sharp Island, to help clean up the coast. Although we knew the areas were seriously polluted, we were still astonished by the huge amount of garbage along the beaches, especially on the rocks along the coast in Tap Mun. They were totally covered with polystyrene foam and plastic bottles, and it took us a whole afternoon to just clear out a small section. As for sandy beaches, plastic debris, or microplastics, were all mixed up with sand that could hardly be separated from natural materials such as leaves and conches.

Plastics are indecomposable, they are only broken down into microplastics, which tend to absorb toxic chemicals, and the animals are confusing them with food. From time to time, we read stories about seagulls’ bellies being filled with indigestible microplastics leading to their death. What is more, large pieces of plastic can entangle or even suffocate marine animals.

We should pay attention to our daily habits, no matter how small they are. We have a part to play in this – taking plastic bags from the supermarket, or grabbing straws for our drinks. Think about it, thousands of customers patronise the supermarket everyday, and the situation is repeated a million times all around the globe. How much waste will that produce?

Many people don’t treat over-consumption as a problem because it’s “not in their backyard”. Although cleaning the beaches for a day or two might not do much in alleviating marine pollution, it was indeed a perfect opportunity for us to open our eyes to the issue and confront it. Fish that have eaten toxic chemicals will finally be eaten by humans. We will have to bear the consequences ourselves eventually. It is time we take action to reduce the use of plastics and avoid all the negative impacts it could bring.


Circus Tram

4G Yam Wing Yin Rachael & 4H Wong Yi Wing Erin
We collaborated with Circus Tram, a cultural startup company which turns the tram into a cultural asset and a platform for local creative talent. The two of us were in full charge of hosting a three-hour charity tram ride around Hong Kong Island for a group of Form Five South Asians students.

We organised interactive games on board such as Da Siu Yan (villain hitting) and Chinese herbal tea tasting. They were extremely proactive, making us feel more at ease when pointing at the infrastructure along the way and explaining their architectural and  historical significances. At first we expected them to have limited knowledge about the city, but it turned out that they have their roots in Hong Kong and could speak fluent Cantonese and English. They could retell a lot of cultural and historical facts of Hong Kong effortlessly, while we only learn it online during our preparation. A sense of guilt engulfed us and it made us reflect on our roles as a local.

We would not use the term “ethnic minority” to describe the Pakistani students, as this label serves only as a class distinction. Although the programme was meant to be a part of community service, we treated it as a platform for cultural exchange as not only had we learnt to appreciate and treasure Hong Kong’s “east-meets-west” culture and history, but we also got to know people of diverse backgrounds.