:: Community Service Project -- Youth Forum ::

I. Executive Summary

Hong Kong's economy in transition has posed unprecedented challenges and opportunities for our young people today. Not a single day had passed when we had not heard some news relating to the youth in Hong Kong. Taking heed of our District's call to put today's youths in the limelight, the Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West's Community Service Committee has decided to organize a youth forum to allow young people to air their views on current status of Hong Kong and matters concerning them.

Leveraging on the success of Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West's Learning2Give website design project ("L2G"), the Community Services Committee had decided to organize a youth forum during the L2G closing dinner held on Saturday, November 24 at the Polytechnic University Staff Restaurant. We have selected the topic "Opportunities and Challenges facing today's youth" as the forum's main theme. Over 48 students from 15 schools who participated in the L2G project, five sponsors for the project, educators, teachers and headmasters attended the forum.

In order to promote participation and discussions, an open format was used during the forum. Students spoke on the main topic, a list of auxiliary topics given to them or any topic they desired to talk about. In order to encourage interaction between the students and our guests, we assigned a Rotarian to sit with a group of 10 students each to talk about his vocation and any matters relating to the forum's topics. The students were also encouraged to exchange their views with our two guest speakers and a dozen or so Rotarians from our Club. Prizes were given to those who presented their views and the best three speeches were given special prizes and recognition. The students' inquisitiveness and their interest in learning more about Rotary generally encouraged our Rotarians.

We received an overwhelming response from the participants who spoke on more than a dozen different topics that felt concerning them. Over 20 students voluntarily participated and spoke on a variety of topics concerning them during a one and a half hour long forum session. We discovered that most students had an acute sense of awareness of the economic and competitive situation they are facing especially vis-a-vis competition from their Mainland China counterparts. In addition, we were also encouraged to find out that even though most of the students are generally weary about their future, they displayed a positive and constructive attitude towards most problems that they encountered during school and family. Lots of Rotarians as well as members of education institutions present were delighted to learn a few new ideas on how to improve the current education system in Hong Kong and ways that it could be structured to improve overall competitiveness. We were also surprised that despite an even number of boys and girls attending the forum, females were more outspoken then their male counterparts. More than 70% of those who participated were girls.

Overall, both the speakers and representatives from our sponsors and NGOs gave very high marks to the forum and were very encouraged by the performance of the students at the forum. Our Club has decided to make this an annual event to be held either separately or in conjunction with the L2G closing dinner.


II. Objectives

The youth forum has been organized with the following objectives in mind:

a) To sponsor Rotary's District Goals of addressing the needs of our community;
b) To allow young people to air their views on current status of Hong Kong and matters concerning them;
c) To allow accomplished members of society to share their experience with young people and to offer them some positive encouragement during this time of adversity;
d) To promote Rotary's public image among Non Government Organizations, sponsors, educators, schools and students; and
e) To allow young people to identify with Rotary at an early age.


III. Time and Venue

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2001
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Venue: Staff restaurant, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong


IV. Participants

A. Speakers

1) Mr. Bernard Yee -Regional Managing Director, AT&T Asia Pacific Group Limited*
Topic spoken on - "Preparing oneself for 21st Century"

* AT&T Asia Pacific Group Limited is the Asian arm of the U.S. telecommunication giant AT&T.

2) Mr. Jerry Chang - Director, Barons & Company
Topic spoken on: - "Hot jobs for the future and the skills set needed to acquire them"

* Barons & Company is an international executive search firm with offices in 20 countries and more than 120 full time professional consultants.

3) Rotarian Speakers:

President Ernest Chiu, Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West - "A Career in Engineering"
PP David Law - "A Career in China Investment"
Rtn. Alex Au, Chairman of Vocation Service - "The Future Job Market"
Rtn. Tony Yue, Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West - "A Career in Construction"
Rtn. Edward Chow - "A Career in Trading"
Rtn. Andy Kwok - "A Career in Legal Industry"


B. Non Government Organizations

1) Hong Kong Productivity Council
2) Polytechnic University of Hong Kong
3) Macromedia (Hong Kong) Limited
4) AT&T Asia Pacific Group Limited
5) Genette (Hong Kong) Limited

C. Schools*

1) Wah Yan College
2) Diocesan Girls School
3) St Stephen's Girls College
4) Diocesan Boy's School
5) Belilios Public School
6) St. Louis School
7) Sacred Heart Canossian College
8) St. Joseph College
9) Lingnan Secondary School
10) St Paul's Secondary School
11) Ying Wah Girls School
12) King George V School
13) Hong Kong Island School
14) West Island School
15) Queens College

* All student participants are aged between 16-18 years old.


V. Topics Spoken on by Students, Evaluation Criteria and Results

1) Youth Forum Topics

The following are a list of topics spoken on by participating students: -

a) Opportunities & Challenges facing today's Youth;
b) What opportunities do you think the Internet brings to today's youth and how would you capitalized on these opportunities;
c) How to increase adaptability and competitiveness of young people by formal and informal education;
d) What do you see as the main challenges facing today's youth and how do you propose to face them;
e) How to foster constructive relationship between family members;
f) How will 24-hour border opening between Hong Kong and Shenzhen affect Hong Kong youths; 
g) Youth and drugs;
h) What should the government do to help youths to face the current adversity;
i) The performance of Mr. Tung Chee Yah;
j) How to restore Hong Kong's competitiveness;
k) The ICQ phenomena; and
l) What do youths think of today's society

2) Evaluation Criteria

We have the honor of inviting our two guest speakers, as judges on the topics spoken on. The following are criterion used by both Mr. Bernard Yee and Mr. Jerry Chang on deciding the result of the various presentations.

a) Topic content and relevancy (35%);
b) Presentation skills (25%);
c) Language skills (25%);
d) Overall impact (10%)
e) Miscellaneous (5%)

3) Winners

Diana Chung
St. Stephen's College
Brian Chan, 
Wilson Shum
Wah Yan College
1st Runner-Up
Catherine Leung
2nd Runner-Up

Topics spoken on:

* Opportunities and Challenges facing today's youth - Diana Chung

* How to foster constructive relationship among family members - Brian Chan & Wilson Shum

* What opportunities do you think the Internet brings to today's youth and how should one capitalize on them - Catherine Leung


VI. Synopsis of Topics Spoken by Students

"Opportunities and Challenges facing today's youth" by Diana Chung of St. Stephen's Girls

· Main challenges facing today's youths are the adverse economic environment, a bleak youth job market and declining competitive edge vis-a-vis the Chinese counterparts from the Mainland;
· A lot of youth today lacks confidence due to insufficient language skills such as English and Mandarin as well as IT training due to rigid educational system and declining standards of the teaching profession;
· The information explosion via the Internet offered a two-edge sword. While increasing most youth's exposure to the world, also offered too many distractions which are often unproductive and sometimes harmful;
· Most Hong Kong youths today lack a clear focus in life and the "enjoy today let tomorrow worry about itself" attitude is prevalent. This combine with the lack of financial planning and a tendency to overspent on credit cards lead to serious problems;
· A weak economy's impact on family cohesiveness attenuates youth problems;
· Youths in Hong Kong today still have the mindset of the bubble economy and too narrowly focus on fast return;
· On the opportunity side, China's robust economy and the entry into WTO offered young people who dare to work across the border tremendous opportunities and young people should seriously open their minds to opportunities outside Hong Kong;
· Hong Kong's better access to information can present an opportunity for Hong Kong's youths when compared to their Mainland counterparts.

"How to foster constructive relationship among family members" by Brian Chan & Wilson Shum of Wah Yan College

· Key to a good relationship between members of the family is to find a common bond or a common interest;
· Parents should give their children more constructive encouragement even in the face of wrong doings. This should result in more open dialogues and better acceptance parent's advice by youths;
· A weekly family day and open constructive conversation is extremely helpful;
· Try to teach by setting a good example;
· "Prevention is better than cure". Parents should pay more attention to any deviations from normal behavior and try to offer help before any serious problem occur;
· Parents should think young and sometime not to bounded by dignity;
· Today's parents should not only be parents to their children but their children's "friends";
· Try to use a common language during communication; and
· Youths should be more open to their parents in discussing their problems and thoughts.

"What opportunities do you think the Internet brings to today's youth and how should one capitalize on them" by Catherine Leung of DGS

· E-commerce enables people to sell to the world at a much lower cost than traditional means;
· More and more corporations are moving their day to day activities to the web and this lead to a huge demand for students with IT skills especially software designers, system integrators etc.;
· The Internet has also make job search and human resources management easier which is a great help in today's bleak youth job market;
· "Learn at your own pace" via web-based learning and an vast array of free information on all sorts of subjects on the web can help youth today in keeping up to date with necessary skills to compete effectively in today's global economy;
· The Internet also open channels of communications with people in other parts of the world which will be very helpful when we have an international horizon both in future education and work;
· Youth should focus more on making use of the vast of information available on the Internet to help themselves plan for the future rather than wasting time on game playing and ICQ;
· Keep pace with technology developments especially web-based technologies;
· Make more friends from other places especially Mainland China as this will help you understand more about how to compete effectively across the border; and
· Try to download and use more shareware and freeware both in your education and your work.


VII. Promotion of Rotary

This project made the students, the schools, non-profit organizations and multinational companies aware of the community services provided by a Rotary club. The Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West, being the organizer, will receive recognition from various means. Students who attended will put this event on their websites and the educators, teachers and headmasters attending this forum all gave us very positive feedback and have agreed to let their schools be participants of similar events organized by Rotary in the future. This will in turn help rejuvenate Rotary's membership in the long run by attracting more young people to identify with Rotary at an early age.


XIII. Conclusion

Young people are not only the engine to drive Hong Kong's future; they are Hong Kong's future. Understanding their needs and respecting their views can better equip Hong Kong's future generation and thus Hong Kong to face up to the challenges of today's competitive global economy as well as making a more harmonized environment for all of us to live in. Having that in mind, the Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West organized this Youth Forum to provide educators, Rotarians, students and leaders of our community an avenue to better understand of each other as well as to share their experience and thoughts. We have received very positive feedback from all parties that had attended the forum, which has served to recognize Rotary's continued contribution to Hong Kong and its future. Our Club intends to make this an annual event that involves all schools, universities, Rotaract and Interact Clubs so that more people can benefit from this experience and share in Rotary's vision. Through this event, we hope to promote Rotary's image as a progressive and caring voluntary organization to Hong Kong's future generation.


IX. Photos

Community Service Director Alex Au gave an opening speech at the Youth Forum. President Ernest Chiu gave a brief introduction about Rotary International and our Club at the Youth Forum.
Mr. Bernard YeeRegional Managing Director, AT&T Asia Pacific Group Limited, talked about "Preparing oneself for the 21st Century" at the Youth Forum.
Mr. Jerry Chang, Director, Barons & Company, talked about "Hot jobs for the future and the skills set needed to acquire them" at the Youth Forum.
The Youth Forum was well attended by teachers and students from 15 schools, Rotarians and guests.

President Ernest Chiu, Community Service Director Alex Au, Vice President Joe Lu (far right), Mr. Bernard Yee and the winners of the Youth Forum - Diana Chung of St. Stepen's College (third from left),Brian Chan and Wilson Shum of Wah Yan College and Catherine Leung of DGS.

© Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West