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Students’ Story

Jan 05 2021

2020 Outstanding Students Awards

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) presented The Outstanding Students Awards to 138 students, including 5 of “The Most Outstanding Star” awards, to honour their outstanding attainments apart from academic excellence, their contributions to the community, and having the courage to face challenges.

Introduced in 2018, the CUHK Outstanding Student Awards were classified into five categories, namely Innovation and Invention, Sports, Arts, Social Service, and Special Achievement. Qualified students should demonstrate excellent achievements, qualities and traits in one of these areas. Eligible applications were through self-nomination or nomination by Faculties, Colleges or relevant units. The awards aim to recognise the students’ significant contributions and their continual positive impact on the CUHK community and society. They carry the expectation that the award recipients will lead by example, and inspire their peers to higher characteristics such as an optimistic mind-set and never turning away from challenges and difficulties. The awardees will present their inspirational stories and personal experience to their fellow students, encouraging them to pursue their own targets.

Disabled people can be independent learners and illuminate the path for others

Chan Wai Man, Michael, a third-year student of the Department of Government and Public Administration, who is one of the winners in the Social Service category and also “The Most Outstanding Star” this year. He suffered from brain cancer, which caused a loss of vision in 80 to 90% of his right eye and deafness in his right ear. Never giving up, Michael not only overcomes the physical obstacles, but also helps other disabled people with his own experience. After entering CUHK, he joined “uShine”, a student programme of the Office of Student Affairs that cares about people with disabilities. He offered assistance in organising the event “Seeing with your heart – A Journey of Darkness”, which allowed students with normal vision to experience the feeling of blindness without light perception.

Receiving funding from the Dreaming Through Chung Chi Scheme, Michael and his schoolmates organised a student-led organisation named “Companion HK” to promote mental health. They interviewed some individuals with mental illness and professionals in the field to produce a series of videos to improve public awareness, and reduce their stereotyped views of those with mental illness and the stigma on them. He said, “For people with mental illness, a short greeting is very helpful. For people with physical disabilities, like me with deafness in the right ear, standing on my left side to speak is a kind of care.”

Establishing the social enterprise “StoryTaler” to reduce stigmatisation of mental illness

Li Chiu Ming, Amanda, a PhD student of the Department of Psychology and also an awardee in the Social Service category, was recognised as “The Most Outstanding Star”. With concern about the public’s misunderstandings of mental illness, and that people with mental illness were encountering inequality, “StoryTaler” was founded in 2015 by Amanda who was pursuing a master’s degree in clinical psychology at CUHK, and her advisor, Professor Mak Wing Sze, Winnie. They joined together with members who have lived experience of mental illness to share stories and psychoeducation about mental health, to raise the public’s awareness of this topic.

The team received funding from CUHK to turn “StoryTaler” into a social enterprise in 2019, promoting mental health and anti-stigmatisation through social media platforms, public exhibitions, and workshops. Members of StoryTaler also wrote a book named “成為彼此的聆聽者” (becoming listeners for each other) that brings out the importance of listening and accompanying. Amanda said, “I hope that our work can reduce the public stigma of mental illness, while letting everyone know that mental health is not only a matter of an individual but the entire society. Social justice, freedom, and diversity are the keys to enjoying mental health.”

Young people in Tin Shui Wai can change their lives by learning music

Chan Kwan Ming, Kessay, a fresh graduate of the Department of Music, is the winner of the Art category and “The Most Outstanding Star” award. He started learning a cappella when he was in secondary school. He participated in the “Acappella Championship” held in Singapore and won the championships of the Loopstation category for two consecutive years, and his Acappella team was invited to and performed in governmental exchange events in Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and the Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco. He was also selected as one of the “10 Youth Artists in Hong Kong 2019”. Owing to his musical achievements, Kessay won the “Multi-faceted Excellence Scholarship” from the Home Affairs Bureau which enabled him to enter the Department of Music at CUHK.

Growing up in Tin Shui Wai, which has been dubbed as the “City of Sorrow”, Kessay is full of affection for this community. With the hope of letting the public know the vibrant side of that town, he made use of his abilities in music and videography to produce a 45-minute documentary about the stories of young people learning a cappella in Tin Shui Wai. The project was funded by the Dreaming Through Chung Chi Scheme. He said, “Since there is no need to buy any musical instruments, the entry barrier for learning a cappella is low and it is very suitable for promoting to the disadvantaged communities in Tin Shui Wai.” He hopes to provide grassroots students with more opportunities to learn music in the future. He just won the “CUSE Fund” in 2020 to carry out an a cappella education programme “Train the Singer” in Tin Shui Wai and the outlying islands in Hong Kong.

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