CAS Week 2018

Renaissance College

Author: Mandy (page 1 of 10)

Leaving Luang Prabang (day 7)

This morning, we started at 5:30AM with giving alms to the monks. We all sat in a row on the side of the street with a bucket of sticky rice and we waited for the monks arrive. When they came in line, we quickly pulled out small balls of rice for distribution – there were monks from five temples in total. From our seats, we could see monks of different age groups- they range from teenagers to men in their sixties.

We later learnt from the tour guide that there are three types of monks in Laos: firstly, every boy must enter the temple when they are young, and they can choose to stay and serve in the temple for a period ranging from 3 months to 10 years. Secondly, when a family member passes away, the family must choose another member to serve in the temple after the memorial. Thirdly, some would choose to become permanent monks, and they would stay in their temples forever, studying Buddhist wisdoms and books. These monks could never get married, but they can still contact their parents and family. All the monks have sacrifices to their lives- they are restricted to certain activities, and they are only allowed two meals a day.

After arriving at Bangkok, we went to collect our bags and checked in again. Then we walked back to the gate where we all sat down to share and reflect on feelings about this trip. While reflecting on the trip, we all felt that this was a really great experience and we are very lucky to be living in a comfortable environment in Hong Kong. Also, we shared some ideas on what we felt about the community, where we compared it with Hong Kong; the people in Laos were really friendly and they are willing to be helping people out no matter what, but most of the people in Hong Kong would be counting on how much they would receive rather than how much they would give. Overall this trip is a great opportunity for us to see how lucky we are and to cherish the things we have now.

Bloggers: Spring Cheng and Mimi Chung

Shoelasting (day 4)

In the 4th day of CAS week, since we have already finished the sowing
of the different parts together on each respective shoe (although mine
was a bit simple containing 2 pieces for each foot) we started
preparing the shoe for lasting to start giving it the shape of a
traditional shoe. Although since my shoe had some parts that needed
holes for the shoelace, I also needed to use a particular tool (I
forgot the name) to punch a hole through the leather pattern fit for a
shoelace. (right now I’m not sure if it’s big enough for my laces but
we will see) We used contact adhesive to stick an extra piece of hard
leather to put under the leather pattern of the show to give it a more
rigid structure near the end of the shoe. Then we started shoe lasting
by placing down a point at the back of the shoe last and alining the
back of the leather outer where we sew together the pieces of leather
and hammering in a nail in between the seem to hold it in place. We
then stretch and pull the leather from the shoe from the top, and the
widest point hand hammer in nails when it takes the shape of the shoe.
we then start lasting some more in between the 3 nails folding and
stretching the leather keeping it moist to help with it. Afterwards,
we bend the nail inwards to the shoe and hammer down the sides to
further enforce the shape. Overall, today was the hardest of them all
taking most hand strength and because of that, my hands are stiff and
nails are hurting and very very tired. Tomorrow should be the last
day when we finally finish the shoe up. Jeff and Kit were a great help
in teaching us and helping us judging where the shoe was messing up

Chau-yin Yick

Shoe designing (day 3)

After the initial planning phase, the real challenge begins as we turn from the drawing board into making and producing. All of us are beginners and never had any experience in making shoes, a short tutorial was necessary. Kit and Jeff kindly taught us how to sew fabric together using various tools and methods. After the tutorial, we started with gathering materials around the workshop to make what will become the upper part of the shoe. Using the paper patterns we drew on the first day, we had to trace and cut out the proper size and shape to make up the shoe.

We were then introduced to a set of tools which helped us in putting the parts together. All of us have to mark out the areas we had to sew into. Some of us also designed shoes with laces requiring tools which were able to make holes in. Some even had to use glue to make the fabric support stronger.

Putting the parts together to form the shape for the shoe wasn’t an easy feat. Requires a lot of careful pinpointing and strength but overall a good learning experience and to really see how much effort is required to make a pair of shoes.

Andrew Chang

Second last day (day 6)

We woke relatively late this morning, which was then followed by a good breakfast. We then set off to the Royal Palace Museum of Luang Prabang, where we visited a temple, allowing us to comprehend the religion culture of the locals in Laos. We also visited the King’s house which was huge, which further allowed us to know about the system in Laos in the past. After that, we went up a long flight of stairs where we witnessed one of the best sceneries of Luang Prabang. All of us took a couple of photos before heading back to the hotel to get ready for a swim in the waterfall. We took an hour ride to the waterfall park, where we had lunch with a spectacular view. After taking a rest, we took a 10-minute walk to the waterfall. We went for a swim after changing our clothes. Despite the freezing water, we enjoyed ourselves and had a good bonding time with the others. We then changed our clothes and headed back to the hotel. We were given free time to enjoy our last dinner and walked around the places nearby the hotel such as the night market where we bought some souvenirs and enjoyed the cultural vibes. Some of us went to get a massage to relieve the stress and get ready to go back to school on Monday.

By: Helen Choi, Jody Ho and Hoi Ming Kee

An emotional goodbye

The sound of my morning alarm signified the start of the day that we all dreaded: the day we go back to Hong Kong.

Today was a rather busy day. Waking up at 5:30 in the morning was something I definitely hope I’d never experience again. After embodying the alarm clock and barging into others’ rooms, we found ourselves once again on the Karaoke Tuk-Tuk, which overhyped what was essentially a green tuk-tuk with a made-in-China Bluetooth speaker.

Shortly after arriving at the monk’s monkastery, the sound of a big “snort” directed us towards the location of a gigantic buddhist pig, as well as four monks dressed in orange walking towards us. They came over and we gave them some rice, afterwards, they gave us a blessing. Later, our good friend Hong Lee introduced us to the lives of buddhist monks in Cambodia.

After our long overdue breakfast, we went back to our room to change into more comfy clothing and chilled. Most of us took a nap and packed our bags for the airport.

Under the immense heat, we visited our last temple of the trip, Banteay Kdei. It was a short visit which consisted of a small trek to the end of the temple and back. Next up was a dance, we all performed an Apsara dance as well as Go-Go Wonderful under the shade of a tree. Afterwards, us guys performed an entertaining rendition of I Want it that Way by the Backstreet Boys.

The most important time of the day was a time where we stood in a circle and reflected on our experiences over the past week. We shared what we thought rocked the most, what would stick with us after the trip, and give a compliment to one other person. This time allowed us to really appreciate one another and thank other people for the work they’ve done over the week. We felt that this gave us the opportunity to compliment other people that we don’t know, which could allow us to better know each other.

The trip to the airport was our last tuk-tuk ride and after a picture with the Karaoke driver, tears were shed as we said our goodbyes to our heroes in green and went to say goodbye to our tour guides. Saying goodbye to our tour guides was one of the most difficult things to do, especially when our entire group bonded over the service and the explorations.

The tour guides were such a core part of what made our CAS experience so wonderful, insightful, enlightening, and most importantly, enjoyable. As Ms. Colarossi said, these guides didn’t need to put so much effort into making this trip fun, they weren’t obligated to devote themselves so much, to be so enthusiastic.

Yet they did, and it was because they put more than what was expected from them that made this trip an experience we could never forget. This was why it was so heart-wrenching to say goodbye to them, but I made up for my lack of meaningful verbal language with a lot of hugs and photos.

This week was a long week, but it sure was meaningful. We learnt that the qualities of being a good human aren’t just being smart in school, it was about respecting others, devoting your time to help others. It isn’t just about you and those around you, but it’s about proactively going out there, to offer your assistance to those who really need it. Not some school project who’s due date we neglected but helping others where they really need it, be it a house, or fundamental English.

This trip was an eye-opening experience that taught us to pay more attention to the world around us, to not shelter ourselves in this cocoon where we are safe when others need our help. This trip taught us how to appreciate the things we are given, and not ask for more when we don’t need more.

This trip was absolutely unforgettable. We would like to thank all of the people that helped make this CAS trip possible: the teachers, the tour guides, the tuk-tuk drivers, HUSK, and finally, the students!

This trip taught us how to be human, and in that sense, taught us the best lesson possible.

Thomas and Clarence

Final Day

Today marks the end of the Bali CAS trip 2018. The day started with an optional early morning surf, which a majority of the group took part in. Surfing at 7:30 in the morning made for a very refreshing start to the day!

After surfing, it was time for a final pack and room check, then off to the airport.

We arrived back to Hong Kong and were treated to one final experience; seeing the flight deck of our plane!

Needless to say, this trip has been rewarding, challenging and fun! From working alongside factory workers, teaching primary students, engaging with the local community and surfing, we pushed ourselves to try new things and reach new limits.

As a teacher leader of this group, I’d just like to say a huge thank you and congratulations to this group! Your mentality is best summed up by this quote written by Michael and Jasmine, “trial is the only way to discovery; those who never try will never know what they can do.”

Thanks for an amazing trip everyone and look out for Bali 2019 led by the ever wonderful Mr. Lee Burns!

Written by: Ms. Leung

On Day 5

We had our last day at the Nesbitt center. In order to have a full understanding of the center’s functionality, Michelle took the three of us on a trip to the social enterprises that the low support members take part in running. We first headed to a coffee shop by the name of The Nest at St. John’s Cathedral. It was a small and quaint little store and the daughter of the Nesbitt Center’s founder was working there. She was very talkative and was very willing to engage her customers into idle chat as they waited for their coffee, and greeted us all as we walked into the store. Although it was just a short visit, the atmosphere of the cafe was both calming and endearing, a place that we would visit again if we could. Then we headed towards the pier to Cafe 8, a restaurant also run by the members above the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. After settling down for a drink and a quick snack, we heard an interesting story about one of the members from Michelle. A female member who was dating another member broke up with him by sending him a photo with her new boyfriend! Her story even extends to a point where she was apparently “engaged” with another member who was about to move to Australia. The way that the members continue to enjoy their life with their learning disabilities showcases a person’s need for community and place where they can trust and feel accepted.

After the tour of the social enterprises, we spent our last afternoon back at the center. We took part in a drumming session where members were allowed to play the drums while singing and making loud noise. A few of the members preferred to sit by the side and listen, but the excitement in the room was overflowing. They all couldn’t wait to rush to the center and have their turn in performing solo, and some of their moves was quite a funny sight. It was interesting to see one of the members, Liam, who usually sits by the side stoic and still actually bobbing his head and waving his arms to the sounds with a smile on his face.

Most likely because people with learning disabilities are limited in their capacity to form ideas and express themselves verbally, they tend to communicate more through their bodily gestures and simple words or actions of happiness or anger. From this we can see the importance of interactive and sensory activities for the members, as it allows them to express their suppressed emotions in ways that they couldn’t before. Although we had a laugh during the drumming session, the elation in the eyes of some of the members in such a simple activity couldn’t be ignored. After this experience at the Nesbitt Center, the three of us sincerely hope that one day the world can be both a safe and accepting place for all those with learning disabilities.

By: Fideron, Hilary, Isaia

On Day 4

Around 10 of the members present went on an outing to the Kowloon Wall City park. All three of us travelled with the group to the park to supervise and walk with members. The walk was slow and relaxing as we strolled in the cool breeze, for some, this was the highlight. We saw members Kim and Debra holding hands walking along, so it was only natural for the “ships” to sail. But for Jeffrey, a member, his focus was on the “Siu Mai” snack he was promised by a Nesbitt teacher. All through the walk, lunch and ice cream dessert, he chanted “siu mai” ceaselessly, diligently reminding the supervisors of his demands. When the facilitator finally ordered the food he was promised, he finally fell silent. This was a great day for Jeffery, after lunch teachers at the Nesbitt center even purchased a toy for him!

Although members behaved when in the mall, they caught the eyes of other shoppers. At many occasions Jeffery would loudly yell in the restaurant. We weren’t able to calm him down and so decided to keep him occupied so he wouldn’t do so. He ate like a kid. After served food, he devoured his fish cutlet, leaving only rice and curry for the rest of the meal. He also asked for Coca Cola despite ordering lemon tea! When we got back to the Nesbitt Center, Jeffery was rewarded a KitKat for his good behaviour. This highlights the many similarities between adults with learning disabilities and children. They are driven by the same incentives, share the same food preferences and must also be distracted to control their behaviour. Caring for a child is a task known to be difficult. Hence it is hard to imagine the challenge which parents of these children face.

By: Fideron, Hilary, Isaia

On Day 3

I (Hilary) travelled to the residential area at Wan Chai with a mixed group of male and female members to participate in a session on life skills while Fideron and Isaia stayed at the center. For the session the members were asked to prepare and bake a pasta dish with cheese, sausages and bacon. As many of the members understood instructions and were fully functional, they were only guided by simple instructions and were asked to fetch materials and assemble the dish on their own. There were many activities focused on helping the members to remember the tools and ingredients used, and visual and tactile learning techniques such as matching photo cards to the actual items helped to enforce the ideas.

There were a total of 7 members and 3 staff including myself, and I assisted in helping the members who required a larger amount of help to complete their tasks. It was interesting to see the varying degrees of severity in the learning disabilities of the members, where one member could fully converse while another could only use sign language. However it is important to note that their disabilities do not impact their ability to interpret or understand things whatsoever as long as you communicate to them in a way that they can understand.

I mostly worked with two of the members, Jeffrey and Adam, and assisted them in preparing the ingredients. And while working with these members for the day, I learned that by observing the behavior of the members closely, you can begin to understand how different members react to different stimuli and help to calm them down. For example throughout the preparation process, Jeffrey was constantly asking to head to the toilet, and continued to repeat his demands whenever he lost his focus. The demands grow in intensity when he’s left alone and can sometimes escalate into him shouting loudly all of a sudden. From my observations, Jeffrey is definitely calmer when he has something to concentrate on and thus I constantly prepared things for him to do. From helping him with cutting up the bacon to asking him to help wash the dishes, he started to calm down throughout the session and was well behaved for the rest of the process.

The two staff members I worked with were also very inspirational. They had an unending amount of patience for he members and when members misbehave, they were able to be both forceful and gentle at the same time, careful to avoid scaring the members but still staying in control. They’ve also got the body language and behavior of the members down to perfection, giving a quick massage to a member who they noticed was shaking their hand at a faster pace than usual (a sign of working himself to a fit, they had explained to me after) all while continuing to assist the other members and cook the pasta. The way that the staff members can so visible calm down the members and stay in control is very dependent on their emotional awareness and ability to communicate is something that I have learned from this experience and hope to implement myself in the following days. My day at the residential area with the members was both relaxing and enjoyable, and is a worthwhile experience that I look forward to doing again.

By: Hilary

On Day 2

Isaia and I (Fideron) travelled to Wan Chai with the high support group for a session of residential education and sensory baking, whilst Hilary stayed at the Nesbitt Centre. During the residential session, the group was guided in baking a loaf of “chocolate marble bread”. Members were encouraged and assisted to touch, smell and listen to each ingredient, serving as a “sensory experience” for members, to initiate a more expansive understanding as to how they can utilise their senses to identify specific things. They were also challenged with the task of differentiating between pictures of different ingredients as a way for them to learn how to recognize ingredients. It was clear that even within this group, there are large differences in cognitive and ability. In my view, this is a big challenge for planning classes for members as each require highly individualized learning and care.

One member was unable to verbally nor communicate through sign. His method of expression was by “vibrating” his leg through rapid muscle contractions. Intuitively, I would’ve judge this person to be unable to communicate. However it was surprising when instructors asked him yes/no questions, telling him to vibrate his leg as an answer. This makes me wonder to what extent are the apparently uncommunicative, in fact perceptive and communicative, and if their “strange” actions are in fact with intention.

As this is the second day, I have gotten more accustomed to the “random” loud sounds which members make. It is also quite apparent that their behaviour is quite childlike. You can speak to them as if any other, but you must just learn to respond to other responses.

In the end, with heavy guidance the group successfully baked the cake. It was quite presentable! The loaf had risen properly, and the cross section showed the intended “marble” pattern of chocolate and butter flavored bread. The challenges posed to the lower support members by basic life activities became more apparent to me through observing this activity. This allows me personally to be more empathetic and to better understand those with learning disabilities. In all, the day was slow paced and enjoyable, a stark contrast to our school days.

By: Fideron

On Day 1

I (Isaia) was gifted with the opportunity of joining the Nesbitt Centre during the Prestige Fair in the Conrad Hotel in Pacific Place. The Prestige Fair was a way for me to discover the latest best of jewellery, fashion, accessories, gourmet food, homewares, children’s products – while selling Nesbitt’s own homemade products created by the members in it. As the Prestige Fair started at 10 in the morning and ended at 8 in the evening, I stumbled upon the challenge of continuously selling our products to passers-by and other custumers for that long amount of time. It truly was an experience that I have not encountered in a long time. Regardless, I found so much joy in advertising the products alongside the fellow members of Nesbitt whom I’ve become very close with. Altogether, we counted on each others’ backs to be able to eloquently sell the products to the customers, to which I thought was a challenge for the members as well as they have a hard time with communicating their ideas. Because of this, I took the initiative to help them out and get their words by giving them confidence in what they say. I thought that this was a great access of practicing my communication and verbal skills, and to be able to persuade people to buy our products. All in all, I was so happy to find out that we sold more than $3000’s worth of products by the end of the night and I was extremely proud (and exhausted).

By: Isaia

Saying goodbye (day 5)

Today was the day that we left the village. We woke up early for breakfast before participating in a farewell ritual with the local villagers. We sat around a steel plate that had different kinds of food. The villagers said their thanks to us for coming along to their village before starting the ritual

The ritual consisted of us being given a bowl of food from the steel plate and a cup of Pepsi, then the villagers wrapped our wrists with different strands of string to show gratitude and good luck moving forward.

We then took a relaxing 2 hour truck ride, including a quick stop to say goodbye to some Laotian girls that caught an interest to some members of our group, to another local town where we swapped to a boat ride. We stopped by a series of caves filed with Buddhist statues before setting sail for another small town that sold handmade paper and handmade buddha statues. After a quick shop around, we went back to our comfortable hotel

Once we got back, we spent some time cleaning and fixing up before heading to a nearby local BBQ restaurant. We ended off the night with some free time where some people decided to walk the night market again and some decided to go back to the hotel.

Overall, it was an experience to remember, the truck ride was relaxing and the boat ride was amazing. The BBQ dinner could have been better but it was good enough.

Writers: Anson Ng and Wilton Chik

Unforgettable experience (day 5)

Yesterday, after adding a second layer of gold paint to all the surfaces of the glove, I dried it using a hairdryer. I then used silver and brown paint to add shading and highlights to give the gauntlet a more metallic look. Afterwards, I poked holes in the EVA and glued the gems to the gauntlet using contact adhesive. Today, I coated the gauntlet using glossy spray lacquer to make the whole prop shiny. As my prop was now finished, Professor Blackwell taught me some other new skills. I learned how to weld and cut metal, which was very fun. I also learned to use a lathe and made a vase out of styrofoam. During this week, I have learned a lot from the staff at HKAPA. They were very helpful in teaching me different prop design techniques and guided me in overcoming any challenges I faced. This has been an excellent and unforgettable experience for me.


yan Ng

Special Olympics Sports Day (Day 5)

Today all the students went out to the special olympics sports day, a public event including mentally disabled kids and even adults. They played multiple simplified games and sports (bowling, football, basketball, even had a bouncy castle) all the students were assigned 1 on 1 with either a family member who came today, or one of the EA’s. They all enjoyed the events and behaved well, though they did run off a few times due to excitement. This was a very rewarding experience that taught us to be more patient and empathetic with others, allowing us an inside perspective on how mentally disabled children learn and develop. We really wish we could’ve stayed for longer as we had to leave just as we had bonded with the children. I hope we can go visit again!

Jessica and Annika

Bidding farewell to Siem Reap (day 7)

On the last full day of our CAS trip, we started the day like most of the other days on the trip. We woke up at 7:00, ate breakfast at 7:15, and finally left on our convoy of tuk tuks at 7:50. However, despite our indifferent morning routine, we had a variety of new activities to look forward to.

Immediately after leaving the hotel, we travelled to the ancient and legendary Angkor Wat Temple – one of the biggest religious monuments in the world. Led by one of the first English speaking tour guides for the temple, we had a mini-history lesson on the significance of the temple. We admired the many carvings on the ancient stone walls, and was left curious about the many spectular architectural designs. After taking several photos inside and outside the temple, we left to go to the Bayon temple, another iconic located within the Angkor Thom area.

After finishing our tours of Bayon at around 11, we went back to the Phare Circus area for lunch, and to meet with our Great Race Team, before the race began. In the race we had to complete tasks like counting from 1 to 10 in Khmer, learning some Apsara dance moves, “paving” a road, completing a quiz on Cambodian culture and history, completing puzzles, and even eating bugs. Despite the variety of challenges, with the promise of a cash prize, all students were eager to win.

The race was challenging in many ways and pushed all of us out of our comfort zones. We had to work with different people, whom we had rarely worked with before. We would also have to navigate through the city completely by our self, and would have to speak Khmer when directing our selected tuk tuk drivers. Some students exceeded in some challenges – like the Apsara dance – while others struggled in the same activities.

Ending the race with a puzzle in the Phare circus area, “The Colarossi Rouge” – consisting of Charmaine, Zinei, Clarence, Kunal, Daphne and obviously chaperoned by Ms. Colarossi – were identified as the winners. When receiving the cash prize, a twist was revealed and the money won would be donated to help local Cambodian people in some way. In the end, the Colarossi Rouge decided to use their cash prize to provide solar lighting for local villagers.

After we concluded the race we met up with our local tour guide for the temple and set towards the Batneay Kdel Temple to view the famous sunset. Upon arrival there we were given a brief history of the temple. We learnt that the temple signifies cremation as at the base there was a large cremation hole to burn the body. Soon after we were given the opportunity to explore the site ourselves. Most of us headed towards the top to view the sunset. The sight was amazing and was every bit as good as people spoke it to be.

Dinner was a blast too as we rolled up to our dinner spot, with some of us screaming “Baby” by Justin Bieber at the top of our lungs. For dinner we had a large variety of BBQ dishes to choose from ranging from salad to spiced beef to the traditional hot dogs. We wrapped up dinner with a fun award ceremony activity where the teacher would first announce the award then act out the person who won it for us to guess.

Overall, The last full day here in Cambodia has been unforgettable for almost everyone. With one of our local guides – Wandi – leaving for his sister’s wedding tomorrow many students and teachers bidded farewell to him for the last time with great sadness.

By Kunal Dadlani

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