Spreading kindness: RCHK volunteers celebrate Chinese New Year with the elderly
Written By Zoe Ying
On January 19th 2019, a group of RCHK volunteers went to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Association Wu Kai Sha centre to do an act of service for the elderly in the community. Students and teachers helped them create Chinese New Year-themed decorations and also provided entertainment as well as refreshments and gifts.
There was a bit of tension when setting up for the event, but as soon as the elderly residents arrived RCHK students relaxed into their role: to give these people - who had shaped Hong Kong as it is today - a good experience and hopefully a lasting, fond memory.
When everyone was seated the first activity began - Chinese lantern-making. A simple design was chosen, but as it turned out, the elders surprised us by showing off their arts and craft skills, having picked up the design quickly and innovating on it using lai see packets and gold-foil paper. Lynne Wilson, RCHK CAS coordinator, also demonstrated another lantern design she had found, a circular one resembling a wreath (to hang on doors!) and it was an immediate hit, many clamouring around to make one of their own. By the time this activity was finished, all the tables were clustered with various different types of lanterns waiting to be hung on balconies and doors in homes around Wu Kai Sha.
Next, to go with the theme, organisers had planned to make lucky fish from origami paper, which could symbolise prosperity (as the two Chinese characters sound similar).
“Oh, this folding paper art is from Japan.” One lady was heard telling her friend in Cantonese. “It’s really difficult, all folding, no scissors.”
She was right.
It appeared easy when demonstrated up at the front of the hall, but as everyone discovered when attempting it, it was frustratingly complicated and resulted in many pieces of paper crisscrossed with lines from failed attempts. The three girls who had demonstrated the idea originally worked tirelessly to spread their teaching to others, having to respond to practically everyone thrusting their half-finished products at them and asking for the next step. Somehow, everyone got it to work, though, and in the end proudly showed off their new origami lucky fish to their friends and family.
Afterwards, to cool down, RCHK students made tea for everybody. Both English and Chinese teas had been brought, but clearly the Chinese one was preferred, for obvious reasons. There were also fruits - strawberries, grapes, and tangerines (for the new year) - and butter cookies.
One of the high points of the event was the entertainment when all were taken down memory lane to revisit some Chinese favourites. These included classics such as 獅子山下 (Under Lion Rock Mountain) by Roman Tam, sometimes considered as Hong Kong’s unofficial anthem, and more light-hearted pop by Teresa Teng (‘甜蜜蜜’，‘月亮代表我的心’). A saxophone was even brought out at some point for a solo, to great applause by all. One lady took it upon herself to sing a couple of ditties for us, while her friend behind her danced and pointed and made faces, amusing all of us. Guest and visitors alike realised that they shared the same sense of humor and excitement despite the difference in ages, and the activities had definitely offered all some respite from stress and worries.
After the entertainment, further refreshments were brought out - something authentically Hongkongese and traditional: egg tarts. Six boxes of twelve piping hot tarts were bought at the local bakery: more than enough to go around, everyone grabbed one and tucked in. This was a great way to end the day and wrap up the whole event, and right at the end, gift bags were presented containing yet more foods, as well as cards made by James Schulz’s Year 2 class.
When asked about the day’s service, RCHK teacher, Siuling Woolcott-Brown replied; “It was a really great experience, really enjoyable for all of us. All the elderlies and the volunteers had a great time and all the volunteers worked hard to make it a great experience. Overall, I’m really proud of what we did today.”
“Very good!” one elder remarked in broken English, offering the RCHK visitors a wide smile and a thumbs-up to the volunteers as she left the venue.