To Care, to Serve, and to Change Lives
Being sensitive to current social affairs and the underprivileged, Chong Yim-ping has always been enthusiastic in serving the society. The Social Work programme at CUHK was clearly Yim-ping’s first choice when she was choosing her major four years ago.
The Social Work programme at CUHK, established in 1964, is the professional social work course with longest history in Hong Kong. The Programme strives to nurture passionate youths who care about social justice and the needs of the disadvantaged.
Upon graduation, students are eligible to be registered as social workers under the Social Workers Registration Ordinance.
What impressed Yim-ping the most was the quality training that the Programme provided. ‘The training was comprehensive—it encompasses social science knowledge, social work theories, and the skills needed to analyze social phenomena,’ she said, ‘With the professional training from the Social Work programme, we firmly believe that we are well-equipped to take up positions in social welfare or other related fields after graduation.’
The academic performance and career prospects of students are not the Programme’s only concerns. The Department also cares about students’ personal growth. In addition to ordinary lectures, students can also participate in seminars, group discussions and role playing activities. The curriculum requires the students to finish supervised practicum in field agencies so as to integrate classroom learning with practice. Other than local training, exchange programmes and non-local placement opportunities in Canada, Singapore, Taiwan and mainland China are available to the students as well, helping them to gain insight into social welfare issues at the global level.
“‘Friends from other departments always asked me, ‘How could your professors be so close with students?’” said Yim-ping, ‘Our teachers, 31 in total, always welcome students to talk to them, inside and outside classroom. The dialogues were inspiring—both academically and non-academically.’
To Yim-ping, a close relationship is not limited to her teachers; it extends to her classmates as well. ‘We formed study groups, and supported each other during tough periods such as final examinations and placement. Other than academic exchanges, we also share many lovely memories together, like celebrating Christmas and organizing orientation camps. Classmates or even senior students are like siblings to me in this programme.’
Prof. Steven Ngai, Chairperson of Department of Social Work, attributed the harmony in the Programme to the networks they have put so much effort to build. He explained that each freshman will be assigned a teacher as his/her academic advisor, and students with the same advisor will take a course entitled ‘Student-oriented Teaching’ together in Year 1. In the course, students are given opportunity to have in-depth reflection on their personal growth, passion in studying social work, and adjustment to university studies.
Also, the Social Work Student Society established a ‘family system’ in which each freshman is partnered with a senior fellow. Having trustful relationships with senior students, the freshmen can tune in and enjoy their university life as soon as possible. Furthermore, the Social Work Alumni Association organizes Mentorship Programme every year. Alumni who are leaders in social work profession would be the mentors to enhance the students’ understanding of the career of a social worker. The solid and extensive network across students, teachers and alumni enable students to make the most out of their undergraduate years.
After spending four years in the Programme, Yim-ping has gained more knowledge and confidence. ‘I could understand myself a lot better than before,’ she recalled, ‘Through growing with my peers, getting assistance from my teachers and benefitting from the well-designed curriculum, I have become a more mature, confident and passionate person. I have a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, and I am ready to assist the disadvantaged in no time.’
Like most of the graduates, Yim-ping is aiming to work as a social worker or in social welfare field upon graduation. Professor Ngai added, ‘A number of them are educators and researchers in universities. Others may also work successfully in other non-social work sectors. Their contributions are often highly regarded by the community.’
Professor Ngai also reminded students that as long as they are committed to serving people and the community, what they studied in secondary school is not of big concern to the Programme. Professor Ngai assured, “Some applicants may worry that they might not have the ability to serve the disadvantaged groups or make positive changes to the society. However, as the old adage goes, ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow’. We are confident that our social work programme will prepare our students to develop into competent social workers who embrace humanistic values and passions for serving, and strive for social justice and the well-being of people in the society.”
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018