HKUST Wu Zhi Qiao Team Awarded Gold Award for Volunteer Service
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Wu Zhi Qiao Team helps improve the lives of underprivileged villagers in remote areas of Mainland China by initiating and implementing footbridge construction projects. Their contribution of over 1,000 hours of community service in 2019 was recognized by a Gold Award for Volunteer Service (Group) from the Social Welfare Department of the Hong Kong government.
The team took part in a Wu Zhi Qiao (Bridge to China) Charitable Foundation project in Guangxi Zhongting Village in 2019, in partnership with Chongqing Jiaotong University and Zhejiang University. In the project, the team constructed a pedestrian truss bridge and an incinerator, and carried out various repair works and community engagement activities. Their work included the engineering, procurement, construction, administration, and operation processes of the project.
One memorable episode for the team was the construction of the incinerator. Situated nearly four hours away from the closest city center, the Zhongting Village had an immense need for a better waste management system. Hence, the team designed, engineered and constructed a simple incinerator from scratch. One major challenge was the lack of large machinery to assist the construction, so they had to use simple methods and tools with basic materials such as wood to cast the cement and bricks to build the incinerator.
Their efforts paid off when they received much positive feedback on the project from the villagers, and most importantly, they were able to connect with the villagers and students from other universities to build stronger bonds and foster cultural exchanges. “The mission of the HKUST Wu Zhi Qiao Team is beyond constructing physical bridges alone and we also aim to build spiritual bridges with our volunteers and the local villagers. Hence we engaged with the villagers in various ways to build these relationships,” said LAM Yuk-Chak, a Year 3 student of BBA in Global Business and Operations Management and one of the leaders in the team.
“It is very encouraging to see the students’ commitment to making a difference to the rural villages. They gained practical experiences of working on a sustainable initiative with people of different backgrounds as well as insights into the local community and culture. All these are valuable experiences that enable them to develop as future leaders,” said Prof. ZHANG Limin, who advises the HKUST Wu Zhi Qiao Team with Prof. Ben CHAN. Both of them are from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The team is made up of 14 undergraduates in different disciplines from the Schools of Engineering, Business & Management, Humanities & Social Science, and the Interdisciplinary Programs Office.
While the team was not involved in any major projects or work in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are now preparing for a new project this year in Gansu. They look forward to building the bridge and have already received favorable response from the villagers in anticipation of the bridge, which is set to greatly improve their commute between shores.