Community Outreach: How a Group of 12 Students Hosted a Virtual Community Event for Domestic Helpers During COVID-19

Community Outreach: How a Group of 12 Students Hosted a Virtual Community Event for Domestic Helpers During COVID-19

Domestic Workers’ Open Day looked a little different this year

33 minute read | March 19, 2021

Domestic Workers’ Open Day looked a little different this year

Did you know that we have almost half a million domestic helpers in Hong Kong? Domestic helpers are an important but often an overlooked part of Hong Kong families and society. To express gratitude to the helpers in our lives, a team of ICS students partnered with the Service Learning department to organize a Domestic Worker’s Open Day. High school students have been leading the Open Day out of their desire to serve those in need since 2015.

Overcoming Obstacles During the COVID Season

Organizing an event for domestic helpers is not without its obstacles. What used to be a day of singing, dancing, and other festivities had to be reimagined during the COVID season. The students on the planning committee had to step up to the challenges of running an event with rapidly changing rules and regulations. Starting in August of 2020, the planning committee had two arrangements for how the Open Day would unfold: a business-as-usual event and a contingency plan. If social distancing restrictions lift, helpers could be invited on-campus for face-to-face activities. However, if social distancing measures were still in place, the event would be held online. 

By October 2020, it was unlikely that COVID restrictions would lift, so the group of students chose to do an online format. They quickly formed three smaller groups to implement a series of activities: an appreciation campaign, a clothing drive, and Facebook posts to engage domestic workers online. The planning committee enlisted other ICS students’ help to film a fun video or take pictures to express gratitude towards their helpers for the appreciation campaign. The ICS Parents’ Association sponsored supermarket coupons for winning entries. The team also invited the ICS community to donate clothing for Hong Kong churches and NGOs that serve domestic helpers. Rather than having a single flagship event, the team opted to post interactive videos across four Sundays in January 2021. Posts included NGO sharings, student appreciation messages, and lucky draw games. 

Reaching Out to Domestic Workers in their Homes

The planning team chose 11 winners out of 21 entries to interview in their call for video and photo submissions. The planning committee shared these clips with the ICS community through email and a dedicated Domestic Workers’ Open Day page. During the four weeks of online activities, outreach through the Facebook page was highly successful as it reached over 25,000 people! 

The ICS community showed their support by generously donating clothes. The Open Day planning committee sorted all the clothing and packed them for distribution to three churches and two NGOs. 

Students share their appreciation and takeaways through videos and photos

A Rewarding Experience for the Committee

The group of twelve students on the team reflected on their overall positive experiences from organizing and leading the Open Day. Over 90% of students have said that they experienced a profound impact in their attitude towards service, and they have developed their resilience and grit by getting involved. Here are some of their reflections below:

  • “When I first think about the word service, I think about physically helping someone do something or tutoring someone in person. However, because we had to do this event online, it changed my perspective and thinking into how we can still bless the domestic workers virtually. It showed me how we can still serve others without being physically right next to them.” Shannon Wu, Gr.12

  • “I learned that service isn’t doing what I think should be done, but delivering what the target demographic/group needs. There were many restrictions because of the pandemic, and the event perhaps wasn’t what I expected, but we were still able to express our gratitude to domestic workers, which is what DWOD is about at its core.” Wing Chan, Gr.12

On what was most impactful to them:

  • “Seeing all the clothes being donated was the most impactful, because I thought we would have really few clothes donated due to COVID, but I was completely wrong. This stood out the most to me because it’s so great to see that people are still willing to donate and give clothes when it feels like everything has been taken away from us. When we were sorting the clothes, we were putting them in bags to give to churches and organizations, and it was amazing how even during this pandemic, we can still help others.” Chloe Wu, Gr.11

  • “Being able to effectively communicate with NGOs because it made me feel accomplished.” Rachel Ho, Gr.12

  • “Learning how to communicate with different people.” James Lam, Gr.11

  • “The most impactful thing out of the Domestic Worker’s Open Day was the ability of our leaders and peers to adapt to the COVID restrictions and still make the event happen. It was nice that we still kept our spirits.” Adam Kim, Gr.11

Although the Open Day looked different this year, both domestic helpers and students were blessed through this event. A big thank you to the planning committee, the ICS Parents’ Association, and all those involved!

Learn more about Service Learning at ICS here

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