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Good for society

Published on Friday, 30 Aug 2013
The ASHK Pavilion in Admiralty is located on the site of a former colonial-era military installation.
Photo: ASHK

ASHK is recruiting driven volunteers and interns

Volunteering can be rewarding in many different ways. Volunteers can support the noble work of not-for-profit organisations and help their funding stretch further, therefore enabling them to reach more people. Contributing to society, however, is only one side of the coin.

There is also much to gain personally from such work, including a widening of one’s horizons, meeting people, improving communication and social skills, and learning from the programmes organised.

One such excellent opportunity is being offered by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center (ASHK), which is recruiting volunteers and interns to help with various activities. “Not only will they be able to put their time to great use in assisting a global educational NGO, they will be able to help the local community understand and appreciate more about our historical site [located at the former Explosives Magazine Compound in Admiralty], exhibitions and programmes,” says Daniel Yau, ASHK’s finance and administration manager.

ASHK aims to have an impact on the community via insightful programmes that stress the interconnectivity of cultural and current-affairs subjects between Asian nations and the US. “By providing intellectually and culturally stimulating programmes led by renowned scholars and leaders who are recognised as experts in their fields, we raise awareness of key issues and trends to bring about policy considerations and actions required,” Yau says.

ASHK organised over 100 such events in 2011, covering an ever-growing field of activities, including lectures, seminars, panel discussions, conferences, exhibitions, performances, film screenings and tours. Volunteers can help according to their talents and interests, such as by leading gallery and campus tours, helping out in the office, organising events, or working on event write-ups for the website’s blog.

Volunteers receive training and guidance when they join. For example, gallery guides will learn about the exhibitions and their exhibits, while site-tour volunteers will learn about the centre and observe other volunteers guiding site tours.

Those who volunteer to write up events on the centre’s website need to attend programmes at ASHK to train in the exercise. “They will also work with the external affairs department on composing a good piece of writing for our website blog section,” Yau says.

Before each event, relevant ASHK departments brief volunteers about their roles for the event. Afterwards, the volunteers report directly to the relevant supervisors.

The number of volunteers used, and the time needed to work on an event, depends on the scale of the programme. For the Chinese Family Day in February, a large-scale programme, 15 to 20 volunteers helped out for eight hours. Smaller events take up a couple of hours of volunteers’ time.

Generally, exhibition or campus tours run for about two hours at a time, with two to three volunteers covering each time slot. Writing for the website also takes up two to three hours each time.

“To be a gallery docent usually means a weekly engagement during an exhibition. For other volunteering positions, ASHK will call the volunteers when needed. This is extremely flexible and up for discussion with ASHK staff,” Yau says.

The job best fits people who love culture and arts, and are interested in the different cultures, businesses and politics of Asia. Those hoping to contribute to the website blog should also love writing. A good mastery of English, together with Cantonese or Putonghua, is required, plus a valid identity card.

“Volunteers are on a meaningful mission to put their spare time to good use and will find they gain valuable experience [through volunteering],” Yau says. “Feedback we have received says they have found volunteering fun and meaningful, have been able to meet people and develop a new community, and have been given them a chance to learn about Asian art, culture, business and policy.”

ASHK also recruits interns. This summer, eight to nine interns worked at the centre five days a week for about two months. During school term time, ASHK has a partnership with universities to recruit about six interns who go to work twice a week over eight weeks.

Interns receive on-the-job training and get to know about ASHK, as well as the work done by different departments.

“Servicing people from different cultures and backgrounds, taking part in education programmes, meeting world-renowned scholars and notable people, plus the chance to communicate in English or Putonghua, gives volunteers and interns a head start when looking for a job,” Yau says.

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