Providing Eye-opening Opportunities for 2,000 Students to Nurture ; A Sense of Belonging, Global Citizenship and Social StewardshipHONG KONG SAR - Media OutReach - 17 October 2022 - Local non-profit organization AFS Intercultural Exchanges in Hong Kong has launched the Youth Empowerment Project ("YEP"), providing opportunities of intercultural learning and overseas exchange to help young people develop the knowledge and skills needed for creating a better world. Thanks to the funding support from Drs Richard Charles & Esther Yewpick Lee Charitable Foundation, registration of the project opens now to up to 2,000 students.
Empowering Youngsters on Their Life Journey
Dr. Josephine Jim, Executive Director, AFS Intercultural Exchanges in Hong Kong (AFS HK) remarked, "in the era of globalization and digitalization, the younger generation needs to broaden their worldview and be adaptive to the intercultural environment so as to cope with the rapid and diverse social development. A sense of belonging to the society, self-identity as well as commitment to contributing to the society are also important."
The YEP administered by AFS HK caters for secondary school students aged 14 to 17. The project encompasses competitions and a series of activities to be rolled out in three stages that involve students in in-depth and diverse experiential learning. The gamification design of the project is aimed to arouse students' interest and encourage participation. Participants will first take part in intercultural learning programs in which they will learn about global issues such as conflicts, climate change and more. Thereafter, they will receive training on inclusive communication and advocacy skills, as well as skills to develop a sense of self-worth and self-identity, and positive outlook on life.
The project will award full scholarships to 20 students, of whom the top 10 winners will be sponsored to go on a one-year overseas exchange program. The exposure to different cultures and education models through experiential learning helps students to develop a sense of global citizenship and the capability of adapting to and competing in the increasingly diverse world. Another 10 awardees will be arranged to attend the Youth Assembly in New York City where they will work together with peers from different parts of the world to make their voice heard and advocate social changes. At the end of the project is a Mentoring Program – the RC Lee Project Connect Mentoring Program that gives guidance on studies and career development.
"The goal of the 3 years project is to engage 2,000 students in intercultural experiential learning, hoping to help them to become active global citizens, to enrich life experiences and build connections. The knowledge and skills they acquired from the YEP will enable them to make decisions and plans for their future," said Dr Jim.
Supporting organizations of the YEP include the Consulate General of Hungary in Hong Kong, The Association of Hong Kong Chinese Middle Schools, the Goethe Institut Hong Kong and the Instituto Italiano di Cultura Hong Kong.
AFS Youth Empowerment Project
Learn more and register: www.afs-education.hk
Three stages of the Youth Empowerment Project:
| Stage 1 || Stage 2 |
| Sep 2022 || Online registration starts (2,000 places) || Jul 2023 || Top 10 winners receive full scholarship for One Year Exchange Program and start application procedure |
| Oct || Join Virtual Intercultural Fair & then complete the Test I || Jul-Aug || 90 runners-up of THINK BIG Competition I will enter Stage 2 and take part in AFS International events: |
Global Youth Adventurer Program
Global Youth Changemaker Program
| Dec || Top 500 scorers of Test I will be invited to join Global Up Teen; Taking Test II || Dec || 90 Finalists to enter THINK BIG Competition II (1st Round) |
| Feb 2023 || Top 100 scorers of Test II will be invited to participate in THINK BIG Competition I (1st Round) || Mar 2024 || 30 Finalists of THINK BIG Competition II (2nd Round) interview & presentation |
- to create and implement a sustainable development project in HK
| Apr || 30 Finalists of THINK BIG Competition I (2nd Round) interview & presentation - to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and confidence to promote the Chinese culture of HK as a Youth Ambassador |
| Aug || Another 10 winners of THINK BIG Competition II receive full scholarship to attend the Youth Assembly in New York City |
| || Stage 3 |
| May || Results Announcement || Jul-Aug || The 20 Scholarship Awardees to join AFS – RC Lee Project Connect Mentoring Program |
"Learned what is not taught in books"
Every year, around 100 students joined AFS Hong Kong's overseas exchange program to study abroad. Among their destinations are the US, Japan and Germany as well as some other less visited countries like Russia, central European and South American countries. Over the past two years, the overseas exchange program did not pause despite the pandemic - some 30 to 60 students went overseas for exchange experience each year while 20 foreign students from 10 countries were received by local families and schools.
| || HK Students joining overseas exchange program || HK families hosting exchange students |
| Year || No. of persons (countries) || No. of persons (countries) |
| 2022-23 || 54 (17) || 15 (8) |
| 2021-22 || 61 (17) || 5 (4) |
| 2020-21 || 36 (11) || suspended |
Daphne, grown up in a single-parent family and living in a public housing estate, was supported by an AFS scholarship to study in Hungary for one year. She said she had never thought of joining an overseas exchange program that her family could not otherwise afford. She enjoyed the experience so much. "I stepped out of my comfort zone to explore what is really of my interest, and to try and learn. I have become more independent and have strengthened my ability to tackle challenges. I'm most proud of myself as I no longer fear traveling on my own."
Daphne's mother found her daughter to have become more adaptive, self-disciplined and resilient than before. "I am grateful to see her having got along with her host family members well for 11 months. The key is communication, acceptance and understanding."
According to the AFS HK survey conducted in 2021-22, 100% of the students who had joined overseas exchange programs said the experience made them become more independent, mature and self-confident; 90% reported that they had a clearer idea of their development and career direction. Other gains include knowledge and understanding of cultural differences and global issues, mastering of foreign languages and problem-solving skills. As many as 97% of the students and their parents were satisfied with the program.
AFS Intercultural Exchanges in Hong Kong (AFS HK)
AFS HK is an international non-profit organization founded in 1982. It focuses on providing intercultural learning opportunities like overseas exchange programs and local hosting programs to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. More than 4,000 Hong Kong students joined the overseas exchange program while some 900 foreign students were hosted by local families and schools. AFS Intercultural Programs was established in 1914. It has 60 offices around the world and is engaged in a consultative status partnership with UNESCO.