JMSC Students Help With Sichuan Reconstruction

Two JMSC BJ students, Alison Hui and Zoe Yiu, have been helping the University of Hong Kong’s Sichuan Reconstruction and Interflow Project.

Alison Hui and Zoe Yiu

The HKU Sichuan reconstruction project is jointly organised by the university’s Faculty of Engineering and the 512 Engineer Alliance.

Following the devastating earthquake of 2008, the team went to a primary school in Deyang, Sichuan last summer, to build multimedia classrooms and solar panels for the students.

They returned recently to see the end result of the “Solar-powered Multimedia Satellite Interactive e-learning System”.

“As journalism students, we initially thought we could not help much,” said Hui. “However after detailed planning, we decided to produce a documentary and publish a book in order to let more people know about the need and situation in Sichuan.”

Dr Wilton Fok, a Senior Teaching Consultant at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, HKU, is the Principal Investigator of this project.

“We aimed to contribute different expertise from different professions in HKU,” said Fok.

“Students came from different faculties: students from the Faculty of Engineering built the systems in the reconstructed the school; students from the Faculty of Education helped to teach the local teachers and students; social work students interacted with the local social workers; students from the JMSC helped to interview the teachers, students, parents and government officials in Sichuan. We were glad to form a team with balanced expertise and complementary skills so that we could maximize our contribution to the people of Sichuan.”

Zoe Yiu (2nd from Left ) and Alison Hui (3rd from left)

Alison Hui directed the documentary.

“At first we just captured everything we saw along the trip,” she said.

“Eventually we came up with the theme of portraying the love and bond between Sichuan and Hong Kong. In order to do this, we interviewed lots of teachers and students. However, it was the editing process that was tough — we had a hard time going through all the tapes. But all our hard work paid off; we were really satisfied with the end product.”

Zoe Yiu expanded on the idea behind interviews:

“Through interviewing people at the Yuanjia Keyu Primary School in Deyang, which is a small scale city close to Chengdu, we got some first-hand accounts of what kind of damage the 5.12 earthquake brought to the suburban areas of Sichuan.

“These interviews are a valuable resource in evaluating the victims’ further needs and what we can do as a community to help.”

Yiu was also responsible for editing a book about the project.

“The publication comprised of chapters describing the technical skills used during the reconstruction works and reflections that students and teachers wrote up after the trip,” she said.

“The idea behind it was to share our knowledge with others about our experiences on designing multi-media classrooms, shockproof buildings and installing solar panels to generate electricity.

“We described how these systems could make a difference to school students and the community living in the suburban areas of Deyang.

“Most importantly, we hope that through this publication we can spread the message that we should always give a helping hand to those in need.”

Fok praised the duo for their hard work. “Through a series of interviews and visits, JMSC students Alison and Zoe helped us to understand more about the post earthquake situation in Sichuan.

“They helped to publish a book and edit a video documentary which helps the knowledge exchange of this project with other HKU staff and students who missed the chance to participate in this project.”

Hui said the experience has changed her view of journalism.

“This experience has made me think about how journalism can benefit people in society,” she said.

“To me, it adds great meaning to what I have learnt at the JMSC because I know this work will influence a lot of people positively.

“This documentary will help a lot of people understand the need in Sichuan. Indeed, what’s more important is to know that Hong Kong people and Sichuan people are from one family and that we will fight through the disaster hand in hand!”