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Love Live Laos

Love Live Laos

Chow Chung Yan, Paul's Story
Faculty of Business and Economics (HKU Business School)

Chow Chung Yan, Paul (BBA(Law)&LLB) is now a Year 3 student. He has recently shared with the student journalist the experience of serving as one of the University YMCA (Uni-Y) executive committee members last year. As he reminisced of “Love Live Laos Service Trip,” a student-initiated excursion of Uni-Y to a local village in Laos, he reflected on the effectiveness of the programme from the viewpoint of an organiser.

In his high school years, Paul has had some volunteering experience. After joining HKU, he was encouraged to join Uni-Y by his senior, who was an executive committee member of Uni-Y at the time.

“Love Live Laos Service Trip,” held in early 2020, aimed to bring an impact to a local village in Laos. Whilst home-staying in the village throughout the trip, Paul and 14 Uni-Y members have assisted in constructing of a toilet in the community centre of the village, two seesaws from wood planks and tyres. They even held several cultural programmes for the local children.

“It was a joint effort of my partner Maggie, our adviser Daphne and me that made the trip happen.” Co-curating the whole trip, Paul continued to explain their choice of destination, “As to choosing Laos, we knew we wanted to visit somewhere in Southeast Asia, and so we reached out to different branches of the YMCA in the region. Gratefully, the Lao YMCA got back to us, and that’s how it started. ”

“We tried to think of forms of service that participants would enjoy, that would help the people there and allow us to understand them better, so ultimately we settled on construction and children programmes.”

The team has managed to achieve most of the goals during the trip, namely the construction of community facilities and the children programmes. “A huge reason was that we had tremendous help from the local villagers during the construction period, and we also had many local student volunteers that helped us translate during the children programmes.”

Photo of Paul at Laos
“It was an eye-opening experience for our team.”

“I think it was an eye-opening experience for our team in terms of adapting to a relatively tougher living environment and breaching cultural gaps. We enjoyed the villagers’ company and I think we also managed to leave something behind that would make their lives a little better, which is all we could ask for in such a short stay.” Paul acknowledged the limitation of this single trip, but he also believed that the trip was meaningful to the participants and the villagers. 

When asked about how his impression of Laos has changed, Paul admitted that he had before viewed Laos as a third-world country. But despite the problems the Lao people faced, he overserved that . “A lot of them were very smiley, hard-working and welcoming. They had their own way of living, which isn’t necessarily “worse” than ours. We shouldn’t expect them to live like us or regard them as inferior. He also observed “from their paintings, garments and dances that they are a very cultured and artistic people.” 

Lastly, Paul concluded his overall experience as a Uni-Y executive committee member in these words, “Sometimes you get overwhelmed with the hectic schedule, but those days pass, and now you often remember the good bits.”

Written by:
Amadeus Cheung
Year 4, Faculty of Law
April 2021

Love Live Laos