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Virtual Global Village in the Tme of COVID-19

Virtual Global Village in the Tme of COVID-19

Liu Yao Xin's Story
Faculty of Arts

How to kill time during quarantine? Do you feel isolated when it is hardly possible to make new friends in online classes?  Mena, the founder of World University Peace Assembly (WUPA), has got some ideas for you.

When Mena returned to Hong Kong back in April, it was the time when the lockdown began.  Overwhelmed by the gloomy COVID-19 fear in the city, Mena decided to start a campaign to cast out negativity stemmed from the pandemics.  Therefore, she founded WUPA (pronounced as woopa), a virtual global village fostering inter-cultural friendship while at the same time, raising funds for effective charities to combat COVID-19. There are ten programmes opened for enrolment including  Videopal, World Forum, Travelgram , Language Swap, Mini Ted Talks, Advice Table, Effective Altruism Community, skills sharing workshops, and mentorship. All these events and activities are conducted online.  Anyone can sign up for the events just by contributing a small donation to charitable organisations on WUPA’s list.

On top of helping students to connect with each other during quarantine, Mena said the platform seeks to achieve the ultimate goal of advancing world peace. Mena proposes a 5-step approach to peace which is the core idea embedded in the WUPA’s programmes. The five steps are: 1. Cross-cultural Interaction, 2. Cultural Competence, 3. Global Citizenship, 4. Agency of change, 5. World Peace.

With limited experience with managing an online platform, Mena had to overcome different challenges when she first started launching the campaign. In the beginning, she was all by herself when she built WUPA’s website and databases. As an Arts student, she was glad that she had seized the opportunity to tackle her deficiency in IT knowledge. Since then, she has become bolder to step out of her comfort zone.   Apart from that, she recruited more than 60 teammates to expand the scope of the campaign. The biggest challenge, as pointed out by Mena, was to coordinate with her teammates to work on this massive campaign together as her teammates had never met each other before. In the time of COVID-19, it was hard to build team bonding without face-to-face communication. Mena also had such a hard time scheduling online meetings with people from different time zones and people with a variance in levels of commitment. Though the situation was by no means easy, Mena still managed to lead her team to progress.

Photo of Mana with her teammates“I am proud that all my teammates are very dedicated and efficient."

“I am proud that all my teammates are very dedicated and efficient - they finished complicated things within days given the circumstances, and our development in the first few months was exponential and astonishing. They are not paid but still, they put a lot of efforts to make things happen, “said Mena.  She said that her teammates  inspired her a lot during their cooperation, driving her to go further ahead in pursuit of her aspiration.

In the beginning, Mena started the collaboration only between HKU and the University of Edinburgh. Thanks to the support from the D.H. Chen Foundation,  Professor Xiang Zhang (President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong),  Professor Stephen Y. L. Cheung (President and Chair Professor of Public Policy), The Education University of Hong Kong, the University of Edinburgh and some universities overseas, the campaign has already attracted 25 supporters and participating universities. Mena is anticipating this virtual network to grow bigger in the future.

Written by:
Tracy Wong
2020 Graduate, CEDARS intern
December 2020

Virtual Global Village in the Tme of COVID-19