As some of our Community Outreach Programmes resume, Chatteris’ own Aarohi Narain talks us through the experience of volunteering at TCK Learning Centre.
From English lessons for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to storytelling with members of the refugee and asylum-seeker community, the Chatteris Educational Foundation provides their English tutors with various chances to volunteer in the local community.
One such service opportunity comes from Chatteris’ partnership with TCK Learning Centre for Migrant Workers. Located in Tin Hau near Victoria Park, migrant domestic workers primarily from Indonesia attend volunteer-run classes on Sundays, their sole day off, in English, Mandarin, book-keeping, sewing and dress-making and beyond.
Here, Chatteris Tutors have an invaluable opportunity: to independently craft and run hour-long speaking-based sessions for a small group of eager learners. While I focused on spoken word poetry and performance, other tutors have chosen topics as varied as character strengths, public speaking, and debate.
“We aim to provide workshops that are both interesting and exciting for beneficiaries at TCK,” says Assistant Programme Director Alice Sherlock, who liaised between Chatteris and TCK, “So a lot of my role is to establish what their [participants’] core interests are and then working with Chatteris Tutors to deliver the sessions.”
As a result, each session conducted by tutors has been unique. Yet, what we all share is the feeling that volunteering at TCK has been one of the most enriching experiences of our careers so far.
Secondary programme tutor Lan Duyen To, who brings three years of teaching experience in a school on Chatteris’ ‘One for One, Adopt a School’ programme, reflects on the experience, “It was very fun and rewarding. The participants were great, and very talkative!”
“I really had a great time interacting with the ladies, as they are just so lovely. They were super engaged, inquisitive and full of life,” says tutor Samantha Meredith, echoing the sentiment. “TCK’s mission is one that is dear to me; my mother was also a migrant worker years ago, and has shared many anecdotes about what it was like, allowing me to empathise with their experience. Choosing to spend the few hours they have off on bettering themselves is admirable, and I find it immensely rewarding to be able to contribute to that.”
As a tutor in the secondary programme, making a session with adult learners in mind helped me strengthen my lesson planning, and contemplate ways to account for different kinds of learner diversity.
Moreover, teaching at TCK gave me insight into what it takes to co-create an empowering, compassionate, and culturally responsive classroom. It was humbling to consider the needs, assets, and distinct life experiences of migrant domestic workers– an oft-marginalised group in Hong Kong and globally– when preparing and leading my session, and interacting with the participants. Ultimately, the experience provides tutors like Lan, Sam, and I with a meaningful avenue to gain experience, foster connections, and promote cultural exchange.
My personal favourite part?
After every session, volunteers are welcome to continue the conversation with participants over a delicious, homemade dinner.
Those moments spent breaking bread and sharing stories continue to shape how I navigate Hong Kong both within and beyond my classroom. And the taste of sambal ikan bilis will likely always remind me of that Sunday evening well-spent.
Eager to give back to the Hong Kong community like Aarohi, Samantha and Lan? Apply now to be a Chatteris Tutor.