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Students share excitement of Cathay Pacific African safari

27 Aug 2005

Eight Hong Kong students today shared the eye-opening experiences – and drumming skills –recently acquired on the Cathay Pacific International Wilderness Experience educational safari in South Africa from which they have just returned.

In the melting-pot of the Wilderness camp the young people, all aged 16-18, forgot about traditional cultural barriers and got into the spirit of learning about different people, appreciating the environment, and enjoying a range of new experiences.

Hong Kong student Dorothy Mak, aged 18, of St. Paul’s School (Lam Tin), was amazed by sleeping out in the wilderness and gazing up at the stars that blanketed the sky. Similarly, Joseph Tang, aged 17, of Kwun Tong Maryknoll College, was astonished by a nightscape unspoiled by thousands of neon signs and streetlights.

At today’s session at the Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsimshatsui, students talked to others who are interested in joining future safaris and showed them how to play the African drums which they had brought back as souvenirs. An exhibition of photos and programme highlights will remain on display until 29 August.

They were joined by Mr. Alan Wong, Cathay Pacific General Manager Corporate Communication and Mr. Paul Chan, JP, Deputy Executive Director of The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, a co-organiser of the wilderness programme, which is part of Cathay Pacific’s community service initiative focusing on youth development.

The 11-day trip to the 10,000-hectare Entabeni Game Reserve in South Africa, inhabited by lions, rhino and elephants, brought 51 young people together from 17 cities served by Cathay Pacific. They also took part in a community service programme which involved, painting an African school near the game reserve.

Cathay Pacific has taken more than 500 students on the International Wilderness Programme since its inception in 1994. This year, students from Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, New Zealand, Bahrain, Pakistan and South Africa took part. Cathay Pacific sponsored the trip.

Reflecting on her International Wilderness Experience, participant Carrie Lee, 18, a student at the Maryknoll Fathers’ School, said: “Hong Kong people are lucky as we don’t have to worry about clean water supplies. So I was shocked when students on the safari from Bahrain told me that, where they come from, water is more expensive than oil. It made me think,” says Carrie. “Since I’ve been back I’ve been spreading the message among my family and friends that water is a precious resource that we must not waste.”

The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, Paul Chan, said: “Learning through experience makes a deeper impression than learning through textbooks. The International Wilderness Experience has not only provided an opportunity for students to experience the wonders of nature, but has also taught them the importance of environmental conservation. What they learned on the trip gave them fresh insight.”

Cathay Pacific General Manager Corporate Communication Alan Wong said: “At Cathay Pacific, we believe it is tremendously important to open young people’s minds to new experiences and encourage their active involvement in the community. We are proud that our International Wilderness Experience has left an indelible impression and helped make a positive change for all those who have taken part.”