Special Feature: Continuation of a Longstanding Passion of Campus Mission – Interview with an associate staff (Issue 481)

Tommy
Former college fellowship chairman; works in marketing; likes to play football and watch comics, the latest favourite comic is JoJo; an associate staff at a famous school in Kowloon


Why is there a group of people, despite having busy day-to-day schedules, choose to continue to work with students after office hours? What motivates them to become associate staff and to continue their mission on campus?

 

How did you get involved with FES in the first place?

When I joined campus fellowship in Year 1, I didn’t know what FES was and thought that FES staff were teachers. Later on, when I was organising Semester Break Camp, I had the opportunity to get to know more of the staff and was inspired by his advice. As I gradually became deeper involved in FES Bible studies and camps, it was an eye-opening experience for me to be exposed to many teachings of Christianity that I had never encountered in church. The most profound experience was Mission Camp, where we were confined to the campus for five days for “retreat in enclosed spaces”, listening to the integration and reflection of faith on different issues, which was very “authentic and relevant” and diverse. I was then drawn to the FES as a faith-based community that reflects what we believe, and I continue to be involved in it.

 

You do not describe yourself as an enthusiastic participant in FES, but why did you finally agree to become an associate staff?

Becoming an associate staff has to trace back to the new phase in my life after leaving my student status. After graduation, I started getting used to working life, which was completely different from the old college life. When I was at college, I would actively participate in different activities and become a committee member of the fellowship. However, I lost this motivation when I entered the workplace and consequently lost the intimate fellowship life. While I still read a variety of Christian books, I wanted to engage in a community where I could share my faith in depth. Therefore, I have agreed to become an associate staff in order to reconnect with fellows, to reflect on faith together, and to share my own faith experiences, especially to provide students with an additional perspective on their faith in the workplace, where the truth of faith can be truly tested.

 

You have been serving as an associate staff for two years, what insights can you share with us?

As we have our own jobs, associate staff may not have the time to build relationships with the students as the full-time workers do. Also, we are not able to participate in the students’ activities on a full-time basis, so it is not easy to reach out to them. The only way to get closer to the students is to wait for the right time, such as taking time out to attend the camp and really be with them. At the same time, I have a deeper understanding of what it means to be student-led. For example, if you want to offer assistance to the students, it depends on whether they are willing to accept it. When the students see you as a staff or senior, as if you have been given a set responsibility, it is important to learn how to make the best use of that role for pastoral care. These are all “learning-by-doing”. If a student asks for help, I do not know how to handle the situation at that moment, so I can only pretend to be calm, and only after the incident has subsided do I realise that I am able to bring the value of an associate staff into practice.

 

What motivates you to continue volunteering as an associate staff? Is it love, or is it responsibility?

As a matter of fact, associate staff are not paid for their work and are not subject to the pressure exerted by the staff, it is possible to withdraw from participation at any time. However, I choose to continue to serve because I feel that if I want to truly connect with the student community, I need to spend at least a few years with them before I can truly walk with them. Otherwise, I will simply be water off a duck’s back, having no impact on them. Secondly, I want to recapture my youthfulness at university, especially after joining the workforce, and I would like to recollect the feeling of “home” in the campus fellowship.

 

What is your final message to the students?

We are all aware of how society has changed and how the campus fellowship may not be able to continue doing what it wants to do as freely as it used to. Despite the possible suppression or challenges, we should see it as an opportunity to explore a new way forward. Stay alive, everyone!