Time Auction Star Volunteers — Wei Song Lim & David Wong (HKUST) at Dinner with Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong

Wei Song and David at Time Auction meeting with Mrs Anson Chan

Wei Song Lim and David Wong are as busy as a typical Hong Kong university student — juggling studies, sports, and student societies. But even with all that on their plates, the two of them have managed to donate countless hours to organisations like 30 Hour Famine, Habit for Humanity, Food Share, We Care, and Kiddy Heart Canteen, as well as spending school breaks overseas — not to travel, but to serve (and have been called ‘crazy’ by friends for their devotion).

Why do they do it? Having gained gratitude and positivity through their invaluable experiences, they want to change the world by encouraging people, one at a time, to see firsthand what they have learned.

Time Auction is proud to present the Star Volunteer Award to David and Wei Song, who have been nominated by their school and recognized for their contribution to community service. We sat down to talk with them about their Time Auction experience meeting with Anson Chan, and what volunteering means to them.

Wei Song Lim, Civil Infrastructural Engineering and Management, HKUST

What did you learn from meeting Anson?

Wei Song with Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong

“I actually hadn’t heard of Anson Chan before the meeting, but when I told my mom that I was having dinner with her, she was like ‘Oh my goodness!’

For me, it was a surprise blessing to meet Anson and to learn more about Hong Kong. I’ve been here for 5 years, but I still feel like a foreigner. Anson was relatable to me because I’m very interested in politics and diplomacy.

I’ve spoken with many politicians in my life, and I noticed that they always think very carefully before they speak, even if it’s just a simple question. I was impressed with how Anson phrased things to give the best answer possible — not just the politically correct answer — but the best answer, the genuine answer. I really admired that although she’s had a great career in politics, at the same time, she’s genuine even with the common people.”

Tell us about the volunteering you do.

“I’ve been volunteering since the 5th grade, when I was in Texas. It started off with going every Saturday to the community library and helping out. When I came back to Asia, I participated in Relay for Life, a National Honor Society program where they raise funds for cancer, also 30 Hour Famine and Habit for Humanity.

I volunteer with Connect at HKUST. My main focus is the service trips to China. I’m actually the first and only student to go on the Jiangxi service trip four times. My friends asked me if I was nuts, but when I recommended one of them to go, she came back and said that she finally understood me. Through the trips, we not only teach, but also learn more about the left behind children in Jiangxi. The biggest thing I learned from interacting with the kids is gratitude. They never asked for toys. They only asked ‘Can you play with me?’, even if it’s just something simple, like tag or hopscotch. I think everyone who went on that trip realized:

There’s more to life than just work and moving ahead, moving faster… that sometimes we should take a break and be thankful for what we have.
Wei Song on a Jiangxi service trip

For the Hong Kong side, locally, I participate in the non-Cantonese events, like Food Share, We Care, where we recycle unused vegetables and bring them to old folks. Recently, I went to Malaysia and we participated in a project called Leader of Light, where we went to a rural village that didn’t have any electricity nor Wi-Fi. We brought simple materials, such as water bottles and chlorinated water, and we were able to bring light into their houses.

I’ve tried all sorts of volunteering. As long as it gives back to the community, that’s all that matters.”

What change do you want to see in the world?

“For me, I’m not aspiring to be like Steve Jobs and create the iPhone that will change the entire world. My goal is simpler:

I believe that if you want to change the world, you have to do it one step at a time.

That’s what I did for Jiangxi. When I went there the first time, many of them didn’t have that much hope. They said ‘Even if I can leave my village, I won’t be able to go elsewhere because of my background and lack of financial capabilities.’ What I believe and hope is that every time I volunteer, I can inspire and bring hope to these people. Even if they don’t have the financial means or the vision right now, if they have hope, there will be ways that they can try to move towards their goals.

If you want to change the world, first, you have to inspire and change its people. Even if throughout my entire life, I’ve only changed one person’s life, that’s good enough for me.”

David Wong, Finance and Information System, HKUST

“I’m really honored to be nominated for the Time Auction Star Volunteer Award, as I think that the idea behind Time Auction is amazing — it’s an inspiring organization that encourages participants to get involved in volunteering. I hope that through this, I can share my volunteering experiences with others and encourage more people to participate.”

David with Anson Chan, Former Chief Secretary of Hong Kong

What did you learn from meeting Anson?

“Because Anson is such a well-known figure in Hong Kong and chatting with her is such a rare opportunity, I didn’t hesitate at all when offered a spot in this meeting. In addition to being the first female Chief Secretary and working for both the British and HKSAR government for more than 40 years, she has also participated in a lot of volunteering activities. I wanted to seize this chance to learn and broaden my horizons. Because I am concerned with my career path, I also wanted to seek advice from her.

During this meeting, I heard a lot of interesting questions from the participants and learned a lot from Anson’s answers on a range of topics: from Hong Kong politics to work-life balance. She led me to think more and to think from different perspectives.”

Tell us about the volunteering you do.

“I have participated in various volunteering activities, both local and overseas. In the previous summer and winter breaks, I went on a month-long service trip to Indonesia and a week-long service trip to Cambodia.

The Indonesia Community Outreach Program was my first overseas learning experience and it really helped me reflect on myself. During this month, I had to step out of my comfort zone and meet students from 14 universities around the world. I also stayed with a host family and got to see how local people live. While there, we constructed a public toilet in the village and helped with the piping projects and daily teaching. Through volunteering, I learned how blessed we are in Hong Kong, with hygienic conditions, a safe environment, and free education. I think we need to appreciate what we have and not take it for granted.

I was one of the organizing committee members on the Cambodia Service Learning Trip. I joined the team to Wat Opot, a community center for HIV-positive children, many of whom have lost their parents. The children were responsible for pushing their parents’ bodies into the incinerator, in order to understand that their parents had passed away and they needed to be strong. I found this terribly cruel, as they had to face the truth at such a young age. However, the children stayed positive and even took care of us volunteers.

David on a Cambodia Service Learning Trip

I love working with children, as I gain a lot of positive energy from being around them. In Hong Kong, I joined a program called Kiddy Heart Canteen, where we teach children from low-income families and play games with them.”

What change do you want to see in the world?

“Personally, I would like to see a change in the attitude of Hong Kong people. We work in such a fast-paced city and are rather task and money-orientated. I think we need to encourage people to care about each other, to become more willing to extend helping hands to the needy and to get involved in volunteering.

Everyone should devote some spare time to volunteering, or at least give it a try. It will give you another perspective in viewing society and allow you to experience firsthand the living environments of the underprivileged. It’s also a good way to build a sense of belonging and new friendships.

Older generations are always saying that youths don’t care about the current society and that we have isolated ourselves with technology. Why don’t we join some volunteering activities to step out of our comfort zone and meet new friends?”
Wei Song and David with the other participants, who collectively volunteered 303 hours to charity

To get connected with service opportunities, learn from inspiring mentors, or hear the stories of participants and volunteers like Wei Song and David, visit Time Auction.

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