When Dr. Yue studied in the United Kingdom, he had received warmth and care from a local host family and this experience had impressed him deeply. This “extraordinary” experience motivated Dr. Yue to help and love the others. After graduated with a Ph.D. and stayed for work in the United Kingdom, he had opened his home for foreign students, taken care of them and used one’s life to influence another. Later on Dr. Yue returned to Hong Kong and started working in Hong Kong Baptist University. Realizing that there was also a Host Family Programme in the University, he did not hesitate to participate and has been caring for the students for ten years.
Dr. Yue and his wife have a daughter. However, their family life is far beyond activities of 3 people. After joining the Host Family Programme, they have been inviting students to have meals together at their home, showing them the beautiful nature in Hong Kong and teaching them history of this land. In these ten years, they have hosted nineteen Mainland students. This year, he has hosted three Mainland students and two other from Taiwan. Every year they (no matter graduated or not) go to Dr. Yue’s home as a group and it has always been such a great time. His love and care has influenced the students and the students responded positively with love and care as well. In all these years, he built close relationships with the students and his biggest reward is to see the students growing up.
When we asked about the difficulties he had faced in this programme, Dr. Yue mentioned about the first year of participation. He said lacking in experience, not fluent in Mandarin and the busy schedule of students had made it harder for him to meet up with the students. He felt like more effort had to be given to build a relationship. Soon things started to change in the second year. Students from last year assisted him in taking care of the newcomers. They played the role of mediators and translators during their meetings. With the help of the former students, their interactions had become a lot easier.
Learning from his experience, Dr. Yue thought that the first month was the most crucial period. It is when the students need help the most and it is better to meet up more frequently. He has encouraged other host families from the programme and told them not to give up because of the potential obstacles. As a Christian, he sees the grace of God through giving a helping hand to others, assisting one to break free from comfort zone and getting people through their hardest time. “The programme is an activity which one’s heart can influence another.” He said, with a sincere belief in love and life.
“It’s more blessed to give than to receive!” Mr. Cheng has deeply understood this proverb in his three years’ participation in the Host Family Programme.
Hong Kong Baptist University has been organsing the Host Family Programme for fifteen years. Mr. Cheng has heard of it before but didn’t have the time to join in the past. Three years ago, he decided to leave from the workplace and entered a new page in his life, which was a perfect timing for him to enroll in the programme he had been longing for.
Finding a comfortable way to be with each other is a fundamental thing in getting along with people, and Mr. Cheng has chosen to “befriend” non-local students. “In fact it is easy to take care of non-local students. We can keep in touch with each other using Whatsapp or Wechat and have small talks. We can also eat out and try to know how the students are doing.” If there are things in Hong Kong which the students should be aware of, like the change of weather or prediction of storms, he will tell them. He will also invite those who are interested to attend special events with him, for instance, fabulous parade of floats and festive markets during Chinese New Year, church events in the university or Kowloon City.
One may wonder if Mr. Cheng has ever encountered difficulties during his three years of being a host family. “Of course it is not a smooth ride. The hardest part is matching our schedules. The workloads of students are quite heavy and in the meantime my wife, my daughter and I have our own schedules too. We still tried to figure out when we are all available and arrange a suitable place to meet.”
Mr. Cheng said that he enjoyed being a host family and could get on well with the students. They sometime brought him souvenirs after returning from their hometowns. “I felt blessed and peaceful for this three years hosting the students! This feeling grows stronger with time, when we interact more with the students and they trust us more!”
Mr. Cheng’s daughter is currently studying overseas and receiving care from the brothers and sisters at the local church. He hoped from the bottom of his heart that the spirit of care can continue in Hong Kong through the Host Family Programme.