Redbird Members Initiating Self-Directed Projects to Lead and Learn

Through active involvement in the HKUST campus life, many students can gain hands-on leadership experience. Redbird Leadership Community is where aspiring leaders can do so through Redbird’s 3 training tracks, with individualized support from trainers and senior students. In the Silver track, members focus on mastering the Student Leadership Challenge® and Stanford’s Design Thinking frameworks to build a team and drive a self-directed project. Read on to find out what leadership lessons are learned by 3 students.  

SULAIMAN Jovenska (student in left)

SULAIMAN Jovenska Evania
Year 3, School of Business and Management

ThankU- to show appreciation to the workers in HKUST by giving them small gift packages.

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Personally, the whole project is a challenge for me since I have never started such a project in HKUST. Finding a meaningful idea that people would like, collaborating with my peers, managing the participants and utilizing their individual strengths, until executing the project itself are all challenging in their own sense.

At the initial stage, my team had some complications in deciding the idea. This step was a challenge for me as I was really excited to start my happiness challenge at that time, but it turned out that we needed to change our overall plan. I thought that the project was a failure as our plan didn't work even from the very first step. However, my peers encouraged me to see this "failure" as a delayed success. Whenever something doesn't work, it doesn't mean that the whole thing fails; it just means that we need to find another plan and keep trying.

The next challenge that I faced was when our team needed to manage the participants so that all of them could get the meaning of this project. We tried to utilize each of their strengths and divided them in groups for some parts of the process so that the team would be more effective. For instance, when dividing the groups, we made sure that there was at least one Cantonese speaker in each group to ensure the non-Cantonese participants could also know how the workers felt when we gave them the packages.

After all is said and done, we can still make so many improvements to this project if we are to do it again in the future. For example, we can make better preparation in what to buy because at that time, we were only estimating roughly on how many snack packets and packages we needed to cover the whole HKUST. We can also host the event on a weekday, when more workers are present in HKUST, so that we can show our appreciation to a bigger group of workers. Regarding the participants, we can recruit more local students to help us communicate better with the workers.

Overall, I am very grateful that I actually did this project because I can make a change in HKUST, even though it might be small. I am happy I can put a smile on the workers' faces and relieve a bit of their stress from working in HKUST. I hope that the participants feel the same way as I do and that they will continue on appreciating the workers, at least by saying "thank you" to them.

TSUI Yeuk Yan, Kiara

TSUI Yeuk Yan, Kiara
Year 2, School of Science

Elder Buddy@HKUST- to give HKUST students a platform to interact with the elderly and to have dialogues about the life and death facilitated by social workers. 

At the beginning of the project, I find it hard to influence and enlist others in a common vision as mine, so that they can have the same excitement towards the possibilities and higher purpose of the project. For example, my proposal to one of the elderly center was rejected. I also had difficulty in recruiting the organizing team at first. Since I am not articulate enough in expressing myself, I sometimes find it difficult to show my passion to others through speech. Also, I failed to describe the details of my ideas to others in order to create a clear picture of my idea in their minds.

Under this circumstance, I tried my best to persuade and share my aspirations with the concrete ideas and plans in my mind. Then, I reached out to more people who were out of my social circle. I was encouraging UST students to engage in serving the community, and to find their own personal values and reflect on the meaning of life or studying in university.  Fortunately, I was able to deliver my thoughts and share a common vision with some of the people I talked to, and I gained their support ultimately.

Plus, the project involved a lot of stakeholders and they had different concerns. It was hard to satisfy all their needs and wants, and sometimes we had to compromise the original plan to fit their requirements. For example, the elderly center was mainly concerned about the safety of the elderly. UST Connect was about the benefit of students from the service and the utilization of resources, while the elderly participants simply concerned about whether the activities were attractive and interesting to them.

Bernadino (student in the far left)

Year 3, School of Engineering

Talents and Interests Network- to provide a platform for HKUST students to build confidence by sharing their own talents and interest with their fellow students.

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What made me started this leadership venture with my co-founders?  It was a willingness to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone, and to achieve a goal to become an innovative and proactive leader of the project.  I have set myself to come up with at least two different quality ideas, feedbacks, or solutions in every meeting. The success is measured by the positive impact of the project, which will be evaluated by my peers at later stage.

Among the ideas I gave during the project, it was to order the events material through Taobao instead of searching for local shops. This idea saved cost, as it was cheaper to buy online, and saved time from searching the material physically on the streets of Hong Kong. The second idea was that I would take the initiative of recording all the income and expenses of an event as soon as the event ended. This helped not only my job to keep track of the money but also to provide a clear financial statement for the President's 1-HKUST Student Life Award. By not delaying the budget report, it helped the network to focus on other administrative matters.

Looking back at what I had done, I said that I was helpful to the team by giving 2 constructive items to each encounter that we had. Indeed, throughout the journey I had been doing that even they were not always big breakthroughs. Sometimes, I just encouraged and reminded my teammates of the tasks that had to be done before the deadline. Should they find any difficulties, I would to the best of my abilities to help them or refer them to another team member who had the expertise.

'Rome was not built in one day', and so did my leadership development journey. Throughout the five months of the project, I learned a lot about leadership, about how a leader took up challenges and found ways to overcome his or her difficulties. I found how leadership was not a one-man job, but a united team endeavor. The leader's vision is very important in keeping the team going, and the team always appreciates a proactive and dedicated leader. Even with so much new breakthroughs, I still have a lot more to cover in this lifetime to become a better leader. Hence, it is always in my best interest to continue to develop my leadership in the future.