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¡@ Interview with Mr. Wong, our school social worker
¡@ (Interviewed by Thomas Li and Michael Wong) Interview with Mr. Wong, our school social worker

Q: What did you do before being our school's social worker?

A: Actually, I had been a social worker ever since I graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I wasn't a school social worker at first, instead I worked for the mentally handicapped and the rehabilitation of mentally retarded people. After working for some time, I was sent to schools as school social worker. In fact, St. Joseph's College isn't the first school I work for; it was actually a school in Kwai Chung. Then, the School Social Work Service
Department of the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society sent me here.

Q: So, you didn't come to our school by choice?

A: No, I didn't. I was sent here, and in fact I knew little about this school until I came and started working here. I took up the place of Mr. Wan, your school's former social worker.

Q: Do you know Mr. Wan deeply?

A: No, I don't. As you know, he was your school's former school social worker, and by the time I took up the job at your school, he had already left. However, we did worked together in a project before. It was a voluntary activity held last year; we were to visit and give supplies to the elderly who lived on the outlying islands. This project has even been broadcasted on television! In spite of this, we didn't know each other well.

Q: Why did you have the idea of being a social worker?

A: It all started when I was in secondary school. I was troubled by quite a few problems in school and I decided to find my school social worker for help. Even though he didn't help much in solving the problems I've had, I felt a lot better, and I had more confidence in myself afterwards. His guidance was really effective and from then on, I had been thinking that it is enjoyable in helping others through guidance and encouragement. I had seriously considered social worker as my future career during my years in Form 6 and 7.

Q: Did you need a degree or other qualifications to be a social worker?

A: Definitely. There is a compulsory course about social work in my university. We had to pass in a qualification test in order to become a social worker. As a school social worker, we must have a degree in social work, not psychology, as many people might have thought of. We must also finish a three-year university course too. As for psychology, it was just a subject that we could take, but not necessary in social work. Psychology and social work are, in fact, two different things.

Q: What do you think of us, Josephians?

A: Well, Josephians give me the impression of confidence and willing to face challenges. I think it is because of the freedom the school gives you. Josephians are polite and have a high sense of leadership. Your abilities to write proposals and organise activities make you almost the same standard as university students. Maybe it is because this school is well-known, so many students themselves have high expectations.

Q: How do you help students who are in trouble?

A: People often think that a social worker's job is to solve problems. But that is a wrong idea. In fact, our main job is to encourage students and walk with them through difficult paths in life, such as their emotions and what they think. Social workers have a saying, ¡§Help yourself, and help others¡¨. Solving problems for students is notmy chief aim, but rather to help students solve problems is my duty.

Q: Are there any special cases you can share with us?

A: Well, there aren't any major cases that have happened in St. Joseph's College, but I had an unforgettable experience in the school in Kwai Chung. In that school, a Form 1 student was involved in triads. He was a problem student and never studied his schoolwork; his parents couldn't help him. He was often fighting with other people and his body was covered with bruises and wounds. The police arrested him a number of times too. One day, he came to me with fear in his eyes and told me, ¡§There's a gang waiting for me after school to beat me up. It must be the people who wanted revenge after I fought them. Please help me.¡¨ Now this boy was not afraid of anything, but at that moment, I saw that he was extremely terrified. So, I immediately asked his class-teacher to walk with him back home and I contacted the police to patrol in the streets near the school and the student's residence. Luckily, nothing happened on his way home from school. This stayed in my mind for a long time. I don't know how he is doing now because I changed school, but I really hope that he has changed into a hard-working student.

Q: What do you think of our school's ¡§Junior Counsellor Scheme¡¨?

A: This scheme has been introduced for a few years and, believe me; the results of the first few years weren't so fruitful. We found out that the counsellors were initially energetic to help the Form Ones, but after a few months, they started to neglect them. Maybe it was because they were too busy themselves to pay attention to them. Also, some Form 1 students thought that they did not need a counsellor to help them at all. But I don't think the ¡§Junior Counsellor Scheme¡¨ is a failure at all, because some counsellors really cared about the Form 1 students and helped them throughout the term and also kept in touch after going on to higher forms. This year, I will hold more meetings with the counsellors to solve their problems on their work.

Q: Do you have any chance to cooperate with the teachers?

A: Oh yes, I definitely cooperate with them. There are two main areas. The first area is cases; I might need to know how the students respond at classes. After getting the student's permission, I will approach the teacher and consult him or her. I hope to understand more about the student. The teachers are extremely helpful too. They have the same aim as mine: to help students improve more in their studies and conduct. The second area is about programmes; I might invite teachers to some speeches or camps. Of course, the teacher whom I have co-operated most is Mrs. R. Wong, for she is the school counsellor and we run the ¡§Student Counsellor Scheme¡¨ together.

Q: Do Form 1 students come to you the most?

A: Not really. Many form 1 students come to me, I think it's because my room is close to them. But the students and cases that I see mostly come from other forms, such as forms 3 and 4.

Q: What are your future plans for our school?
A: Well, I¡¦ll try my best to make programs for each form of students. This year, Form 1 students will have some talks about puberty and adaptation to the new environment while Form 4 and 6 students may have some talks about "love".

Q: Do you have anything you want to say to everyone?
A: Yes. Parents and students may think that seeing a social worker is a very embarrassing thing to do and they also think that only "problem students" are for social workers. I remember that when I was introduced to a parent when they came for registration, the parent immediately said to me, ¡§I hope I¡¦ll never see you.¡¨ This showed that not only do students have this kind of idea, parents have it too. But I would like to clarify that I am a companion of students and parents and I would help students to have a positive attitude towards life, conduct, studies and voluntary work. Sometimes, after a student had an appointment with me, other classmates may jeer and laugh at him. I would like to take this opportunity to say that seeing a social worker isn¡¦t for ¡§problem students¡¨, but for everyone. I feel glad when someone asks me to have a talk or lunch with him, or play ball with him. Also, my social worker room has many books, games and chess to lend to everyone at school.

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