Learning soft skills like compassion, empathy and resilience is part of the student experience at this international school in Hong Kong. We find out more about Hong Kong Academy’s approach, including how middle school students are working towards their Global Citizen Diploma Programme.
One might think that developing these sorts of skills would be easier than, say, grasping the Periodic Table or nailing the grammatical principles of Mandarin; yet soft skills aren’t always easy for kids to acquire or master. And yet they’re among the most powerful, life-affirming tools that young people can be gifted by a learning institution.
At Hong Kong Academy (HKA), the school is working hard to cultivate individuals who conduct their daily lives with a commitment to understanding others and who make decisions with an awareness of how they affect communities.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are the social traits and behaviours required to positively interact with our community and work well with others. These are the attributes that help our communities thrive – and they’re also the kinds of skills that so many employers are actively looking out for today.
These valuable skills include compassion, resilience, teamwork, adaptability, communication, critical thinking, leadership, a positive attitude and others.
How it works at HKA
Here are four ways that Hong Kong Academy students have been building their soft skills at school.
#1 The early years students have been staying connected with classmates who are currently overseas. For example, they share pictures and stories of their daily experiences with these remote classmates, and it helps them feel included in their friendship circles.
#2 Grade 3 and 10 students have created videos to connect with different communities via the @HOMEwithHKA programme. Grade 3 students are supporting their classmates and others in the community through the practice of mindfulness and exercise, while a Grade 10 student hosted a live, online drumming tutorial.
#3 Students work with external organisations such as ImpactHK, and have also hosted and led the RISE Festival (it stands for “Raise awareness, Inspire, Share and Express”). This annual fundraising event was founded by a group of HKA students in support of Branches of Hope and refugees in Hong Kong.
#4 Middle school students are working towards their Global Citizen Diploma programme. The programme sees them build a personal portfolio to demonstrate their understanding of real world matters. They also need to show how they are acting as responsible global citizens who positively contribute to society.
HKA is the only school in Hong Kong to offer the Global Citizen Diploma qualification. It differentiates HKA graduates during university application and selection. (And, on that point, congrats to the class of 2022 who have secured offers from world-class universities including Ivy League colleges in the US and Russell Group universities in the UK!)
This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.