Alvin Cheung is an important member of the team at Harbour Sport where he runs the ActivAsian Volunteer Programme, a pro-active way to help integrate young immigrants into the community through sport and volunteering. Nikki Davidson was keen to find out more about Alvin and his work.
Nikki Davidson: Tell us a little more about yourself Alvin.
Alvin Cheung: I am originally from Hong Kong and have been in New Zealand for nearly nine years. After studying at Macleans College and Auckland University of Technology, I began working in the sport and recreation sector with Harbour Sport and Northern Football Federation. I work at Harbour Sport as the ActivAsian Volunteer Coordinator and am responsible for the management and coordination of our 400-strong volunteer database and the regular updates of volunteering opportunities and workshops.
ND: What drew you to North Harbour Sport initially?
AC: The opportunity came after I spent a year working with Harbour Sport and Northern Football Federation on my final project on ethnic engagement and inclusion, in the last year of my conjoint degree. From my limited encounters with Harbour Sport and its staff, it struck to me that not only is everyone full of energy and friendly, but each staff also practises the organisation’s values continuously and gives out a helping hand if it’s needed.
ND: How long have you been running the ActivAsian Volunteering Programme?
AC: I have been running the ActivAsian Volunteer Programme for just over a year. Thanks to a team effort, we were able to grow our database from 180 volunteers to now 400 volunteers in a short year.
ND: What do you love about it?
AC: It’s amazing to see how much we can do for our youth, especially those of a minority group like migrant and international students. We do regular surveys and reports on our participants’ experiences. I can proudly say the volunteers very much enjoy their time with us and most intend to participate in other programmes and other sports clubs, which is one of our programme objectives.
ND: What benefits does the programme offer volunteers?
AC: The Harbour Sport ActivAsian Volunteer Programme is an initiative which aims to provide youth with the opportunity to be involved in the sport and recreation community through volunteering. We facilitate opportunities for students to volunteer at around 30-35 sporting events throughout the year; they have complete autonomy and can volunteer for many sporting events. Furthermore, we organise four development workshops a year based on the volunteers’ interests, including an end-of-year function where we will be handing out the ActivAsian Volunteer Programme Certificate for those who have met the criteria.
ND: Why do you think it’s important for young Asian students do be involved in this?
AC: Being an international student myself for seven and a half years, I understand the struggles and barriers one might come across, especially when they first arrive here. The volunteering programme helps students ease the experience by offering them opportunities to meet with like-minded peers as well as being involved with their local community and participating in regional, national and international sporting events.
ND: Tell us about a success one of the volunteers has had since doing the programme.
AC: I can use one of our case study interviewees, Curtis Tiau, as an example. Curtis is a recent migrant from Malaysia who struggled with language barriers and low self-esteem when he first came to New Zealand. However, after joining our programme in 2015, Curtis now studies in his school’s IB drama class, is a member of his Sports Council, Arts Council, Unicef and Amnesty Club, leader of this year’s TED-ED club, captain of the school badminton team, school librarian, peer support leader, not to mention our very own Volunteer Programme Student Leader. Curtis Tiau agrees the volunteer programme is a contributing factor to his personal development; he therefore decided to become a Student Leader to help other new migrant students and international students to go through the similar process and enhance their overall experience in New Zealand.
ND: What sports do you play yourself?
AC: Football is my sport of choice and I do enjoy playing other team sports such as volleyball, touch rugby and more.
ND: How can students find out more about the ActivAsians Volunteering Programme?
AC: They can find out more about on our Harbour Sport website or join our Harbour ActivAsian Volunteers 2019 group on Facebook. Or follow us on Instagram @activasian_hs.