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Troubled summer, new school year

SCHOOL RESUMES THIS  September and education workers face a big challenge in accompanying students, helping them soothe emotions affected by this summer’s social unrest and redevelop their passion for learning. They also have to respond to how social events impact the campus. As for the schools, they need wisdom to help students to distinguish right from wrong so they can strike a balance in every aspect. 
 
What will the youngsters be feeling heading back to school? Some may still pay close attention to social events and leave summer homework behind, while some may want to return to a peaceful life and focus on studies. Young people need to see different perspectives on the current situation and that the so-called ‘division in society’ is just a pseudo label; school has to be a place of learning and diversity of thought. Students can learn the facts and explore the truths with love in this environment.
 
Unfortunately, harmony without demanding uniformity—valued by Hong Kong society—no longer exists and young people cannot see a future for themselves. This is why Catholic schools have to share the core values of Catholic education while joining with them in responding to the signs of the times. 
 
These five core values, Truth, Justice, Love, Life and Family are undoubtedly being shaken by the current unrest. Education workers have to hold onto righteousness and show the important stakeholders in society— our young people—how to discern right from wrong, how to be bold and brave as prophets, to defend truth, to respect the others with justice and treat everyone with love. 
 
Many students will continue to participate in community rallies and protests. Apart from these, education workers need to concern themselves with students’ holistic growth and prevent social issues from adversely affecting learning opportunities. Those young people who want to keep a distance from social activities or hold different political views should expect that society, as well as their peers, will accept that each person can contribute to society in their own way.
 
Today, Hong Kong is enduring both physical and structural violence. No matter which side or political view, you can still feel the pain. All of society suffers. As long as the problem of extradition bill is not settled, interpersonal pressure and tension will remain. 
 
Consequently, the Catholic Ad Hoc Group for Psychosomatic and Spiritual Care was set up by the Hong Kong diocese as a starting point for the healing of wounds. It has already held several events for education workers and parents. It emphasises that adults should lend an ear to young people, find the solution and the way to constructively deal with emotions. Some Christian social workers also voluntarily help those young people affected by suicidal thoughts or depression. 
 
This kind of counselling and relief work can help students and parents take a breather. During this long-term challenge for society, education workers can emulate how Christ trusted the young, giving them the opportunity to taste the value of faith through works of charity, thus they can build resilience against current sad social atmosphere. 
 
It is thought that the social unrest will be continue for a while. Hopefully Catholic schools can channel the values that awaken and strengthen the conscience, so young people can turn their current experience into motivation to rebuild society and not nurture hatred. SE