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HER Friends - Voluntary Teachers of the Line Dance Class
(Chu Chu, Kitty, Eliza)

Every Thursday evening at the Lai Chi Kok Community Service Center, you can find some forty-odd people dancing to the beat of joyful music. In front of the crowd, two female teachers are demonstrating and instructing the students through their headset microphones: "left, left, right, right, three steps forward then turn around!" Relaxing and enjoyable, this weekly line dance class attracts people from all over West Kowloon.

Popular Dance Class, Wonderful Fundraising Event

Eliza, one of the three voluntary dance teachers, initiated this fundraising interest class for HER Fund in 2009, after completing her exam for The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, the world’s leading dance examinations board.

"I just finished the exam for the ISTD qualification when Linda called," said Eliza. "She was complaining to me about the hardship of raising money during the financial crisis."

A very good friend of HER Fund's Executive Director Linda To, Eliza offered to teach a line dance class for free. "I thought it would be a good idea to help HER Fund to raise more money," explained Eliza. "Students pay for the dance class and the money goes to HER Fund."

Such a creative idea brought valuable support to HER Fund's fundraising during the financial downturn.

Love Dancing, Love Teaching

"Teaching the line dance class is a lot of fun," Eliza smiled. When asked what she feels is the most rewarding aspect of the experience, Eliza said, "I get to enjoy my hobby of dancing, together with contributing to a good cause for women".

An avid dancer, Eliza loves being a teacher to introduce the dances she has learnt to more people. Her delightful and positive attitude also reveals her sense of achievement in teaching the class. "The students are all very diligent", she said proudly.

"Some students actually came in feeling very nervous and showing low self-esteem." Explaining seriously, she said, "In the beginning, one lady had such a hard time learning the basic moves. She would only stay in the back of the hall because she was not confident enough. Later on she improved a lot and even became more cheerful and sociable."

To Eliza, it’s a pleasure knowing that the money raised is helping more women, while at the same time the class itself is therapeutic and empowering for her students.

Teamwork and Professionals

Eliza invited two friends to volunteer as teachers; Chu Chu and Kitty. Having three instructors guarantees that the class would not be affected if any of them were absent.

Eliza spends a lot of time learning new dances every month. "I search for dance videos from other teachers," she said. "It's very time-consuming because there are thousands of videos online." She looks for dances with lively music and tailors the moves for her beginner-students.

Outside of the classes, all three teachers often meet up for professional development, to learn new dances, to study the most "in" moves and to work together to improve their dancing and teaching skills. Although they are volunteers, all three teachers put a lot of effort into this class and respect their work very much.

When Volunteering Becomes a Part of Life

"Now I do voluntary work about five times every month," said Eliza. Apart from teaching HER's line dance class, she also helps out at a charity dental service. "Five nights a month isn't that bad," Eliza said with a big smile as she talked. "I'm used to it." For almost twenty years, she has volunteered in different projects at least twice a month.

Why is she so devoted to helping others? Of course, her positive and cheerful personality says a lot. But in fact, the most profound influence came from her childhood experience. "When still in primary school, I joined a summer project. All the teachers were volunteers. They taught us to do different handcrafts, played with us and took us on field trips. I was so touched and affected by their enthusiasm." An appreciation of giving started to develop ever since.

"No, I never felt frustrated teaching the class", Eliza spoke in a certain way. "It's a great experience."

The influence of Eliza and her fellow teachers goes beyond their imagination. Besides raising money, creating awareness about HER Fund and creating an opportunity for people to relax and have fun, the line dance class has also inspired more people to offer their help to HER Fund. Now, a couple of other talented individuals are volunteering to teach a belly dance class and a yoga class for HER Fund.