Peer2Peer mentors could have easily charged big bucks, but they thought promoting equal education was more important
We know that writing IB extended essays, UCAS personal statements, or simply doing well in international schools in Hong Kong is never easy. As we see tutor centre ads everywhere, we always wondered if underprivileged students are being overlooked. Recently, we had a chat with the co-founders of Peer2Peer, Douglas Yang and Hank Yang, about their aspiring goal to close the education gap in Hong Kong.
Tell me about the co-founders…
Douglas Yang and Hank Yang, a rising freshman at Harvard University and an 11th grader from Phillips Academy Andover, were born and raised in Hong Kong. Before studying abroad at the age of fourteen, they attended St. Paul’s Co-educational College, a prestigious local school with numerous IB full-scorers every year. Despite being hardworking elite students, the two siblings are surprisingly playful, having numerous hobbies such as beatboxing and swimming. Douglas is currently interning at a venture capital firm in Shanghai while Hank is taking online classes in Hong Kong.
What made them start Peer2Peer?
As Covid-19 went viral, Douglas and Hank promptly left their boarding school and returned to Hong Kong. While trying to adapt to remote learning, they realised how educational disparity, especially among the underprivileged, is promoted by the transition to e-learning.
Some students do not have adequate electronic devices for online classes, some are feeling disconnected from their peers, and some are puzzled by the sudden change in academic pathways. In hope to support young teens affected by Covid-19, Douglas and Hank started by providing free online tutoring to a few students. After noticing a growing demand for mentorship both inside and outside the classroom, they founded Peer2Peer, striving to make educational guidance accessible to all local students.
How did Peer2Peer expand so fast?
Ever since Peer2Peer was founded in May 2020, the size of their crew has grown quickly and steadily. From medical students at the University of Hong Kong, computer science students at Stanford University to DSE students at St Paul’s Co-educational College, all crew members are passionate teens who believe that quality mentorship programmes should be available to everyone regardless of wealth. As Peer2Peer is soon becoming a company limited by guarantee, the co-founders are looking forward to expanding their network and becoming an influential non-governmental organisation in Hong Kong.
What does Peer2Peer do?
Being entirely student-run and not charging a single penny, Peer2Peer is open to mentee and mentor applications all year. “We are not just your tutors, we are your friends, and we believe that the friendship will continue beyond the official mentorship,” Douglas emphasised that the essence of Peer2Peer is the mentor-mentee bondings instead of the free academic guidance.
Students who wish to receive support may browse the mentor list and write their top five preferences for mentors. Administrators will then try their best to meet all the requests according to the mentors’ focus subjects, schools and availability. The entire process— including application, bridging mentors with mentees and conducting mentoring sessions— is done online.
Any problems and successes?
“Our mentees’ lack of proper electronic devices and wireless network used to be an obstacle,” Douglas said. “We quickly tackled this issue by lending Chromebooks and pocket wifis to mentees. Of course, the rental cost is covered by Peer2Peer.”
Hank then added, “We are also grateful to have received guidance from Kids4Kids, another local non-profit organisation that strives to support youth. A lot of our mentees knew about us through Kids4Kids, and we are excited to be partner charities with them.”
How can I be involved in Peer2Peer?
1. Become a mentor or mentee: simply complete a short registration form on their website.
2. Join their team: Peer2Peer is currently recruiting students to be in charge of tasks such as public relations and website development
3. Donate: your donation will be used in facilitating recruitment, website maintenance and technical support. Both Paypal and Stripe are accepted.
4. Follow Peer2Peer on Instagram: share their latest posts about mentor and mentee recruitment with your friends!