Student stories

Co-op students make a splash organizing 2012 Dragon Boat Festival

Wilson Chung, Maggie (Rui) Fang

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society

Victoria’s Inner Harbor is already a bustling centre, but for one weekend a year, the water and shores erupt with the energy of paddlers and spectators. The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival draws over a thousand racers to the water to test their 20-strong crews against some of the fastest teams in North America. While the racers power down the course in perfect paddling synch, an equal amount of detail and commitment goes on behind the scenes to ensure this major annual event is a success. This past summer, visual arts student Wilson Chung and commerce student Maggie (Rui) Fang experienced that front line through the UVic Co-op Program. 

Wilson spent his very first co-op work term as the Festival’s communications coordinator; he was responsible for promoting and upholding the public image of the festival. This required him to manage a great variety of responsibilities and work with a diverse array of people, including media, politicians, paddlers and charity groups. Wilson wrote official website messaging, managed the Festival’s social media accounts and drafted speaking notes for presentations and speeches. He also worked with the media to ensure the festival received positive coverage—and the result was a big success. “The festival was great,” Wilson says. “We got lots of media coverage and raised over $20,000 for the BC Cancer Foundation from our Lights of Courage campaign. I even got to race, and my team did really well!”

As an event assistant, commerce student Maggie also helped to bring the Festival together. She worked within the program budget while facilitating event logistics like food, entertainment and equipment for multiple occasions, including the Festival’s media launch, gala dinner and silent auction. She also supported key officials and co-workers in their duties and practiced multitasking, managing her time and improving her communication skills.  She also successfully planned, designed and carried out the very first night market at the Festival. “After each event, I felt proud of the team and of myself,” she says. “When I got positive feedback from paddlers, visitors, night market vendors, entertainment groups and volunteers, I felt the return and the value of my work.”

Looking forward, both Wilson and Maggie are excited to continue their studies and feel that their experience with the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival has widened their perspective on career options. Wilson is working on a B.A. in Pacific and Asian Studies, while Maggie is leaning towards a future in finance or marketing. They’re eager to see where their next co-op adventure will lead. “I definitely learned a lot more through co-op than I would have just going to class,” says Wilson. Adds Maggie: “We will both definitely be doing another co-op term before we graduate!”

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