SGDay2019SGCaresChina

SG Cares – Singaporeans giving back in China

As a Chinese saying goes, “helping others brings happiness” (助人为快乐之本 – zhù rén wéi kuàilè zhī běn) – and this is certainly a philosophy that guides many of our overseas Singaporeans to make a difference in their local communities.

OSU

In the spirit of the upcoming Singapore Day in Shanghai, we asked three of our overseas Singaporeans in China to share more about the initiatives they’re involved in. We learn how serving their respective overseas communities through dance, music and teaching has brought them joy and fulfillment.

 

Danny Wee, (Beijing)

Inspiring Dance Project

 

Danny Wee is a man of many talents. Outside of his day job as a technical director in a property firm, he busies himself with freelance videography projects, scuba diving, and his greatest passion – teaching salsa, bachata and kizomba dance. On top of all this, Danny manages to find time to volunteer with local group Inspiring Dance Project, which he’s done since 2016.

 

 

Tell us more about Inspiring Dance Project.

 

Our mission is to empower migrant youth in China, inspire self-confidence and improve their self-esteem, through the positive energy of dance. Our bigger aim is to improve their employment opportunities and support them in pursuing their dreams.

 

More than 50% of Beijing’s population is made up of migrants from other parts of China, who have come to this big city in search of a better life. These migrants often choose to bring their children along with them, rather than leave them without parental supervision in their hometowns, as they worry their children may join street gangs and engage in vices. We offer free dance lessons to these migrant youth, as many of their parents can’t afford tuition – let alone dance lessons, which can be expensive. We are firm believers that dance is not only a fun exercise, but also an activity that can heal the mind and soul.

 

 

What has your volunteer experience been like?

 

For me, the most rewarding aspect of volunteering with Inspiring Dance Project is the emotional healing I’ve experienced, through interacting with the children. I am touched every time I see their happy faces, receive their hugs and feel their willingness to learn new steps. We have received many testimonials from grateful parents who observed a positive change in their children’s behaviour at home. Through the lessons, we also noticed that the children are now more open, cheerful and confident.


Contact Inspiring Dance Project at lw_jrwm on WeChat


 

Janice Yeo (Shanghai)

Uku Ladies

 

Previously a deputy director in an IT firm back home, Janice Yeo became a full-time homemaker when she accompanied her husband to Shanghai for an overseas work placement. Last year, she started learning to play the ukulele from a retired music teacher. This eventually led to Janice and her classmates, many of whom are also homemakers between the ages of 40-60, forming the Uku Ladies.

 

 

 

Tell us more about the Uku Ladies.

 

The Uku Ladies was formed in October 2018 to give back to the greater community through music and companionship. Even though many of us are new to music and have no music background, we meet often to practise. On a monthly basis, we play at various centres for underprivileged communities, including nursing homes, and migrant schools. We have even started taking requests from our beneficiaries on what songs they would like to hear at our next performance for them!

 

 

What has your volunteer experience been like?

 

It has been more than rewarding. Some of the most touching moments for me include performing by the beds of elderly beneficiaries, many of whom are bedridden. In spite of their conditions, many of them make the effort to sit up and sing along to their favourite songs. This inspires us to return regularly with new surprises for them.

 

We hope to connect with more overseas Singaporeans and involve them in serving the community through music. Music is a universal language and no matter how it is delivered, it always brings smiles and joy to the people hearing it.

 

Contact the Uku Ladies at yjaniceus on WeChat or scan the QR code below.

 



Siow Jingyi (Beijing)

Zhixing Volunteer Teaching Group

 

When Siow Jingyi first started school at Peking University in 2017, she didn’t think that volunteering would be a part of her weekly schedule. The Year 2 International Studies undergraduate first learned about Zhixing Volunteer Teaching Group through her seniors, at a Singapore Students’ Association gathering in Singapore. Back in Beijing, her first visit to the Zhixing Elementary School was, in her own words, “just to take a look”. After a few sessions, she decided to commit her Friday afternoons to volunteering as a teacher with the group.

 

 

Tell us more about the Zhixing Volunteer Teaching Group.

 

Zhixing Volunteer Teaching Group was started by a group of Singaporean students in Beijing around 10 years ago, who were interested in teaching English. They reached out to Zhixing Elementary School, a school for children of migrant workers in Beijing, located in Changping Qu, on the outskirts of Beijing.

 

Due to the difference in their residential status, the children at Zhixing are unable to enrol in local schools. They do not receive the same educational resources as other schools, and it is typically more difficult for them to be enrolled in local universities after high school. Instead, many of them end up entering vocational schools, which is a more practical option. In spite of their circumstances, many of the children have great passion for learning.

 

Though they have English lessons in school, most of these sessions are conducted through rote memorisation. We complement the existing school syllabus with fun and interactive learning sessions, which can include anything from storytelling to songs. Admittedly, it’s difficult for them to master the English language, with just that one hour of class we teach every week. In our modest approach, our goal is to simply ignite their interest in learning English. 

 

 

What has your volunteer experience been like?

 

I had quite a culture shock when I first visited the school, as the setting was something that I expected to see in a rural area, not Beijing. The lessons were taught in container-like classrooms that were stuffy and uncomfortable. The children were easily distracted and I often found myself in a shouting competition with the entire class – they could barely hear me and I couldn't teach anything. Friday afternoons were mentally draining as they tested the limits of my patience. There were definitely frustrating moments but at the end of the day, I still find meaning in teaching. Some of my students really look forward to lessons and it is especially heartening when they show their appreciation. I can sense their enthusiasm and it can be heartbreaking when I feel that I should be doing so much more.

 

While I have never considered a profession in teaching, volunteering at Zhixing has really touched me, and I’ve grown attached to the school. As I look back, I feel privileged to enjoy a premium education system in Singapore, where we had equal opportunities to excel.

 

Contact Zhixing Volunteer Teaching Group at zhixingvolunteer@163.com or follow their WeChat subscription account by scanning the QR code below.

 

Read more “Stories of Good” – how overseas Singaporeans have been giving back to their local communities – at Singapore Day 2019, happening on 13 April at Shanghai’s Century Park. Along with other exciting exhibits, captivating concerts, fabulous food and the coolest company, you can also speak Singlish as much as you want – shiok ah!

 

Register for Singapore Day 2019 and you will also be in the running for a lucky draw to win a pair of return Singapore Airlines tickets from China to Singapore. Don’t wait already lah – register here today!

 

 “Alone we can do so little;

together, we can do so much.”

 

Do you want to make a difference? In conjunction with Singapore Day 2019 Shanghai, the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China (SingCham), supported by the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU), is proud to champion the President’s Challenge 2019 charity fundraising campaign by Singaporeans in China.

Donations can be made on https://give.asia/campaign/singapore-day-2019-president-s-challenge

 


Stories

Read the stories of Singaporeans living overseas.