Coming back to Singapore for your university’s summer break doesn't have to just be about filling your tummy with delicious local hawker delights or rediscovering home with family and friends. You could also contribute your time towards a meaningful cause while back home – just like what these overseas Singaporean students did on their most recent break! Read more about their experiences below.
Rachel Loke (President 2017/18, 20th UKSSC)
Making a ripple as a befriender while back home
Rachel Loke (Image courtesy of Rachel Loke)
It was a sisterly volunteering affair for third-year University of Birmingham student Rachel Loke when she was back in Singapore during her mid-year break. Through Youth Corps Singapore, Rachel and her younger sister, Nichole, volunteered as befrienders at the Inclusive Sports Festival on 4 August. As befrienders, the sisters were paired with youths from SportsCares to join various activities and sports tryouts at the Inclusive Sports Festival.
Aside from being part of the group that received President Halimah Yacob at the Outward Bound Singapore cutter sail, another memorable moment at the event was the opportunity to participate in wheelchair basketball with a paralympian. Instead of running as she would be used to, she relied on her hands to move and shoot, while in a wheelchair. “The experience showed me that those with disabilities can also partake in a sport for the able-bodied, with some adjustments, determination, grit and strategic thinking,” said Rachel, who was also President of the United Kingdom Singapore Students’ Council (UKSSC) for the 2017/18 school year.
Rachel and the Inclusive Sports Festival team with President Halimah Yacob (Image courtesy of Rachel Loke)
“What brought me the most satisfaction during this volunteering stint was interacting with the youths and seeing how they were all receptive to the activities that were available,” continued Rachel. “It warmed my heart knowing that they do not distant themselves from those that are slightly different from them.”
Rachel is currently working together with Youth Corps Singapore on potential volunteering projects and initiatives that overseas Singaporean students in the UK can partake in when they return home for short-term breaks.
She hopes that overseas Singaporeans would be just as open to trying something new – like volunteering, no matter how short a time. “Even if it’s just for a day, the effect of your actions will ripple in the community.”
Gillian Chua (University of Leicester)
Being a vehicle of change as a mentor
Gillian Chua (Image courtesy of Gillian Chua)
From being a volunteer photographer for Parkinson Society Singapore to a facilitator at World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine Camp, final-year University of Leicester undergraduate Gillian Chua has always wanted to go the extra mile in helping others around her, be it through volunteering or other means.
During her summer break this year, the Biological Sciences student volunteered with M.Y Mentoring, a “school-based character development programme” for lower secondary students, under the Metropolitan YMCA. As a mentor, she built a rapport with the students she was paired with, provided them with support and advice, and developed a close relationship with them along the way.
“These students tend to exhibit low self-esteem and bear negative concepts of themselves. Over the months of the programme, I journeyed with them and served as a trusted friend, whom they can comfortably share their thoughts, experiences and emotions with. As I strengthened my relationship with them, I also helped them develop their self-identity through socio-emotional skills,” she shared.
One of Gillian’s youths giving out specially packed bags to a senior at the hawker centre (Image courtesy of Gillian Chua)
Gillian’s time with the programme was indeed a memorable one for her. “This was particularly in witnessing first-hand how these youths have grown exponentially, both in character and identity,” she reflected. “I’ve also had the privilege of hearing their personal stories, which has helped me to understand life from different perspectives. Being a part of this programme has also been an eye-opener for me, reminding me how much we can learn from these teenagers, and how it’s important to acknowledge their beauty and strengths.”
The greatest satisfaction Gillian has as a volunteer is seeing how the simplest of actions could be powerful and impactful. This is why she encourages fellow students like herself to be “vehicles of change in making a difference to our society”.
“Volunteerism helps to connect us with people from different walks of life and form meaningful relationships. I highly encourage Singaporean students – whether studying locally or overseas – to volunteer when they’re able to commit the time as it helps to re-shape perspectives on life matters, and create an impact (both for the volunteers and the beneficiaries) that could last a lifetime.”
Warwick Summer Games (Warwick Singapore Society)
Sports for a good cause
An ultimate Frisbee game at this year’s Warwick Summer Games
(Image courtesy of Warwick Singapore Society)
The Warwick Summer Games (WSG) is an annual event that brings together the Singaporean student community based in the United Kingdom, pitting them against each other over various sport and non-sporting game friendlies, like football, ultimate Frisbee, bridge and Monopoly Deal. Hosted by the Warwick Singapore Society (WSS), the Games are typically held in Singapore, with 100% of event profits going to Children’s Aid Society (CAS), which they’ve partnered since 2013.
Aside from monetary donations, the WSG organising committee have also encouraged fellow students to volunteer at Melrose Home, a Small Group Care residential facility that houses and supports “vulnerable and disadvantaged children and youths between the ages of 6 to 18 years old”. Plans are already in the works for members of WSS to volunteer at the Home during next year’s summer break.
“The overseas Singaporean student community is a community fortunate enough to enjoy new experiences and perspectives overseas. We wanted to make an effort to level the playing field for vulnerable and less-advantaged children and youth, making contributions towards their education and development to give them a more promising future, as a way for us to do our part to give back to the community that nurtured us,” explained Jonathan Boh, President of Warwick Singapore Society.
Jonathan (front row, second from left) and the rest of this year’s WSG committee (Image courtesy of Warwick Singapore Society)
What advice does Jonathan have for fellow overseas Singaporeans who wish to contribute to their community, whether back home or overseas? “I would urge them to follow through with their contribution. Do not be afraid of not contributing enough, or be discouraged that they are not doing much to help: a little bit of help goes a long way! It is always heartening to see people with good intentions giving back to the community back home, even when they are so far away, and I would just like to tell them to keep up the good work!”
- - -
SG Cares is a movement to support Singaporeans’ goodwill. It is about sharing inspiring stories, forging partnerships and growing opportunities for volunteerism. You may be far away from home, but Singaporeans overseas actively contribute to good causes, whether in your current community, or those back in Singapore.
Do you know an overseas Singaporean who deserves a special mention? Let us know here.