Author Archives: Mira

As a student from Brunei, I wish to say to all teachers..

Teachers guide, inspire, and motivate. They impart life lessons, watch us grow, and believe in us even when we can’t. They have touched our hearts, and now we put our HEARTs out for them! Though we shouldn’t only show appreciation for our teachers once a year, Teachers’ Day is still a day we celebrate joyously and with most sincerity. As a Brunei intern, I too, would like to share with you stories of gratitude and valuable lessons learnt from my teachers back home.

My involvement in Heartware Network’s ‘We Love Our Teachers’ Project 2017 took me down memory lane, back to my secondary school years in Brunei. Every class has that kid who is always easily frightened, shy, and has low self-esteem. That kid in the class was me. I couldn’t stomach doing presentations in front of a crowd, was too shy to ask questions, and kept to myself a lot. My peers used to make fun of me.

But my teacher at the time – Ms Lynn – taught the 15 year old me that in order to succeed, I had to break out of my comfort zone. This piece of advice turned my whole world around. Her words inspired and motivated me to improve myself. I have since blossomed into someone braver and more confident. I now keep an open mind and won’t turn away from a challenge.

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I was 15 when I embarked on my first trip to Guangzhou, China with my school mates.

What did I do next? I enrolled myself in various co-curricular activities like rugby, martial arts, and even chess. I tried to participate in many activities because I wanted to push myself and grow. I might not be the smartest in class, but I was selected for various competitions and overseas programmes. For instance, Ms Lynn hand-picked me to join a cultural immersion programme to Guangzhou in China. We showcased our Bruneian culture by performing traditional dances and demonstrating the Malay martial art of Silat. The trip to Guangzhou was truly an eye-opener, and I met students from countries all over the region like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

WLOTP17-2 Group photo with Ms Lynn (bottom right) and the students and teachers from Thailand, China and Brunei

Fast forward 2 years later, I found myself doing well enough to enter a Sixth Form Centre where I met Ms Lim and Ms Rusnani. Ms Lim was my Business teacher and Ms Rusnani taught me Economics. I think it is so important that teachers see potential in their students and open up platforms for growth, because these two teachers nudged me to enrol in the HSBC Young Entrepreneurship Challenge. I would have to to compete with candidates with Master Degrees and a wealth of experience. I was only 17.

You can imagine I regressed to square one. I was terrified beyond my wits! There was no way I could take on such an uphill assignment with zero experience in entrepreneurship and no knowledge of the financial industry. But what crippled me most was my own mind. I kept overthinking about how these candidates were more professional and mature than me. Who was going to take me seriously at 17? WLOTP17-3

I was the youngest entrepreneur at the HSBC Young Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Again, Ms Lim and Ms Rusnani helped me build my confidence, enough for me to finally put my name down on the registration list. Like mothers watching their toddler take the first steps, they walked by me every step of the way. In the end, I ranked as one of the top 5 Young Entrepreneurs! It was so hard to believe, knowing that I believed so little in myself. My teachers gave me hope. WLOTP17-4

I overcame my fear of public speaking and gave a talk at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).

Ms Lim used to say do not be a “Jing Di Zhi Wa” (井底之蛙) – a trapped frog in the bottom of a well. She advised me to stay curious, adventurous, and be willing to explore beyond what I felt was my limit. That is the best way I can learn. And that is exactly what I did. These principles brought me to an internship overseas, and it led me to Heartware Network. I guess you can say the rest is history.

So to all the teachers out there, here’s our big THANK YOU!

It may not amount to much, but together with a small team of staff, 3 interns and 5 volunteers, we packed 3000 apples in special gift wraps with customized notes of appreciation within 1.5 days. We delivered these goodies to 19 schools peppered all over Singapore, and even got to experience the celebrations! You can check out our photo album here, but here are some snippets of the project:  WLOTP17-5

We packed apples from when the sun rose till it set.

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What’s gymming when you can carry boxes of apples all day?

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To witness such smiles from our sincere efforts was a bliss!

WLOTP17-8 A candid group picture to end the Project on a high note! We did it!

When I was in school, I felt that I did not show enough gratitude towards my teachers. Looking back, I want to reach out to them again. They were the unsung heroes that shaped me into the person that I am today. And I have so much to thank them for.

This article is written by Malai Ezzan.

 

What You Don’t See At The NDP Parades

NDP-RecoveredThe National Day Parade (NDP) is an annual nation-wide ceremony where Singaporeans celebrate Singapore’s independence. Since 2000, Heartware Network has been supporting the NDP Executive Committee in recruiting and training volunteers for hospitality management in the weekend parades. Till today, NDP remains the highlight event that attracts the largest pool of volunteers amongst our programmes!

A unique feature of NDP Hospitality Management is the distinct leadership tiers that allow our volunteers to assume various leadership roles. From top-tier leaders in the Youth Planning Committee (YPC©), cascading to the Sector Overall In-Charge (SOICs), Volunteer Leaders, and lastly General Volunteers,  aren’t you curious to get to know about them more?

NDP17-2The Youth Planning Committee (YPC) is the powerful team that oversees the operations, logistics, and administration of all the shows and parades.

The Youth Planning Committee

This group of youths can be amazing leaders! They are the very heart and soul of the volunteer team, without which, the NDP volunteer contingent would not exist at all. Trust us when we say that their tenacity and skills were really put to the test at all stages! Staying in the office close to midnight, and losing sleep in a common sight because they want to do the best for the family.

From recruiting, to scheduling and task delegation, they have built up an entire team from scratch and transformed this large group of strangers into a fully functional team – bonded and focused to deliver like-minded goals.

“NDP was an eye opener of how a national event is run. It was also a fruitful learning experience with many friendships formed.”

-       Leow Dai Jing, Operations Deputy In-Charge 2017

“It was indeed a tough, yet memorable experience. With many new learners in the YPC, and the small number of members, all of us struggled and learnt together as one. It is a huge commitment to be in YPC but till now, I did not regret going for the interview for this position.”

-       Tan Shu Ling, Admin Deputy In-Charge 2017

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We depended so much on our wonderful Logistics Team, who always ensured our volunteers were well-fed and hydrated!

The Logistics Team

A small team can move an army; these are the true unsung heroes of the volunteer team! They arrive earlier and leave later than anyone else, bending over backwards to pack, set up, and tear down logistics, just so that all other work can begin on time and run efficiently. They have worked hard, if not harder, than everyone else but are less recognized by the public as their work is mostly unseen. Still, they are the backbone of the contingent.

“I got to know the actual workload of being a logistics personnel, and the challenges that they face. It may seem like an easy job but in actual fact, it is not as easy as it seems.”

-       Sibelle Teo, Logistics Team 2017

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The Admin YPC© have worked tirelessly to send volunteers weekly emails, and made sure that all volunteer particulars are in order.

The Admin Team

Think all they do is to track and note down things? Try working for hours through excel sheets with long lists of volunteer details, timesheets, and medical leaves! Such intense detail-oriented work calls for immense meticulousness. One wrong slip and it will mess up the system! Once they are done with their own work, they will offer help to the rest of the team. Truly the angels of the event!

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The Volunteer Leaders for NDP 2017. Striving for Professionalism & Excellence always!

The Volunteer Leaders

These individuals chose to walk the road while shouldering greater responsibilities. Broken into smaller groups with more volunteers under them, these leaders are accountable for their group’s welfare and bonding. Indeed, they are like mother hens to the general volunteers who need somebody to lean on!

“Volunteering as a leader in NDP 2017 has allowed me to meet like-minded and passionate individuals. At the same time, I developed greater interpersonal skills.”

-       Keith Yeo, Outer Cordon Leader 2017

The Media Team

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You see their pictures, but they are barely in them! Here’s presenting the media team who were constantly on the move, with their fingers always poised on the camera shutter of their cameras. When on the ground, you could find them in sneaky corners, or otherwise calling groups of volunteers together, so that they can immortalize precious moments.

“It has been an enriching experience of having a family who possess the same interest and passion as me. And I have definitely learned a lot from my experience and i would like to continue my volunteering experience with Heartware!”

-       Madhumithaa, Media Team 2017

Although all of us came from different backgrounds, volunteering for the NDP has truly unified us with one common purpose, objective, and vision. We have witnessed first-hand the love, joy, and passion people have shown towards the country which further ignites and rekindles the spirit of patriotism within us. Congratulations to all volunteers! We made it to the finishing line together, and in harmony.

This article has been brought to you by the NDP 2017 Media Team.

Coming Home

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Koh Yinjie from Raffles Institution was given a chance to reminisce his younger days as he walked through the all-too-familiar corridors once more. He is back at Lianhua Primary School – affectionately called his “second home” – not as a student, but as a volunteer tutor by coincidence under the Tuition Programme.

Check out what Yinjie has to say on this fated experience, and how being deployed to his alma mater made him feel about his own teachers!

What were your initial thoughts when you received the deployment email that stated you will be going to Lianhua Primary School?

My initial reaction: Surprised! I had expected to be deployed to a school nearer to Bishan, as it is closer to my current school. However, during the training session, I saw the Lianhua Primary School logo in the list of partners and I actually did think to myself how it would be like if I were to be deployed there. At the time, I really did not expect that to come true.

After the initial surprise was really excitement, because I get to return to my second childhood home, and most importantly, give back to the school that made me who I am today. I was actually so proud to be deployed there that I contacted my ex-classmates to tell them about this wonderful opportunity.

TP-2 Yinjie together with his former classmates when he was a primary school student.

We noticed that you know both the teachers in-charge of the Tuition Programme well. How are they related to you?

Mr Matthew Chong was one of the teachers in-charge of the Prefectorial Board, where I served as Head Prefect in 2012.

Ms Elizabeth Wok did not teach my class – she was the form teacher of the class next-door. However, she was my teacher-mentor during my preparation for the West Zone Centre of Excellence: Junior Science Whiz Challenge (a science competition held in River Valley High) when I was in Primary 6. During such time, she personally taught me the content that was required in the competition in a one-to-one setting (not unlike the Tuition Program setting, interestingly).

TP-3 Yinjie with Ms Elizabeth Wok during his Primary 6 Graduation Day.

How would you describe your primary school days to be like? What kind of student were you back then?

I truly enjoyed my time in Lianhua because of all the opportunities it provided me. The teachers are also encouraging and helpful. As a student I was more academically inclined, so I was grateful when my teachers enrolled me in various competitions and enabled me to represent the school. It was through these competitions that I discovered my true passion for Science, apart from the help of my dedicated Science teachers (including Ms Wok as I mentioned above).

Lianhua also gave me the chance to improve myself as a person. I developed my leadership skills through my stint as Head Prefect in Primary 6. This role had a profound impact on my life as I discovered my strengths and weaknesses, and I still hold those revelations dear today.

How had the teachers from Lianhua Primary impacted you when you were their student?

I was really fortunate to have 3 very dedicated and sincere form teachers throughout my 6 years at Lianhua (Mdm Zainal in Primary 1, Mdm Pek from Primary 2-3, and Mrs Tham from Primary 4-6). All of them contributed to my development as a student, and more importantly, as a person. I still remember to this day something that my P1 form teacher Mdm Zainal said to me over a decade ago. After I scored overall highest in the cohort in P1, she told me to always stay humble and set higher aims for myself, as that is the only way I can continue to grow and improve. It was probably just a minute of a conversation that happened a decade ago, but it truly shaped me to be who I am today.

Since then, I always continued to strive for the better and developed a perfectionistic attitude to my work, while also remaining humble and keeping an open mind in order to learn from others. This is just one example of how my teachers at Lianhua has shaped my development, and it is something that I will be forever grateful for.

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How does this programme make you feel towards your teachers?

Through this programme, I got the opportunity to be on the opposite side for once – being the teacher instead of the student. I got to experience what it is like to be the one teaching, and it really gave me a newfound respect for my teachers. Teaching just one student is already difficult enough; it needs lesson planning and execution, as well as retaining attention and keeping in control. To even contemplate teaching a class of 20, 30, or even 40, seems like an uphill task. So, I really admire how my teachers could handle such a large class, and yet still devote enough attention to each student. I think that that is really the hallmark of a good educator.

Were there any challenges you faced being the one teaching now?

Being a student, all you had to do was walk in with a receptive mind and benefit from the experience. However, being a tutor now, I had to diligently prepare for the lesson, and know exactly what I am going to teach and how I am going to teach it. Much of the work for a teacher/tutor happens outside of the classroom.

Furthermore, being the one teaching, I got to be the one ready – the one ready to teach, the one ready with the correct answers and methods, the one ready to be a role model my tutee can look up to – and this in itself is challenging.

How is the relationship with your tutee Bryan?

He is the happy and carefree one, and I’m the strict one in the relationship! He is a jovial and pleasant person, but sometimes he takes his playfulness too far when seriousness in academic work is required, and so I have to strictly rein him in. However, both of us clicked from day one, and I’m often surprised and touched by how much he cares for me – even through small ways like offering me a sweet, or wondering whether I was okay if I came late for sessions.

Any goals for your tutee and yourself?

While I would really want him to excel academically, we have to be realistic and know that it is difficult to make drastic improvements in merely 13 lessons. So my aim for the lessons is to help him to set life goals, and find something to work towards, because having something an aim is the biggest motivation.

As for myself, I signed up for this programme because I want to make a difference to the community through my own strengths and passions. Now that I am attached to Lianhua, I also have the additional aim of giving back to my alma mater. But really, what I want to achieve for myself through this programme is to learn more about myself through the act of teaching others. I would like to learn more about my own strengths and weaknesses, and to learn from my tutee as well.

Do you have any words to say to Lianhua Primary School and the teachers for Teachers’ Day?

I definitely want to say a big thank you to Lianhua Primary School, as well as to my former teachers for making my childhood so enjoyable and memorable, and for making me who I am today! And to all the teachers in Lianhua and beyond, I really respect your line of work as it really takes something to persevere in this tiring but noble career; and the desire to touch the hearts of every single one of your students.

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What It Means To Be Singaporean

Our ancestors had travelled thousands of miles to seek greater opportunities, landed in Singapore, and finally called it home. From mudflats to metropolis, they saw through impressive transformations, as our forefathers triumphed challenges and surpassed others’ expectations. They suffered and endured, and the outcome is the Singapore we know and love today.

Being Singaporean is an amalgamation of two ends of a spectrum: a little influence from the East and West, of tradition and progressiveness, fun and stress, familiarity and surprise. Not to mention, we have have developed certain eyebrow-raising practices and traits that are truly one-of-a-kind – one that makes a fellow Singaporean recognise another from a mile away. What are we best known for?

Being “kiasu”

Singaporeans are kiasu! Kiasu originates from the Hokkien dialect, and describes a (fiery) desire to not lose out to others. We are anxious to sieze opportunities, and find comfort when our desires are within our grasps. Is there a limited edition Hello Kitty toy in town? How about the newest McDonald Nasi Lemak burger? When the latest fad appears, you can be sure to expect long queues!

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An overnight queue for the iPhone 7? Better bring a pillow for comfort.

Image credit: channelnewsasia.com

Still, contrary to its negative connotation on over-competitiveness, being kiasu certainly has its benefits. This quality motivates us to strive for the best and discover ways to keep improving. On a national scale, our economy is ranked as one of the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in the world despite limited natural resources – that, on top of being consistently ranked number one in various surveys and rankings. Singapore’s success is by no means a coincidence. Do you think a little of our kiasu spirit plays a part? Be mindful, however, to not be so kiasu it becomes overbearing, and at the expense of others!

Efficiency

To live in Singapore is to live a fast-paced life. To this effect, efficiency is a quality truly valued. Not only do we want to be good at everything we do, we want to do it fast. For example, Singapore is gradually turning into a cashless society. Why proceed with conventional modes of payment when there is Apply Pay or VISA PayWave? We are the famous “short-cut kings”. We even created Singlish to communicate succinctly in multilingual flavours!

Singlish Image credit: hiddensingapore.com

Some fun facts that will make you proud:  Singapore’s healthcare is ranked 2nd most efficient worldwide, and the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Report ranked Singapore as the 2nd most efficient government in the world, just behind Qatar. We are fast and tenacious problem-solvers with a can-do spirit! But do remember that a fast-paced and efficient life is not always the best thing for us. It is refreshing to slow down every now and then to smell the roses. Don’t just live by the moment; live in it. 

Passion for food

One of our greatest pride is the amazing array of local and foreign dishes that give the taste buds reasons to party. Satay, rojak, bak chor mee, chicken rice… We bet the mention of these dishes have already got you salivating and thinking about your next meal. Truly, food binds us all.

Food Image credit: cuddlesandrage.com

Because food is so central to our lives, it is also an area of passion for a great number of Singaporeans. More local entrepreneurs are starting their own cafés, with some making an appearance in the HDB heartlands. For example, Hougang may seem like an unusual place to find a French patisserie, but that is home to Ciel Patisserie, that sells a wholesome range of cakes and tarts that will tickle your fancy. If you crave gourmet waffles and ice-cream, the Toa Payoh neighbourhood Creamier – a quaint dessert place that prepares quality sorbet and one of the best waffles in Singapore, and claimed by Singapore’s food blogger, Lady Iron Chef.

Technological savviness

Singaporeans are virtually connected 24/7 with the omnipresent Wi-Fi and mobile data networks. In this age of social media, youths without Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat accounts are truly a rare breed. Fascinatingly, this is the reason CNN Travel rated Singaporeans as the 2nd coolest nationality, behind Brazilians. Old school notions of cool have been given a fresh new face: internet geeks are now ruling the planet. 

 SocialMediaImage credit: bitrebels.com

Now that we are a wired nation, a single post can go viral within minutes with little care for whether its contents can elicit uplifting or detrimental effects. Don’t forget that no one is truly anonymous behind screen, and that we are still accountable for all our online activities. Singaporeans are not just mindless social media kings and queens; we can strive to be responsible too. A humorous, positive, and Instagram-worthy Singapore – now wouldn’t that be an awesome thing to be?

Truly, there’s no place else we’d rather call home.

Happy 52nd Birthday Singapore!

This article has been brought to you by the NDP 2017 Media Team.

President Tony Tan: ‘Youths are the Future’

Speech by President Tony Tan at the Heartware Network 17th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Monday, 3 July 2017, 7.30 pm at the Grand Mandarin Ballroom, Mandarin Orchard Singapore

Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee and Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, Advisors, Heartware Network

Bill Foo, Chairman, Heartware Network

Partners, volunteers and friends of Heartware Network

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening.

Thank you for being here this evening to support Heartware Network’s 17th Anniversary Gala dinner 2017.

We often said youths are the future, our hope and leaders of tomorrow. Young people are the driving force of change; the next generation to carry on the legacy and to lead society.

While we train their minds, we should not turn our sights away from helping youths with character development. This strikes at the core of Heartware Network’s mission. I am heartened to learn that Singapore has an organisation, committed to shaping our youths to become confident and resilient leaders, and community champions.

In the past 17 years, many initiatives have been introduced by Heartware Network to help our youths develop to their fullest potential. In particular, the Heartware Network’s Youthbank volunteer management system is an initiative that focuses on developing our youths’ compassion and empathy. Just like a bank, Youthbank allows youths to ‘deposit’ their Heart hours, or volunteering hours. This not only allows youths to build on their “volunteering bank account” but also allows schools to track their history. In just three years, Heartware Network has worked with 155 schools and 14 community partners for the programmes they have. To date, 3,728 youth volunteers have received Heartware training, contributing to 230,409 volunteering hours (9,600 days).

Heartware Network also fosters an inclusive and caring society by encouraging our youth to help others in need. Through Heartware Network’s Support Our Pioneers Programme, youth volunteers provide socio-emotional support to the elderly through be-friending initiatives such as bi-monthly visitations and activities. These youths learn to build up their compassion and empathy for the elderly and also show their appreciation towards those who have helped to build Singapore into who we are today.

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Support Our Pioneers is an elderly-centric programme that focuses on bi-monthly visitations to the elderly’s houses in mature estates. 

The work that the volunteers do go beyond assisting the elderly. A group of students from Raffles Institution (Junior College) started a pilot tuition programme in 2009 to reach out to underprivileged primary school students. I am happy to note that in the last three years, the pool of tutors have grown to include those from Junior colleges, Integrated Programme (IP) Schools and Universities. In just three years, its 240 tutors have coached 478 primary school students.

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The  Tuition Programme, initially started by a group of Raffles Institution students, now enjoys a a growing pool of volunteer tutors from various institutions. The newest school to come on board for this fulfilling cause is Eunoia JC. 

Heartware Network goes beyond engaging youths to be proactive in serving others with a HEART and develop them into community champions, Heartware Network also develops youths to be resilient. As we train our youths with hard skills, it is even more critical to equip them with lifeskills.

EXPLORE NEW OPPORTUNITIES

I would also like to encourage our youths to venture out and have an enterprising spirit to try out new ideas and opportunities. Never worry if you fail. Pick yourself up and try again. This is the spirit we need to inculcate in our youths because it is with resilience that we can bring Singapore to the next level in the world-stage.

Youth Business Singapore (YBS), a programme by Heartware Network, has partnered with Courts Asia Limited to provide start-up funding for youth entrepreneurs. This platform also provides mentoring and networking opportunities in 46 countries and is a springboard for our start-ups to venture overseas. I am pleased that Courts Asia has set aside $1milion to provide micro-financing to young entrepreneurs.

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Mr Edwin Yeo is a Youth Business Singapore entrepreneur since 2009, and the managing director and founder of Opcon Pte Ltd. 

One of the young entrepreneurs, Edwin Yeo, Managing Director & Founder of Opcon Ptd Ltd, is a beneficiary of YBS. Opcon Ptd Ltd offers the maritime industry with unique and innovative underwater products like Black Ace™ and Clear Vision Technology. Despite having faced many setbacks in the early days, Edwin continued to persevere and saw opportunities to further improve his products. With Bill Foo as mentor, Edwin was able to bring his products to market. Today, his products have attracted many clients, including those from the defence industry, and are sold in countries such as Saudi Arabia.

CONCLUSION

Ladies and gentlemen, everyone plays an important role in our society. It is the duty of every member of society to actively participate in the strengthening of our community. Singapore’s future lies with our youths. Let us continue on this mission to engage, mentor and involve them so they can meaningfully contribute to Singapore, and grow into inspiring leaders.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to everyone present here today, for your generous support to Heartware Network.

Thank you and have an enjoyable evening.

Take Heart, Transform Lives

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A quote once goes, “Life is like an ocean. It can be calm and still, or rough and rigid. But in the end, it’s always beautiful.” Like the ocean, the world that we know holds boundless potential for growth. Overcome those challenges, and you will come out a stronger person. The question is: Are you ready to take that dive?

Finding courage to make a change for the better is the crux of this year’s Heartware Network Fundraising Gala Dinner theme, ‘Take Heart, Transform Lives’. It is a sentiment that resonates deeply within our youth, who are not discouraged, and display resilience in the face of adversity. Through giving back to the community, they learn to rise above their circumstances and create positive change in their own lives and the lives of the people they reach out to.

SEE also: Where will your purposeful decisions to do good lead you to?

To celebrate the many achievements attained by our youth for their work in the community, a Fundraising Gala Dinner was held at Mandarin Orchard Singapore on 3 July 2017, with Guests-of-Honour President Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Mary Tan gracing the evening. Funds raised during the Dinner will sustain the various meaningful and noteworthy activities at Heartware Network.

EZ0C9895Heartware Network Fundraising Chairman Mr Anthony Lim greeting His Excellency President Dr Tony Tan as he arrived at the foyer of Mandarin Orchard Singapore.

EZ0C9805Guests took the opportunity to broaden their network and catch up with long-time friends.

EZ0C9971An opening dance number by Greendale Primary School, one of Tuition Programme’s beneficiary partners.

The night was embellished with uplifting stories of personal journeys and transformations of both volunteers and beneficiaries from various Heartware Network programmes.

One of the speakers of the night, Joan Cheong traced her journey as a 15-year old novice in the aRWSome Apprenticeship 2015 with Resorts World Sentosa, knowing close to nothing about providing service to others, to eventually mustering the courage to volunteer as part of the Home Team Show and Festival 2017 Hospitality Management. She quipped that “life becomes more meaningful once you know that you are the cause of something great, and how many people you can leave an impact on”.

And indeed, experiencing and leaving an ‘impact’ is a running motif in all the sharings. Priyadharshini, a current Youth Planning Committee member in the National Day Parade (NDP) Hospitality Management 2017 attested that the dedication of her leaders in past NDP events had inspired her to step up and take heart when facing challenges during volunteer deployment. On the other hand, volunteer Erika Eden Ong from Tuition Programme was transformed by her tutees who displayed resilience in conquering their weakest subjects. Confessing to living in a comfort bubble sometimes, Erika urged all to open their eyes and hearts to others in the community who truly need a helping hand.

SEE also: Their inspirational speeches in full!

Compilation of Speakers From L to R: Joan Cheong, Priyadharshini, Erika Eden Ong

The night took on an intimate and soulful turn with two star-studded performers, pianist Joseph Frederic and 14 year-old Dunman High School flutist Ong Yiting. The duet played a medley of songs which include Csardas, Memory and My Heart Will Go On.

EZ0C0016Pianist Joseph Frederic and Ong Yiting performing as a mesmerizing duet.

As the Dinner also commemorates the unique talents of Heartware Network’s volunteers, one of our most dedicated volunteers, Foo Shun Rong, rose up to the occasion to perform a very engaging one-man skit! Despite only having dance background, he took on acting for the first time (though with apprehension), and recreated animated facial expressions well.

EZ0C0162Shun Rong mimicking a National Day Parade volunteer usher greeting incoming guests.

The skit titled ‘The First Step’ tells the story of a junior college student from a disadvantaged background, who works part-time as a barista to relieve some personal expenses and tuition fees. In his spare time, he volunteers in 3 events: Tuition Programme, Support Our Pioneers, and National Day Parade. The narrative follows the character’s thought processes as he uses these volunteering platforms to give love, feel appreciated, and at the end of it, overcome the difficult situations he face. Shun Rong has also recently been appointed as a member of the Youth Volunteer Council – a committee set up to support Heartware Network in furthering its mission of inspiring, coaching and mentoring youth; and deepening the ties between past volunteers, the community, and the charity.

EZ0C0171A highlight speech of the evening was brought on by Executive Director Ms Tan See Leng, who shared her rich experience working with the Heartware Network youth for the past 8 years.

Guest-Of-Honour President Dr Tony Tan also gave a rousing speech on the importance of nurturing the youth of Singapore. He mentioned that the youth are our hope and leaders of tomorrow and that they are the driving force of change. While we train their minds, it is equally important to develop their character, which is Heartware Network’s mission. He urged the youth to venture out, and have an enterprising spirit to try out new ideas and opportunities. Indeed, it is this very spirit that can bring Singapore to greater heights.

EZ0C0200President Tony Tan delivering his speech on the importance of nurturing youths for a brighter future.

EZ0C0293Tokens of appreciation to Guests-of-Honour Dr Tony Tan and his wife Mrs Mary Tan.

A big thank you to all past and present supporters of Heartware Network , some of whom were graciously presented certificates of appreciation during the Dinner. If you would like to make a donation, follow this link. Your ardent support in youth development will help to create a new legacy of community champions.

At Heartware Network, all our staff and volunteers are driven by one common faith – if it is not from the heart, it is not worth doing. The many inspirational sharings that filled the dinner was a true exemplification of the hard and Heart work of our youth volunteers. They make up the heart and soul of Heartware Network. Here’s to a prosperous future in volunteerism!

Wearing Many Hats

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It is hard being a full-time student holding a part time job to pay off everyday expenses. Throw volunteering into that mix? One word: IMPOSSIBLE!

And yet this arduous lifestyle has been proven possible. Meet Tiffany Ling, a Year 3 Statistics major from the National University of Singapore.

003Tiffany Ling Jia Ying, National Day Parade volunteer in 2015/16/17.

As the family’s eldest child, Tiffany takes it upon herself to lighten her financial dependence on her parents by taking responsibility of personal expenses. She took up a part-time job as a barista at Starbucks since 2015, and also tutors younger students to further supplement her income.

Still, giving back to the community is her true passion. Volunteering quickly became a hobby, though this decision was not made lightly given her heavy commitments. The avid volunteer officially became part of the volunteer family for the National Day Parade (NDP) Hospitality Management since 2015. As her passion also spilled into her university life, she embarked on a school Service Learning Project (‘Project Angel’) to Cambodia, of which she recently returned from.

Sounds like a mountain of commitment for a 22 years old student, on her way to attaining an honours degree. How does she do it? And what has she gained from her volunteering endeavours? Join the NDP Media Team for a dig on Tiffany’s inspiring story as a student, barista, tutor, and volunteer.

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Tiffany was a volunteer leader in 2016. Here, she poses for a photo with the army personnel and her group members Jerome and Naveen.

Media Team:

Hello Tiffany! Great to see you again as a volunteer for NDP 2017! What made you return to volunteer this year too?

Tiffany: The past two experiences I have had with Heartware Network as a NDP volunteer was awesome! I made a lot of friends from volunteering. A good number of us decided to join again and experience the grit together once more.I also learned lots! Like how to work individually and as part of a team. So the lessons I learnt from all these moments are good motivation for me to return, again and again.
Media Team: Any memorable lessons you can share with us?
Tiffany: Because we are dealing with the public, NDP volunteers are required to interact with people of different ages from all walks of life. This great exposure is so relatable to my own work life, when I need to communicate better with my barista colleagues and the patrons. My part-time job is also all about providing excellent service, so volunteering for NDP complements my work well, and vice versa.

ndptiffanyAs a volunteer leader in the North Sector in 2015, Tiffany must always be on the ball when communicating and delivering accurate information to volunteers under her lead.

Tiffany: As a leader in NDP, I learnt to take initiative and be courageous in voicing out my opinions when I feel that things are not going the way they should be. Skills like these spill over to my involvement in my school’s Service Learning Project ‘Project Angel’, in which I am Head of the Programmes Department. Just as I did in NDP, I learnt to gather my teammates’ attention in Project Angel, and give constructive feedback. I am able to guide and bond my teammates.
Media Team: There are so many commitments you juggling. How do you manage to cope with so many responsibilities?
Tiffany: It’s not as terrible as you think it is. The good thing about being involved in NDP is that the dates have already been provided to the volunteers in advance. There is time to plan my schedule around these stipulated dates, and allocate sufficient time for me to study and work. So it’s all about time management and prioritising!A bonus point, of course, is that being a volunteer for NDP is fun and engaging. When I’m amongst my awesome fellow volunteers, it is easy to keep my spirits up and my feet going. I do not mind sacrificing my personal time for it at all.
Media Team: Because many of the NDP volunteers are also studying or working full-time, can you share some advice with them?
Tiffany: Don’t be too worried about not being able to cope. Just come with an open mind and have fun. Trust the planning committee and learn as much as you can! Sometimes, I forget I am volunteering because of how much I have learnt from this experience. I look forward to all of us gaining as much as we can from this wonderful experience at NDP together.

Catch Tiffany in action as an Outer Cordon Volunteer in NDP 2017. See you there on all upcoming NE parades!

This article has been brought to you by the NDP 2017 Media Team. Smile when you see us, so that we capture your picture-perfect moments! 

Stories of Transformations

Compilation of Speakers

On 3 July 2017, Heartware Network hosted a Fundraising Gala Dinner with the theme of ‘Take Heart, Transform Lives’ – a motif that encourages resilience in the face of adversity and transformation through acts of servant leadership. The Dinner, which was graced by President Dr Tony Tan and his wife Mrs Mary Tan, was filled with anecdotes of personal journeys that left indelible impressions on all who attended. Continue reading

The Subtle Art of Leading

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Over the June holidays (now done and dusted!), our tutor leaders from the Tuition Programme seized the opportunity to upgrade their leadership skills while other tutors and tutees enjoyed the well-deserved school break. Talk about maximizing your holidays!

Though Heartware Network provides ample leadership training in event-based programmes like the National Day Parade Hospitality Management, it is a first for Tuition Programme. The programme’s encouraging growth calls for greater ownership and empowerment to our volunteer tutors, so the formation for a tutor leader group is anchored strongly this year.

The tutor leaders’ training on 17 June 2017 was conceptualized and designed by past volunteer tutor leader Syafiq Sahrom, who later insisted on participating in the training (in crutches due to a recent surgery, no less. What a dedicated exemplary leader!)

DSC00265-20170627-20170707-115344The leaders shared on some challenges they faced on the ground. It’s so serious here!

IMG_4002-20170627-20170707-115410Syafiq in the midst of the leaders, facilitating their discussions and probing the leaders to think further.

These tutor leaders have been carefully selected after comprehensive interviews and observations in past volunteer training sessions and on first deployment days. Yet despite the rigorous assessment, the leaders still found difficulties leading their respective tutor teams when the rubber hits the road. Plan as they could on certain contingencies, uncomfortable situations will naturally crop up.

They ask “How can I better help my fellow tutors to adjust? Is there any way I can help my tutors better manage their tutees’ erratic behavior?”

We say, there is no straightforward answer. But we can chip away at these issues in bite-sized goals. The leaders worked through modules on how to solidify team rapport, elevate problem-solving skills, and communicate tactfully as leaders.

Did you know that communication is the prime mistake leaders often make that causes their team members to leave? Never assume that others understand you perfectly, so frame your instructions clearly and concisely. Openly acknowledge the good deeds of others, and criticize privately. Indeed, the two and half hour spent together was filled with contemplative discussions and honest sharings amongst other interesting activities.

DSC00270-20170627-20170707-115354“What does effective teamwork mean?”

DSC00244-20170627-20170707-115412Caught in a bind! But with careful observation and good communication, we can do this!

DSC00287-20170627-20170707-115406Have you guys tried, “Don’t Ping the Pong”? We need teamwork to keep the ball bouncing upwards!

For a taste of the fun training content, try out this simple game called Stranded to learn about prioritizing and rationalizing.

Stranded

Plane crashImage credit: http://www.pcmode.org/plane-crash-survivor-cartoon.html

Boom! The plane you were on lost control mid-flight and it crashed on a mountainside in the middle of nowhere. Imagine that you managed to crawl out of the wreckage miraculously unscathed. You are the only survivor. The plane is about to burst into flames, and you only have time to salvage 7 items. What would you pick out of the list below? Hurry, time is ticking!

Stranded List3, 2, 1. The rest of the items are now engulfed in flames.

Look at the 7 items that you picked. Why did you choose these out of the whole list? How are these items related to your survival?

Now think like a tutor.

You are currently scrambling to submit a personal assignment the next day, but there is a pre-arranged tuition session happening this afternoon. When you arrive at the session, your tutee is patiently waiting for you at the table. However, you noticed that another tutor is having a really difficult time handling his own tutee. The cheeky tutee is running about the classroom and your fellow tutor is at a loss if what to do. At the same time, you did a head count and noticed that while there is supposed to have 5 tutors for this session, there is only 4. You did not receive a pre-empt message from the missing tutor that she will not be around. Now there are 10 children to 4 tutors.

What stress! How would you handle this situation?

DSC00268-20170627-20170707-115349Did they choose funny items for their own Stranded list?

Thank you tutor leaders for choosing to upgrade yourselves in this precious rest period. Remember that with a stronger leadership foundation, you can take on bigger challenges, and scale to greater heights. We look forward to you having an even more fruitful time with your fellow tutors and dear tutees in the second half of the programme’s run.

Why Stop When You Can Go Further!

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What does ‘teachable spirit’ look like? Some marked characteristics include being aware of one’s own limitations, especially in knowledge and skills, and regularly seeking guidance to fill those gaps. In the presence of mentors, these individuals actively listen and take notes, and are prepared to change their viewpoints. The sincerity to learn motivates them to constantly break out of their comfort zones and display resilience in the face of failures.

Inculcating a teachable spirit and life-long learning are shared visions held by both Heartware Network and Barclays Singapore. It is with delight that Heartware Network assisted in the Barclays Citizenship Day on 11 May 2017, in which Barclays Singapore fronted two fruitful workshops catered for the youth and elderly separately.

IMG_5821The elderly were excited for the workshop early in the morning!

Rapid technology advancement saw the replacement of pagers and push-button telephones to touch-screen phones within just a few years. We are scrambling to understand the latest technology, but this race has resulted with some being left behind – the elderly being one of the most disadvantaged groups. As of April 2017, all 2G networks across Singapore were shut off. Having gotten used to 2G network phones, the elderly now needed extra help in using 3G smartphones. A morning workshop was then set up to teach the elderly how to use simple functions on 3G smartphones at the Taman Jurong Senior Activity Centre (SAC).

IMG_5822Barclays facilitators showing an elderly how to capture videos with her smartphone.

Some elderly were gifted smartphones by their relatives, but have yet to accustom themselves to the phone’s many applications and sleek maneuvering screen. The workshop enabled the elderly to explore capturing photos and videos, thereby enabling them to save precious memories of loved ones, available for playback at the touch of their fingertips. The elderly also learnt to surf the internet on their phones.

With more practice, these elderly will be more technologically astute, and can better upkeep to today’s generation’s lifestyles. We certainly hope that this is not the end of their pursuit of creativity and growth.

IMG_5826Have fun exploring more functions on the smartphone! You can do it!

On the other side of Singapore in the afternoon, another workshop was well underway. 30-odd students from ITE College East and several Heartware Network volunteers gathered to gain skills on interview techniques, resume writing, and job searching. As the job market looks less rosy as of late, this workshop can offer the youth a head-start in acquiring soft skills that can help them stand out in job applications.

IMG_3427-20170620-113546Students and Barclays facilitators mingling around in a game of Human Bingo.

Every word and gesture made determines whether an individual can catch the attention of potential employers before and during an interview. The session also debunked some myths of resume-writing, revealing what is best to include or leave out. A simple tip shared was that resumes ought to be neat and clear for the reader to discern. Sometimes, simplicity is the glory of expression.

Past the resume stage comes the big interview. A crucial tip offered by the Barclays facilitators is to put effort in researching and familiarizing with the company’s corporate background, organizational structure, aims and objectives, mission, or anything that may be relevant to the role you are applying for. It shows earnestness for the company.

Common questions asked by interviewers are to do with describing strengths and weaknesses, and how the individual can value-add to the company. These questions can make unsuspecting interviewees flabbergasted. So be on your toes, armed with the right words at the tip of your tongue.

IMG_5822Broken up into small groups, the students better received personal mentorship from the Barclays facilitators.

Thank you Barclays Singapore for organizing these workshops to help our beneficiaries and partners pick up and excel in useful life skills. We hope for more collaboration in the near future!

IMG_3477-20170620-113622All the best, students, for your future job applications!