Author Archives: Mira

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.

IMG_0801-20170424-184231

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.

IMG_0290-20170421-121613

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.

IMG_3114

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

   EZ0C0312

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

IMG_5726-20160921-121847

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.

IMG_7064

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

DSC00285-20170627-20170707-115358

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!

IMG_3454-20170620-113556

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!

An Apprentice at 15

DSC_0220-20170617-180629

Can you recall what you were doing at the tender age of 15? Most of us would be immersed in friends, studies, and co-curricular activities… but definitely not work. That is not the case for these 20 students from Serangoon Garden Secondary School, who got to experience the authentic working world by taking part in the Marina Bay Sands Apprenticeship, as part of the Heartware – Character and Citizenship Leadership Programme.

Some of these students may not hold any career ambitions for now, so this apprenticeship helps to broaden their horizons on possible future vocations, and allowed them to pick up life-long skills like effective tactful communication, and maintain professional conduct – all these are useful and necessary for leadership growth.

DSC09357-20170617-180640Ms Jess from Marina Bay Sands warmly welcomed the young students into the working world. 

DSC09790-20170617-180828Students were attached to mentors who guided them in guest and visitor services. 

DSC09920-20170617-180843The on-the-job training helped to nurture the students’ confidence, and taught them how to upkeep a professional attitude towards and amongst guests.

The two-weeks apprenticeship took place at the ArtScience Museum and Sands SkyPark, where the 20 students split into groups of 10 to separate venues. After a week, they switched venues and bring over skills that they have learned at one place to the other.

Check out the clip below to see how the Apprenticeship went!

As it was their first time ever working, all the students were doubtful of their abilities, and apprehensive about the experiences that awaited them. Yet shortly into the apprenticeship, their worries were unfounded as their mentors and supervisors were friendly and warm. There were so many lessons gained! Let Amalia and Kelly tell you more about it:

“…more appreciative of the workers’ hard work…”

A sharing by Siti Amalia Bte Saladin

Amalia-20170617-181847

“Before starting this apprenticeship, I had some expectations of myself which I would like to achieve, which in the end, I did. I expect myself to be more friendly, vocal and able to assist the guests when they need help with certain things. On the other hand, I also do have my concerns as it was the first time for me to be working & I would need to get some time to adapt myself with the new environment. I was actually afraid that I might not be able to do my work properly and also working with new people.

Nevertheless, I managed to do my work and was less afraid to work with other people. I truly enjoyed myself & I could sense that I am changing slowly for the better. I would also like to recall my first day of work at ArtScience Museum (ASM). I was having mixed feelings as I do not know how working life would be but after experiencing it myself, it truly needs hard work & dedication. Everyone there was very nice and polite which made me liked working at ASM. It was a bonus. Overall, my first day of work at ASM ended pretty well.

Through this apprenticeship, at Art Science Museum, I have learnt a lot. Not only have I grown to be more confident, I have also learnt new skills such as learning how to respond critically to the guests’ inquiries respectively. For instance, there was a time when a guest asked me for help. She asked me to help her son fold the paper template given. I actually tried to help but I did not know how to fold it either.

Hence, I went to find my mentor, and directed him to the guest. I was honestly satisfied as before I asked my mentor for help, I took the initiative to help as much as I could instead of revealing that I did not know. This was also a protocol we apprentices were advised in doing on our first day of apprenticeship. At this moment, I learnt that I need to always appear confident as to show assurance to the guests and seek to assist them by referring them to a more experienced worker.

In my point of view, motivational talks and workshops is not as effective or impactful as when you get to go through the experience yourself. Through my experience working here, I have learnt to be more appreciative of the workers’ hard work and effort in putting the best service for the guests. I learnt to show more initiative & respect. I believe that the new set of skills that I have learnt from my mentors will definitely benefit me a lot in the future, and help to shape my career and personality.

I would like to thank my mentors from both ArtScience Museum and SkyPark for guiding me through this journey. Without them, I would not have learnt as much as I have now. My time here as an apprentice has been enjoyable and fulfilling.”

“…always be mindful about the time we have…”

A sharing by Kelly Lai Si Yuan:

Kelly-20170617-181923

“In my first week here, I was attached to Sands Skypark. The night before the apprenticeship began, I was worried that I could not adapt to the new environment, especially as it is my first time working. However on the first day of work, everyone was really friendly and easy going. The supervisors and mentors would approach me first and introduce themselves to me. As a newbie, that made me feel comfortable and I was not as worried anymore.

At Sands SkyPark, our job was to greet the guests, and make sure that they have a ticket to access Level 56 where the observatory deck is. When we are deployed to the infinity pool, we had to give out towels to guests and wish them an enjoyable day. We also have to be active in collecting dirty towels around to keep the area clean.

It was really difficult in the afternoon as that is when the sun is especially bright and hot.  We were burning, and after work our face would be red. Some of us even got sunburnt but we ensured to put on as much sunblock as possible. It is still nice to see that all of us are nicely tanned! We also had some difficulties in communicating with foreigners because of accents or language barriers, so we tried hard to understand and interpret their needs by using some hand signals.

A memorable moment at the Sands SkyPark was the chance to see the Spiderman actor Tom Holland and his friends at the pool. We were really excited and happy to see him there.

I have learnt that we should always be mindful about the time we have, and make full use of it by working efficiently and prioritise things that are more important. Though we may feel doubtful at times, it is important too that we venture out of our comfort zones, to meet new people and take initiative in resolving problems.

I would like to thank Heartware Network for giving us this rare opportunity to work with people at 15 years old, and teaching us the skills and values to prepare us for work. Thank you to teachers and friends who have supported and encouraged me to be better, and lastly my deepest gratitude to our mentors at Sands SkyPark and ArtScience Museum who guided us along in this journey.”

Two Pulses of a Heart

No two interns are the same. So every time one arrives at the Heartware Network office for the first time, we know the coming months will be filled with pleasant discoveries and boisterous story-telling sessions over lunch. Every half a year, we look forward to receiving a new batch of interns from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD).  In fact, two of our Brunei interns, Halif Hassim and Nathan Chong, recently ended their internship with us! It was difficult to see them depart, so we wanted to get into their heads a little…

Why did you choose Singapore / Heartware Network as a place of internship?

Halif: Well, the first reason was location. Singapore is not too distant from my home country, Brunei. Also, Singapore is well-known for being effective and efficient, especially in the work setting. It thought it was a golden opportunity to experience it first-hand. Although the work of this charity organisation is unrelated to my course (Computer Science major!), I took it as a challenge to explore other fields of work.

IMG_7571-20170530-175638

The interns with the HTSF logistics on the very first day of deployment.

Nathan: I want to do an overseas internship but the choices available were limited. What catalysed my decision was that I have relatives living in Singapore, so naturally I opted for it. How I came to choose Heartware… I just went with my guts. I was anxious about the kinds of experiences I was going to encounter, but I was prepared to help my colleagues reduce their workload to the best of my ability. That is the mindset that I brought with me to this new place.

IMG_6069-20170530-175950

Nathan (far left) on his last deployment on 27 May 2017 with the SOP volunteers at Lengkok Bahru.

How did you find the internship to be like? Has it helped you in any way?

Halif: I was mainly involved with the Support Our Pioneers (SOP) and the Home Team Show and Festival (HTSF) Hospitality Management. In SOP, I planned activities for volunteer trainings, and taught the volunteers basic conversational Malay together with Nathan. SOP involves connecting with the elderly through bi-monthly visitations, and assisting to their needs. It could be as simple as talking to them and befriending them. I learned to appreciate the elderly more than before, and get to know their emotions, experiences, and stories.

IMG_0830

The volunteers and Halif listening to Mr Freddie recount the stories of when he was in the army and his fitness routine.

I am reserved person. Before this, I had zilch experience interacting with the public, or being involved in events and programmes. So being here, I learnt to interact with youth from various institutions. Speaking up to others was a challenge for me, but now I am more confident doing so.

Nathan: In this organisation, I could feel two pulses within the organisation. Like how Traditional Chinese doctors pick up the pulses of both mother and her child in the womb, I identify the major (mother) pulse to be the Heartware staff. These people are crucial in keeping the organisation going. They maintain trust and respect for each other, and for the missions they stand for. The minor (baby) pulse represents Heartware’s volunteers, who are further nurtured by the staff’s guidance. Eventually, this minor pulse grows louder and stronger, affirming their position in this collaborative effort to Make A Difference.

HT6

Here’s the finale shot for Home Team Show and Festival 2017 which the interns were involved in.

As for myself, I became more observant and detail-oriented. I try to avoid making mistakes, but the staff often stressed that mistakes are all right, so long as we can grow from it. Good communication is also extremely important! I was given the opportunity to interview incoming volunteers. It was a first for me, and it definitely built up my confidence in terms of speaking as well as assessing the applicants.

Any difficulties faced? What were your learning points?

Halif: It was tough coping with a different working environment in a foreign land, especially one that requires quick thinking and action. It took me a while to adapt; I even resorted to ask for re-assurance from a past intern. To tackle this challenge, I pushed myself to think positively, and be proactive in clarifying doubts.

IMG_7782-20170530-181136

Halif peeking at the list of strengths and weaknesses of a student during the Heartware – Character and Citizenship Education Leadership Programme.

Nathan: There were times where work kept stacking up. There was no end to it! So I learnt to prioritise the important tasks. This way, I could better meet my deadlines.

Also, it was difficult knowing that Halif and I were only interns and would not be here for long. Because a few weeks in, I already felt like I am part of the Heartware family.

Any parting words you want to let us know?

Halif: There’s nothing left for me to say! But really, I am glad I took on this internship. My time being away from family and friends in Brunei re-affirmed my affection for them. I will miss the times we had here too.

Nathan: I personally think that when people talk about “experiences”, they think about tangible experiences like gaining technical or linguistic skills. They may ignore more intangible experiences like adaptability, and being sociable. I think these softer skills far trumps hard skills in terms of importance. You will find it difficult to integrate into any setting despite being book-smart, if you fail to communicate effectively. For that, I would like to extend my gratitude towards Heartware Network for giving me such an opportunity to learn and be a better me.

Leadership Begins With Me

18699693_1531644533572631_3021269303877132480_o

Think of a leader you know. How does this leader behave? Is this leader standing above the rest, delivering instructions in a firm voice? Does this leader find time to assure support for others undergoing difficulties? What you probably did not picture is a leader alone, deep in self-reflection.

“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”

-       Herbert Swope, U.S. Journalist

We put our faith in steady leaders who are in no rush to appease. It scares us to even think of being under the care of leaders who can be unhinged easily, and who let themselves be drifted away by winds of criticism towards popular, unjustifiable decisions. And so, that sense of personal assuredness built through self-reflection and discovery marks the starting point for 20 students from Serangoon Garden Secondary School. These budding leaders have been selected by their teachers to be part of the Heartware – Character and Citizenship Education (HW-CCE) Leadership Programme 2017.

IMG_7681-20170529-101616

The students come from different classes (from Technical to Express), so an icebreaker wouldn’t hurt.

IMG_7806-20170529-101220

Putera noting down what he felt was his strengths and weaknesses.

Who we are today is a medley of our past experiences, interests, skills, strengths and weaknesses. For these teenagers who may be grappling with identity formation and relationship-centric issues, a most noted skill they wish to gain is to stand in front other others confidently , and share their thoughts openly. They wanted to have a voice. Even if they can talk well, a mental barrier is hard to lift; it takes a lot of self-encouragement to dismiss the nagging feeling that others are judging them in whatever they do.

18671439_1531645226905895_8377780077847451207_o

Our slightly shy students standing in line to practise projecting their voices across the room.

In their introductory HW-CCE Leadership Programme lessons, the students learnt to listen to their inner selves, recognise support systems and motivations, and attune themselves to varying perspectives. They challenged themselves to communicate well, if not confidently, and identify bad thinking habits that can weigh them down. All these knowledge will be put into serious practice in June, when they will embark on a 2-week apprenticeship with Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Singapore!

On a different note, another group of Heartware Network leaders are well into solidifying their identity as… the Youth Volunteer Council (YVC)!

2017-05-29-PHOTO-00000497-20170530-113810

Present for the first YVC bonding session! From R to L: Chay Him, Wei Xiong, Shun Rong, Weiying, Ms See Leng, Chia Hui, Joyce and Elena.

YVC members are elected based on their past volunteering experiences holding leadership positions in Heartware Network programmes. The YVC was conceptualised to support Heartware Network in furthering its mission of inspiring, coaching and mentoring youth; it is responsible for strengthening and deepening the ties between past volunteers, the community, and the charity.

The team spent the last weekend of May playing an escape room game at Lockdown SG. Despite the fact that everyone has never attempted such a game before – they managed to escape 15 minutes before time was up! With a team of enthusiastic, sharp and witty young adults, it was no sweat thinking out of the box and reading between the lines. The YVC are still in the ideation stage, with some upcoming projects coming up.

2017-05-29-PHOTO-00000499-20170530-113834

Don’t underestimate our investigative prowess!

Exciting times lie ahead for all our leaders, both those in the YVC and HW-CCE Leadership Programme. Look forward to their progress in this road to personal excellence!

9 Heart Values of a Heartware Leader

IMG_0125

As of 6 May, we have two Leaders’ Training Sessions in the bag, and a next generation of Heartware Network leaders selected for the upcoming National Day Parade! Old birds have returned to guide the new kids round the block, who are still testing waters with what leadership skills they possess.

A leader’s road to personal excellence is not without challenges. But no matter the situation faced, there are core values that can guide our youth leaders to make the right decisions. Here are 9 values every Heartware Leader holds close to the heart:

#1 Respect

IMG_0106

 While presenting his group’s ideas, Yi Wei listen and takes in other groups’ suggestions as well.

At the crux of every human interaction lies the principle of respect, which is to value individuals as they are. It is most ethical, but it is hard to do sometimes. Imagine having to truly value someone who rubbed you off the wrong way! A leader is able to keep emotions in check and give respect to others, even towards unfavourable and dissenting people. Remember that even if you do not agree, everyone deserves the right to be heard and valued. Do not be quick to dismiss other ways of thinking as there may be a hidden gem. To give others the time to shine, isn’t that what respect is all about?

#2 Responsibility

With great power comes great responsibility! Leaders carry out their duties with a heightened sense of ownership, knowing that their words and actions will have definite impact on those they lead. There is a duty to ensure good welfare to others, affirm that objectives can be met, goals achieved, and tasks completed. You are a responsible leader if you can see through the team’s progress to the end. Most importantly, the one responsibility no one else can carry for you is to take care of yourself well, so that you can best take care of others.

#3 Dedication

IMG_0450

The YPC© puts in a lot of hours to make sure that training sessions goes well smoothly.

All of us juggle various commitments, and to do this well without compromising quality needs dedication. Often, a dedicated leader spends extra time and effort in effecting great outcomes, and this inspires others to attain a similar level of excellence and enthusiasm. It is easy to lose steam while working on a project, but dedication will keep you on the track.

#4 Integrity

A person of integrity is trustworthy and incorruptible. We don’t think twice about doing the right thing in front of others – especially if the act is simple, morally forthright, and ingratiating. But how about when no one else is watching, and you can choose to do the wrong thing? A leader with integrity maintains the conscience to carry out right deeds without needing acknowledgement, or fishing for attention and praise. They own up to their mistakes. They do these because their moral compass tells them to, which leads us to…

#5 Ethics

Ethics refer to well-founded standards for right and wrong. When you are at a moral crossroad, your ethics will guide you to act in ways that are fair and beneficial for all. This can be tricky, especially when not everyone subscribes to the same ethical standards as you do. We must aim to ensure that the decisions we make will neither sow discord nor result in unfair advantage to some over others.

#6 Professionalism & Excellence

IMG_0091

The logistics team of NDP 2017 keeping a smile throughout the day.

Professionalism and excellence is being competent in what you do, unaffected by varying moods. This applies too when you are having a terrible day, and you just don’t want to be nice. Keep in mind that your words and actions have a ripple effect. So if you regulate your emotions well, you CAN still give it your best come what may. Be it dealing with demanding people or situations, always think positive, and carry out your duties calmly and professionally.

#7 Loyalty

IMG_0318

 Nicole trusted and endured (or enjoyed) being piggybacked so as to complete the game.

A team whose members got each other’s back is a team that puts trust and loyalty at the forefront. Being loyal is being faithful to the goal of the team, and giving firm and constant support to each other so as to achieve that goal. A leader should stick with the team through thick and thin while guiding the way. Calls for harmony will remind teammates to overcome the obstacles together with a smile.

#8 Resilience

So life deals you a monstrous blow and you think you cannot get back up. This stumbling block has derailed you from your initial goals, making you feel like giving up. Overwhelming as it seems, the truth is that tough times don’t last. Tough people do. A leader is one who capitalizes positive thinking that can help the team to weather trials and ordeals. A resilient leader makes a resilient team that fears no failure. Check out some tips on how you can enhance mental and emotional resilience!

#9 Sincerity

Leave all facades and pretense behind, because to be sincere is to be honest. It is acting and communicating in accordance with one’s feelings. A good leader sets the tone for honest and sincere interaction: first within the self, next with his or her teammates, and then with all others.  A sincere leader earns more trust from his team members, and this strengthens the team. Remember…

If it is not from the heart, it is not worth doing!

DSC_9299

  A group shot with NDP 2017 EXCO Chairman, Col Ong Yoke Lam Melvin.

This article is brought to you by the Heartware Network’s National Day Parade 2017 Media Team. You may not know us personally, but please know that we love to see you smile when we are taking photos of you at NDP. If you see us, don’t shy away and give us your widest smile! It will give us the motivation to carry on for the rest of the day :)