Author Archives: Mira

9 Heart Values of a Heartware Leader

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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

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 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 unfavorable 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

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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. This is a trait that highlights the diligence of a person committed to a cause or goal.   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

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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 your duties calmly and professionally.

#7 Loyalty

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 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!

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  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 :)

Who is the Home Team? Before and After

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How well do you know Home Team Singapore? For many of the public and our volunteers, when we first approached them for their thoughts, they knew little other than words like “police” and “SCDF” to help them along the way. If you can at least name the ten agencies that fall under the Home Team umbrella, then kudos to you! But chances are that you may not be able to reach to the end of that list, at least not without having to resort to Google!

All this changed when the Home Team Show & Festival (HTSF) finally opened its doors from 3 to 7 May at the Singapore Sports Hub. It was a thrilling and captivating showcase of Home Team’s security capabilities. With enticing and interactive festival activities, the event allowed visitors to be acquainted with and appreciate the efforts of the Home Team. It also rallied the community’s support in keeping Singapore safe and secure; indeed, the security we enjoy today cannot be taken for granted. Armed with a team of dynamic and enthusiastic volunteers, Heartware Network is proud to have embarked on Hospitality Management for HTSF for the very first time.

HT2Volunteer Jeremy happy to assist a member of the public to locate his seat in the Show.

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Throughout the event, what was most highlighted was that we should pay tribute to the ‘everyday heroes’ in Singapore – those who work diligently and displayed tremendous courage and bravery in the face of adversities and challenges. In a similar vein, volunteers for the event were also motivated to work diligently whenever they encountered challenges, and persevered continuously throughout the course of the event.

Across the five days, volunteers faced many difficulties that included trying to appease stubborn visitors, and overcoming awkwardness and shyness when facing the public. However, they worked hard and supported one another to overcome these challenges, all the while remaining understanding and compassionate in accommodating the needs of the public. Even better, they proactively approached members of the public to inquire if they needed assistance, and did their best in trying to bring a smile on the faces of the patrons.

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HT5Volunteer Pooja helping with the SG Secure Application at the SG Secure booth.

Through this experience, our Home Team volunteers have gained a rekindled sense of patriotism, maturity, and picked up many important and valuable life skills. Volunteers have given feedback that they have gained confidence in approaching the public and improved their communication skills. Many volunteers have also forged new meaningful friendships, and now better recognise the importance of teamwork, synergy and coordination. We did it, Heartware Network HTSF volunteers!

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The Lead Up to Home Team Show & Festival 2017

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This May, Singapore will stand to witness yet another milestone achieved! The Home Team will be commemorating its 20th anniversary and 50th anniversary of National Service with a Home Team Show & Festival (HTSF).  This biannual event is highly anticipated by the public, who are promised to be treated with the largest showcase of Home Team’s capabilities. From 3 to 7 May 2017, look forward to an exciting array of activities and exhibits held at the Singapore Sports Hub, with Heartware Network volunteers ready to make your visit memorable.

 But what goes on behind the scenes as we count down the days to the event?

You will be interested to know that there exists a thing called the Youth Planning Committee (YPC©). This a group of first-tier volunteer leaders who take on specific major roles that ensure smooth running in all aspects of volunteering activities related to the event. This includes planning, recruiting and training volunteers, as well as executing visions communicated by external parties, like the Home Team. That sounds like a really big deal! Discerning selection of individuals must be done, so that the final line-up consists of those who have the right attitudes and qualities to take on what is to come.  

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 Founder Mr Raymond addresses the selected YPC© members for HTSF and NDP 2017.

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Enjoying hilarious rounds of pass-the-message game to enhance communication during YPC© training.

Big roles call for big responsibilities and bigger commitments. Meetings are held weekly to discuss and finalise details such as deployment numbers and training plans. But most evenings, YPC members still check into the office to clear a perpetual flow of incoming tasks. Imagine proposals, templates, and administrative data sheets, just to name a few – all to be settled within tight deadlines!

The role that the YPC members play is by no means menial. To come to agreeable conclusions, it was imperative that members shared opinions and considered different perspectives. They had to remain calm and resilient, and support one another to complete assigned tasks dutifully and punctually. Talk about teamwork and communication, conscientiousness and discipline. Phew!

Though being part of the YPC comes with pressure, there is joy and satisfaction that comes with the position. It is a steep learning curve, but all the more this drives the members to lean on each other mentally and emotionally. For the young leaders, new experiences like facing rejection during recruitment drives and delivering content in front of hundreds of volunteers will be moments worth recounting repeatedly because they are stories of growth. The professionalism of the YPC will set groundwork for the Leaders’ spirit, who in turn influence the General Volunteers’ morale.

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 HTSF17 volunteer leaders facilitating activities for the general volunteers in a training session.

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 YPC members Shu Han and Zhi Ling briefing volunteers on the layout of the Singapore Sports Hub.

As the journey to planning HTSF17 is a continuous learning process, it is good to know where the YPC and volunteer leaders have done well and what else can be improved.  Every feedback by fellow volunteers were deeply valued and further reviewed by the YPC. This is also an opportune moment to bridge communication across the chain of command, and resolve any misunderstanding between various groups.

The months leading up to HTSF is as lively as it is arduous. Every volunteer capitalizes on the values of teamwork and perseverance, and is strongly set on providing excellent service on the actual day. The skills and friendships gained from this experience are priceless, and we look forward to seeing everyone’s hard work pay off handsomely when the doors to the event finally open.

How to Boost Your Confidence

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You were sitting in a talk. While absorbed in the topic of discussion, you suddenly realised how engaging the speaker was. Perhaps it was the way he spoke, or how he looked straight into the audience’s eyes. Every word, expression, and gesture the speaker made exuded confidence. You wished you were born with such poise, so that speaking in front of a crowd will not make you cower in anxiety.

But confidence is not a characteristic one is born with. It is a skill ANYONE can learn. Are you as confident as you would like to be? Improve yourself everyday by making sure to…

Get to know yourself well

Who Am I

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A striking characteristic of confident people is that they seem to know very well what they want. They trust that the decisions they make will eventually lead them to desired goals.

However, to arrive at this stage of self-assurance takes a great deal of introspection and honesty. Can you tell what your interests, strengths, and weaknesses are? What are the things you still need to learn? What are some values that you hold most dear? Once you understand the motivations behind what you say and do, you naturally become more comfortable with your own person.

Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone little by little. Comfort zones expand when you keep crossing it, and shrink when you stay in it. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”You will find that on hindsight, these ‘scary’ things are not so bad after all. 

Treat yourself well

Mindful

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 If you feel good, you will be good and do good. Practise a little tender loving care by staying in good health and keeping your spirits up! Be mindful of the things you do. Ensure that you get enough sleep in the week, exercise regularly, and eat nutritious food. Your body is a temple. To treat it any less would be blasphemous.

You may not care much for fashion, but you can wear garments that make you feel comfortable, and that expresses your individuality. Devote a little time each day to groom your hair, skin, and outer appearance. You want to be confident, so look the part!

Watch your body language

Body Language

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Communication is mostly non-verbal. So even before you utter a word, your body and face is already telling a story. How you align your posture and facial features become cues that others pick up when they discern you. It shapes their judgement of you and it colours their perceptions. So take this opportunity to convince everyone and yourself that you ARE confident by improving your body language.

Check out this TED Talk by Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy on “power posing” –standing in a posture of confidence although we do not feel it. When done consciously a few minutes at a time, power posing can boost your mood and confidence profoundly.

Expand and nurture your support system

So you don’t know how to address an issue confidently. Don’t sweat it, because everyone has encountered obstacles before. Besides falling back on your usual support system, be bold in seeking out necessary expertise. It is always recommended for you to learn from people who have been there, and done that.

Choose your companions and role models wisely because they will influence your perspectives. It is easier to be yourself and feel self-assured when you are surrounded by people who also share the same values as you.

Think and Act Positively

Positive Thoughts

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If by now you are thinking, ‘All these tips are easier said than done! Finding confidence is still beyond me!’, then you have successfully discovered the biggest obstacle to developing confidence. You are now harbouring a negative thought that may not necessarily represent objective reality, and it can impede you from improving. Keep that negativity at bay. You CAN do so much better.

Begin the day by listing some things that you are grateful for. It could be as simple as that your awesome family loves you unconditionally, or that you can pull another breath of life. Get ready to bounce back because we can learn from failures. Be confident that you can give it another try.

Let us not misconstrue confidence to be a fixed attribute; it is a skill that can be learned and earned through years of conscious caring for one’s thoughts, actions, and emotions. So the next time you meet someone so confident it blows your mind, remember that this trait does not come easy, and that you too can be someone else’s inspiration. 

First Impressions: A Tutor’s Perspective

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With the help of a great network of passionate volunteer tutors, Heartware Network’s Tuition Programme has expanded to 24 schools and 1 organisation from a humble pool of 7 schools in 2009. Such a promising expansion of the programme is telling of the needs of many underprivileged children out there, and can only be matched and addressed by having more youth who are passionate in the cause. 

Yet, it is not the numbers that move us to strive higher and dream bigger. It is the stories of transformations and precious relationships forged that become the important memories gleamed from this tutoring experience. Here is an inside look at some first impressions tutors had that will surely tug your heartstrings:

*Faces of tutees have been blurred out to protect the identity of these students*

Darie Chan, 17; Eunoia Junior College

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“I knew that by signing up for the Tuition Programme, I would be tutoring underprivileged kids with perhaps challenging backgrounds. I was expecting more pressure and stress; no doubt, I was a little nervous.

I first met and taught my tutee in the school’s library. The experience thus far has been extremely exciting, and my tutee is very friendly and enthusiastic. Despite knowing that my tutee lacks home support, he is a normal child whom I find enjoyable to teach. His weakness in fundamental math taught me patience. I also begun to learn how to relate to people of different ages, and communicate my ideas effectively to a person much younger than me.

In the school I’m attached to, there is a wide range of students with different abilities – from learning issues to slight behavioural difficulties. The truth is that despite these labels, they are your typical children who love interaction. They are very energetic and playful, but are nevertheless disciplined in finishing their work. They are adorable.”

Chew Zi Ying, 17; Dunman High School

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“When this programme was introduced, to be very honest, I had my reservations about joining. I enjoyed teaching, but I was horrible connecting with people, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do a good job as a result. Even so, I found that this was a cause that I really wanted to push for, so I ended up joining.  

I had initially expected the students to be really naughty and rowdy, as the sharing from the experienced tutors had really shaped my expectations. The thought that I may not be able to control my tutee frightened me.

So when we had a little sharing session on the first day about school and hobbies, I was pleasantly surprised that the students were more than willing to join in this interaction. It really eased me into my role as a tutor. It has only been a couple of sessions so far, but I was able to learn more about the students and their idiosyncrasies, and I felt that this year’s journey is going to be even more meaningful.”

Joel Chan, 18; National Junior College

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“I initially thought that the tuition programme was going to be one more tiring commitment in my life and that I would need to do more work. I also expected the children to be reserved and shy.

However, when the sessions kicked off I found out that it is actually not as intense as I predicted it to be, and the children are very friendly and outgoing. Also, I found out that all the other tutors I’m attached with are from Raffles Institution; my first immediate impression was that they must be very smart!  But, we all share a great sense of humour, and I feel that we can get along well. All these put my heart to ease, and the tuition sessions became more delightful than expected.

I could tell immediately that my tutee was a fairly outgoing person when I first saw him. After talking to him, I found out that he has his own goals and targets that he hopes to achieve, which is exceedingly mature for a Primary 6 student. He is intelligent, but he gives up on the questions too easily without putting in much effort. I hope that with time we can change this attitude together so that he can be more confident.”

Tanya Lim, 17; Raffles Institution (Junior College)

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“The vision and mission of the programme impressed on me that this tutoring experience would be a very educational and fruitful, and it will allow me to work with children and make a real impact on their lives. I honestly expected that it would be a difficult task with many challenges along the way. Well, I was half right, and half wrong.

Indeed, my tutee was very difficult at first as she had a difficult attitude that reminded me of myself back when I was in primary school. In a way, I could very much relate to her views and how she behaves. This taught me to be very patient, and to try being empathetic  and visualise how it is like from her point of view. My tutee is a very good child, but with a skewed outlook and perspective of life, and I hope to be able to guide her to what is right.”

Voices of Heartware Network: Coming Out of My Shell

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If you knew me from back in the early 2010s, you may recognise me as a fairly quiet person, who found it difficult to interact with strangers. Maybe even up till now, that part of me still exists as I will take time to adapt, recalibrate, and get used to my social surroundings. I like to think that the person I am now is a better version of who I was before – more open and tactful, and more confident in dealing with various situations. My years devoted to volunteerism amongst other life commitments is a story of me coming out of my shell.

My volunteering journey with Heartware Network first began in 2013 when I volunteered for the National Day Parade (NDP) Hospitality Management. It was not the first time I was involved in a large-scale project (I was in Chingay that year too), but you can imagine that my introversion was an obstacle to overcome. Lucky for me, Heartware Network puts a premium on providing a lot of training to the volunteers, and investing in skills enhancement – something that has not changed with the years. These training sessions were proper ground for me to learn to bond with my group members.

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 NDP 2013: With my fellow volunteers from the Blue Sector!

For the novice volunteer that I was back then, I was utterly thankful for the Service Learning component that taught me what was expected of a volunteer. In the training sessions, volunteers would prep themselves with creative ways to handle various hypothetical situations that may possibly arise in the actual event. This boosted confidence for what was to come. Alas, when I finally deployed to the Blue Sector on the parade days, reality was far from expectation! It struck me that what you learn may not cover entirely what you will eventually experience, and this slap back to reality required me to think quickly on my feet. It is true when they say that preparation is important, but it is only half the battle won. Experience is the best teacher.

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NDP 2014: Participating in a story-piecing game during a volunteers’ training session. 

My experience in NDP 2013 was an eye-opener, but it was not enough for me. So I signed up once more in 2014 for the same role, and I became familiar with the routine of a general volunteer.  I took a leap of faith in 2015 and enrolled for the Youth Planning Committee (YPC) as an admin member. Truthfully, I welcomed this change with trepidation because the jump in leadership role was vast. I lacked the morale but my brother convinced me to follow through with the commitment, promising me that there was so much to learn by taking on the YPC role.

The first challenge I faced in this new role was to conduct a mass admin briefing to over 500 volunteers! This was absolutely new to me; it was gut-wrenching.  With the guidance of my fellow admin members and the dedicated Heartware Network staff, I overcame my nervousness, and was calm enough to conduct the briefing. It might not have been the best briefing experience, but suffice to say that I had tried.

More than just being an admin YPC member, I was also a “runner” for Mr Raymond, the founder of Heartware Network. Being a runner to Mr Raymond means that I have to attend to all his queries amongst the presence of other professionals. It offered a whole new perspective, as I got to see things from his point of view. I learnt the proper way of directing spectators to different locations, and to facilitate a smoother movement of spectators. Although it was tiring, the experience was also enjoyable and enriching for my self-development.

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NDP 2016: Gathering for a YPC briefing during the volunteers’ training.

Once you pick up momentum for a commitment, you find that you can do it again and again. I came back in NDP 2016 as an admin YPC member again, but the experience was different as most of my fellow admin members were new to the YPC format. I was now a mentor to my peers, imparting what knowledge I have gained from NDP 2015. Mentoring people was never my forte as I used to have problems in communicating my thoughts and ideas. Out of the different methods I have dabbled with, the best way for me to mentor a group of people is by using visual cues. It would be easier for people to understand and see what I am describing this way. As part of my own learning, I also found easier methods to generate data and passed these methods onto my teammates to benefit them as well.

With the many skills I have reaped through the years in NDP Hospitality Management, I have become a more confident person. From starting off as an inexperienced General Volunteer, I later gained valuable experience and leadership skills through being part of the YPC. All these, I will bring with me as I now lead a new set of YPC members as the admin in-charge for the upcoming Home Team Show in May. I know now that I can do my job well with greater confidence. Together we will strive to improve ourselves as a team, and for the better.

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 Home Team Show 2017: A shot with this new family from one of our volunteers’ training session.

Written by Lim Jun Jie, 19

Student of Singapore Polytechnic

Volunteer with Heartware Network since 2013

5 Awesome Ways To Handle Your Stress

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In our daily pursuit to achieve goals and deadlines, we are inevitably subjected to stress. It is a dreadful experience, and its ubiquity ensures that it keeps coming back like a boomerang. What we don’t emphasise enough, is that stress CAN be managed.

All of us have different thresholds for pressure. Some get affected in woeful measures – the mind becomes inundated with negative thoughts, blood pressure spikes, and crankiness wins the better part of the day. Others thankfully can handle stress with greater finesse. It only takes practicing a few good habits consciously and intentionally.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you rest enough?

So you are working on a 3000-word essay due in two days, and have been at it for 16 hours straight. You are trying to find a better way to write your ideas down but you are hitting a mental block. What do you do? STOP.

Ever heard of the phrase ‘sleep on it?’ Sleeping actually helps to improve your performance! When you sleep, your brain prunes unnecessary mental links that tangle your mind (say goodbye to mental blocks!). Memory improves as the brain assimilates important information to long-term memory. Your body restores hormonal balance. You wake up feeling more energized. Remember: Sleep is not for the weak.

Sleep is for the weak

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Even if you don’t want to or just can’t doze off, a good 10 to 15 minutes break away from work can also do wonders. Take a walk, visit the washroom, listen to your favourite music, or watch cute cat videos. After that, you will be back on track more efficiently than you would have been.

Do you exercise enough?

If you are recoiling at the mention of ‘exercise’, you might want to know that it is more than just a few movements that make you sweat. During exercise, endorphins – also known as happy hormones – are released. This means exercising can make you happy and relaxed! Get that heart pumping hard so that more blood flows to your brain and to your extremities, thereby translating into more energy. This means greater mental and physical resolve to take on pressure, and more motivation to do work!

 Exercise

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Do you have bad thinking habits?

Stress also has a lot to do with perspectives. When things do not go as planned, negative thoughts come to mind. You often think, “Why do bad things happen to me?” but rarely ever question why good things happen too. Learn to catch yourself when a toxic thought seeps into your mind. This can be in the form of thinking that nothing is going to work out, or that the blame is all on you when something distressing happens. If this is you, then it’s best to give yourself a time-out.

Better still, challenge yourself to see these unfavourable situations in a positive light, because there is always something to gain.

Do you spend time wisely?

Always ask yourself: What must I do right now? To avoid stress, time management is everything. Start kicking that procrastination habit by first being aware of which parts of the day you feel most energized. Then try planning your morning and afternoon tasks accordingly. Having an organizer also helps you remember and plan your daily/weekly routines better, hence saving you from the stress from forgetting datelines and meetings.

 Complaining

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Also don’t forget to find quality time for family, friends, and loved ones! They make up our support system, and their presence become our safe spaces. Nurture these relationships well because the love and comfort shared can make you more resilient to pressure and pain.

Volunteer.

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Were you surprised to see this on the list? Volunteering rarely comes to mind when talking about relieving stress because we are already so pressed for time. But when you are ready to take on point #4, you are ready to volunteer. Volunteering is about giving your time, love, and energy to a cause sincerely and wholeheartedly. There are many causes where attention is needed, like helping the needy and those with disabilities, animal rights,  environmental conservation, just to name a few. What are you passionate about that can make a difference in the community? You may never know what is in store for you until you have volunteered. And yes, stress-relieving counts for it too!

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Written by Muqri Mazalan

Former Brunei intern for Heartware Network

Start-Up Kit for New Volunteers

Start-Up Kit for New Volunteers

If you are on the edge on deciding whether you should embark on any volunteering opportunity at all, you must be wondering if you are truly to take on the challenge. The big question now is ‘What do you NEED to start volunteering?

Do you need to have enough money to fund a charity? Do you need ample knowledge of the volunteering field? Lucky for you, you don’t need all that. But you do need to be prepared for what’s to come, and to give it your all.

Heartware Network’s volunteer and former intern Syafiq Sahrom knows your plight only too well, so he has put together a Start-Up Kit for New Volunteers. If you are still feeling hesitance in you heart, then let this be a wonderful guide to help you make up your mind!

Stepping Up to the Plate

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Teamwork and Leadership – we have heard these terms being thrown around in school, work, and adventure settings countless time, to the point where we take it for granted. To speak about these concepts is easy, but to put them to practice is a whole different matter. What happens when the rubber finally hits the road? It was an eye-opener for the 19 students from Fuchun Secondary School, who saw themselves as the pioneering batch of participants for the 2-day Heartware (HW) – Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) Leadership Camp.

Throughout the camp, the students were engaged in bits of soul-searching as they tried to find answers to two important questions: (1) What builds and breaks teamwork, and (2) who do they want to follow and why?

Having spent the previous modules within the comforts of their school, students were unsuspectingly thrown into an archery tag arena to fend for themselves and their teams. It was incredibly challenging and satisfying to witness the students break out of their comfort zones by quickly mastering archery techniques, strategize for the best outcomes, and freely express their individuality. A 1.5 hour archery tag lesson saw some crumpling to the ground with exhaustion, but not without playfully recounting silly mistakes made by their friends.

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 Students familiarised themselves with the bows and arrows.

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All geared up and ready for action in the Archery Arena

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Students discussed what they have learnt about teamwork through Archery Tag.

The fun yet trying experiences provided excellent material for discussions. Inevitably, with teamwork, leadership follows.  Through reflecting and linking personal expectations to reality, the students got a real taste of the challenges that await true leaders and effective teams. Indeed, to be a leader and work in a team efficiently is in no way effortless, and requires a great number of skills and qualities at hand.

Students explored the different types of leadership styles, with servant leadership being the style most emphasized on. Put simply, a servant leader puts the needs of others before self, and work at transforming those around him/her to be better individuals while also improving him/herself. While the students took their first steps at becoming amateur servant leaders, they were also probed to think what kind of leader they really are at this juncture. It was a steep learning curve yet enriching experience, as they subsequently took on the challenge to lead their classmates in team-building games.

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 Students rolled around in laughter during games organized by their friends.

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 Friendly competition even when the students got down to business.

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Looking beyond themselves, students folded origami together for the underappreciated school staff.

An emphasis we continuously make is that a leader is born and bred through a thorough process of learning and adapting. It is a road riddled with trials and errors that gets better with increased experience. Putting their knowledge to use, the students planned, executed, and facilitated team-building games for their peers. The experience proved to be exciting yet frustrating when the games could not be delivered as effectively. The students were eager to do better. Still, everyone learnt to settle any conflicts amicably through honest feedback sessions and reviews. Within two days, the students have grown to be more observant, understanding, and truthful to one another and to themselves.

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 With the rich experiences gained throughout the camp, students reflected on what good leadership consisted of and why?

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All in all, it was a good mix of new lessons, fun memories and stronger friendships formed.

Having learnt about teamwork and leadership, the knowledge gained were channeled towards serving the community. What does it mean to serve the community and how can we do so? Together, they have some ideas in mind on ways to Make a Difference. Look out for the last spurt of progress for our dear HW-CCE students from Fuchun Secondary School!

What is Ramadan: 10 Facts

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As of 2014, Singapore’s population has reached an approximate 5.5 million, and those practising Islam make up about 14.3% of it. Do a quick calculation, and you will find that there are a whopping 800 000 Muslim friends around us who are not eating, drinking, or engaging in physical intimacy during daytime for a whole month.

But what about the rest of us who are not involved? Should business go on as per usual? Definitely yes. Is there a certain way we should act around our Muslim friends so as to not appear insensitive as they observe their fast? Well, not necessary.

But before you get discouraged at the lack of explanation through a quick answer, it is worthwhile to understand what exactly Muslims do during the month of Ramadan, and why it holds such great importance. Perhaps then, you can find your own ways to not only accommodate your Muslim friends’ fasting needs, but also make them feel more comfortable where meal gatherings are involved.

WHAT IS RAMADAN ACTUALLY?

No food or drinks – that is what first comes to most minds. Why do it? No one fancies going through the day with a dry tongue and an empty stomach that might rumble at inappropriate moments. But the purpose of these rituals run deep, and can we say inwards as well! It is all about heightening spiritual devotion. You can imagine your being as a finite container; as you cut down on physical sustenance, it leaves more room for spiritual nourishment. Ramadan is the time Muslims are especially moved to attain closeness to God. It is little wonder why Ramadan is widely acknowledged as the holiest month on the Muslim calendar.

Here are 10 fascinating facts on Ramadan:

NUMBER 1: Ramadan comes from the word ‘Ramad’ which means ‘Burning’. Therefore, sincere spiritual surrender begets the ‘Burning of Sins’.

NUMBER 2: How to know when Ramadan arrives? Look to the sky. When a new moon shines on the first evening of the ninth month, you know that the fasting month has begun. But wait! This runs on the Islamic calendar, which is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar we follow. So you will realise that the dates keep jumping from year to year!

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NUMBER 3: Fasting is an all-encompassing behaviour, and not just the quelling of appetite for food and water. Think of your senses. Fasting is about refraining from stimulating your taste buds, turning your gaze away from inappropriate visuals, not listening or participating in mindless or damaging gossips, not letting obscene words fall from the lips, keeping your hands to yourself and your own possessions. By exercising self-restraint can self-improvement be achieved in everyday life.

NUMBER 4: Deprivation of basic bodily necessities allows an individual to better empathise with the suffering of the less fortunate, and be grateful for the blessings in life often taken for granted.

NUMBER 5: Charity is especially encouraged, and this means to give without expecting returns. That should be something our Heartware Network volunteers are well familiar with.

NUMBER 6: It is a tradition for Muslims to break their fast with sips of water and a few dates, just as the Prophet Muhammad did.

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NUMBER 7: If you are thinking that this is a superb way of shedding weight, you might be sorely disappointed. Though fasting incurs excellent health benefits, many will risk gaining a few more on the weighing scale if lifestyle is not kept in check. This is because individuals observing Ramadan tend to be more sedentary during daytime and eat richer food at night shortly before going to sleep.

NUMBER 8: Every night, thousands of our Muslim friends gather at local mosques for congregational prayers.

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NUMBER 9: Not every Muslim fasts during Ramadan. Individuals who are children, elderly, ill, pregnant, nursing, having their period, or travelling need not fast. Some are required to fast on other months to pay back for lost days depending on their bodily capacities.

NUMBER 10: When you meet your Muslim friends, there is no harm in wishing them a Ramadan Mubarak (Happy Ramadan).

To all our Muslim volunteers and friends of Heartware Network, here is wishing you a safe and blessed month of fasting and devotion! For those who attended our volunteering activities during Ramadan, thank you for coming despite fasting.