I Can Still Do More
Hi! My name is Si En and I am currently studying in Raffles Institution (JC).
For the first ten years of my formal education, I spent most of my time on academic work and was never really exposed to opportunities beyond school. I no longer wanted to be someone who just spends his time on textbooks. I felt like I could do more to make myself a better person.
I was blessed when that opportunity arrived when I enrolled into RI as a JAE (Joint Admissions Exercise) student and attended a talk with Heartware Network founder Mr Raymond Huang as a guest speaker. He spoke about the charity organisation does and the opportunities it provides for youths. We were primarily introduced to the Heartware Tuition Programme (HWTP), where students give free weekly tuition to primary school children who struggling with academic work, and may come from disadvantaged family backgrounds. This was when I decided to expose myself to new experiences while lending a helping hand to the underprivileged.
Tutoring at a primary school lasted from March till October 2018.
Past joining the Heartware Tuition Programme, I felt that I could still do more. Joining the Heartware – National Day Parade Hospitality Management 2018 (HW-NDP18) was a big project for me. Despite my lack of experience in hospitality management, I was blessed to be appointed Sector Overall In-Charge for the External Cordon.
It was a huge responsibility as a first-time volunteer. I had to constantly challenge myself, and make myself comfortable with any uneasiness. The 4-month journey was a difficult, and I made a number of mistakes, but I have fulfilled my role to the best of my ability, and have also met a lot of awesome volunteers who became great friends.
The best things in life come for free, like these friends I’ve gained from HW-NDP18.
Opportunities kept rolling in. Just like how I was roped into HW-NDP18 while I was tutoring, I was fascinated by the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive during my HW-NDP18 preparation period.
Initiated by former President S R Nathan in 2000, the Challenge represents the coming together of people from all walks of life to help the less fortunate. In 2012, under the leadership of former President Tony Tan Keng Yam, the Challenge was expanded to go beyond fundraising, by including volunteerism and social entrepreneurship.
Through this initiative, Heartware Network provided opportunities for volunteers to accompany different groups of beneficiaries through a day of fun activities, free health checkups, and many more.
Since May 2018, I have volunteered for various President’s Challenge events/activities. I have contributed my service at the MCYC iPeak Event, Deaf Sports Association Singapore’s National Deaf Games, a couple of Istana Open Houses, as well as several outings by Epworth Community Service to different local attractions.
At the National Deaf Games, I had to facilitate for smooth gameplay in the badminton and soccer events. While communicating with the deaf players was not always necessary, it was a definitely a challenge for me when they do have queries. I have zero knowledge about sign language, by the way. I had to either get other volunteers who know sign language to help with the communication, or if it was not urgent, type out the message I want to convey through my smartphone. This encounter made me better understand some of the difficulties that deaf people may face in the public. Kudos to these people who stay strong despite adversities!
Helping out at a National Deaf Games futsal match this past July.
During the Istana Open Houses and the Epworth outings, I accompanied young children through a day of fun at the Istana, Science Centre, Longkang Fishing @ORTO and also the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. These young children are either from the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) or Epworth Community Services.
Handling a group of 30 energetic primary school children with other volunteers was no easy feat, let alone connecting with them on a personal level. This is very different from the Tuition Programme, which was a one-to-one affair. The outings with the children can be draining, but their smiles, the thank-yous at the end of the day, and the hi-5s as they boarded their buses always made me feel that I had made an impact, no matter the magnitude. It kept me coming back for such outings with them.
With all the children-related activities I’ve volunteered for in Heartware’s collaboration with Epworth Community Services, I should almost be an expert in handling kids… I hope.
You can probably tell that my volunteering was anything but easy. For someone who is used to keeping himself at school, I was suddenly getting involved in so many activities. Giving tuition to children who are constantly struggling with the same basic concepts can test my patience and mental capacity. Dealing with difficult members of the public under the hot sun can be frustrating and at times even a little frightening if you’ve never encountered such a situation.
Volunteering taught me many things I cannot learn from my thick stack of lecture notes and tutorials. It taught me patience. It taught me the complex dynamics of different groups of people and what’s needed to understand others better. It taught resilience. Lastly, volunteering taught me to give from the heart because if it is not from the heart, it is not worth doing…