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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.