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