How CCE Lessons Helped This Youth Find Her Passion to Serve

Nov 24, 2020   |   Ruth Loo

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Zhi Xian, 17, a student from Republic Polytechnic, has been with Heartware since 2018. Her journey began when she joined the Heartware – Character and Citizenship Education (HW-CCE) Leadership Programme back when she was a student in Northbrooks Secondary School. Currently, she volunteers for the Heartware Support Our Pioneers Programme (HWSOP), a programme that supports socially isolated elderly through biweekly visitations. We interviewed Zhi Xian to find out about her story and what serving the community means to her.

Zhi Xian was engaged for Tier 2 of the HW-CCE Leadership Programme, which focuses on nurturing a passion for community-building in students through community problem solving. In this tier of the programme, students are exposed to community issues and taught to analyse their needs. They then propose sustainable solutions to meet these needs, and are provided pathways to kickstart their planned community projects with a partnering social service agency.

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Zhi Xian learned how to design a community project that eventually engaged beneficiaries from Sree Narayana Mission Home for the Aged Sick.

“In groups of 3, we participated in interesting activities that allowed us to learn more about the elderly’s situations. We also got to learn leadership skills and planned the activities that we hoped to carry out,” she shared.

However, challenges came along during the planning of the project. “It was difficult to get the whole class together, especially since the others did not seem keen to visit the old folks’ home. They seemed more inclined towards helping out at a childcare centre. We tried to talk about the situation of the elderly and tried to emphasise on why the elderly needed our help,” said Zhi Xian.

Despite the challenges that came her way, this experience no doubt shaped Zhi Xian to become a better person and leader.  “It is not easy to manage a group of people,” she reflects. “I remember being quite afraid to speak up, especially when talking to my peers or standing in front of the class, to talk about the service learning. The HW-CCE classes taught me how to plan out the dates and timings such that I would be able to lead the class with a clear mind.”

All in all, it was a fruitful and meaningful experience for Zhi Xian. “I had a lot of fun working on the ground, talking to the elderly, and learning more about them. Even though it was difficult to understand a foreign dialect, it was [worthwhile] to see the elderly smile and enjoy some of the activities,” she says.

When considering what she wanted to do in the future, Zhi Xian felt that doing something along the lines of volunteerism and social work were possible career options after her experience with the HW-CCE Leadership Programme. However, she was not entirely sure. A timely suggestion got her started in volunteering and discovering her true passion.

“Thankfully, the HW-CCE trainer suggested that I should try and volunteer,” said Zhi Xian. This chance to participate in the HW-CCE Leadership Programme exposed her to community issues, project planning and execution, and inspired her to join HWSOP, a year-long programme which seeks to meet the psychosocial needs of our vulnerable elderly population through biweekly visitations.

Zhi Xian guiding seniors on how to navigate smartphone functions during the Digital Learning Workshop.

“I also volunteer for HWSOP, which is something I don’t regret. Though the journey to the site is long, I look forward to taking to the elderly and interacting with them,” says Zhi Xian.

Despite living more than an hour away from the HWSOP visitation site, Zhi Xian never fails to be one of the first few volunteers to arrive. Her reason: she wants to factor in enough time to bring the senior from her home to the Senior Activity Centre, knowing that the elderly may need more time for walking. Her quiet devotion and heart to serve stood out especially to the director of Heartware at a recent visitation.

Although she initially struggled with having to make some sacrifices in order to be around on Saturdays, such as waking up earlier and having late lunches, Zhi Xian now feels that her sacrifice is worth it, having forged fun and meaningful friendships with the elderly she serves and other volunteers.

One of the aims of the HW-CCE programme is to cultivate in students a spirit for servant leadership and community engagement. This objective is shown to have been achieved through Zhi Xian’s example.

“I love to help others as it makes me feel happy too. As long as I get to help others… and if it helps to benefit someone and make their day a little bit brighter… I think that I would be motivated to help if I am able to,” concludes Zhi Xian.

If you’re a school interested in spicing up your CCE lessons, drop us an email at!