An Open Letter to Volunteer Facilitators

Jan 04, 2021   |   LG (NS) Perry Lim

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A message from Academy Advisory Panel Chairman LG (NS) Perry Lim to volunteer facilitators:

“I have been in the Singapore Armed Forces for 25 years and I retired from it a few years ago. Association with Heartware started off with the National Day Parades (NDP). I organised NDP as Chairman of the NDP EXCO in 2013, so I got to know Heartware well from then and even before that. I was impressed by the organisation; its whole approach and movement with the volunteers is meaningful.

When I went for lunch with [founder] Raymond Huang and [executive director] See Leng, they offered me the role of Chairman for the Heartware Academy. I accepted, and was happy to be able to help the youths. As you wrote lesson materials, I have been going through them and looking at how else I can value-add. I will help consider what will work or what might not from the leadership and practical point-of-view, as well as from my own facilitation experience.

I found this a very meaningful journey because as I was reading through the lesson content, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my experience. In some cases, it also deepened my own understanding.

For example, I recently read on ‘active listening’ from a lesson sent in for consultation. To be honest, I became an active listener quite late into my professional life. I was put in positions of leadership, and had the mistaken notion that as a leader, you need to be out there giving instructions and direction. But then I realised that everyone had certain things to share. Active listening is an important skill that should be picked up in life, as otherwise there are many things that we miss out on. It made me a better leader.

I continue to learn, even after having spent many years in the SAF, and now in the private sector. Thank you very much for allowing me to be involved in this whole endeavour in such a capacity.

I’ve told See Leng and the Academy staff: The lesson plans are of high quality, and I am still very impressed by them! They are, however, not static. So as you gain new knowledge, through reflection and feedback from participants, continue to review the lessons you have written, and add more useful ideas.

I will also wish to come down and see how lessons are actually conducted. Lesson plans may be well-written, but the essence is in the conduct.

Facilitation is a very important skill and it is also not easy. You will have to balance how much you should speak with how much you can allow the participants to speak. How much will you allow participants to diverge from the lesson plan, because there may be hidden gems or useful insights you could uncover? And still bring them back on track to meet certain timelines, or deliver learning points.

Listening to your sharing and reflections, and casting my mind back to when I was 19, I can tell that you are advanced in your maturity and experience.

For those who are finishing your term or have finished your volunteer commitments, congratulations!

And for those who are intending to continue to the next run, well done.”

The Volunteer Facilitator Associate Club 2021 is recruiting members!

For more information or to sign up for it, click here.