2014 HOPES & DREAMS
What do some movers and shakers in the sphere of do-good wish to see over the next 12 months?
By Melissa De Silva
Corporate Voluntarism Proponent
Director, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Asia,
Deutsche Bank AG
“Many first-time volunteers have admitted that they did not step forward earlier as they were unsure how they could help or help in a big way.
Anyone can volunteer — be it giving of their time or sharing their expertise with others. If you feel helpless that whatever you are doing is only a drop in the ocean, think about the ocean being drier because of that missing drop. So volunteers should never feel inadequate or intimidated when it comes to helping others.
A new year brings the prospect of new beginnings and opportunities for many less privileged than us. If we can help them realise their hopes and dreams, this makes a difference to someone’s life. And almost every volunteer will find giving not only purposeful — it can be pleasurable and infectious too.”
Faculty for the Creative Industries, Lasalle College of the Arts
“What kind of world will our grandchildren inherit if we continue to exploit it and ignore the consequences?”
— Audrey Wong
We have now created a world where inequalities prevail — all across the world, in wealthy and less-wealthy societies — assisted by economic structures that we have developed, and it’s increasingly easy for those with wealth and power to turn a blind eye. It’s not just a question of justice, it’s a question of long-term viability of the world and the planet itself. What kind of world will our grandchildren inherit if we continue to exploit it and ignore the consequences?
We are all interlinked as human beings and living beings with the environment — this is such a simple concept, but it seems it’s at risk of being forgotten! I think art is something human beings created; it has the potential to remind us in a powerful way about our interconnectedness and our responsibilities. It makes us reflect and see beyond ourselves. I hope that we will see more reflective, quality artistic projects in Singapore that are about life and not about spectacle.”
“One thing I hope will change in 2014? An end to the war in Syria. I wish for world leaders and all in positions of influence and power (such as influential business people), to think about the consequences of their actions and nonactions, and think of those who most need their protection and help.
Associate Professor Celia Tan
Long-Term Medical Volunteer
Director, Postgraduate Allied Health Institute, Singapore General Hospital
“I hope each day of giving will result in 365 happy moments.”
— Associate Professor Dr Celia Tan
“When it comes to helping people, we really shouldn’t worry too much about how small the impact and how much commitment it will take. I always believe that we start with the person next to us and take one step and one day at a time. Imagine five years later, what was just a simple act of helping or sharing becomes a lifetime change in many lives. Who would have thought it would reach so far? We just do what we believe and know is right for now.
So for the next 12 months, I will focus on saying ‘thank you’ to those around me as often as I can, and give small surprises to strangers just to see their grateful and surprised look of ‘why would you help me?’ I hope each day of giving will result in 365 happy moments.
There is no greater joy than seeing the people I have worked with become special leaders helping others in the same way, teaching and guiding others in their own country. That’s what makes my work with SIF special.”
Hee Joh Liang
Youth Voluntarism Advocate
Chairman, Inter-Poly International Students
Integration Workgroup and Deputy
Principal (Academic Planning),
“We are seeing that youth who have gone on Friendship Express have built such strong bonds.”
— Hee Joh Liang, Singapore polytechnic
“I hope that (local and international) students respect one another and are able to reconcile cultural differences. We also need to recognise that there are differences and we need to learn how to leverage on these to strengthen ourselves, rather than to cover them up.
And I hope youth can take a more pro-active stance — I’m referring to the Youth Model ASEAN Conference (YMAC), a mock United Nations in which students get to role-play as diplomats to discuss various issues. Meanwhile, Friendship Express is a conceptual train that allows them to do service learning and social innovation projects in various countries. They identify needs and try to implement some of the policies formulated at YMAC.
I am excited about both of these, which we have been doing for a number of y ears. The Youth Model ASEAN Conference in 2014 will involve 125 students from all five polytechnics and 10 participants from Friendship Express. So I hope we can develop youth awareness and youth activism for ASEAN.
We are seeing that youth who have gone on Friendship Express built such strong bonds. A heart-warming story is when we went on Friendship Express 2013 with students from Malaysia and from Bandung, Indonesia joining us. SIF later invited all the Friendship Express participants to an appreciation dinner in Singapore. Many of the students from Malaysia and Indonesia are not from well-to-do families. What the other students did was to pool money to fly the Malaysians and Indonesians to Singapore and organise their accommodation with Singaporean families. I felt excited about that. This is the spirit of ASEAN! Our students in the first Friendship Express in 2012 also continue to keep in contact. I would like to see more and more people enjoying the benefits of these programmes.”
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