Looking back at what began as an exciting new introductory chapter into the Social Service Sector through an experiential internship with the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation (TCTF), I never expected that the past 3 months would, in addition to a greater awareness of and attention to societal issues, yield personal growth and a greater appreciation of how the work in the social service sector correlates to and is very much connected to seemingly unrelated sectors and professions.
The first lap of the journey with the foundation started with one of TCTF’s signature programme, Project Cheer. It was during the Project Cheer sessions that I witnessed and captured, on camera, heart-warming interactions between the elderly and children beneficiaries which reminded me of the short visits to my grandparents’ home in the Philippines. But beyond the nostalgia, the sessions brought to light how essential programmes that promote intergenerational bonding were in supporting efforts to care for the growing numbers of elderly in Singapore, by inculcating values of compassion and empathy in today’s youth.
An ACJC student leading elderly and children beneficiaries to construct a marshmallow tower.
That being said, it wasn’t until the next lap the Tête-à-Tête Series that I began to understand the foundation’s mission and appreciate how its work correlates to the wider community. In helping the TCTF team with preparations for the annual Scholar’s Tea and guiding the scholars through a portion of the mansion tour, I found in TCTF’s founder, Tan Sri (Dr) Tan Chin Tuan, an inspiring role model in terms of his work ethic as well as the conscious and consistent philanthropic contributions made throughout his life, in addition to contributions related to his career.
Sharing about upcoming volunteer opportunities with TCTF scholars from Hwa Chong Institution.
The third lap of the journey came in the midst of the National Day celebrations in August. Instead of being at The Float at Marina Bay, the NDP Celebration sessions organised by ACE Seniors brought me to nursing homes and community hospitals. For seniors unable to attend the National Day Parade, ACE Seniors brought the festivities to them instead. From listening to an elderly beneficiary recount tales of his travels as a seaman in his younger days, to learning to communicate with an elderly beneficiary who could not speak very well, volunteering at these sessions taught me that regardless of how mobile or articulate they are, the pioneer generation have as much to give us as we can give them especially since they were the ones that witnessed Singapore’s independence and growth into the country it is today.
Corporate and individual volunteers at the NDP Celebration session held at The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home. Photo Credit: ACE Seniors
The fourth lap of the journey, though the most challenging, was the most rewarding. Not only was I given the opportunity to draft some of the activity pages in the fifth edition of the More Than Words book – which is now published, the More Than Words Book Launch saw me designing collaterals and, for the first time in my life, co-emceeing in front of an large audience. From trying my best to hold the attention of the children beneficiaries to singing and dancing along with their performances, it was an experience to remember because, in addition to pushing me out of my comfort zone, it was a reminder that education is much more than grades, essays and tests. Learning is and can be a much more creative and fun process.
The TCTF team with volunteers at the More Than Words Book Launch 2018.
And just like that, in a blink of an eye, I had reached the final lap of my journey with the TCTF team. I will definitely miss working with them, reading the newspapers almost every morning and being a part, albeit a small one, of the foundation’s philanthropic contributions to society.
My heartfelt gratitude to the TCTF team for their untiring guidance, love and care during these past 100 days and I wish all of you well in your continued efforts in ensuring that Tan Sri’s legacy and the philosophy of giving lives on. Once again, thank you for this opportunity and the empowering experiences that came with it.
With experience came growth,
With enlightenment came motivation,
With exposure came insight,
And just as endeavours breed courage,
So will opportunities build people and, eventually,
Erika Macasieb was an Intern at the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation (TCTF). More details regarding TCTF’s internship programme can be found here.