Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fun With Facebook

13 March 2010

In a sequel to Fun With Email, the Eunos CC YEC collaborated with BNSS SLC to conduct Fun With Facebook. Bedok North Secondary School has been very supportive of community-related initiatives. Kudos to the teachers, staff and SLC members who came back to school on a Saturday morning for the community!

The YEC and SLC members facilitated the Facebook training session while I conducted the training.

Many of the residents realised that Facebook is actually not too difficult after all, and that learning IT stuff can be FUN too!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NUSPA Chancellor's Challenge Shield 2010

6 March 2010

Edgar, Li Yong, Wei Quan and I formed a team (team name: PAssion) to compete with the many bright brains at the NUS Students' Political Association Chancellor's Challenge Shield 2010. As a current affairs and general knowledge competition, this year's CCS differed significantly from last year's.

After the usual Multiple Choice Questions, urban planners from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) gave a presentation on its Master Plan. The sharing was a preparation for the next segment - the Application Question.

In the Application Question, we were tasked to work out a proposal for urban planning with the timing set at 50 years later. Our team's grassroots experience definitely was put to great use.

The next day, we received notification that we were number 1 in Outstanding Performance in Application Question! That sends us to the semi-finals where we would be making a video...

Chinese New Year Reception @ Istana Lawn

28 February 2010

This is my second time to the Chinese New Year Reception @ Istana Lawn but I'm still equally excited about entering Istana. Shuttle buses ferried us from the Revenue Building to the Istana.

I always look forward to the CNY Reception because it is one of the rare moments where the Prime Minister will deliver a speech that will not be put on record. As such, the PM would share very insightful information on international relations and the government's stance on certain policies.

At the Istana Lawn, the Members of Parliament and Advisers to Grassroots Organisations would sit together with their fellow grassroots leaders. At the Eunos table, the former MP Sidek Saniff was also present. Around the lawn, everyone part of a big family.

After the buffet dinner, at about 9pm, everyone returned to their seats as they awaited for the PM's speech. PM Lee Hsien Loong spoke in Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin then finally in English. The main theme of his speech hovered around harmony, immigration and the economy. He also shared insights on our relations with neighbouring countries. Huijing said she learnt a lot from the speech. PM Lee ended his speech at 10.30pm. How I wished he could talk more.

The Istana building looked grand and serene at night. Had my photo shoot with my Member of Parliament Zainul Abidin Rasheed.

After the reception, we gave Huijing a birthday surprise with a lo hei cum steamboat supper!

Eunos Zone '3' RC Chinese New Year Dinner

27 February 2010

Eunos Zone '3' RC held its annual Chinese New Year Dinner at the old temporary market. While the usual CNY dinner would bring you Getai performances or Karaoke singing, the RC had a twist.

For the first time, we would have Karaoke singing supported by a rock band. To get residents comfortable with the change, they rehearsed weekly with the band, prior to the dinner.

Supporters can also rent garlands to support their idols.

The Guest-of-Honour was the RC's Adviser Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs & MP for Aljunied GRC. He came right after the Chinese New Year Garden Party at Istana to join us.

Prosperity @ Eunos Lunar New Year Dinner

26 February 2010

The Eunos Community Club Management Committee held a fund-raising Chinese New Year dinner at the Bliss Garden, Expo.

The Eunos song (Ai Pia Jia Eh Yia) was sung by the Guest-of-Honour Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs & MP for Aljunied GRC (Eunos). With more than 80 tables of participants singing along, you couldn't feel more at home.

SW1101E Visit to Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre

26 February 2010

I always wonder how do Family Service Centres (FSCs) differ from Residents' Committee (RC) Centres. Both are scattered around the HDB estates and cater for the residents in the neighbourhood. That question was answered after my visit to the Ang Mo Kio FSC.

The Ang Mo Kio FSC had three branches at Ang Mo Kio, Cheng San and Seng Kang. It has provided service to the community for more than 30 years.

Several of us mentioned that prior to taking this module, we were pretty unsure what the difference between social work and volunteering was. The social worker explained that social workers do case work and counselling as well as run group work programmes. Theories guide social workers, but not volunteers.

FSCs provide an extensive range of programmes that help families. These programmes include preventive ones like the Preventive Development Programmes (PDP). The Centre also educates families on financial planning, as well as assist young families with the Healthy Start Programme.

After the short presentation, we followed a social worker and a volunteer to one of the rental flats to visit a resident. The closest I got to a rental flat is when I help residents write appeal letters to appeal for rental flats during Meet-the-People Session. The visit was definitely an eye-opener.

The rental flat looked seemingly like any other flats around the estate. It bore a new coat of paint, with a design just like any other regular HDB flats in the area. The lifts also stopped at every floor, thanks to the Lift Upgrading Programme, which did not discriminate rental flats from the others. At the void deck, there was a electronic display that would indicate the unit which requires assistance.

The resident of the 1-room flat was all in smiles when she saw us visitors. The social worker interviewed the old auntie while the volunteer cleaned the room. It was a real-life observation of the difference between the social worker and the volunteer.

SW1101E Visit to Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls

25 February 2010

The SW1101E - Introduction to Social Work module is a great module to take in NUS. As part of the module requirement, students need to visit 2 social service agencies and write a reflection paper on one of them.

I thought Pertapis was a familiar name. As I chatted with the social worker along the way to the conference room, I was right to have seen it in Eunos - the Pertapis childcare centre.

After a round of introduction, the Assistant Administrator Nurul started her presentation. The Pertapis Centre for Women and Children sat on the old Paya Lebar Kovan Community Centre building.

Caring for troubled teens since 1990, Pertapis Centre for Women and Girls became an Approved Home and Approved School under the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA). It is also a Place of Safety under the Women's Charter and an Approved Institution under Probation of Offenders Act (POA).

Social service agencies work with the government as well as various organisations to maximise resources and minimise duplications. For instance, Pertapis and MENDAKI have a joint programme called the Integrated Programme for Troubled Teenagers (IPTT).

Through a structured programmes, the girls pick up new skills and knowledge. There is even a training salon where they could learn the trade from a professional hairstylist. However perfect the programmes could be, Nurul stressed that joint efforts from the individual, volunteers and family also play a large part towards the wellbeing of the girls.

Like all organisations, PCWG also faces many challenges. Children who are Beyond Parental Control (BPC) are involuntarily sent by their parents to the Centre. Most of them do not feel that they are in the wrong, and might exhibit anger and resentment against the staff and social workers. Although the Centre is funded by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth & Sports (MCYS) and supported by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), donations are still needed to sustain operations.

After the presentation, we took a tour around the Centre. What caught our attention was the detention room. For the girls who escaped the Centre, they would be locked up in a cell that resembles that of a prison's.

6 months before and after the girls are discharged, the Podz Youth Mentoring Scheme enables the girls to transit to their normal life.

Speaking in Praise - The Toastmaster Spirit

24 February 2010

I attempted my 2nd Advanced Toastmasters Project - Speaking in Praise.

This is an exceptionally tough topic and I explained why it was so in my speech.

Asians are far more reserved in singing praises than their Western counterparts. It's easy to sing a short praise but to speak in praise is not.

I arranged for the Toastmaster of the Day to describe the setting - It was year 2025 and Kg Chai Chee Toastmasters Club is celebrating its Silver Jubilee. As part of the celebrations, past Presidents were asked to share their Toastmasters experience.

I spoke in praise of our Charter President Sim Lai Ngin, ATMB/CL, on how dedicated and committed she was to the club and to the development of its members. I dedicated my speech for her and entitled it as "The Toastmaster Spirit".

I could literally feel my face burn after uttering the mushy words, but on hindsight, it was a great avenue for me to extend my appreciation.