Service Above Self

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FOCCIP 2019: NUS Volunteers having fun watching the migrant brother play the games planned by the organising committee

7 July 2021

On their journey to self-discovery of “Service above Self”, students from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM) have to go through a Freshman Orientation Collaborative Community Involvement Programme (FOCCIP), which is one of two orientation programmes under the medical school. It is also the very first official event that kickstarts their community service journey in NUS and beyond. 

The FOCCIP is an annual flagship event that gives incoming medical students a glimpse into their future career as doctors. Through community initiatives, freshmen get an opportunity to interact with a certain community to understand their plight and exemplify the spirit of “Service above Self” through their interactions. The hope is that in doing so, it would ignite a fire in freshmen to give back to society, not only in medical school, but for the rest of their lives through community involvement. Moreover, like any other orientation activity, the importance of soft skills such as collaboration and communication, are developed as freshmen get to bond with their cohort mates while serving the community.

Student Life Goes On: A two-day fully virtual event 

Lee Sin Yin Christy and Rajesh Muthu S/O Ramanathan, co-Project Directors of FOCCIP 2021 highlighted the significance of this year’s event. Both Christy and Rajesh were the indirect beneficiaries of FOCCIP 2020. The event has left a lasting impact on both of them that they decided to run for co-Project Directors of Medical Society (MedSoc) FOCCIP this year. 

Christy said: “I really benefited from my personal experience during FOCCIP 2020 as a volunteer. I am inspired by my seniors to create a similarly fruitful and memorable experience for my juniors. I wanted to take on the challenge of overseeing the planning of FOCCIP 2021 which can leave a lasting impact on the freshmen and beneficiary despite FOCCIP being a one-time event.”
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FOCCIP 2019: NUS volunteer with a migrant brother

A little different from previous years

Firstly, this year’s target beneficiary have been changed from migrant workers to the elderly community. In previous years, FOCCIP had been working with the Migrant Brothers community but a different beneficiary group this year would mean that freshmen are allowed to experience serving another community that is largely prevalent and growing bigger in Singapore, the ageing population. 

Rajesh shares: “Singapore has one of the most rapidly ageing populations. As the future doctors of this country, our committee thinks it is important for the freshmen to understand the plight of the elderly and to make their lives better.” 

This year’s FOCCIP 2021 will also be held online. The organising committee this year has come up with an exciting virtual programme that consists of 2 highlight events, namely volunteer training day and engagement day. 

“Nothing beats the authenticity of personal recounts – We have invited different speakers from the voluntary and medical sectors to share about elderly and geriatrics during volunteer training day. After having a better understanding about our beneficiary, you will hopefully be able to have a fruitful engagement day where you can personally interact and play games with the elderly!” Christy states.

“For engagement day, students will be engaging the elderly from Lions Befrienders. Due to the COVID season, they are socially isolated and going through a tough time and we plan to provide interactions and some goodies to cheer them up as well as ease their loneliness,” Rajesh elaborates.
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Organising committee of FOCCIP 2021: One of the first few general meetings when the committee had to restrict meetings to online due to the COVID-19 pandemic

When asked on what it means to carry the spirit of service above self, Rajesh states: “Simple acts of kindness and service can provide a large impact on someone's life. Knowing that these acts can bring upon a smile on someone's face always makes me prioritise these small acts over our own pleasures. I think it is important for people to understand what a small act of service can contribute to our community and could even change someone's life.

Christy mentions how seniors have set an example for budding doctors like them: “Personally, I feel that the frontline healthcare workers in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic truly displays the spirit of ‘service above self’. While it might seem that the frontline healthcare workers are just fulfilling their duties as part of their job, their efforts have gone far beyond simply meeting obligations. While being equally or if not more susceptible to exposure to the virus, they are still doing their best to serve the community to the fullest. In fact, they are being pushed to the limits and are still pressing on despite the uncertainty that comes with the disease. In this respect, these heroes have put ‘service above self’ in their lives.

As to how incoming freshman can reap the full benefits of FOCCIP 2021, Christy wishes to convey to juniors: “We hope that you will participate in FOCCIP 2021 with an open mind, a listening ear and a caring heart!” She continues: “We hope that FOCCIP 2021 can offer you a new perspective to community service and inspire you to do more for the community in your own capacity – be it in the form of becoming a committee member of overseas or local CIPs (OCIPs or LCIPs) available in medical school or being a long-term volunteer for a cause that you truly believe in!” 

Christy summarises: “The start to your university journey as a medical student is a really unique one – your orientation encompasses not just the fun from knowing your fellow batchmates through Medicamp but also the joy of community service through FOCCIP!”

Follow and stay tuned to updates on Instagram @foccip2021


Shanice Poh, Year 1, NUS Business School