Communities and Engagement

In Times of Crisis, the Spirit of Volunteerism Burns Bright


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Photo: Project ASPIRE volunteers at a weekly coaching session before COVID-19

27 May 2020

For the past three years, students from the NUS Students’ Community Service Club’s (NUSCSC) Project ASPIRE team have been conducting weekly tutoring sessions for youths-at-risk. But when the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker (CB) measures kicked in on 7 April, the team of 12 had little choice but to halt face-to-face meetings.

With most of their youth beneficiaries busy preparing for the GCE ‘N’ Levels and the Secondary 3 examinations, the team wanted to cause minimal disruption to their learning. Instead of cancelling the programme, they decided that taking the tutoring sessions online was the next best alternative. (You guessed it, via Zoom.)

Project ASPIRE zoom
Photo: Volunteers for the AY2019/2020 iteration of Project ASPIRE gathered together 
on Zoom, through which the online tutoring sessions are held

Making the switch online was not without challenges. Lagging audios and wonky internet connections only exacerbate the difficulties that come with trying to communicate questions effectively in a virtual setting. Undeterred, the Project ASPIRE volunteers were determined to provide their mentees with a good experience. They did their best to familiarise themselves with this new arrangement and even adjusted their volunteer allocation and tuition timings to best serve the youths’ needs. 

Although the CB is coming to an end soon (1 June), business will certainly not be as usual for most of us. The team plans to gather feedback from their volunteers and beneficiaries after the end of this iteration so to improve the future online tutoring experience for their mentees.

Established in 2018, this programme is a collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which aims to provide tutoring support for youths-at-risk, inspiring and nurturing these individuals, all while promoting volunteerism among the NUS community.

While this may be the biggest obstacle the team has faced till date, their dedication and commitment to uplifting these youths is like a flame that burns brightly in the darkest of nights.

Tan Wei Xiang, President of the NUSCSC 18th Management Committee, believes that, “Volunteering is an introspective journey, and it does not need to start with large endeavours but should begin with small acts of kindness and empathy within one’s capacity instead.”

He adds, “With widened perspectives on the different needs of society, together we are able to strengthen inclusiveness and ensure that no one is left behind.”

If you are interested to be a part of Project ASPIRE, keep a look out for their recruitment drive happening in January 2021 via NUSync or NUSCSC’s website.

“Volunteering is an introspective journey, and it does not need to start with large endeavours but should begin with small acts of kindness and empathy within one’s capacity instead.”

- Tan Wei Xiang

Contributor

Writer: Low Jia Hui, Undergraduate, CNM
Photos: Project ASPIRE