SINGAPORE: Some 300 students from secondary schools and tertiary institutions gathered at the Singapore Management University (SMU) on Saturday to share their thoughts on social responsibility and community service.
The event is part of a learning symposium organised by the SMU.
Among the topics discussed at the symposium were filial piety, being less self—centred and not taking family for granted.
Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing also chipped in, bringing laughter to the floor as he shared his stories.
He said: "I also know it’s quite impossible for all of you to suddenly wake up, all of us to wake up on the right side of the bed and say ’today I’m going to the old folks home to clean the floor, tomorrow I’m going to wipe the floor" and things like that.
"Very often, when it comes to community service, you always start small. It doesn’t matter if you cannot convert 500 people at one go, so long as you can convert one person, two persons, then you will grow.
"And this is the power of two. I always share this story. If each and everyone of us can go and convince two persons to come and join us in our cause, in five, six steps, how many persons would we have converted? I convert two, two of them convert four, four will convert eight."
One key aim of the discussion is to generate ideas that can be applied in
Mr Chan also had this advice.
"Sometimes we all think that we are the saviour of the world, so we go forth and teach people things, but sometimes it’s useful to take a step back and ask ourselves ’who is being helped in the process?’"
Student participants welcomed the thought—provoking session.
SMU student Stacie Henson said: "We need to find something that we truly feel passionate about and something that interests us, because if we don’t have that interest then we won’t go back and serve the community. And it will be fruitless, because we always say community service is just about the hours and giving back to community is subject to what I’ll get in school, maybe a point in my CCA or couple of hours in my community service record."
Educators like Foo Lee Wee also benefited from the dialogue.
"While schools can imbue the importance of social responsibility, about being a good citizen, I think the parents also play a very important part. So the school and the parents, they must work hand—in—hand to bring about the importance of making the community a better place to live in," said Ms Foo, a teacher from Gan Eng Seng Secondary School.
The symposium is perhaps a timely reminder of the need to give back to society, even as the economy slows down.
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