“The greatest gift that you can give to others and to yourself is time”, said Philip Zimbardo, an American psychologist.
With the belief to cultivate caring citizens among NTU alumni, students and faculty and staff, NTU Service Week was conceptualised in 2022 to reach out to social service groups and give back to society. In line with the University’s NTU 2025 strategic plan, the causes supported were digital inclusion, health and well-being, social welfare, and sustainability.
(From left) Professor Ling San, NTU Acting President, Deputy President and Provost ; Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment; Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chair of the NTU Board of Trustees; and Mr Lo Kien Foh, Chairman, Alumni & Development Committee of the NTU Board of Trustees officially launch NTU Service Week 2023.
Last year, close to 600 representatives from NTU took part in over 60 service initiatives and served 3,300 hours to uplift 6,000 beneficiaries. This year, about 900 NTU volunteers worked even harder to clock more than 9,700 hours across 90 projects, serving over 6,000 beneficiaries in Singapore and overseas.
Volunteers from the NTU community recently planted 100 trees on campus, supported by the NTU Sustainability Fund.
Board Chair of NTU Board of Trustees, Ms Goh Swee Chen, thanked all the volunteers at the official event held on 25 February 2023 at Nanyang Executive Centre. She said, “Addressing humanity’s grand challenges can start with giving. Too often, we underestimate the potential of small acts of service to turn a life around. Service Week shows that committed and thoughtful individuals can make meaningful impacts in a world that thrives on compassion.”
Making a meaningful impact
The volunteers made a significant impact by assisting the elderly, distributing meals to the needy, cleaning up public spaces, planting trees, and much more.
NTU alumna Elicia Chong (ADM/2022) had fun volunteering and taught seniors from Lions Befrienders how to make fabric pouches from old garments.
“I wanted to introduce them the idea of fashion sustainability. I learnt a lot from the seniors too. Some of them are experienced in sewing and taught me on how to improve the process, and how some steps could be applied to other upcycling projects,” said Elicia.
Alumna Elicia Chong volunteered to conduct an upcycling workshop for seniors.
One of the seniors who attended another upcycling workshop conducted by NTU staff volunteers at Yong-en Active Hub, Mdm Euphelia Lau, enjoyed the workshop as she spent time learning a new skill to produce a cloth necklace which she could gift to her friends. “The workshop was very meaningful as we learnt that we need not waste our old garments by throwing them away. Instead, we can upcycle them into gifts,” she said.
One of NTU’s key collaborators was South West Community Development Council. In January before Lunar New Year, NTU volunteers packed and distributed festive goodies to bring cheer to its residents. To improve the health and well-being of the community, volunteer initiatives included senior befriending programmes in partnership with St Luke’s Eldercare, where volunteers engaged them in conversations and interactive activities such as table games.
Seniors from Yong-en Active Hub demonstrating how cloth from old garments can be upcycled into necklaces – a skill they learnt at a workshop conducted by NTU staff volunteers.
NTU alumni based overseas also organised community service activities, such as a book donation drive in Guangdong, China and teaching children in rural villages in Thailand.
NTU alumni are equally enthusiastic in driving sustainability. The alumni associations of the Asian School of the Environment (ASE), School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and School of Biological Sciences co-organised a kayaking and beach clean-up activity on 26 February where participants removed more than 200kg of trash from the waters of Sembawang and East Coast Park.
NTU alumni volunteers with their families and friends at a kayaking and beach clean-up activity where they kayaked and picked up trash at Sembawang and East Coast Park.
Urging fellow alumni to volunteer, Kathleen Ooi, President of ASE alumni association, said that young professionals may think it is difficult to volunteer due to their busy schedule but they can start small. “The key is to find the path of least resistance. For example, find an organisation that offers volunteering opportunities near your home, gather some friends to volunteer together for just an hour, and have fun doing it. Not every volunteering initiative has to be new, big or great. Being a part of something bigger and helping it to scale is an equally worthy ambition,” she explained.
Singapore Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Ms Grace Fu was the guest-of-honour for the launch of NTU Service Week 2023. At the event, NTU Acting President, Professor Ling San, announced that NTU has taken the Green Nation Pledge which will see NTU taking action to be aligned with the goals of a Green Nation. As part of NTU’s sustainability efforts, NTU volunteers and supporters also recently planted 100 trees on campus, supported by the NTU Sustainability Fund.