Held from 22 to 29 January 2022, the first-ever NTU Service Week saw close to 600 members of the global OneNTU community volunteer for over 60 service initiatives. Moreover, one in six of them volunteered twice or more in the service projects. Together, they helped close to 6,000 beneficiaries in Singapore and overseas.
The four causes of NTU Service Week – Digital inclusion, Health and well-being, Social welfare and Sustainability – are aligned with the NTU 2025 strategic plan, which lays out the University’s mission in addressing humanity’s grand challenges of mitigating our impact on the environment; harnessing the science, art and technology of learning; addressing technology's impact on humanity; and responding to the needs and challenges of healthy living and ageing.
NTU Service Week began with a launch event at the Nanyang Auditorium with Mayor of South West District Ms Low Yen Ling (NBS/1996) present as Guest-of-Honour. The event featured a panel discussion “Powering Volunteerism: Impacting the World We Belong To” by Associate Vice President (Wellbeing) Prof Kwok Kian Woon, ADM Lecturer and Founder of Opening Universities for Refugees Dr Gül İnanç, alumnus and Founder of Lesswalk Mr Mike Than (NBS/2008), and President of Earthlink NTU Mr Tan Shi Zhou, who spoke about what inspires them to champion causes dear to them.
Among the many volunteers who participated in Service Week, Dr Neha Beniwal, a research associate at ERI@N, and Mr Yeo Whee Jim, who completed the Lien Ying Chow Legacy Fellowship in China Studies, tell us how each of them contributed to NTU Service Week.
Providing free health screening services for older residents
Community Telehealth Service (CTS) supporting the Health and well-being cause
Conducted by students from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Programme, the Community Telehealth Service (CTS) has helped more than 650 people since its launch in 2021.
Coinciding with NTU Service Week, the CTS team set up another booth at Kembangan Chai Chee on 22 January and is currently operating at Blk 377A Bukit Batok until 22 March.
Dr Neha Beniwal (second from right) and her team in front of their Community Telehealth Service booth.
The CTS team provides free health screening services for those aged 50 and above using the latest health technologies to test for eye and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, as well as obesity.
Dr Neha Beniwal, a research associate at Energy Research Institute @NTU (ERI@N) and a founding committee member of the programme, said that the CTS has provided the team with “a great opportunity to interact and learn about the Singapore community” while also creating a positive impact through their work.
“Besides the opportunity to interact with the Singapore community closely, CTS also provides the platform to work with an interdisciplinary and multi-generational team including the NTU undergraduates, fellow graduates and the community volunteers,” said Dr Beniwal.
“I love how these interactions have been a source of learning and have helped me to grow personally.”
Doing our part for the environment in Bhutan
Hike-and-litter-picking in Bhutan supporting the Sustainability cause
Founder of Light My Path Consulting Mr Yeo Whee Jim, who was in Bhutan for a work trip, took a two-hour hike up the Tiger’s Nest Monastery (Taktsang) with his colleague, Damcho Rinzin.
Before the hike, they decided to pick up litter along the way and took their trash bags along with them. Inspired by the duo, other colleagues subsequently organised another hike-and-litter-picking trek along the Pumola Mountain in early January.
From left: The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Whee Jim (foreground) and Damcho picking up litter at the Pumola mountain range, and Whee Jim’s colleagues hiking along the snowy Pumola Mountain.
“It was meant to be an easy hike of six to seven hours, but most of the trail, including the rubbish, was covered in a thick blanket of snow,” said Whee Jim. “The snow also turned our hike into a 12-hour trek, of which about two hours was done under faint moonlight.”
Through his experience in Bhutan, Whee Jim said that it is not necessary to always go out of one’s own way to make a difference. His habit of picking up litter continues on beaches in Singapore and the region, with his daughter joining him occasionally.
“Call me silly, but I am going to continue carrying my trash bag and continue picking up trash – while going about living my life,” said Whee Jim, who encourages our readers in doing their part for the environment. “You can start small, start right now, and start in your neighbourhood.”
Other initiatives that members of the OneNTU community participated in included the Laptop Donation and Festive Cheers @ South West, supporting the Service Week causes of Digital Inclusion and Social Welfare respectively.
(Left: top and bottom) Mr Jensen Tan from the University Advancement Office, NTU, helping to refurbish laptops which were subsequently distributed to Chua Chu Kang GRC, among various beneficiary groups in Singapore and the region. (Right) Volunteers from the National Institute of Education (NIE) with the completed festive cheer packs for residents in the vicinity.
NTU Service Week concluded with a virtual finale event with Ms Tan Aik Na, NTU Senior Vice-President (Administration), and Ms Goh Swee Chen, NTU Board of Trustees Chair, present as the Guest-of-Honour and Keynote Speaker respectively. During the finale event, guest speakers and alumni provided their insights on digital inclusion, health and well-being, social welfare and sustainability during a panel discussion titled “Powering Momentum: From Passion to Action”. The speakers were Worldwide Public Sector Programme Manager of Amazon Web Services Ms Jacqueline Yew (NIE/1999), Founder and CEO of Brahm Centre Ms Angie Chew, Founder of Tana River Life Foundation Mr Gabriel Teo (NBS/1988), and Senior Director of Group Environment Sustainability at Singtel Dr Lee Hui Mien (EEE/2003).
View the video here for a quick overview on NTU Service Week.
Following the NTU Service Week, the first flagship event of the 2022 We Belong campaign, are the Best Foot Forward virtual run and the inaugural NTU Giving Day, which will be held on 18 February and 23 March respectively.