18.35 Activism - Young Activists
Letting Their Actions Show They Care

Story and Photos by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat

“We believe that small acts of kindness can touch the hearts of others, and that making an impact does not have to be on a grand scale.” Such wisdom was not quoted from a book of inspiration, but by the two youth volunteers pictured above. 

This desire to make a positive difference may have been the reason Nanyang Technological University (NTU) undergraduates Goh Geng Ting, 24, and Ashley Lee, 22, first joined NTU Caretalyst, their school’s community service club. Through various volunteerism opportunities, they didn’t just get to help others, but also learned valuable life lessons. 

After participating in Young NTUC’s Project Refresh home improvement engagements for underprivileged families and seniors in the community, the duo have been inspired to be a part of Young NTUC’s Heart To Home community. As youth activists, they not only have more opportunities to perform community service, they also work behind the scenes to create similar opportunities for like-minded peers. 

Come January 2018, Ashley and Geng Ting will be helping to organise the upcoming Young NTUC Project Refresh engagement in Tampines. Taking place just before the Lunar New Year, the project hopes to spread some festive cheer to beneficiaries by helping them spring clean their homes. 

In the meantime, the duo share their personal experiences with volunteerism and the service of others.


Ashley Lee, 22

Final-year NTU undergraduate


What inspired you to start volunteering?

Something struck me when I entered university. I had things easy when I was growing up and I began wondering why hadn’t I done more for my community when I was younger. With so much access to people, knowledge and resources, I felt that there wasn’t a better time than the present to join a volunteering club (NTU Caretalyst) and volunteer. 

And after each time [volunteering], I wanted to go back and do more because it has been very meaningful.


What does volunteerism mean to you?

I feel that learning often takes place beyond the books and each time I volunteer in a project, I learn a little more about the people around me, a little more about life, and a little more about myself. I realised that I do enjoy doing this. 


Tell us more about the experience.

Project Refresh has been very satisfying for me because the very act of entering someone’s home is a very intimate action. It literally and figuratively means that someone is opening a door into their lives and accept help from you. 

We often don’t get a chance to peek into the lives of the less fortunate in Singapore and being a part of the organising committee gives us that opportunity and exposure. 


Were there any lessons that you learnt?

Project Refresh has helped build up my set of skills; because through planning the activities, I got to learn things like volunteer management, how to be a better volunteer leader, how to be a better logistician and other aspects of project execution and management. 


How does it feel to have made a difference in someone’s life? 

Happy. It may be a simple word, but seeing the smiles from people who have received your help makes me feel very satisfied, and I don’t need anything else. 


What are your aspirations for the future?

As I’m graduating soon, I hope to get a good job. But in terms of volunteering, I hope to be able to inspire more of my peers to volunteer as well because it is through trying, that they can understand the true meaning of it. 


Goh Geng Ting, 24

Final-year NTU undergrauate


What inspired you to start volunteering?

It’s always been a joy and pleasure for me to serve others, and I would always seek out opportunities to volunteer my time. It has never been something I would do for myself, but to make a difference in someone else’s life. Anyone can make that difference, as long as you have the heart and willingness to do it with sincerity.


What does volunteerism mean to you?

Volunteerism is something that comes from my heart, and that others will be able to see and feel the difference I hope to make. 


How has the experience been for you?

One of the most memorable experiences actually happened during the recent Project Refresh engagement in Punggol. The beneficiary was an old auntie who was feeling discouraged because of illness. But after interacting with her and showing care and concern, I could sense a change in her mood, and she was feeling more joyful. This let me realise just how little acts of kindness can make a big difference to someone else.


Were there any lessons that you’ve learnt?

I’ve really learnt patience and the willingness to serve others. You may meet difficult people, but all it takes is having the heart and right attitude. People may scold you and make things difficult, but as long as you are willing to give your best and be yourself, that is all that matters. 


What are your aspirations for the future?

It would definitely be to get a good job. But I hope to continue serving and making a difference in society by availing my time to volunteer.