By Tan Yi Jie, Daniel (Secretary-Treasurer)
In our competitive education system, it is easy to feel lost and directionless, as we are caught up in the endless pursuit of academic excellence and impressive portfolios. That is why RI’s Interact Club, as one of the largest service CCAs in this school, aims to offer students the chance to detach themselves from the stresses of schoolwork and find fulfilment in the simple joys of volunteering. There are neither trophies to win nor competitions to train for, but our members often find great meaning in bringing light to those around them who need a helping hand.
For many of us, we find the greatest gratification in the most unexpected of places: not necessarily from an event with many sign-ups or a fundraiser with lots of donations, but instead from the joy and gratitude that our beneficiaries experience when we serve them in our own capacities. During weekly service sessions, members go to various elderly care centres and welfare organisations like St. Luke’s Eldercare, Singapore Disability Sports Council and The Signpost Project. Volunteers can often look forward to simple yet significant interactions like singing Karaoke with the elderly, playing modified football with people with disabilities or reaching out to tissue paper peddlers all around Singapore.
While activities carried out during these sessions might seem mundane or repetitive, the emotional connections formed and the life lessons learnt to make the time and effort spent more than worthwhile. Over the course of our volunteering efforts this year, many of us have also discovered new causes and passions that we never knew about or needs in the community that we had hastily turned a blind eye to. Volunteering is, after all, also a process of self-discovery and development, where we learn more about our interests and personalities and learn to be more empathetic, altruistic and compassionate.
Beyond weekly service sessions, Interact also organises large-scale events for a wide variety of beneficiaries, such as Relay for Life (RFL)—an event that aims to educate the public on the struggles of cancer patients—and Youth Got Heart (YGH)—a campaign that seeks to empower Singaporean youth to begin their volunteering journeys. Other events like Interact Camp, where members help their new juniors learn the ropes, also provide opportunities for students to guide those around them and give back to the school community.
Furthermore, as part of RI200 celebrations next year, our members will be heavily involved in a mentorship programme, where we provide academic tutoring to students from five primary schools. Every club member will be given a chance to take charge of at least one of these events, with Organising Teams (OTs) enabling students to build strong friendships among like-minded peers and develop critical soft skills like teamwork and leadership.
To plan these events, Interact meets every Wednesday from 11am to 12pm for General Meetings. Members are given the time not only to prepare logistics or settle administrative details, but also to bond with their peers and find community in this relatively large CCA. Other sessions involve sharing sessions from experienced volunteers and experts as well as simulation games, all of which help members to become more adept volunteers who better understand their beneficiaries’ needs.
As a club, we have gone through difficult periods, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, where physical weekly service sessions and even long-anticipated events were confined to online platforms. However, as safe distancing measures have largely eased over the course of this year, we are in an exciting period where we have greater freedom to expand our volunteering efforts and finally meet our beneficiaries face-to-face. Interactors joining us next year can look forward to spearheading the RI200 mentorship programme and reaching out to new beneficiaries that were previously hard to reach using digital platforms.
Overall, Interact provides members with a holistic CCA experience that is not only enriching and enjoyable but also meaningful and fulfilling. We have two short and busy years in JC, but it is precisely amidst the hustle of JC life that we must not forget what matters in the long term. We might forget our test scores and the events we participate in, but what stays with us will be the communities we build and the lives we have touched. After all, as Winston Churchill once said, “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
If you have a heart to serve and give back to the community, Interact might just be the place for you!