You may have read about the recent Excellent Youth Awards given out by the People's Association Youth Movement. We are very glad to have one of the recipients, Lina Chong, come and share her story, thoughts and aspirations with us on SGClub!
How did you feel after being notified that you’ve won the Excellent Youth Award?
I only knew that I was receiving the award when the emcee announced it at the Award Ceremony itself! I was really surprised because the rest of the meritorious award recipients were excellent individuals doing a lot of good for the grassroots movement. There were moments of tears for me because the last two years had been a really trying time due to ill health and studies commitments. So I was really moved by the panel's decision to choose me as the recipient!
Are you serious? No one even tried to pre-empt you first?
I am serious! Clueless! Totally clueless!
What were your earliest experiences/impetus that pushed you into this direction of working with youths?
I have been very active since Primary School all the way to my University life.My relief teaching stint after my JC studies whilst waiting for entry into University left a deep impression for me. I was teaching in a secondary school and had 5 classes to take care of. I had many memorable memories teaching, dealing with difficult students and yet having experiences of helping students deal with growing up.
Could you give us a short summary of what you have been engaged in to reach this point in time?
I am engaged in several committees at this point of time.
1. People's Association Youth Movement Central Youth Council - Chairperson
2. Pasir Ris Elias Community Club Youth Executive Committee - Chairperson
3. Women's Integrated Network Council - Assistant Treasurer
4. Pasir Ris East Citizens' Consultative Committee - Assistant Secretary
5. Pasir Ris Elias CC Management Committee - Member
6. Pasir Ris Elias CC Women's Executive Committee - Member
7. National Youth Council - Member
8. Speak Good English Movement Steering Committee - Member
9. MCYS Partner Connection Fund Committee - Member
10. MDA Arts Consultative Panel - Member
11. YOG Youth Engagement Committee - Member
Wow. You have time to be engaged in so many committees?
It is about time management and having a good team to back you up! I love my teamies!!!
At which stage did you realize that this is the field that you want to dedicate yourself to?
In year 2002, after joining the grassroots movement for 2 years, I felt that in the area of youth work, that is where I can contribute the most. I always feel that being young doesn't mean being incapable. As long as there are opportunities and platforms for the youths to engage, sparks can fly.
Any life-changing lessons you’ve picked up since becoming involved in youth work?
Teamwork is the key success to building families. Everyone plays a part in building a better place to live in. We are in a huge ecosystem that depends on each other. Treat your neighbours and friends as family, then we can live happily!
What are the main challenges and difficulties you faced in this line?
Youths nowadays have many choices, many distractions and many competitions to get their attention. We have to be more creative, more innovative to attract more youths to be engaged in community service.
Have you made any big mistakes in your work with youths that you would like to highlight so others don’t do the same thing?
I learnt to not assume what the youths like. Speak to them. Hear them out. Engage in what they actually enjoy in and not what as organisers THINK they enjoy
What is most rewarding to you when working with youths?
Nurturing Leaders of Tomorrow.
Any case studies that you can share in your past experiences that inspires and encourages you?
My parents and siblings, bosses in Nanyang Polytechnic, members from Team Elias Youth Executive Committee and Team PAYM are my greatest motivators. During my lowest times, and fear of not being able to continue my passion for community work, they stood by me and pledged to continue my passion for me, if one day, I could not continue that passion.
Ok, but can you share any real-life examples of youths that have encouraged you in your work?
I have students whom I have taught before when I was relief teaching in a secondary school finding me of Facebook and telling me how much I have influenced and have left a deep imprint in their lives WOOTZ me up big time! Haha. Also, for some of the youth at risk programmes that I am involved in, it heartens me to see these youths graduating from the programme and going back to main stream schools is very inspiring for me too!
What type of skills and character should one possess in order to work effectively with youths?
Heart to serve, a passion to volunteer, and have fun while you serve and volunteer!
Haha, so it basically means anyone is qualified to join!
YES! Anyone and everyone!
What do you see are the most common mistakes that youths make?
Failure in effective communication. Seek to listen, seek to understand, seek to observe and seek to care.
What do you feel is lacking in Singapore with regards to youth development and assistance? How do you feel this can be addressed?
I think as youths, we should seek to be a more tolerant and gracious individual, to encourage community bonding and active volunteerism, to bring people together. Everyone has a part to play to build our Home!
Having worked with youths for so long, has the profile of our youths in terms of their problems and challenges changed? Why do you think this is so?
With the rise in the popularity in social media, these internet engagements definitely pose a different set of challenges as compared to previous times. Cyber Wellness is a growing concern, at least for me, that is.
How do you define Cyber Wellness and why is this a growing concern for you?
Youths are very into the internet and gaming these days and we tend to be so indulge in it we do not self care which means we do not take care of our health mentally and sometimes even physically like late nights and long hours in front of our cyber engagements. Without control, may lead to lack of rest, concentration span dip and we may become more non chalent to our social behaviours and social engagement.
With the ever-inc reasing fascination of the youths with the internet and social media, have you seen any impact this trend has on youths?
Definitely, social media is a tool that builds or destroys an individual. Thus one has to be very careful in its engagement, and at the same time be a responsible user.
How can an online forum like SGClub help in furthering this cause?
With a high traffic flow network such as SGClub, it is definitely a good ground to advocate positive social causes such as active volunteerism because of the huge outreach SGClub has.
That is one of the reasons why we started the 'Making a Difference' forum section!
How do you think we can use the internet to advance the cause of youth assistance and development?
The speed of delivery and the massive outreach are definitely benefits of using the internet to advance the cause of youth development. Youths are about social media. It has become a way of life in which there is no turning back.
If our SGClub members are keen to explore working with youths, how should they go about doing it?
Contact me on my Facebook (LINACHONGLL@YAHOO.COM)! I will introduce them to the People's Association Youth Movement!
Leave some parting words of advice to our members at SGClub!
Make a difference, touch someone's life today! Be a volunteer...Why Wait?
That's all we have for now. Thank you for availing yourself to be interviewed and all the best in your future endeavours!
Once again, thank you so much for the opportunity to share!
You can read our forum discussion here: http://forums.sgclub.com/singapore/never_say_die_277064.html