Terence Chua, 27, has a passion for volunteering and making a difference in the lives of the people around him. He has participated in three volunteer events to date.
While he used to believe he could not create a large impact, he has learnt that multiple small actions can eventually lead to a powerful one. We spoke with Terence to find out more about the work that he does.Tell us about your volunteering experiences and what you have learnt from them.
I have been involved in three volunteer events thus far. The first one took place back in 2014, shortly after the Little India riot. Following the incident, free ice creams were given out as part ofa movement to bridge the gap between migrant workers and locals.
My second volunteering experience occurred during my time at Republic Polytechnic (RP), when a friend of mine decided she wanted to cheer our fellow students up by giving out free drinks. We spent over $300 on drinks and handed them out to students before break was even.
The third event also took place at RP, when my friends and I wrote encouraging positive messages and pasted them all around our school — such as on classroom tables and in toilets — to encourage other students.
I started off volunteering thinking that one person couldn’t make much of a difference. However, the more I volunteered and saw the impact made from one person to another, the more it shaped my perspective. Now, I believe that one should offer help as long as they come across someone who needs it. It doesn’t have to be anything big. You just have to start with one. Many small acts of kindness will add up over time.Are there any specific incidents that reinforced these lessons?
Recently, I was having dinner at a coffee shop when the old lady who was clearing our plates dropped a whole tray of dirty dishes because it was too heavy. There were many glances and glares from those watching, but no one offered to help her. Although I understand that it is easier to carry on with your life rather than stop what you’re doing to help someone out,I found myself leaving my seat to help her pick the plates up.
Helping others doesn’t really cost much after all.– I only had to go to the washroom to clean my hands after we picked everything up.How were the responses to the initiatives held at Republic Polytechnic?
After the event, I saw how our simple act of giving out free drinks had a strong positive impact on the many people I knew in school. People were noting how there were students selfless enough to be thinking of their peers rather than themselves. We also saw many positive responses on Instagram as people took photos and shared them!
This was a real eye-opener for me. The same response was received when we wrote positive messages and pasted them around school. Many RP students posted thankful messages on social media, saying that they needed the encouragement.Did you face any challenges volunteering?
I think the greatest struggle was with my own perception of whether what we did would make any impact on society at all. It was also painful to hear negative comments such as “might as well don’t give” as some students did not manage to get one for themselves when we ran out of drinks.Is there anything else you would want others to know about?
Wear kindness on your sleeve! This is a motto I live by and I believe that whenever possible, we should aim to be kind to one another!