From the Executive Director’s Laptop
Teo Chee Hean Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Home Affairs; Co-ordinating Minister for National Security
Board of Directors
[Chairman] Lim Soon Hock Founder and Managing Director, PLAN-B ICAG Pte Ltd [Treasurer] Bill Padfield Chief Executive Officer, Dimension Data Asia Pacific Pte Ltd Chan Heng Wing Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Non-Resident High Commissioner to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Cho Pei Lin Managing Director, Asia PR Werkz Pte Ltd Soon Sze-Meng Director of Cross-Border Business, APCEMEA Visa Worldwide Pte Ltd Martin Tan Co-Founder and Executive Director, Halogen Foundation Singapore Michael Palmer Partner, Harry Elias Partnership
Editorial Team [Editor] Jael Chng
[Sub-Editors] Daphne Lee Faith Luo Jinghui [Designer] Peter Oh
Contributors Darlene Uy, Ivy Tse, Kok Heng Kwai, Marcus Chee, Shawn Khoong, Soon Sze-Meng
Halogen360 is a quarterly publication of Halogen Foundation Singapore. Halogen360 is distributed free to 2500 people, including ministers, partners, educators, volunteers, donors, and in the National Youth Council and *SCAPE. Copyright is held by Halogen Foundation Singapore. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. To provide comments or request free copies of this publication, please email singapore@ halogenfoundation.org. Printed by NuColour Pte Ltd For advertising enquiries or media, contact Jael at email@example.com To find out more about Halogen and the programmes we offer, please visit our website at www.halogen.sg or scan this:
Trends change with time. Different things are popular in different seasons, just like how each generation differs from another. To some, it was the time of Gangnam style, to others it was doing the Macarena or singing along to Lemon Tree. We have also seen a shift from a manufacturing-based economy to one that is beyond knowledge-based. Media has changed from one-tomany communication modes like broadcast, to include many-to-many communication channels like social media. Leadership styles have changed too. An authoritarian style used to be the norm, but now, shared leadership is encouraged—where it is not a top down approach, but providing a space where everyone has something to contribute. To get buy-in, leaders must involve and engage their team. Along with the rise of digital media, leaders cannot ignore what is online. Digital tools have greatly increased opportunities for us all to be heard and exercise influence. How can leaders tap on digital media to listen and act? In this issue, grab some social media tips for educators from one of the world’s top #100 social media strategists, Belinda Ang (p5); hear how one teacher is impacting students on Facebook (p7); tune into Acting Minister Lawrence Wong’s views on youth development (p8). Through these, find out how digital leadership can be done well. In such a back-drop, Halogen Foundation Singapore enters into our 10th year of building young leaders. From starting out in 2003 where leadership development was a nascent discipline, to 2013 where it is a staple in every school. With the world becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, there is a stronger need for leaders to provide vision, understanding, clarity and agility. Halogen remains committed to inspiring and influencing a generation of young leaders who will lead themselves and others well. You may ask, what does this publication have to do with building young leaders? We believe that YOU are important as a leader and are a key influencer to the youths. Day in and day out, they look to you as leaders. By highlighting key trends from multiple perspectives in this quarterly resource, we hope to equip you to be ahead and ready to prepare your students for the future. As we celebrate being 10 and look towards the future, we invite you to join us in asking, “#WHATSNEXT in building young leaders?”
Co-founder and Executive Director Halogen Foundation Singapore
TEACHER’S TOOLKIT 2 Picture this: A 15-year-old, newly promoted to the position of captain in a uniform group. His first task? To lead a team of juniors into a national level camp craft competition. Excited to take on the world, he pushed the team through months of tough trainings, imagining the moment of victory — him holding the champion’s trophy and giving a victory speech. A possible ending? Not quite. The demanding trainings saw team members withdrawing their participation. When probed by the officer, all, except one who was down with chicken pox, had the same reply. They withdrew because of me—that 15-year-old newly promoted captain.
It will likely be hard to narrow it down because many of the values are good; but the key is to select what is most important to them. After that, get them to align actions with their values by writing down one practical action point for each value. To wrap up, students can share answers with their partner, and the teacher can share his or hers with the class. Remind them and yourself to DWYSYWD: Do What You Say You Will Do. As mentioned in the 21st Century Competencies from the Ministry of Education (MOE) for nurturing the younger generation, knowledge and skills must be underpinned by values. Values define a person’s character, and it shapes the beliefs, attitude and actions of the person. With an emphasis on values in our education system, we can build a generation of exemplary leaders who have both competency and character. What will we value in 2013, and how will we Model The Way in our classrooms, home and community?
Was it a failed attempt at leadership? It might seem so, but it turned out to be the most valuable leadership lesson I ever learnt. It did not matter that I was a senior or captain because I was not practicing the most fundamental idea of leadership, which is to lead by example. Because of that, my “To Model The Way, members did not accept me as we first need to clarify their leader, and my team fell apart. our values. We need to This simple lesson of leading by example, or lack of, sparked a powerful leadership learning moment for the young me.
decide what is important to us, before we know what kind of example we want to set.”
Leadership gurus James Kouzes and Barry Posner discovered that leading by example is key to being an effective leader. They coined the term “Model the Way” which is one of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership of The Leadership Challenge®*. Model The Way is first of the five practices, explained in the two following commitment statements: 1. 2.
Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.
To Model The Way, we first need to clarify our values. We need to decide what is important to us, before we know what kind of example we want to set. It is integral to clarify our values because our values are what guide our choices and actions. Starting this practice is not difficult. One 10–15 minute activity teachers can do with students in perhaps civics education or english classes is the Values Sort. Give a list of up to 30 values (Respect, Integrity, Affluence, Friends, Competition, etc.) to students and have them select those that matter to them most. Then, get them to eliminate it down to their top five values. For primary school students, you might want to have a list of 15 values, and have them narrow it to three values.
Model The Way
Shawn Khoong is the friendly face you see at school trainings, him being the Senior Executive for Halogen Academy. He has two other loves — hip hop dance and cats.
*The Leadership Challenge® (TLC) is a leadership development programme created by bestselling authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner. This programme is backed by 30 years of original research and data from over three million leaders. It is a comprehensive suite of products, programmes and services proven to cultivate and liberate the leadership potential in every person, at every level, in any organisation. Halogen conducts TLC workshops for MOE educators at a special price. After participating in one workshop, Lee Peiyan, Level Head of Pupil Development at Canberra Primary School, said “I felt very inspired by the dynamic sharing by the participants and also by the facilitator. The programme allows me to look at the values at a microlevel (and) articulate my thoughts more properly.” If you have attended TLC, you can also up your leadership a notch by joining the Student Leadership Challenge® Certified Facilitator’s Training (SLCCFT) which will certify you as a student trainer for the student edition of the programme. Halogen also conducts the above mentioned Values Sort activity in our Everyday Leadership core module, Establishing Core Values. For enquiries, please contact Sean at sean@ halogenfoundation.org or +65 6509 6700.
Clarify your values and lead by example
By Shawn Khoong
3 YOUTH BITS
Technology in Educati
designated as FutureSc They are tasked with h and communications t learning more engagin
A US-based online marketplace for teaching resources, teacherspayteachers.com, has over 1.5 million users generating more than
$ $ $
Cloud computing, collaborative environments, mobile apps, table computing
out of 7 Singaporean pre-service teachers are confident in their basic computer skills
in sales of lesson plans by and for teachers. A local equivalent, schoolasia.org, launched in August 2012, has 78 lesson plans that are free of charge2
teachers and students worldwide are connecting on Edmodo.com, an e-learning site that harnesses the power of social networks1
Electronic publishing, gamification, learning analytics personal learning environment
Next 2-3 years
Technology Outlook for Singaporean Educatio
YOUTH BITS 4
Darlene Joy Uy is passionate about educating young leaders through Halogen. She is an avid reader so chances are, you’ll find her with her Kindle.
By Darlene Uy
Top Trend and Challenge
chool@Singapore. harnessing information technology to make ng4
Top Technology Issues Across Schools Worldwide
out of 7 Singaporean pre-service teachers are confident in their media-related skills5
Asia-Pacific: Preventing internet abuse United States: Equipping classrooms with technological equipment Europe: Enabling student and faculty communication
Collective intelligence, internet of things, massively open online courses, natural user interfaces3
ext 4-5 years
Top technology trend in Singapore education: Hello e-books, goodbye traditional textbooks.
Top technology challenge facing Singaporean teachers: Textbook reinvention (digitisation is not enough)6
Middle East/Africa: Network security Latin America: Reducing administrative expenses7
1. www.edmodo.com 2. teacherspayteachers.com, schoolasia.org 3 and 6. “Technology Outlook: Singapore K-12 Education 2012-2017” by The New Media Consortium, 2012 4. www.edulab.moe.edu.sg 5. “Assessing the dimensionality of computer self-efficacy among pre-service teachers in Singapore: a structural equation modeling approach” by Timothy Teo and Joyce Hwee Ling Koh, International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology (IJEDICT), 2010, Vol. 6, Issue 3, pp. 7-18 7. Cisco International Education Survey 2011
Social Media— Friend or Foe?
How educators can embrace social media and navigate it strategically By Jael Chng
Singaporeans love being on Facebook. We were named the “most facebooked nation in the world” in 2011*. The total number of Facebook users stand at 2,891,940, or 80 per cent** of our online population. What started out as a simple “private” tool to share our lives with our network has morphed also into a crisis management platform, feedback channel and branding tool. We love Facebook to connect, but we have also seen the devastation it can amplify. In light of education trends such as online learning through the rise of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC)*** like Khan Academy and Coursera, and the incidents of Amy Cheong (who posted racist remarks on Facebook) and Alvin Lim (the sex-blogger from the National University of Singapore), we organised a meet-up for educators with a social media strategist, Belinda Ang. Belinda, labelled as the world’s top #100 social media strategist, brought her vast experience from consulting with top Multi-National Companies to local firms like MediaCorp Holdings, and as an educator at the Singapore Media Academy. She raised five pertinent questions: 1. How should schools manage a social media crisis? 2. How do you prevent a crisis through social media listening? 3. Should teachers engage students on the social media platform? 4. How do we motivate students to use social media wisely? 5. How should educators deal with their personal “brand”? The essence of the discussion revealed the fundamentals of leadership communications—listening to signals, early intervention, leveraging information, influencing outlook, and maintaining integrity.
For school management such as principals and viceprincipals, Belinda highlighted some key things to consider. Firstly, if a crisis were to strike, is your school ready? Is there a plan in place? Escalating to the Ministry of Education is the standard procedure, but would it be sufficient in light of the speed and viral potential of social technologies? Here are some recommended actions:
Create a crisis management plan and assemble a team
Train key personnel to know how to handle media (e.g. how to handle press, what to post and what not to post on Facebook)
Understand the role of media distribution channels such as social media and the press, and have these on standby. Know how and when to activate them in times of crisis
Secondly, are you listening to your students and educators? Do you have a social media policy for educators or a social media “police” team? How can you harness the leadership potential of social media, yet put in place structure and boundaries? You could start by doing this:
Create a social media policy—provide guidelines and boundaries without demotivating people to use it wisely
Form a social media police team to monitor and enforce rules
Select a social media listening tool to assist in uncovering conversations and sentiment
Regularly educate and raise awareness among staff and students
Establish social media relationships and engagement with students
On a more personal level, as educators, how can you engage your students while retaining some level of personal privacy? How can educators leverage social media for social good? Should educators “brand” themselves? You can:
Choose to maintain privacy by creating privacy lists
Follow conversations but do so at an arm’s length
Speak at the appropriate times but do not preach or nag
Instead of saying what students cannot do, motivate them by explaining how doing right can benefit them
There is no longer a divide between your “offline” and your “online” person. Say what you mean, and mean what you say
As Erik Qualman, author of Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence puts it, “If you truly want a life that inspires, you need to change your leadership habits today to adapt to the new digitally open world”. Social technologies will only become more ubiquitous, pervasive and powerful. Here at Halogen, we see the increasing urgent need for digital leadership. Whether we enjoy social media for its benefits or detest it for its destructive abilities, it is here to stay. We can face it head-on and use it for ours and our community’s benefit. How will we embrace social media and navigate it strategically? **Social Bakers, January 16, 2013 *** Massive Online Open Courses were featured in the Davos Forum, an international World Economic Forum which discusses economic and social issues. Read more in “Davos Forum Considers Learning’s Next Wave” at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/ business/davos-considers-learnings-next-wave.html?_r=0
Jael Chng champions relevant ways of communicating with young people at Halogen. She blogs, tweets, snap photos, videos, posts on Facebook and writes for an online magazine.
“If you truly want a life that inspires, you need to change your leadership habits today to adapt to the new digitally open world” –Erik Qualman
The digitial arena has changed the way people relate and communicate with one another. Anonymity and freedom of speech has become synonymous with today’s social media and networking natives. This anonymity and freedom has given them much power to express themselves in ways that previous generations could not and would not. With that power, also comes the need for great responsibility in using social media. Working in partnership with social media professionals, Halogen has put together a Digital Leadership module that seeks to equip young people with the principles of responsible social media use, encouraging them to be digital citizens with a positive digital footprint. We want young people to know that they are highly influential in the digital world, and that they can be a positive influence in that sphere of their lives as well. For more information on this workshop for youths, contact Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7 TEACHER TALK I was always an early adopter of technology, as evident from the seven digit ICQ number from my younger days (remember that instant messaging computer programme from the late 1990s? “ICQ” stands for “I seek you”). However, I became cautious about the use of technology when I realised the impact of using it without care. It has only been in recent years that I started to dabble in it again. As a teacher, I meet youths daily; I challenge myself to be relevant so as to communicate effectively with them. What better way can we reach a generation that is connected 24/7? While I have a Facebook account for personal friends, I started a separate account purely for quick communication with my students, such as reminding them about upcoming tests. Initially, very few students added me as friends; so I got the ball rolling by inviting them as my friends. I chose to remain extremely “inactive” by reading student’s posts so I would know what was going on. I hardly commented on posts. This resulted in more students adding or accepting my “friend requests” as I was deemed safe and non-judgemental. After establishing this reputation, I began to selectively comment on some of my student’s posts, especially to encourage those who were stressed. It was through this that near an examination period, I chanced upon one student’s comment about his perceived unfair and unreasonable treatment in school. In his anger, he left very rude remarks about some teachers. Before word spread and got out of control, I quickly replied to his post, appealing him to look at things from a different angle in a way that did not judge his action. The conversation went back and forth a little as I challenged his assumption and worldview, trying to bring across a much wider perspective.
Above: Heng Kwai’s other Facebook page which he uses to interact with his students while maintaining his privacy.
Still, the affected teachers eventually got wind of his post and confronted him in the most diplomatic way possible. After a few days, he took down his post and apologised to the affected parties. The most comforting thing was that in taking down his post, he left a message which indicated that my comments had in some ways influenced his thinking. That then resulted in him removing his post on his own accord. With the easy availability of knowledge through the internet, youths today can be very opinionated, but their opinions can also be very biased. Our task is to supplement their knowledge, help them see a different outlook, and let them critically think and decide what is good and right for themselves.
Connecting with the Young Staying relevant through social media is one teacher’s way of influencing his students By Kok Heng Kwai
Kok Heng Kwai has been in the education industry for almost 15 years and is now teaching in Bishan Park Secondary School. He teaches Physical Education and Principles of Accounts and is passionate about holistic education.
Developing Young Leaders in Singapore An exclusive interview with Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, who shares his vision and aspirations for the young people of Singapore By Jael Chng
Here in Halogen, we constantly ask ourselves — in what context do we build young leaders? What are we building young leaders for? In our mission to nurture young leaders, we need to question the type of leaders we intend to build, and how we can do it. How can we build young leaders to have vision in volatility, understanding in uncertainty, clarity in complexity and agility in ambiguity? In what ways can we encourage youth to flourish with their unique potential, talents, and make-up, and not impose on them our definitions of success? What is our role as educators? The quest for these answers led us to interview Mr Lawrence Wong, former Senior Minister of State for Education and now Acting Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) — an apt candidate who can lend us his perspectives. Halogen360 (H360): With your new portfolio as Acting Minister of MCCY, what are you championing for the future of youth development in Singapore? What is your dream for young leaders? Acting Minister Lawrence Wong (LW): My hope is for the young leaders of tomorrow to be both visionaries and problem-solvers. We want our young to dream big and champion bold initiatives. At the same time, we want them to be action-oriented—to be prepared to work hard, collaborate with one another, and take concrete actions to achieve their goals. MCCY will support our youth in these aspects, whether through funding or by linking them with other like-minded individuals. We want to empower our young to serve the community and give back to society.
H360: The future is projected to be even more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Besides economic opportunities, there has been talk on developing youths holistically, giving room for expression and development beyond academic achievement. How will the government facilitate the holistic development of our youths? LW: The government will continue to provide opportunities for our youth to pursue their dreams in all areas. When I interact with young people, what comes across most strongly is that they are driven by passion and purpose. Increasingly, they are prepared to forge their own pathways in life, even if means doing something that is different from conventional notions of success. For example, I see more and more young people interested in pursuing careers in the arts and sports, in setting up social enterprises, and in serving the community. The government will do its part to develop a full spread of talent, by equipping our youths with the relevant skills, and providing access to resources and opportunities, so that all can fully actualise their potential. H360: We are seeing many changes in the education sector, including an emphasis on character education. Prime Minister shared that values must not be sacrificed for progress. As the former Senior Minister of State for Education, how do you see the future of education in the context of holistic development? How do you think we can raise competent young leaders with good character? LW: Education must develop the whole person and help a child acquire a broad range of knowledge, skills, values and dispositions needed to live life fully, contribute actively to society, as well as prepare for
“My hope is for the young leaders of tomorrow to be both visionaries and problemsolvers.”
a challenging and dynamic future. Beyond equipping our children with content knowledge and skills, we also want to ensure that we develop in them social-emotional competencies, and deep values and strength of character to anchor our young and ensure they have the resilience to succeed. That is why we emphasise holistic education. And that is also why the Ministry of Education (MOE) has put renewed emphasis on Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) in schools. But achieving a good balance in the development of a child requires more than just the effort of school leaders and teachers. Parents also play crucial roles in shaping the attitudes, beliefs and character of our children. H360: How can educators encourage their students to be active citizens and leaders in their own communities? LW: Our educators play a crucial role in developing and nurturing our young people. Besides having programmes that nurture citizenship and leadership, educators should lead by example and find ways to serve the community and give back to society. Educators can inspire students with their own passion. Every year, the Outstanding Youth in Education Award features and recognises passionate and committed young educators who have inspired their students. One common trait these winners share is the strong passion they have that spurred them to go the extra mile for the youths under their charge. H360: We see that social technologies also have the power to impact society, to do social good and powerfully affect our culture and community. What is your vision for youths and social media in Singapore? LW: I see social media as a platform with the potential to bring about positive transformations. Social media is already pervasive among young people growing up today. They have the potential and capacity to use social media in new and creative ways that bring about greater levels of interactivity and connectivity. If we harness the power of this new media effectively, it can help to build stronger community ties, mobilise grassroots activism, and facilitate collective action for the betterment of society. We already see this happening in Singapore. For instance, Project Hello Stranger is a voluntary movement by a group of young people who want to see a happier Singapore. Through social media, they have initiated a movement to engage Singaporeans and get them to show their soft and friendly side.
H360: If you have one piece of advice for young people in Singapore, what would it be? LW: Be fearless in the pursuit of your dreams, and in pushing boundaries. Continue to embrace the global village and the boundless opportunities it offers. You may not have the ability to change the world by yourself, but start small to effect change in your community. Draw others to you in the journey through your passion and purpose. Believe that as a team, you can achieve great things. Above all, stay connected with family, friends and the community here. Together, we can build a gracious and caring society in Singapore we are proud to call Home.
OPINION 10 Education. The dream for meritocratic education is to level the playing field. However, does it currently? One of Halogen’s dreams is to increase social mobility. Over the last 10 years, we have availed and made our leadership offerings accessible to all. On the same day, we can be in both a neighbourhood and elite school. Through the years, we have seen students we coach in leadership grow in confidence and competence. A key area we have identified a strong need for leadership in is the field of digital media. Wise use of it can lead to better opportunities, growth and social good. Poor use of it can lead to degradation, defamation and degeneration. People have been both promoted and fired through the use of Digital Media. If youths can learn how to use Digital Media wisely, the digital divide between individuals and groups of different socioeconomic levels can be lessened, thereby increasing social mobility. If youths can learn how to use Digital Media responsibly, social cohesion can be improved rather than compromised. Read on for a perspective offered by Soon Sze-Meng, a Halogen board member, and regional director at Visa Inc. He writes about such excesses in our ethos and champions the need for social mobility and social cohesion in Singapore. His article was first published in The Straits Times on 23 January 2013.
ingapore has grown its gross domestic product per capita more than fivefold in 30 years from $11,947 to $63,050, one of the highest in the world. However, our Gini coefficient as a measure of income inequality was at around 0.45 to 0.47 for the past decade, again one of the highest in the world—a zero reading indicates perfect equality and 1 suggests complete inequality.
The relentless focus on meritocracy, marketdriven policies and economic growth have resulted in Singapore topping the charts in both GDP per capita and income inequality. Much has been said recently about the limits of meritocracy in Singapore, with critics pointing to the way winners in an academic meritocracy become the new elite who pass on their advantages to their offspring, giving them an advantage over others with fewer resources or different talents. And yet, as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reminded Singaporeans last week, meritocracy must remain a critical value. Meritocracy is, after all, the notion that performance should be the yardstick for rewards and advancement. Not many Singaporeans, I am sure, would want to argue that the alternative of promoting on the basis of birth and connections is superior. In the next phase of Singapore’s development, however, the excesses of meritocracy can be ameliorated. We need to refocus the objective of public policy back on to the basics and put social mobility and social cohesion at the heart of policies. If we value social mobility, we will work harder at making sure each generation enjoys equality of opportunity. To be sure, promoting social mobility is no panacea. Wealthier Singaporeans will continue to pay for costly pre-schools, pricey properties near popular primary schools to gain priority in admission as well as steep tuition fees for their children to excel in examinations. All the angst over education and exams will not disappear. But if we consciously put social mobility as a goal in education policy, right up there with meritocracy, then we can get more nuanced decisions.
A narrow economic view of early childhood education may lead us to conclude that it is best as a private good provided by the private sector, paid for by families. This creates diversity and choice. Injecting social mobility into the equation as a desired outcome changes the calculus significantly. Then a society is more likely to say pre-school education deserves state subsidies to help level up children from families with lower levels of financial or social capital. The recent move to provide more afterschool care centres in schools, rather than direct students to private and costly tuition centres, is an excellent step towards raising social mobility. It gives poorer students access to a conducive and supervised study environment after classes. This helps level the playing field so they can compete in the meritocratic race on more equal terms. Singapore can also make social cohesion an explicit outcome of policy goals in education and social services. Up to now, the country has enjoyed high economic growth but also seen high income inequality that erodes social cohesion. For example, the easy availability of foreign workers drives growth, but has an impact on social cohesion — in depressing wages of lower-income Singaporeans, and creating a gulf between locals and foreign workers. Integrating the large surge of foreigners with their different value systems and language backgrounds has not been easy. If growth is pursued without effort to narrow income inequality, social distances result. This refers to the difference in lifestyles and experiences between the haves and havenots, evident in different strata cocooned in increasingly separate living environments [Continued on page 13]
Education: A Level Playing Field? Ensuring social equality and mobility by building young leaders By Jael Chng and Soon Sze-Meng
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved”, said Helen Keller, an American deaf-blind author, political activist and lecturer. It was a privilege to be able to meet Ms Cassandra Chiu in person, shortly after she was featured in TODAY. I discovered a gentle and calm person with an indomitable spirit, forged through the “experience of trial and suffering” which Helen Keller mentioned, through which we see her success today. At the young age of 33, she is a winner of the Singapore Women Award 2012, founder of her own counselling practice, The Safe Harbour, and a proud mother of a sixyear-old daughter. She has also started a new consultancy business, The New Perspective, which offers talks, workshops and consultancy specifically for the support of the visually impaired.
“A Love For Life Is What Drives Me”
All this, despite being diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease — a degenerative genetic condition that leads to blindness — at only eight years old. With her condition, Cassandra has had her fair share of navigating through unchartered waters. From a young age, she had to learn to embrace her disability and find her place in the world. There were times she went through emotional rollercoasters, dealing with her emotions of feeling lost and angry after realising how isolated and ostracised she felt.
Singapore Woman of the Year 20 her story and successes in spite
Even as she was growing up, attending classes was tough due to her deteriorating eyesight. She refused to attend the Singapore School for the Visually Handicapped until she could no longer cope in a mainstream school at age 14. To fund her university studies, she took up any job she could get, even busking at places such as Raffles Place and Orchard Road for nine years. Despite obtaining a Master of Social Science in Professional Counselling and graduating in the upper percentile, Cassandra was denied counselling jobs because of her visual disability. But she declared, “just because the world wasn’t prepared to give me the opportunity at that point, I wasn’t just going to sit back and wait till something happened”. That prompted her to start The Safe Harbour, a counselling practice, with a classmate. “We all have storms in our lives, and different storms at different times of life. I wanted this place to be that safe harbour for the storms in the lives of others,” she said. Cassandra attributes her achievements to her upbringing, discovering her passion and believing in herself. From a young age, she was taught to take initiative and to put in effort in doing what she wanted. She says: “My mum would never have stood for me not working”. Finding that focussing on her strengths helped her feel less trapped, Cassandra concentrated on her interest in the social service profession and her love for competitive sports. She has represented Singapore in swimming competitions such as the Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled (the equivalent of the South-East Asian Games for the abled).
LEFT: Cassandra Chiu was featured in TODAY which shared her story of growing up and overcoming the odds despite being visually handicapped. She relies on her guide dog to help her get around.
mentality and mindset — that still needs a shift. She adds that other people’s mentalities can add to the problem, especially in the workplace or when other colleagues feel that physically disabled co-workers are not good enough. Overall, the guiding principle of meritocracy in Singapore does open some doors to those who are willing to work hard. This is unlike in other countries where the disabled may be forced to study in special schools with limited course offerings. She says: “We’re very lucky to be given that freedom to choose our path... we are ultimately responsible for who we are as a person.” Cassandra believes the disabled can play on equal ground and hopes that her work in creating awareness for them can shift the paradigm of how they are viewed. She emphasises, “We need to realise that everyone has their strengths, limitations and forms of impairment; those are not always physical, but sometimes in our attitudes. By focussing on the strengths and abilities rather than the limitations, employers can get the best of both worlds by balancing those qualities out across their employees.” What lies next in the horizon for her? Cassandra is committed to continue to use her talent and pay it forward with her positivity and will. “I understand I have a bigger audience now… I hope [my story] will be a beacon of sorts, to steer people who are lacking in self-esteem and motivation, to the direction of growth.” She hopes to reach out to youths who may, at different stages of life, need some mentoring and guidance, so that they can examine themselves and who they can be. Perhaps, they can learn a gem or two from her tale. “Love for life is what drives me. We all have a role on this earth, we all play different roles and I love mine,” she says.
Ivy Tse is an Events Executive with Halogen. She enjoys meeting new people, working on creative projects and going for long leisurely runs.
“It’s about self-belief. If I fall into the trap of not believing that I am capable of doing something, then I will never be able to do it,” she says. When asked what Singaporeans can do better in supporting the disabled community in pursuing their dreams and utilising their strengths, Cassandra expressed that some infrastructure and transportation is in place. However, while the hardware is in place, it is the “software” — people’s
012 Cassandra Chiu shares of her disability By Ivy Tse
Halogen is honoured to be able to feature Cassandra Chui at National Young Leaders’ Day 2013 Women’s Edition. Send your young women leaders to this event and inspire motivation, inculcate social responsibility, and impart real-life knowledge to them. This year, we are giving a 35% discount for tickets. Find out more about this event on the back of this publication.
Leaders are Readers Book resources for educators By Faith Luo Jinghui
Former US President Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”. The leadership benefits of reading are wide. Studies have shown that reading helps us acquire new information quickly, makes us smarter, increases verbal intelligence, and reduces stress*. Books are a way to discover, learn and experience new things. They can inform, and they can entertain. They can bring rich experiences and they can help us understand the world better. They can deepen our knowledge and broaden our understanding. To empower educators with just that, Halogen and *SCAPE have partnered John Wiley & Sons, a global publishing company that specialises in academic publishing, to avail a resource library. Wiley has generously sponsored over US$30,000 worth of books. The library is open to everyone, but especially catered for educators. While educators specialise in the topics they teach, they benefit from reading widely, and can share this with peers and students. Books in this library range from education to language, psychology, marketing, politics, leadership, business management and communications. In time, we will be adding journals and magazines to the collection. In the wise words of Dr Seuss, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Pop by and get smarter today! *“Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence” by Stanovich “What reading does for the mind” by Cunningham and Stanovich “Reading ‘can help reduce stress’” in http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html
What: Library at The Vault, Level 4 Hubquarters, *SCAPE, 2 Orchard Link Who: Open to anyone Launch: 31 Jan 2013 Books: 784 books Usage: Freely browse books in the cosy Hubquarters in exchange for your identity card. Future plans include lending and photocopying of books. Sample Titles Title: Effective Online Teaching: Foundations and Strategies for Student Success (2011) Author: Tina Stavredes Some topics covered: Profile of the online learner, foundations of cognition and learning, cognitive strategies to support learners’ thinking, strategies for managing your online course. Title: Teaching At Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors (3rd Edition) (2010) Author: Linda B. Nilson Some topics covered: Understanding how students learn, strategies for motivating students, choosing and using the right tools for teaching and learning, making learning easier, and assessing learning outcomes.
Faith Luo Jinghui chose to join Halogen after attaining her degree from down under. At other times, her “itchy fingers” can be found holding a drawing pen or on music instruments.
[Continued from page 10]
with limited opportunities to interact, thus fraying social cohesion. Making social cohesion an explicit goal can result in different policy choices. For example, it may be more administratively convenient for some secondary schools to offer only Express streams. But for the sake of social cohesion, it would be better for all secondary schools to offer classes in the Normal stream as well so students mix with others of different academic abilities. This allows impressionable teens to form a healthier view of, and respect for, the varieties of human talent and skills. When students from the Express stream join Normal (Technical) students in a cocurricular activity in, say, the football club, the former may come to value psychomotor skills and not just academic ability.
Similarly, a purely economic lens will compel policymakers to tender out food centres to the highest bidders. And admission to public attractions will be priced at the market value, with high ticket prices. But if social cohesion is a value, we may want public places to be accessible to all. We may want tickets to spanking new tourist attractions priced lower for residents. We should continue to have hawker centres run as social enterprises so stallholders can continue to sell food at affordable prices. This way, the poor and rich can have more shared experiences and rub shoulders while having fun, waiting in line or eating in these public places. A commitment to social mobility and social cohesion entails more than lip service. True commitment to these ideals requires
Singapore to draw different conclusions about what is good policy. Singapore’s commitment to meritocracy as a way of life will be stronger — if it is tempered by the compassion and inclusivity that social mobility and social cohesion allow. What do you think? Send us your comments at email@example.com
Soon Sze-Meng is a regional director in Visa Inc focussing on the cross-border business for its Asia-Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa markets. He previously worked in McKinsey & Co. and Monitor Group. He has been a board member at Halogen Foundation Singapore since 2009.
History teaches us many lessons. At the time of the War of the Ring, in the face of great evil, a selfless young Hobbit stood up and said, “I will take it! I will take it! I will take the Ring to Mordor! Though… I do not know the way!” To which, Aragorn, a ranger of the North and a future King, swore his allegiance and offered his sword; Legolas, an elf, offered his bow; and Gimli, a dwarf, offered his axe. The Fellowship of the Ring was thus formed, together with 3 other Hobbits and, of course, Gandalf the Grey.
*SCAPE: An Unexpected Journey Creating more platforms and opportunities for young people in 2013: What educators and students can do at *SCAPE By Marcus Chee
That’s volunteerism, that’s leadership.
youth engagement and support them to develop their varied interests and pursue their dreams and aspirations. Knowing that we cannot do this alone, we want to build on our existing network and create more partnerships with academic institutions, private and public agencies/organisations, passionate youth and individuals to further strengthen the youth ecosystem both within and beyond *SCAPE.
Okay, so it is not quite history. But just imagine, how would the story have panned out had no one stepped forth to volunteer to carry The One Ring?
We also want to create more platforms and opportunities for young people to showcase their talents, and be exposed to areas that they might not have previously explored.
*SCAPE is no Mount Doom. There are no orcs, no trolls, and no goblins to vanquish. Yet, there is a need. A need for educators and young people alike to volunteer and contribute, a need for those who can and those who have, to support those who can’t, those who have not. Recognising that you have and can is, after all, the first step towards giving and volunteering. But how?
Besides our annual National Day Celebration, Halloween Museum of Horror, and Year-End Countdown, for example, we want to roll out a new signature series called the *SCAPE Big Break, which are week-long festivities centred on particular themes: Urban Sports in February, Visual and Performing Arts in April, and Community Service and Volunteerism in June. But most importantly — and this is where the “how” comes in — we need more Bagginses, Gamgees, Brandybucks, (and yes, even)
Eventually, the Fellowship completed their mission, the Eye of Sauron fell, and the balance of Middle Earth was restored. All these, because one humble Halfling, Frodo, saw a need and took upon himself the responsibility to fill the void.
2013 promises to be an exciting year at *SCAPE. We will ramp up our efforts in
Tooks to join us in developing new ideas and making them happen! Without programmes, *SCAPE is just a building. With your support, and your students’ participation and contribution, *SCAPE can become a bustling ground for youth activities initiated by youth, co-created with youth, or seeded by you! Remember the opportunities you wish you had when you were younger? Make them happen at *SCAPE today! Some youth out there will surely benefit because of you! Help us make *SCAPE a land of opportunity for youth; let our youth be able to come here to dream it, live it, and pay it forward. Now, that’s precious!
Marcus Chee recently joined *SCAPE as its Programming and Finance Director. He is uber passionate in youth development and is now sitting behind his computer waiting to hear from you! He can be contacted at: Marcus_chee@scape.com.sg.
TOP LEFT: *SCAPE’s volunteers fixing up the scooters for “Heritage on Wheels” for National Day Celebrations 2012. RIGHT: Youths pinning up their well-wishes for the Mosaic Wall for National Day Celebrations 2012. BOTTOM LEFT: Putting on a scary face — a “scaracter” having her make-up done before doing a “Zombie Walk” in Orchard Road for Halloween 2012.