My iShine Experience
Posted by Hsin Ee Chia on December 31, 2017
Lynn is in the final year of her Bachelor Degree in Social Work.
I started volunteering in iShine in 2016, which is a befriending programme for children aged 8 to 12 years old. It has been a very fulfilling journey, as we get to interact with and guide children even as we participate in activities which we normally may not do. For instance, we had outings to a farm and to a foodcourt operated by handicapped people; we made sushi as well as play dough using ingredients like flour, salt and oil with the children. Needless to say, it was a really engaging experience for us volunteers!
What is your best memory of iShine?
We have many memorable experiences in iShine, but the most meaningful for me is the bond that we build with the children. Children and volunteers are grouped into teams at the start of a new year, and most of the time, we may not be in the same team as those whom we worked with previously. Despite the changes, the children will still greet us when they see us. For example, there was a boy who approached me during a session and said, “I remember you, but I don’t remember your name.” Then he went on to share with me about his school, life and we chatted without any thoughts of, hey, you are not in my team now and stuff like that. I do feel very heartened when I see the closeness between the volunteers and children.
Did you encounter any challenges?
Yes, of course, not everything we do is a bed of roses. We do have our fair share of challenges too, and one would be the management of behaviours and emotions that the children might display during sessions. A lot of teamwork is required from the volunteers, and we learned how to adjust ourselves to our team-mate’s style of mentoring so as to benefit the children. We also keep each other updated through our own chat group after every session so that volunteers who were absent also know what happened.
Any other thoughts?
Overall, I enjoy this form of volunteering, as it shifts the focus away from the children’s academics, and focuses more on their socio-emotional growth. iShine’s activities and outings are also a means for us to teach the children skills and values like communication, negotiation, respect, etc. which are valuable and applicable in many situations that they will come across. Knowing that I have played a part in making positive changes to the children’s development has given me a sense of fulfilment, and I wish to continue being a positive influence for the children that I come across.
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