Reflecting on my childhood retrospectively makes me wish for a role model around my age. While I did look up to my parents, I sincerely believe that a role model closer to my age would have changed me for the better because I find that relatability serves as a more impactful motivation.
While I could have chosen to sulk in my lack of my desired role model, I decided to consider volunteering. I felt like there is definitely someone out there who wanted what I wanted. So, I wanted to help fill the gap for that person. It was then that I opened the door to Small Changes.
I joined the Seeds of Deeds camp at Hulu Langat last year. My fondest memory of working with SC was through my experience as the facilitator for Team Tart Nenas. My main job was to provide guidance to the campers, but since my team had some rather confident and intelligent members, I figured that they might not need as much guidance. However, at the same time, I felt like the other shyer members might feel intimidated to participate! So, I constantly involved myself in empowering the quieter members to speak up.
There was a boy in the group who was really quiet. Whenever we spoke to him in English, he would either shake his head or just nod. Even though I was instructed to use English as the medium of instruction, I believed that I needed to break the rules for this one boy. I then used “rojak” language (a mix of Bahasa Malaysia and English) when asking him questions to make him more comfortable to speak up.
Lo and behold, he began to open up and speak more to me and the rest of the group! After the first day, he started to actively participate in group discussions. I would also encourage him to represent the group in front of his peers. Of course, he was adamant at first about not going, but with some reassurance and pep talks, he was willing to give it a go. I was filled with pride when he got up and spoke in front of the whole classroom.
Another one of my proud moments at the camp was my team winning the Best Team! Yet, I think my proudest moment is not the win but the fact that I was able to make an impact – no matter how small – on the children’s’ lives, especially that boy’s; and they on mine.
To university students like me, I think we need to realise our importance as agents for empowering youths. We are some of the most privileged and educated members of society. Therefore, we have a responsibility to utilise our privilege and give back to society, especially the younger generation. One of Small Changes’ focus areas is education and they implement it through camps like the SOD camps. These camps need volunteers like you and me to be the role models for the students, to show them the importance of education and to advise them on their academic options after graduating from secondary schools. Now, if my passionate message compels to play your part, I am very very honoured and will now ask you to keep following Small Changes for volunteer opportunities, such as the SOD camps!
Written by Fawwaz, a volunteer.
Edited by Chia Zhi Zhi, SC Media Journalist