On August 12, 2022, we commemorate International Youth Day.
Inaugurated by the United Nations in 1999, this special day celebrates the qualities of young people and recognises the multi-faceted challenges youths face in society today. At SNCF, we interviewed three outstanding youths – our very own scholars U Dharshini, Ervin Ong, and Audrina Tan – on what being a youth today means to them, their recent small victories, and what they think their generation is known for.
U Dharshini: Knowing that there are like-minded individuals, who share my passions, and that there is institutional support, such as government funding or existing policies, for me to develop my skills or work towards my ambitions. Beyond this, I think self-confidence (just the right amount) is equally important. Having people around me who care and actively contribute to my growth as an individual empowers me too.
Ervin Ong: For many of us, youthhood means energy and ambition. On top of this, I am empowered by the kindness and compassion behind the positive changemakers in the world. Acts of service go a long way, and while we continue to care for less-privileged communities, we may grow inclusively and meaningfully as a society.
Audrina Tan: Caring deeply about things around me is a strong motivator and a powerful push for me to press on.
Through caring deeply about the people around me, I've become stronger and more confident that I can achieve things I never thought possible. When I care about something deeply, I will do my best to make it work. Creating a positive impact on people's lives is a tremendous driving force anchoring me in my life.
UD: I think the biggest takeaway is knowing that SNCF and co-operatives are genuinely steadfast in their commitment to social welfare goals for their communities. Much of the organisational decision-making is rooted in their social missions. I also understand that collaboration and integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) roles are significant advances that the federation and local co-operatives aim to achieve in the future. This is something I am excited to see.
EO: I learned much about the co-operative movement, especially from site visits and networking events. The internship gave me many authentic experiences with co-operatives in Singapore. A critical lesson that these interactions helped drive home is the distinction between co-operatives and other organisational models, such as private companies and charities. Being owned by their members, co-operatives are not designed to be a one-size-fits-all model, but their focus on achieving a social good continues to resonate with me.
AT: Having interned with a co-operative for a while, my crucial takeaway would be that when you embark on something new, expect discomfort. Being uncomfortable is the journey towards growth. It was arduous when I was first given a task beyond my comfort zone.
At my internship, I was tasked to co-organise a healthy ageing and detection event for our seniors. Despite operating with a lean team and being inexperienced, I'd like to think I rose to the challenge. The event was a huge success and was highly praised by the management team.
Another key takeaway was that I learnt how to manage the challenges that came my way by constantly looking out for simple joys in my work and remaining positive.
UD: In my first two weeks of interning with SNCF, I managed communications with all the SNCF's Co-operative Movement Night nominees. Since joining the federation, it was my first big task, and it was a huge learning experience.
I found the task extremely rewarding, and a little victory was that all the ladies I had communicated mainly with over email or the phone immediately recognised me after I introduced myself to them at the event. When they went up the stage to receive their awards, I felt like I was seeing all my efforts play out in front of me. I'm also very grateful that one of the first significant events I worked with SNCF was celebrating women's achievements in the co-operative landscape. It made me very proud to be a scholar with SNCF!
EO: I had the chance to help organise the Scholars' Appreciation Dinner with Dharshini and the team at SNCF. We were given leeway to decide on the layout, food options, and discussion topics. It was my first time hosting a private networking dinner, and while it was a relatively minor event, I benefitted significantly from the scholars' sharings and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
AT: During my Summer break, I interned at NTUC Health; despite not majoring in Gerontology, I wanted the on-the-ground experience of interacting with our seniors because I am passionate about the elderly, and I wanted to know how the community can better serve our seniors. I took a leap of faith and took on a corporate communications role that wasn't directly related to Psychology.
At my internship, I proposed creating a mental health content pillar as I thought we should spotlight the mental health conditions amongst our seniors beyond the focus on just physical health. I made a series of mental health infographics and a mental health article providing mental wellness tips for our seniors. I also worked on a translation guide with Hanyu Pinyin, a romanisation system for Mandarin Chinese, as I wanted to facilitate the communication between our staff and our Chinese-speaking senior clients. I got the chance to spearhead these initiatives and seeing my contributions impact my team and the community was gratifying.
UD: What I find unique about our generation is that we like to challenge the process. I see that our generation is starting to be more unconventional in the way we approach problems and in how we approach life – in terms of careers, ambitions, and more. I think this leads to new and possibly even more inclusive ways of tackling 21st-century problems, and I'm excited to see the solutions or innovations that my generation comes up with as we move forward!
EO: I believe my generation is growing in a time when the world is more interconnected than ever. Information and resources are so widely accessible on the internet that the responsibility of wielding these tools wisely comes with that. The impact that every individual from my generation has is amplified, which is what I believe makes my generation unique. On that note, sustainability is an increasingly prominent theme in many undertakings today. I hope that my generation will also be the one that turns the tide in combatting global warming.
AT: The speed of technological advancement over the past two decades has been unprecedented, with the ubiquity of the internet and smartphone creating convenience and positive change in our lives. However, not everyone has been able to keep up with this rapid pace of technological advancement, resulting in a digital divide.
I believe that my generation has been part of the movement to mitigate this digital divide, helping out to the best of our abilities. Whether volunteering as part of IMDA's digital clinics initiative or simply helping our elderly co-workers and family, we have all played our role in bridging the digital divide in our own way. It's never easy to explain or teach technological or digital tools, given the jargon and technical skills involved. But with the smooth transition to remote working amidst the pandemic, I'm happy to be part of the generation that has helped bridge this gap, ensuring that everyone will benefit from this unprecedented technological advancement.
These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.