Be The Change 2018


Work and life have provided me with opportunities to witness the incredible potential of the young, and yet each time I come across a new opportunity, I am amazed to witness it all over again. I find myself drawn to the incredible potential of the human spirit and to the contagious enthusiasm that people display, especially when inspired. And so for the 6thconsecutive year, I cancelled every other appointment, and rushed to be part of Design For Change, Singapore’s Be The Change Celebration (BTC). This event was held on the sunny morning of 12thNovember 2018.

For those who haven’t heard of it before, DESIGN FOR CHANGE is the largest global movement that gives the children opportunity of expressing their ideas for a better world. Oh, and they don’t stop at just expressing their ideas, they put it in to action too. This global movement has inspired thousands of children to discover that change is possible and that they can lead and inspire this change themselves.

BTC 2018 was held at an auditorium at the SMU campus. As I stood at the bottom of this auditorium, I witnessed the beaming faces of students from 26 schools.  In them I saw the future and I am glad to say that the future looks to be in good hands. I also saw the caretakers of this future, the teachers and the parents who were proud to have accompanied these young change makers.

D8498A9F-B84B-434B-8852-5643D4A65598As the emcees cheerfully navigated us through the programme, the enthusiastic crowd chanted encouragements, played interactive games, joined the flash dance and some of them confidently marched up on the stage to receive awards.

 

It was celebratory indeed! These students from various schools in Singapore had followed the Design Thinking process to make a difference to the world around them. Overall, 17 schools presented their projects.

Though every attempt needs applause and every child is a hero, here are few of the projects that were chosen by the jury.

School                                                                             Project

South View Primary School Making A Difference with the SPCA
Holy Innocents Primary School Stars in Action (Project Smile to Children’s Home)
Yio Chu Kang Primary School Blind spot
Global Indian International School Beat Plastic Pollution
Keming Primary School See Well & Don’t Fall
ANDERSON SECONDARY SCHOOL Our Upcycling Project: “Transform trash to treasures”
WESTWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL Virtual Reality: Balik Kampung Project (Back to Good Old Days)
WESTWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL Eco Flowering Filtration Pot System
Overseas Family School Windows to education: Social Entrepreneurship project for underprivileged children in Nepal
Riverside Secondary School A Conversation with Migrant Workers
TANGLIN SECONDARY SCHOOL Tackling Gender Stereotyping in the Classroom

I was duly infected by the enthusiasm that was palpable in the auditorium that day. Many congratulations to DFC Founder, Madhu Verma and the team for another successful event! This incredible event shall return next year with the belief that we can be the change that we want to see in this world. This volunteer shall return too. Till then, keep believing in a better world!

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Yours truly with Madhu Verma (Founder, DFC, Singapore & Founder, SoCh in Action)

 

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Stories of Art & Inspiration


Once in a while, you find inspirations when you least expect them. These little stories remind you that life is full of possibilities. All you need to do is notice.

I have always been fascinated by people who express through words, colours and artistic forms. Their stories, if inspirational, have that additional beauty, which the others may lack. This story is of Singaporean artist, Ziyue Chen, and it is indeed one of those stories that is enriched by both the person and her artistic creations.

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Community colouring of Ziyue Chen’s poster. Source: Little Events

I stumbled upon Ziyue Chen’s work while looking for a coloring piece that would bring people together for our Little Events community event. Ziyue’s work on Singapore fit the bill just right. (Available on Scribolo)

However, that piece was not where I stopped, I ventured in more to find many heart warming and endearing illustrations. Ziyue works with challenging situations, and not being able to hear is one of them. But that does not change the fact that Ziyue is an artist first and foremost.

One must look at art without bias, and the truth is that I got to know of Ziyue’s challenge much later (when I was writing an article about her in The AsianParent Magazine). Read the article here.

I would like to judge her as an artist. And that’s all. She stole my heart with the vulnerability and the warmth that make her art. I agree though that her story is indeed an inspiring one, one that needs to be told to inspire many others. It is also inspiring because her art reflects nothing of what she can’t hear. It’s about what she can see and what she can feel that matters. It reflects only of possibilities.

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Self Portrait by Ziyue Chen

And so I present to you,  Ziyue, who would like you to know that her name is pronounced as ‘Zzz yuair’ or you can call her Angeline.  Ziyue is a Singapore based Illustrator and a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. She works mostly on Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print. See her work here

Her life goal is to have an emotional connection with those who view her work. Well, it certainly connected with me! She is an inspiration, not only to those who are faced with challenges in life, but also to those who would like to follow their hearts, Ziyue Chen makes it seem possible. So from all those she touches through her art (including me), a big thank you!

Stories connect people. If you wish to connect through stories or art, do write in to me. Meanwhile, Here’s another event where art broke barriers.image1-3

Being part of the Bukit Timah Community Club volunteer’s committee has been an exciting journey for me. I would like to thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Sim Ann for always being encouraging and for connecting me to wonderful people in the community. This time, it was to Jiaman who organised the community gathering at Clementi.

Inspirations, they are everywhere. Look around and find them. And if you do, don’t forget to share those beautiful stories!

Stories are Meant to be Shared


Hello! Hello! I have been missing, and that’s because April and May turned out to b
e real busy. They were full of happenings, events and collaborations. And so I had an enriching time meeting people, being inspired and then gushing about it all on social media. Amidst all these ‘gushing about’, I was faced with a dilemma: to share or not to share. But before I go to to that juncture of my narrative, let me step back and talk about the events that led me to it.

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It all began with a diplomatic event that I co-organised for my clients. And in the process, I had the privilege of meeting many strong, powerful and superbly talented women. These were diplomats, heads of organisations, Doctors, artists and professionals, who were not just talented, and confident, but were also women who believed in the power of their stories. Whenever people with passion and purpose articulate, there’s always much to learn from each view-point. I was not just inspired, but also heartened to see how stories had the capacity to reach out to people who would have never assumed what you have gone through and wouldn’t know otherwise, what your ideas are. These stories may have originated from a personal space perhaps, however, as soon as they were shared, they became a place of resource, a place to test ideas, to validate experiences and to learn. Learn, I surely did.

And on a morning, overcast with clouds, the guests arrived at the embassy, and  we celebrated 50 years of bilateral ties between Indonesia and Singapore. Along with that, we celebrated the inspiration behind Ibu Kartini of Indonesia. It reiterated the fact, that years after we are gone, our stories, our ideas and thoughts will be passed down. My sincere thanks to Indoconnect & the Indonesian Embassy for trusting me with such a beautiful and meaningful occasion.

For the second event, I had the opportunity to share my own story. This time, I was asked to share my ‘Empathy Journey’ as a mentor to teens-at-risk. This is a topic close to my heart. Nevertheless, it’s only when I began gathering my thoughts before the event, that I realised that even my own story needs introspection. I realised that empathy is not a tap to be switched on when I am mentoring or when I am volunteering, it’s a way of life  that should be a part of everything I do. I shared my epiphany, my leanings from the many inspiring people that I have met, and my learning from the many failures and successes that I have seen.

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Ted Ed @ NYGH 2017

As I shared my story, I felt grateful to have been given this opportunity to address a crowd of young impressionable students. I hoped that I left some bits of my stories behind in that glittering hall, stories that could be used as a resource, as a validation and, as a positive learning.

Eventually, I was asked: should stories be shared? I thought back to the many who would say no. And then I thought of the few powerful and inspirational ones who would say, yes. I paused and took a stand: Positive stories and positive emotions are meant to be shared. The more they are shared, the more they reach people and touch them, engulfing them in a mist of positivity. They validate a positive intention and allow a feeling of wellbeing. Asian culture frowns upon boasting. However, I have seen the stories inspire many towards positive thoughts and positive actions. Ok, so what about negative stories? That would be an interesting debate, and we shall keep it for another day. But I can safely say that some people have a knack of turning even the negative stories to a positive one. One such young lady is Aija Mayrock. The spunky author, performer and activist turned her bullying experiences towards a positive road to success. I greatly enjoyed interacting with her. Look out for her interview in my next post.

For now, keep sharing!

Acknowledging the Bitter


I usually write about the inspiring, the positive and the bright. However, there is no inspiration that has not struggled first, no positive that has not been engulfed in chasms of negativity and no brightness that has not been swathed in dark at some point of time or the other. To ignore these negatives would be great injustice to the spirit of positive. It is imperative for the pain to be acknowledged before any healing can ever begin. So, here I present a conversation with a broken soul that acknowledges the dark, the dull and the low. It is the silent musing that is often felt by many and yet seldom aired. The conversation may be between  two individuals, but it echoes the general melancholy of a generation that has waded through enough experiences, circumstances and hopelessness of the mundane.

A tinge of something bitter, that I have recognised in countless eyes and yet they deny its existence. Lots though, can be read between the lines…

 

Bitter

How bitter? said I

Very, she replied.

What’s missing, do you know?

Or is something missing at all?

It’s incomplete, she said.

And yet it’s heavy, dark and slow.

What’s the reason, tell me why?

No reason, she said, but there’s no pulse, no fire and no wings to fly.

Are we talking about you? I said in alarm!

She continued,

It sheds no tears. It doesn’t even cry…

It causes no ripples. It’s something curled up and dried.

Is it you? I asked again.

She stayed ominously silent,

Then she said, no, it’s my empty inside.

(Source: Prionka Ray©)

This poem is dedicated to all the struggles, the doubts and the lows that make any comeback a victory of human existence. And to those, who have felt this at any point of time, you are not alone. Reach out and seek help. Acknowledge to yourself, if not to others! It’s only in acceptances that the healing begins. And then let us know of the comebacks because these comebacks become inspirations to many!

 

Contact:

ingrouphelp@gmail.com/ rayprionka@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be The Change Exposition- 2014


When 1,500 students, educators, parents and social sectors come together with a shared goal of doing good, there is just one way of describing the result: electrifying! And what a joy it was to be back at the event!

Madhu Verma, SoCh

Singapore’s largest showcase of social initiatives by children, the Be The Change Exposition (organised by SoCh in Action), saw another successful event on the 11th of November at SUNTEC Convention Centre and the event venue was abuzz with ideas, creativity and energy that synergized beautifully all over again! This year’s Exposition theme, ‘Unplugged’ was reflected in the various activities that encouraged the young to connect with themselves and with each other, without relying overtly on technology. The resulting response was both overwhelming and gratifying, as the children came forward with ideas, thoughts and creative suggestions that took the adults by surprise. Founder, Madhu Verma, echoed many other adult sentiments, when she said, “the children were so engaged… why can’t all the learning be outside the four walls of the classroom!”

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Whether the students, danced to the energetic Zumba, engaged in the craft activities or captured their thoughts on post- its, hand prints or paper bricks, they gave it their 100%. As representatives of the future generation, they were engaged, interested and phenomenal! The 200 change makers, who showcased their social initiative projects talked passionately about their work and were excited about making a difference. As Nur Syariana from Greendale Secondary puts it, “we feel proud that we can actually help the society. It was difficult at first, but we enjoyed doing the project very much. It feels good to know that you can help people.” It feels good to know teenagers like you, Nur Syarina! In fact, it feels good to know each and  every student, who contributed to the society, with the intention of doing good. You make us proud!

Students from Greendale Secondary School with their brilliant prototype

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting nugget of information. Researchers Rosenthal and Jacobson suggest that every child is capable of extraordinary feats through self- fulfilling prophesies. Called the Pygmalion effect by psychologists, this theory refers to the tendency of the students to perform according to the expectation placed upon them. Thus, children tend to do better when treated as if they are capable of success. Does that mean every child can achieve great goals? The answer is indeed ‘yes,’ but first the right ecosystem of environment, encouragement and guidance have to be provided and that leaves us adults with a big responsibility: to nurture the next generation and bring the best out in them.

I leave you all with this thought and here’s a page from a book (by Edward Monkton) that I have been gifted recently.

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