In our third interview with the MC nominees, we interview:
- Jared Ho (Business, Year 1, running for Sports Director)
- Kenneth Ler (Economics + Business, Year 1, running for Director of Community Service)
Awareness is key, and awareness should be raised. That was the main take-home message that both Jared and Kenneth shared with The Cinnamon Roll, and it was clear that they both felt that this should be the centre of their work should they both get into the 13th MC.
Running for Director of Community Service , Kenneth glossed over his managerial experiences in a local VWO called Audible Hearts, and his volunteer stint at World Vision where his roles required him to advocate and raise awareness.
Instead, he focused on present needs. “We need to raise the profiles of [existing service learning and OCIP] projects in USP and initiatives such that they know that these exist; people who are interested thus can join these projects. On top of that, this does not make the community service division irrelevant because we have our own flagship events and initiatives,” he explained.
This is in the general thrust of inculcating a spirit of volunteerism and altruism in USP. He qualifies, though, that his short three weeks in USP and NUS has not given him much insight into the community service culture in USP.
“I think in general, there are a lot of community service groups across NUS, and understandably there are doubts whether people do this for the genuine service of the community. Ultimately what matters is your heart for the community and whether you really want the community to benefit for altruistic purposes and not for any ulterior motives. As a CS director, we should have a role in encouraging the right mindsets of people when they go into such projects.”
In a similar manner, awareness of the role of the Sports Committee and publicity is the main agenda on Jared’s portfolio as he contests for the role of the Sports Director.
“What I feel is that there has been a lack of publicity for IGs. There are some interest groups that I really don’t know about, and the fact that some IFG groups have no IGs was something that confused me as a freshie. I think it is good for the community to know that there are such groups around, and know what there is to be offered to them.”
Jared also shared of his experiences taking part in the various IFGs where he got the chance to try out sports that he couldn’t take part in when he was in JC because of the fiercely competitive nature of those sports. “This inclusive culture was what made me intrigued by the MC positions and especially the role of the Sports Director, and I thought that I could make a difference in this inclusive culture.”
Unfazed by the presuppositions that one might have against freshmen running for MC positions even before they get a good feel of what RC and USP life is like, the duo are confident that this actually puts them in better stead to do more for the community.
Kenneth said, “This is a decision that I have carefully thought through. As a freshie, I don’t know how things will pan out for me, especially since I am also doing a double degree. In university there are also so many activities that one can engage in, and it is very tempting for one to engage in so many activities and want to try out everything, and eventually getting tired out. If I were to get into MC, it will be the only commitment for the AY.
“Furthermore, for freshies, we have not really been exposed to programmes that the committees organise; and what we can gather is through what the seniors have said and what the previous directors have shared. So in a sense, we must really be sure of what we want and the vision.”
Jared added, “Probably, as Year 1s, what we lack is the experience and understanding of the position. It is rightly so that positions such as acad directors and presidents should remain under the purview of Year 2s and above. However, for the positions that we are running for, we are clear about the job scope, and we have done our due diligence. As Year 1s, we do have extra time and motivation to do the job properly as long as we understand our job scope.”
Not unlike what other candidates have shared, Jared pointed out the existence of a class of people who have niche interests but do not want to commit long term to. This is one key area that he has highlighted that he feels that the role of the Sports Director can empower him to make a difference in. He highlighted that it was the role of the committee to be more visible such that the community will be aware of the support that the committee can provide.
“What we can try to encourage is people coming forward with their own ideas and their own sports that they want to hold an event for. And we should encourage these kinds of things because I feel that as a Sports Committee, we shouldn’t be the only ones organising the events; instead we should listen to the community and fully support them where they want to organise such events.
“And I believe that there are people out there and they are waiting to be found, so on our part what we can do is to position ourselves such that we welcome ideas and feedback; we can show that if you really have something, the Sports Committee will support you all the way. That is something that as a freshman, I haven’t really seen much of.”
He enthused about ideas such as one-off basketball tournaments, or even more novel and interesting events such as diving trips that might interest more members of the community, but were short term and did not require the existence of an IG.
With regards to the issue of IG succession, Jared re-emphasised the role of the Sports Committee to help in drumming up support and publicity. However, he hesitated to overpromise, and pointed out that the “primary essence of the interest group is the community’s interest in the group”, and thus the onus will ultimately fall on each IG’s leader to sustain the interest in the group.
Kenneth also brought up some key concerns of the community service division that Kai Wen, the outgoing Community Service Director, had shared with him. One main concern was that of “start-up” groups – people who are interested in starting up community service projects but do not have the adequate guidance or resources to do so, not dissimilar to the situation that Jared pointed out in the Sports Committee. Kenneth likewise believes that the committee has to be more accessible, and make deliberate efforts to reach out to such people.
He acknowledges, though, that at present, he is unaware of the community service projects that are starting and require help, but promises that it will be on the forefront of his agenda to look out for such groups.
Also, Kenneth noted that there may be concerns over the role community service plays in USP, which is a distinctively academic college, unlike CAPT which “is centred around giving back to the community”. However, he believes that this gives USP an edge as USP has “a different set of people and a different community altogether”.
“This is a platform for people in the USP community to reach out and make a difference.” What he hopes for, ultimately, is to cultivate a spirit of altruism and spirit of volunteerism that should be integral in any community.
And the duo believes that change can happen, starting from them. In their last pitch, and with much fondness, they shared, “everyone has a stake in USP, and everyone should make use of their power to mould USP into the USP that they want.”