Thinker with a Mission, Leader with a Heart Series 9
Deirdre on an overseas service learning trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
By Alexandria Ee (2T24) and Julian Toh (2T26)
Self-preservation seems to have taken on a new urgency in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic. Many have retreated into themselves as a survival mechanism. However, Deirdre Ng (2T02, Class of 2020) chose to view the pandemic as the perfect opportunity to look outwards to the needs of the elderly in society.
Deirdre served as the Public Relations Director of the Interact Club when she was a student in Catholic Junior College (CJC). As part of her duties, she facilitated weekly bonding sessions with the elderly at St Luke’s ElderCare. Spending time with the elderly and communicating with them using dialect inspired her to continue helping them after she graduated from CJC. Deirdre and her fellow Interact Club members were also part of a one-week overseas service learning programme to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they learnt more about the plight of the indigenous Karen Hill Tribe. They also helped to construct water tanks for the tribe which was a rewarding experience. Although Deirdre and her peers found communicating with the locals challenging, they chose to focus on communicating with the universal language of care and love.
Deirdre and her CCA’s tour guide plastering cement to the side of the water tank that the CJC Interact Club helped construct with the help of the locals.
Her role as an Assistant Home Tutorial Councillor (AHTC) during her time in CJC, which required her to be part of the planning committee for her home class’ local service-learning project (LSLP), further fuelled her passion for volunteerism. She was involved in planning activities for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although Deirdre was worried about how to reach out to the children, she soon realised that serving others should not be constrained by unfounded fears and myopic stereotypes. She says, “These children are just like us in every way. They are just enjoying the whimsical nature of childhood. As a society, we should try to look beyond their disability.”
After graduating from CJC, Deirdre joined the Youth Corps which mentors and empowers youths in Singapore to initiate their own community service projects. With the support of the organisation, Deirdre and her fellow Youth Corps members launched an initiative called We+65 to tackle the issue of social isolation amongst senior citizens. However, COVID-19 hit our shores, throwing a huge spanner in the works.
Deirdre (left) with We+65 participants Mr Poh and Mr Lam. Photo credit: The Straits Times.
Due to a spike in community infections, Deirdre and her team had to pivot to launching the project online which put months of planning to waste. Furthermore, many of the senior citizens they were working with were not tech-savvy enough to use some of the video conferencing applications. Undaunted, Deirdre personally reached out to selected members of the elderly community via their landline phones. In recognition of her efforts, Deirdre was presented with a certificate by President Halimah Yacob at the Youth Corps Singapore Leaders Programme Commencement Ceremony 2022 held on January 22.
President Halimah Yacob speaking to Deirdre (on the right of President Halimah Yacob) and her fellow Youth Corps members. Photo credit: The Straits Times.
When asked for her definition of what makes someone a “Thinker with a Mission, Leader with a Heart”, Deirdre mentioned that one must not only strive for academic excellence, but must also remember to step forward to uplift others as well. She added that her CJC education has taught her the importance of living In Truth and In Love.
In Veritate et Caritate