Name: Pae Jun Zhi
Volunteer from: Singapore
A bout myself My name is Pae Jun Zhi. I am an international volunteer from Singapore and this year was the third time that I participated in the Mangkang work camp. I had started out as a student leader in charge of a community service project in National University of Singapore (NUS) and led my team to embark on our very first Mangkang work camp in June 2014. Subsequently, I had returned to participate in the Mangkang Work Camp during the university vacation.
My first time participating in an overseas community service project in 2013 focused on environmental conservation. The experience gained from the trip was truly eye-opening and changed my preconceived perception of environmental conservation project. The adverse effect of coastal erosion had threatened the livelihood of the local community in Mangkang. The impact of an environmental issue is evident in the Mangkang and this provides an opportunity for the team to learn and understand about environmental issues. A direct benefit for local community was the planting of mangrove seedlings. This continued the effort of forming the “green belt” along the coastline to mitigate the impact of coastal erosion. Furthermore, awareness was raised for the importance of mangroves among the young generation through the school visit programme.
The development of the waste management campaign ideas in the village was another key activity in the work camp. I feel that it will be impactful as it provided an avenue for the villagers and future volunteers to tackle on the issue of poor waste management system in the village. Lastly, a mutual cultural understanding was developed between the villagers and the participants through home visits. It was a unique experience for me as the host families had show great hospitality and it really made me feel as though Mangkang is my second home. I had learnt more about the culture and the way of living of the local villages during the home visit programme. A strong friendship was forged between the villagers, camp leaders and the international volunteers through all these interaction.
“Life is not a smooth sailing journey” There is no doubt about it. During the work camps there are several challenges faced. The greatest challenge that I feel was the language barrier between the international volunteers and the local villagers. Despite the presence and aid of camp leaders, I would still feel that there was not a direct relationship established between the local villagers and myself especially during the home visit. The experience gain from the work camp gave me the confidence to play a more active role in helping the community as I have acquired more skills on assessing the needs of the community and to plan programmes to address to those needs. Throughout my journey in participating in Mangkang work camp, I had a better awareness of my own ability such as strength and weakness. Thus I am able to leverage more on my strength in the future and also able to work towards to improve on my weakness. At the same time, the experience strengthens my ability to handle stress and to remain calm when faced with challenges and to be able to make the decisions for the best interests of the team.
Written by Pae Jun Zhi
‘Throughout my journey in participating in Mangkang work camp, I had a better awareness of my own ability such as strength and weakness. Thus I am able to leverage more on my strength in the future and also able to work towards to improve on my weakness. At the same time, the experience strengthens my ability to handle stress and to remain calm when faced with challenges and to be able to make the decisions for the best interests of the team.’
Pae Jun Zhi