By Michelle Soto | Images provided by Dianne Araral, Callysta Thony and Monica Kim
On 15 March 2017, three Yale-NUS students, Dianne Araral (Class of 2020), Callysta Thony (Class of 2018) and Monica Kim (Class of 2020) were featured on an episode of a local Chinese language show called ‘Hello Singapore’ for their work with Skillseed, a social enterprise that nurtures youth volunteers and empowers community partners through impactful learning journeys.
Founded by Phua Huijia and Wilson Chan, two Singaporean graduates of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the objective of Skillseed is to nurture skilled volunteers and reshape the volunteering landscape of Singapore and beyond. “Skillseed aims to do so by educating and empowering youths and community partners. These volunteers will then serve as ‘seeds’ that grow into sustainable, self-serving ecosystems,” Dianne shared.
With this goal in mind, Skillseed ensures that their volunteers are knowledgeable by assigning them academic and contemporary readings to make sure they have a well-rounded understanding of the issues that they are working to tackle.
Callysta who has a keen interest in social entrepreneurship, was attracted to Skillseed’s vision and philosophy. “I thought the programme was a good way for me to bridge what I have learnt at Yale-NUS and put it into practice.” She also mentioned how Skillseed’s vision of volunteer work had inspired her to think about what it meant to be socially responsible.
In this particular episode of Hello Singapore, the students were featured for their work with the Society for the Physically Disabled where they served as facilitators and mentors to physically disabled social entrepreneurs. Working with the disabled community had been an eye-opening experience, enabling them to learn about accessibility issues that the disabled community faces, and how these could be alleviated.
All the participants found their internship experiences to be incredibly inspiring and insightful. “I want to be involved in the social impact space and this internship experience has given me a concrete opportunity to see what a programme could look like and what components go into it,” said Callysta.
For Monica, this work helped her to identify a possible lifelong passion. “This has helped me to realise that I want to be involved in a career that helps people succeed in their goals. It makes me very happy knowing that I have played my part in doing so”
They were unanimous in their praise about how inspiring Huijia and Wilson have been to all of them. “Due to the small size of the organisation, the three of us have been very fortunate to be able to work very closely with the founders. I’m very inspired by the standards that they and the enterprise hold themselves to” Callysta shared.