When I was initially deciding which service I should join, I was conflicted. With this service, it seemed like we would be doing a lot of hands-on work and I felt SGM Murni would be a good opportunity to challenge myself; as previously I have gone with services that are comfortable. Additionally, being able to work with a daycare centre which highlighted some of the socio-economic inequalities in Singapore would help me learn more about a wider issue as well. It is a popular service; I knew many wanted to apply for it but simply didn’t have a free period at the right time. It runs during the school day so you don’t have to spend too much free time on it, and it must be really fun in the gymnastics hall doing flips with little kids. Right? In my opinion, this is a very bad approach to have. I won’t lie, some of these thoughts definitely crossed my mind at the beginning too. But this service is about so much more than that. We spent a lot of time planning our sessions and learning how to coach safely – we don’t just show up and teach a forward roll and then leave. We took the time to learn and understand the background of this school, so we don’t fall into the trap of coming in with elitist attitudes, thinking we must know best as we are privileged UWC students.
My strength as a participant in this service lies heavily in logistics and planning rather than interacting with the kids. I don’t always know how to communicate with them, and spending so much time with little children is a bit uncomfortable for me. But I’ve had to adapt a lot and I have gotten to know my kids now – and as a result, I have also grown as a member of the service. Obviously, due to the COVID-19 situation, we’ve had to shift our focus to some of the more logistical aspects (with this website). As such, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on our successes and make this site the best it can be for new groups. It has been so meaningful not just to spend time building a relationship with these kids and teaching them gymnastics, but connecting with people who we would never usually come into contact with at all. Obvious as it sounds, we often forget that service is not just about our learning and developing our skills; rather, teaching the children new skills and providing them with access to opportunities that they would never normally have. For me, that has been the most rewarding thing about this service: making a visible difference to these kids’ lives.