Why did you decide to join Trybe?
Interestingly enough, I never did apply directly with Trybe for a job position. Instead, I had written in to a corporate training company seeking for a position with them. I got a call just 2 hours after that email, from the Chief Executive of that company. She informed me that while they did not have any positions available, she knew of a Social Service Agency (SSA) that might be a good fit for me. Just like that, I found myself in an interview with Trybe less than a week later. While I was not familiar with Trybe, or even the profile of clients they served, I vividly remembered how the interviews centered not just on my skills or knowledge, but on my perception and attitude towards youth presenting at-risk behaviors. It was obvious that Trybe was driven by a heart to serve and advocate for this youth population. The prospect to work with such a passion-driven agency was the catalyst for my decision to join Trybe.
Can you pls share with us an incident or a situation that has made an impression on you while working at Trybe?
While working at a rehabilitation centre that Trybe managed previously, we saw our share of youths being remanded back to prison due to infractions. A culture we had that moves me up to this day, was how all the staff would gather to speak with the youth before they are taken away, and would stand by the prison van to reassure the youth that we would be right here to support them when they were released. In one particular incident some years back, I remembered seeing staff crying with the youth as they processed the infraction with him just before he was taken away. And after the youth was taken away, the whole staff team stayed past midnight to talk through the incident with the remaining youth in the centre, and call the parents of the affected youth. Despite how emotionally affected we all were, the staff team came back the next day to continue the work with the remaining youth.
For me, this culture was a tangible expression of our commitment to journey through both joys and pains with our youth, “making meaning” of each experience along the way.
What are some pressing or challenging issues faced by our youths?
Youth go through a number of pressing issues in our community, including substance abuse/addiction, issues with their body image, and challenges with their mental health. For the past 7 years of serving the youth, it seems to me that one of the underlying root to these issues is the immense pressure and expectations placed on these young people’s shoulders. These can range from the need to perform academically, social pressure to fit in, or to gain employment. While these are perfectly human goals, they instead become heavy burdens for youth facing limited personal and/or social resources, leading them to suffer mentally/emotionally, and adopt maladaptive means to cope. This is further compounded by the impact Covid-19 has had on the society, the youth’s social life and development, and on the people that should be the most present support for the youth, their family.
From your experience, what do you think is the hardest part of transitioning from teenage years to adulthood?
In my experience, every individual understands and experiences that transition in their own unique way. May it be how they choose to define being an adult, when this process occurs for them (some youths are forced into this transition), and the condition of their life and support system during the process. Essentially, this process is about turning that vision you have of yourself into reality. When I think about this process, I find myself asking not what the hardest part of this transition is, but who amongst us will struggle the most with this process.
I think about those who struggle to visualize a future because they have lost hope in themselves. About those who are actually ready to take on the responsibilities and joys of being an adult, but face prejudice and limitations for their past mistakes. About those whose families are so busy trying to make ends meet, that they have had no one to turn to for advice and discussions about the unpredictable road ahead.
I’m drawn to the alternate question because the core of me believes that every youth was created to succeed. While they might have made certain mistakes, none of them are mistakes. And so while my fervent hope is to for each and everyone of them to see them as I do, and to fulfill their destinies of happiness and success, we as a society need to be able to identity who they are, understand what they need, and be there to uplift them.
How do you think the Building Eco-Systems (BES) Service best supports the youths?
While meaningful work is a key component in the development and sustenance of a positive lifestyle and self-identity, there are many youth in the community that struggle to navigate the transition into a career. Many of these youth are held back by either a lack of personal resources (e.g. qualifications, understanding of how their interest/values can translate into a career, confidence in themselves), and/or social resources they can lean on for support and advice. BES was set up in order to serve these youth. At the heart of it all, BES is founded on the concept that each youth’s career journey is unique, and therefore the programme model must be person-centered. Youth experience individualized support through allocated Job Coaches, and the programme objectives and components are crafted together based on individualized profiles, and understanding of the youth’s needs.
Together with that, BES seeks to support like-hearted companies/employers in the targeted hiring and effective working with the youth. This equips them to be in the best position to provide training and vocational experience for the youth.
Do our youths feel that they can achieve their dreams? Are they hopeful, optimistic or pessimistic?
Essentially, we are living in an increasingly unpredictable world. Misinformation and lies can be “perverted” into truths. Hard work and good grades don’t guarantee you a secure job. The definition of success can change in an instant, from having a high paying job to simply holding onto a job while others are jobless. So in relation to the question, I suspect that youth have likely learnt/will learn to shift away from aiming for a destination of having “achieved their dream”. Instead, I see more and more youth centering their life decision on how to live meaningfully. For instance, I saw a youth reject a high paying job with an MNC, to work in a job that serves the elderly. This shift of focus on the journey rather than the destination, and from material gains to intrinsic ones, does not just equip our youths for the dynamic world ahead, but I feel could set the stage for the development of a more mindful and adaptable society.
What do youths need most to help them realize their dreams or reach their potential?
I feel every youth needs to have access to a community of “hope-givers”, and therefore be able to experience hope in themselves and others. The presence of someone that conveys persistent and stubborn belief in the youth, that provides them the motivation and self-belief to “make meaning” of life experiences. Visually in my mind, it is akin to playing the role of a juicer when life hands the youth lemons.
Beyond building self-belief, the community of “hope-givers” teach youth to lean on others for growth and support. Being able to do so is not just key in sustaining them in their individual journey towards the best version of themselves, but surrounds them with meaningful relationships.
What kind of impact do you want to have on the younger generation?
Can I just say…thinking about what impact I would like to leave behind, inevitably reminds me of how old I am getting!
I simply hope that each youth I meet not just feel that they can be themselves with me but leave with the realization that choosing vulnerability is a strength. It is about lowering our mental and emotional defenses so that we allow ourselves to experience love from others. About facing risks for growth and love. Essentially owning what it means to truly be human, mistakes, setbacks and all.
What does thriving mean to you?
Thriving is about having clarity on what it means to live a purposeful life, and have the ability and resources to do so. For me, in my current life stage, it’s about being physically and emotionally present for my family, and allowing them to do the same for me.