Why did you specifically choose this area of work?
Volunteering in youth development spaces happened by serendipity – a colleague required a last-minute substitute facilitator for a youth camp 6 years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. From facilitating to designing youth leadership and development programmes as well as mentoring and training, it has been a journey of service to others, but surprisingly also one that has led me back to myself and kept me sane through the pressures of working life.
I first heard of The Tapestry Project SG after attending a writing workshop Nicole (the founder) had conducted as part of the National Library Board’s ReadFest programme in 2018. Tapestry Project’s call to reframe and find the wisdom in our personal stories as a path to transformation and sharing them as a way to destigmatise mental health resonated with me. When the opportunity came up for me to join as a co-facilitator of the Re:Story programme (journaling workshops for youth based on narrative therapy principles), combining my interests in writing, youth development and facilitation, I took it up in a heartbeat!
Tell us something about youths aged 15-17 years old that you work most closely with.
They are in liminal space – neither children nor adults: making that transition as they grow into themselves can be a confusing and disorienting time, much as it can be one of hope and discovery. Being met with support and understanding as they learn to cope with the demands of life can be a life-giving gift for us to offer.
What aspect of your work gives you the most satisfaction?
The breakthrough moment when youths recognise that they are more than their weakness, challenges or sufferings is incredibly satisfying. Hearing them articulate their strengths and aspirations as they discover possibilities for themselves that they would not have dared to dream otherwise have been some of the most powerful moments of the Re:Story Programme for me.
What is a challenge / what are some challenges you face(d) in your work with youths?
I have found that building relationship and connection is key to create open safe spaces for youth to feel supported. That requires a willingness to be vulnerable oneself which can be challenging when in an unfamiliar environment with strangers.
What keeps you going through your toughest moments?
Knowing that I am not walking this journey alone, and that I am supported in all of my messiness if only I but reach out is an anchor that I am learning to hold onto. Recognizing that everything has a season, that all things will come to pass and trusting we are cradled in the invisible hand of larger forces has been comforting. Learning to distill the wisdom of pain and transmute that into learning experiences has given purpose.
How has working with youths changed / shaped your life or perspective on life?
I have been reminded time and time again that everyone has the potential to make an impact, regardless of age, power and resources!
Through working with these youths, what is the one thing they are seeking for most?
I believe they are seeking belonging and understanding – the very human need to be seen and heard. As they grow deeper into the people they are meant to be, I hope they can discover that true belonging does not come from the external, but from within.
What does thriving mean to you
Thriving to me means living in alignment with purpose and values, with agency, self-acceptance and self-determination and in harmony with the ebbs and flows of life. It also means holding the tension of accepting the world as it is and was while dreaming and working towards a better one.