What is Community Engagement in CAPT?
At CAPT, we recognise that every community and individual has strengths to share. Community Engagement (CE) at CAPT seeks to create opportunities for individuals from different communities to interact, learn and build relationships with one another. The goal is to build empathy among students so that they develop informed perspectives on the issues which diverse communities face.
Active Community Engagement (ACE) Wing
The Active Community Engagement (ACE) Wing of CAPT supports CAPT’s ethos of active citizenship and community engagement by providing opportunities and platforms for CAPTains to engage with the community around them. Under ACE Wing, students take the lead in planning meaningful CE events with communities such as elderly, youth, migrants and even animal welfare groups for their peers. Through such engagements, we hope to build more empathetic, compassionate and active citizens who make a positive impact on society.
CE Initiatives by ACE Wing
The ACE Staff Engagement Committee organises events and initiatives which target meaningful engagement between CAPTains and CAPT staff, who include cleaning staff, dining hall staff, administrative staff as well as gardeners. Initiatives by the Staff Engagement Committee aim to reach out to as many staff and CAPTains as possible through varied events; examples include a health screening for staff, sushi-making and a Deepavali celebration. During the Deepavali celebration, CAPTains bonded with CAPT staff over a sumptuous lunch. Concurrently, the Han(DIY)craft and CAPT Coffee Collective interest groups were invited to conduct craft and coffee-making sessions for all who attended the event. Such sessions not only provide CAPTains with opportunities to show their appreciation towards the staff, but also enable both groups to get to know each other on a more personal level, thus strengthening bonds within the CAPT community.
The Migrants Committee believes in the importance of first understanding the real needs of the migrants, before brainstorming and executing solutions to meet those needs. As Bernice, a CAPTain involved in the Migrants Committee, says, “One-off events are based on assumptions of what migrant workers need. We need to have to have conversations with them to have a deeper understanding of their lives and circumstances before we can implement a more long-term and meaningful initiative”. This branch of ACE focuses on giving CAPTains opportunities to interact with migrants and gain deeper insights to their lives. One of their initiatives entailed a visit to Healthserve, where the committee taught the migrants how to make soap, before enjoying a meal that the migrants cooked for them. In another initiative, the committee and several other CAPTains attended an inter-dormitory cricket game to learn how to play cricket; afterwards, they also interacted with the migrants through playing games such as chapteh and jenga with them.
Together with regular volunteers from CAPT, the ACE Elderly Committee makes weekly visits to Lions Befrienders’ low-income seniors living in Commonwealth. The elderly are often at risk of isolation, but CAPTains hope to reduce this risk and enhance their well-being through providing consistent companionship. The Elderly Committee also supports other groups within CAPT that wish to reach out to the elderly. For instance, CAPTains from the Dragon neighbourhood visited elderly residents under the My Centre @ Moulmein programme (a community project by Virirya Community Services). CAPTains and seniors were able to work together on rangoli over meaningful conversations.
The PACE Committee aims to connect communities both within and beyond CAPT through animal-related activities. The committee works with various partners to learn how interaction with animals can help alleviate the issues which different communities face. Some of the events CAPTains have been active in include regular visits to the Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD) Rehabilitation Centre; participating in EQUAL-ARK’s Community Engagement day; and organising the PACE Awareness Weekend 2017 in CAPT, which the committee organised. The PACE Awareness Weekend 2017 was a step forward in developing CAPT’s animal-assisted activities.
The Children with Special Needs Committee organises regular engagement sessions with students from Tanglin School’s Bank Management Club. Under the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN), students from Tanglin School are from 13 to 16 years old with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. Financial literacy, workplace etiquette and various practical skills are taught using exciting games and hands-on activities at these weekly sessions. The sessions are valuable in forging meaningful friendships between CAPTains and Tanglin School students.
CAPT in the Dark (CITD) aims to understand and empathise with the lives of visually handicapped individuals through music, sports and exploratory activities, based on the belief that blindness is a disability, not an inability. In 2017, they pioneered several activities with the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped (SAVH), including but not limited to: Handbells, a unique music-making experience made alongside individuals from SAVH that gave participants a chance to learn simple tunes in a fun ensemble setting; Futsal (blind soccer); Yoga in the Dark and Simulation Activities. The latter two serve also as exploratory initiatives that help CAPTains better understand the lives of the visually-handicapped community.
Other Community Engagement Initiatives
Between 4 and 9 December 2016, the Social Innovation Wing travelled to Tagaytay, the Philippines. While they were there, they aided the parents of Holy Family School students, who make a livelihood through the Soap for Hope programme. This programme turns used soap into new soap bars for the daily needs of the students, all whilst reducing waste. Furthermore, CAPTains also conducted educational activities for the students; these included the making of lava lamps and the teaching of life skills such as basic financial literacy. Through the six days of close interaction, the two groups were able to learn about each other’s cultures.
In conjunction with NUS’ Day of Service on 3 September 2016, CAPTains did a two-day Soap for Hope marathon in partnership and support from Sealed Air. The marathon involved reconstituting soap bars from hotels for migrant workers in Singapore. The project raised awareness about the environmental concerns which the hospitality industry face, and encouraged them to develop creative means of problem-solving. Numerous partners – the staff from NUS’ University Health Centre (UHC) and Accor Hotels, Prison Fellowship Singapore, HealthServe, scouts from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), volunteers from Temasek Foundation and ASEAN scholars – were invited to join the soap-making process. The bars of soap manufactured were then distributed at Westlite Migrants’ Dormitory.
A group of from students from CAPT’s Student Leader Action Mentorship (CAPTSLAM) mentored students from Tanglin Secondary School (TSS) as part of a three-month project; it culminated in a cultural immersion trip in December 2016, to the province of Yunnan in China. The mentorship programme comprised eight sessions where mentors and mentees freely discussed topics such as leadership and beliefs. During a visit to Ning Hu Primary School in Yunnan, several TSS students taught the children basic frisbee skills and played several games with them. Another team of TSS students conducted a Health Fair in Mandarin, which educated Yunnan youth about the damaging consequences of smoking, drugs addiction and computer addiction. Beyond their desire to positively impact TSS students, CAPTSLAM also aimed to inspire CAPTains in further imparting crucial leadership skills to TSS students.
As part of Senior Academy’s Senior Wellness Programme under the People’s Association, CAPT students conducted a “Happiness in Volunteering” workshop for Senior Academy over the course of three evenings. CAPT students hosted the seniors for dinner, brought them around University Town on tours and engaged in sculpturing activities with the seniors. The evening concluded with a seminar for the elderly by Dr Tan Lai Yong. Through the volunteering event, our CAPTains shared their lives and experiences as university students with the elderly and built rapport with them through the interaction, overcoming any pre-existing generational gaps.
Community Engagement Festival (CE Fest) is an annual celebration of diverse communities and one of CAPT’s flagship events. For CE Fest, CAPT’s long-term community partners – which include HOME, Health Serve, Tampines Changkat Changi CC and Crest Secondary School among others – are invited to CAPT for meaningful and fun-filled activities. The festival provides a platform for people from various backgrounds to come together, so that they may engage with, impact and learn from one another. This affirms the college ethos of active citizenship and community engagement. Details of our latest iteration of CE Fest may be found here.
During the summer of 2016, students from CAPT organised an overseas summer education programme for children in Bangalore, India. The summer education programme aimed to help at-risk children remain in the education system, in order to mitigate the high drop-out rate that usually occurs when students reach the 8th grade. Through engagement with underprivileged communities in Bangalore, CAPTains gained the chance to experience and learn from one of the world’s most diverse cultures. The summer education programme drew on the strength of CAPTains to do their bit to impact the lives of youth in Bangalore.