I n view of Singapore’s diverse spectrum of ethnic and social backgrounds, it is of utmost importance that Singapore adopts ways to build strong social relationships. The People’s Association (PA) was thus established in 1960 to help foster racial harmony and social cohesion to form the basis for nation building.
It first started with its network of 28 Community Centres (CCs), used as meeting grounds for the various ethnic, language and religious groups. Today, PA has a network of 1,800 grassroots organisations (GROs), over 100 Community Clubs, five Community Development Councils, National Community Leadership Institute and Water-Venture, and offers a wide range of programmes to cater to Singaporeans from all walks of life. This allows PA to act as the bridge that connects people to people, and people with the Government.
Valencia Wong is on her way to becoming an active member of this dynamic organisation. Her scholarship journey at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has opened her eyes to the importance of good nation-building through her many interactions with a range of communities. She tells us how her passion continues to grow with each opportunity.
Why did you decide on a scholarship with PA?
Valencia Wong: As someone who is passionate about the community and its people, I was searching for a scholarship that would not only support me financially, but also empower me with opportunities to deepen my engagement with the communities. That focus helped me narrow my search down to scholarships that would allow me to serve the communities and make a difference. Learning how PA’s vision and mission align with my own goals and passion in life was what eventually compelled me to choose the PA scholarship over other scholarships.
Valencia Wong Yali
Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy) student at the National University of Singapore
How have you grown with the PA Scholarship?
Valencia: Without the PA Scholarship, I would not have had the opportunity to live in my residential college, the College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT) in NUS. Through the many formal and informal learning opportunities here, my time in CAPT has transformed the way I understood and empathised with the community. In my first year, I played the role of Vice-Director in my hostel’s Community Engagement Wing, where we were given the opportunity to engage and empower communities around us – from the elderly, youth at risk and children, to migrant workers. Being in this committee allowed me to grow not simply in terms of my technical and academic abilities, but also in my perspectives on how I can play my part to better serve the community.
Tell us how your PA internship will help facilitate your transition from school to the working world.
Valencia: My internship at the South West Community Development Council (CDC) was truly an eye-opener. I undertook a project to propose the Emergency Relief Fund scheme, which I eventually presented to the Mayor. This scheme benefits families of the district who face financial constraints due to sudden and unexpected circumstances such as fire outbreaks. I also got to delve into data and work with social workers to understand the challenges faced by the community. I am glad to have witnessed the scheme that I proposed come to fruition and how valuable the impact was for the community!
What do you look forward to the most in your future career at PA?
Valencia: I look forward to opportunities to serve on an even larger scale and make a positive difference in the lives of those in our community. Given PA’s wide outreach, there is a lot of potential for one to find a cause that they are truly passionate about.
There is a quote from Confucius that I always abide by – “Choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life”. I believe that when one finds purpose and joy in the work that they do, they would always persevere through regardless of how exhausting the work is.
What advice would you have for those who are exploring their scholarship options?
Valencia: One advice that I can give to aspiring scholars is to be clear on what your passion in life is. Do what gives your life meaning, and at the end of the day, stay committed to the decisions that you make. Also, conduct research on the organisation before applying for any scholarship, and ask yourself if its values align with your personal ones. For a PA Scholar, one should have the passion and an immense love for the community and its people.