Left: Tan Meng Chin, Triston is the recipient of the PA Undergraduate Scholarship (Local) and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Analytics at NUS.
Right: Isabelle Xinyue Metzger is the recipient of the PA Undergraduate Scholarship (Local) and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS.
The People’s Association (PA) was established to promote racial harmony and social cohesion in Singapore. Its mission is to build and bridge communities in achieving one people, one Singapore. For more than 60 years, PA has walked the journey of community building with fellow Singaporeans to shape a harmonious, multi-racial and multi-cultural community. Today, PA continues to bring residents from all walks of life together with its wide range of programmes over an extensive network of over 2,000 grassroots organisations (GROs), over 100 Community Clubs/Centres (CCs), as well as five Community Development Councils, the National Community Leadership Institute and PAssion Wave.
The road ahead may be full of challenges and uncertainties, but Isabelle Xinyue Metzger and Tan Meng Chin Triston are not daunted at all. The PA scholars are currently studying at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and upon graduation, they will carve out a career in community development with PA and take on the meaningful task of helping to nurture a great home and a caring community for all Singaporeans.
PA Passion for the Community
Having first-hand experiences at community development had helped fuel the PA scholars’ passion for doing something useful for the community and strengthen their resolve to apply for the PA Undergraduate Scholarship.
Isabelle’s first volunteering experience at Bukit Panjang CC was the catalyst for her interest in PA’s work in community outreach. Under the Grassroots Attachment Programme in her junior college, she spent a month taking part in various community initiatives, such as committee meetings and a community brisk walking exercise.
“It was through working alongside volunteers in these initiatives that I saw how deeply passionate they were about community development, and I was really moved by their dedication to the community,” Isabelle revealed.
Enthralled by how PA worked directly with residents to resolve community issues and improve their lives, Isabelle decided to apply for the PA Undergraduate Scholarship, which would provide her with the flexibility to develop her potential to the fullest. She believed that a career with PA can help her gain a better understanding of the problems that plague Singaporeans and thus find more effective solutions to them.
“I wanted to start my career with PA because of its distinctive position in the social sector as a bridge between the people and the government,” said Isabelle.
Like Isabelle, Triston’s volunteering efforts began with community development. He started a ground-up initiative called ‘Hey, You Got Mail!’ with his friends in 2020 to bring over 800 like-minded youths together and connect them with volunteering opportunities to help isolated seniors from over 30 beneficiaries.
“I love being able to make a difference in the lives of the people around me,” Triston shared, “Strong communities foster social cohesion and a sense of belonging. I hope that all people, young or old, will have a community that they can identify with, one that nurtures and supports them through the different phases of life.”
An opportunity to intern at Changi Simei CC spurred his decision to take up the PA Undergraduate Scholarship. The internship provided him exposure to the vast expanse of community networks and the many grassroots organisations working hard in each community. Under the guidance of the constituency staff, he was able to plan and execute community events, attend grassroots meetings, and even join house visits to meet residents.
“My internship experience at Changi Simei CC was an eye-opener,” Triston recalled, “I was especially proud of assisting in the Changi Simei Community Learning Day, bringing stakeholders and organisations to teach the residents (both young and old) new and relevant skills, such as financial literacy, micro:bit coding and blockchain technology.”
During the internship, he also worked on the Bicentennial Heritage Tour in Changi for over 200 residents. It gave him great satisfaction to see residents having fun at the event that he had helped to plan and execute. With his passion in community building and bringing people together, Triston resonated with PA’s mission and vision, and chose to start his career with them.
Empowered for the Community
Isabelle is currently pursuing a Political Science major and a History minor at NUS, believing that both Political Science and History can work hand in hand to engender a better understanding of the government and today’s societies.
“I hope that through learning about different political institutions and ideas in university, I can have a more nuanced understanding of policies and decisions on a macro level,” she continued, “This will allow me to carefully consider the interests of different groups in society, and make decisions that can benefit as many people as possible.”
Triston, on the other hand, is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Data Science and Analytics at NUS. He believed that given the data-driven world we live in today, it is crucial to harness data, garner insights and use it to explore new opportunities.
“I look forward to being able to apply this in community research, finding insightful data to enhance the quality and quantity of community engagements that happen island-wide.”
Seize the day. Dream the future.
Not one to rest on their laurels, both Triston and Isabelle were actively participating in PA’s structured development plan for its scholars. Triston had plenty of opportunities to network with other public service scholarship holders, and in 2021, he attended the Singapore Seminar (SingSem) focusing on developing a “Sustainable Singapore – Building Our Future Today” under the Green Plan 2030.
Triston observed that the work culture in PA is one of the most diverse. “After all it is the People’s Association. You get the opportunity to work with colleagues and grassroots leaders from all walks of life, coming together for a common cause.”
As for Isabelle, she interned at Bukit Timah CC last year as part of PA’s summer internship programme to gain a better understanding of the different functions that PA performs in community building.
“There was never a dull moment at the CC. There were countless community outreach initiatives geared towards improving the lives of Bukit Timah residents, as well as a steady stream of residents seeking assistance from PA,” she shared, “The work culture in the CCs reminded me a lot of the kampung spirit. The way everyone looked out for one another and always served residents with a smile really made PA a lively and positive environment.”
It was undoubtedly a meaningful experience for Isabelle to see PA at work on the ground first-hand, especially during such uncertain times, and bond with her friendly and kind colleagues at the CC. When she graduates, Isabelle hopes to be part of the strategic planning team in PA to help in the formulation and review of its key policies, hoping to align its objectives to the community’s needs. It is her dream that her ideas and insights can impact as many lives as possible.
As for Triston, he hopes to play a part in rebuilding the community as the nation approaches the new normal. “With the host of safe measurement measures reducing the level of social interaction, many communities took a hit during the pandemic. PA has an essential role in the resumption of community activities and the forming of new communal ties,” Triston said.
Both scholars have this to say to those who are considering applying – Join PA if you have a passion for community development and want to contribute back to the society in a tangible way.
To sum up, Triston has a word of advice for all, “Come in with an open mind and you will develop personally and professionally in more ways than one!”