On 6th December, 2020, Tzu Ching and home visit volunteers went to the homes of their mentee for an online thank you session. (Screenshot of the online thank you session)
“I believe that we have all created many beautiful memories together and made many new friends during these four short months,” said the person in charge of the online thank you session, Lee Yi Qian. On 6th December 2020, Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth Association (a.k.a. Tzu Ching) held a gratitude session to mark the end of its “Mentoring With Love” 2.0 programme.
“Mentoring With Love 2.0” was an online mentoring programme organized by Tzu Ching and supported by members from the Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association to provide online mentoring for the children of Tzu Chi’s care recipients. This program involved 64 Tzu Chings volunteering to provide online mentoring for 18 children from August to November 2020. Home visits that were conducted in the company of Tzu Chi’s home visit volunteers were also organized to give these Tzu Ching volunteers a better understanding of the family background of their mentee. This also allowed Tzu Ching to understand firsthand how privileged they are as compared to others, and hence develop their empathy.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the thank you session was participated by different groups of mentors and mentees at different locations across the island. Tzu Ching and home visit volunteers went to the home of their care recipient to attend the online thank you session that was hosted live by an emcee and organizing committee at Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre. The session was divided into two segments: one in the early afternoon and the other one in late afternoon. Each segment was attended by approximately 8 families.
Some Tzu Ching participants and volunteers are at the Humanistic Youth Centre for the thank you session. (Photo by Chong Yu Jia)
Tzu Chings who volunteered in the second online mentoring programme had not met their mentee for a month as they were busy preparing for their university exam. In order to reduce the awkwardness between the children and Tzu Ching, they played charades as an icebreaker activity. Each problem was easily solved with the sharp observation of the children, and everyone had a lot of fun together.
Expressing one’s feelings and gratitude in writing
The only child who came to Humanistic Youth Centre on that day was Lavarsha. She came with her family. Due to poor health, Lavarsha’s father had to be repeatedly admitted to the hospital. This had deterred Tzu Ching from organizing a home visit for Lavarsha, hence the gratitude session facilitated the first meeting between the child and her Tzu Ching mentors.
Both parties were a little shy at the beginning of the session and could only converse with each other more comfortably after the icebreaker session. On the other hand, Lavarsha’s father, sitting on the wheelchair, with her mother and brother participated in another session with the company of home visit volunteers and Tzu Chi staff. Lavarsha’s mother, Madam Selvi liked the atmosphere at the Centre very much. She also wrote words of gratitude for Master Cheng Yen and Tzu Chi on a blessing card. She is grateful for the love and care from the volunteers as this has given her and her family the strength to continue moving forward in life.
A thank you segment was organized by the committee where Tzu Ching recounted many little moments of their volunteering experience through a video. Many were deeply touched by the nostalgia, each feeling a sense of gratitude and empathy. “I believe that everyone has experienced many touching moments during the 4 months,” said the emcee as he led the Tzu Ching volunteers and care recipient children to listen closely to their hearts before they pen down words of gratitude which they were too shy to express previously.
Every person had two cards, one to be written for the person sitting on their left, while the other one was meant for someone they wished to dedicate the card to. A lot of emotions were felt by Tzu Chings when they were thinking about the person they were most grateful of, and a few started writing their words of gratitude without any hesitation. Before passing one of the cards to the person to their left, some participants could not help rereading carefully what they have written. While passing the card to the person on their left, some even took the chance to pat the person on the shoulder and said, “I am so glad that you are with me!”
Poh Wei Lun, aged 12, directly expressed his gratitude in front of his mentor by saying, “Thank you for your patience and guidance, you have given me more confidence to sit for my PSLE.” Afterwards, the forthcoming boy shared the fun experience he had playing games with his mentor during his online mentoring class. As he recounted the previous experiences, everyone could not help laughing and teasing one another. As they prepared to say their goodbyes, Tzu Ching leader Ang Yong Kang also thanked Wei Lun by saying “You were not the only one that was learning from us, we learnt from you too.”
Ang Yong Kang hopes that Wei Lun will continue to be optimistic and he wished Wei Lun all the best in the years to come as Wei Lun enters secondary school.
Moving hearts through sign language performance
14 students from JIPOS (acronym for JC, ITE, Poly, Others, SMU) performed a Tzu Chi song, “For you” in sign language. During the “Mentoring With Love” Online Mentoring Programme 2.0, Tzu Ching had also organized a concurrent Sign Language program called “Sign with Love”.
The sign language program started in September, involving 3 online and 3 offline lessons. The content from a Tzu Chi publication titled “Sowing the seeds of a blessed life” and the origin of Tzu Chi sign language were also shared during the lessons to give the participants a deeper understanding of both Tzu Chi and sign language.
Annie Chua, a student from Singapore Management University, was the main coordinator of the Sign Language program. Annie said, “My initial motivation for organizing the Sign Language programme was to give Tzu Chings a better understanding of Tzu Chi sign language as sign language performance was part of the mentoring programme.”
“We chose the song ’For You‘ because we felt that this song suited the theme of this thank you session the most. The lyrics that go “Thank you for giving me the sky, for giving me a warm hand, not asking for anything in return, following me as I chase my dream…”, clearly illustrated how both Tzu Ching and their mentee learnt and grew together throughout the 4 months,” Annie said.
As long as you don’t give up, there will always be hope
After the heartwarming presentation of sign language, Tzu Ching as well as their mentee thanked the online mentoring program committee with the song “Let’s Share Our Love” as background music to a poem recital, which instantly filled the atmosphere with warmth.
After the end of the thank you session, Tzu Ching Chuah Wen Cian said, “If this programme is held again next year, I hope that I will have time to mentor and accompany the young children. I also hope that the children who I have accompanied this year will become more mature and more caring towards their family.”
At the end of the session, Tzu Ching and their mentee thanked one another, and that marked a fruitful session and a happy ending to the “Mentoring With Love” Online Mentoring Program 2.0.