SEA Games: Volunteers honoured

SEA Games: Volunteers honoured
(From left) Samantha Bernadette Santa Maria, Lee Hwa Guan and Budi Setiawan are three of the volunteers honoured at last night's SEA Games closing ceremony.

A typical Tuesday for Samantha Bernadette Santa Maria usually began at 5.30am as she prepared for school.

Once school ended at 3.30pm, the Greendale Secondary School student would rush to dance practice, which lasted until about 10pm.

The day did not end with dance practice, though, as the 16-year-old still had to tackle her homework before finally retiring to bed at around 2am.

While the twice-a-week training over the past four months in preparation for the SEA Games opening ceremony had been "very exhausting at times", Samantha declared it was ultimately "worth it" because of the friends she had made.

"The best part for me was at the end of the opening ceremony, when I looked around and saw everyone smiling," said Samantha, who was one of the volunteers honoured at last night's closing ceremony.

"When I look back to our first training and compare it to what I saw at the end of our performance, I just felt very proud of how far we had come."

Also honoured last night were volunteers Budi Setiawan and Lee Hwa Guan, who took on the roles of National Olympic Council (NOC) Assistant and Logistics Officer respectively.

Budi, 33, had been attached to Indonesia's men's water polo team and was in charge of ensuring that transport and training arrangements went smoothly for them.

For the Indonesian, who will be receiving his Singaporean citizenship soon, the highlight of his volunteering stint was meeting former Olympic badminton champion and Indonesia's chef de mission Taufik Hidayat.

"He's very cool and friendly," said Budi, who works in information technology (IT). "Normally we just watch athletes in competition on TV, but this time we get to see them up close.

"Meeting so many people from the South-east Asian countries and getting to know them has also taught me a lot."

But the job had its challenges as well.

Budi said: "One of the difficulties was arranging the transport, because although there is a transport schedule, sometimes the training timings get changed.

"So we have to negotiate with the transport people to help sort out the situation."

For logistics officer Lee, who had been on duty at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium throughout the Games, one of the trickier aspects of his job involved time management.

He said: "My role is to make sure the goods required arrive on time and are properly transported to the right venues.

"We also have to liaise with our fellow volunteers and contractors to make sure things arrive on time and are distributed according to the requests."

Lee, who is self-employed, has had over 15 years of volunteering experience and listed passion as the most important requirement.

"I started as a volunteer during the Mobil Marathon in 1985, and back then it was not as organised as now," said Lee, 50.

"We didn't have attire or any other benefits, but we signed up as volunteers because of the passion we had."

This article was first published on June 17, 2015.
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