Internships for JC grads to give back to community

Internships for JC grads to give back to community

Wanting young people with spare time to contribute to their communities, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat had an idea: A community internship for junior college graduates waiting to enter university.

Hence, in January, Ms Tiffany Choo, 19, became one of 10 youth interns under the scheme based in Tampines GRC, where Mr Heng is an MP.

Their mission was to make Tampines more vibrant and active through events that help residents to interact and bond.

Yesterday, Ms Choo did just that with an outdoor neon party on the field next to Tampines 1 mall.

About 500 Tampines residents, mostly young people, spent the evening bowling, getting their faces painted with neon colours, and enjoying performances by Tampines residents such as talentime show The Final 1's competitor Shaun Jansen.

Ms Choo, who is waiting to enter Nanyang Technological University, said she wanted to "revolutionise" the way people thought of community events.

"Community events always focus on the elderly, families, or babies but not youth. People think of gardening, cooking and stuff like that but (young people) don't go for that so I thought why not plan an event for youth?" she said.

The community interns are paid $650 a month and work for the People's Association from January to the end of next month - just in time for their freshman year which starts in August.

Apart from thinking up and running events to bond residents, the interns also join grassroots advisers for house visits and the distribution of goods to needy families.

Interns can also choose to be attached to existing community initiatives, such as a project to map out the 50 most popular spots in Tampines and residents' stories about these places.

The interns are all Tampines GRC residents and were recruited from events such as house visits or bursary presentations.

While the programme targets junior college graduates, it is open to all Tampines residents aged 17 to 25. Applications can be made throughout the year and more information is available at community clubs in Tampines.

Ms Choo counts herself as one of "the lucky few" to take part in the internship.

"I learnt that you don't have to be shy about putting your own ideas out there. They can actually become a reality and that's what happened for me with this party," she said.

This article was first published on June 7, 2015.
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