The essence of Interact is service. Contrary to popular belief, Interact does not stem from a desire to connect – Interact actually stems from the phrase ‘International Action’. VJ Interact is made up of a group of individuals who share a common passion to serve the needs of the community. Besides the six homegroups that span across three sectors of society – special needs, elderly, and children – the club also arranges and participates in ad-hoc events throughout the year such as Stop Hunger Now and Pair-A-Thon, to reach out to a gamut of people in the community we may not otherwise interact with.
My time as a volunteer in the VVP (Victorian Volunteer Programme) has been characterised by weekly tutoring sessions with primary school children, helping out at various school events and lots of light and gratitude in between. The funny thing is, I had been wholly indifferent to the notion of service just two years ago. But when I joined the VVP, I became exposed to the fulfilment that service can bring, especially after the exhaustion of an arduous school week. One of the vice presidents of Interact, Chiew Hui, put it aptly, “one of the most meaningful experiences in Interact – you get to form relationships with your beneficiary & see them grow.” Yi Ting and Xuan Yun, who are in the TOUCH homegroup for special needs, shared similar sentiments. Xuan Yun shared that “It is more of the accumulation of every single hg session that makes the whole experience and journey in interact worth remembering and meaningful. You cannot simply gauge the impact you have on others through a one-off event.” Likewise, for Yi Ting, it was the simple act of the beneficiaries remembering her name after weeks of interaction and the knowledge that she had made an impact on their lives that made the experience very rewarding and meaningful.
Xing Tong, a fellow VVP participant, also found the experience very heartening. Despite being slightly apprehensive when interacting with special needs individuals initially, her motivation was to use VVP to “get the chance to interact and communicate with them”. Following which, it ignited a shift in her mindset towards them, making heer more comfortable around them, reflecting the small, but significant impact service can bring not just to the people we are serving, but to us as well.
In Interact, members have the opportunity to initiate various ad-hoc activities, based on what they’re passionate about. They can hone their leadership skills even in service, by rallying others for a common cause and spreading awareness, or even directly benefiting your beneficiary. Members have exposure to various opportunities and can choose to participate in a flurry of activities to work with a diverse range of people outside of their comfort zone.
However, there is a caveat which is tagged to this membership. I believe the amount of effort you put in to service determines the richness of your experience. Many interactors spoke of the compassion and empathy required to connect with your beneficiaries wholeheartedly. Chiew Hui summed it up nicely with three pieces of wisdom – be genuine and believe wholeheartedly in what you’re doing, be open minded, and perhaps most importantly, to be committed & stick to what you’re doing till the very end.
The great thing about this CCA is that members are not limited by their capacity as individuals, as there are like-minded people who are willing to support your cause and participate actively in it with you. Despite not being in Interact, I have been very fortunate to experience something worthwhile in the VVP. We don’t have to look up to the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa to serve. It is not only the most selfless and noblest of us who have the capacity to care. Weekly service brings the reminder that we are much more capable of giving than we think.
From what I learnt in my year-long participation in various Interact events, is that service isn’t a skill to be honed or an intrinsic talent some of us are born with. Instead, service comes genuinely, emerging through little everyday acts. That is what compels me to join as a VVP-to bring light into the lives of others by simply having a sincere desire to serve, and you can do the same. Bearing this in mind, so long as you have the heart, you’re equipped with all you need to serve.
Fiona Lee (15A11)