Nothing to Do Except to Create: Youth Give Back to Society in Time of COVID-19

Have you been hit by the “productive” pandemic?

You know what I mean. People sharing inspirational stories of philosophers and artists producing their greatest works at times of crisis. Despite being locked in our homes, we are told not to lose steam and continue exercising our creativity and stay productive. Don’t let this be a time to be a couch-potato, they say.

This shouldn’t be surprising.

Recent polls conducted by the National Youth Council show that the majority are very concerned about the COVID-19 situation and are being responsible by playing their part to stay home for Singapore. However while our youth are concerned about the situation and are willing to adhere to the measures in place, some of them have faced challenges and impact to their social and emotional well-being.
At times like these, it is understandably difficult to resume life as per normal.

Although Singapore’s Circuit-Breaker (CB) ended on 1 June, we are reminded to stay vigilant as the crisis is not over.
Yet, as Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”

With July being Youth Month, we’d like to applaud youth who have stayed resilient and harnessed their energy to make a positive difference. To make something of themselves and seizing opportunities.

This can come in the wake of our general elections, or an outlet to support foreign workers. Confined to working from home, how were these youth able to look past their predicaments and make a difference?

They Couldn’t Vote, But Politics Still Matter to Them
Catered mostly for first-time voters and youth of their generation, Leia explained, “The first version of the site was just a general election crash course. At that time, the parties had not disclosed their manifestos yet, so we looked at structural issues and the electoral process. Megan designed the site while I was pulling information from various sources.”

As time grew, they included more content including details of political parties, voting procedures and other resources. Because all this information was not consolidated in a single platform, both of them articulated that this could be a possible “deterrence to first-time voters”. Hence, they compiled all the information into a digestible and accessible format.
The reactions from their families have been amusing as well. Their mothers worried that they might get unwanted attention from the authorities, while Megan’s father was fascinated that young people are interested in politics.

Nowhere was it more clear that their website was desperately needed when Leia revealed, “there are first time voters in my family, mostly cousins, who thought that the GRC is the name of the political party!”

As creative artists, working on this website has been timely. Both related that it was difficult to sustain their creative interests and work on their projects during the lockdown since they couldn’t get out to film or make music. In turn, it engendered recognition of their identity as Singaporeans and fueled their interest to work on the website.

Megan and Leia are youth who want to see positive change. Their website is like a pebble drop in this ocean of political awakening. They expressed hopes for more open conversations on many socio-economic issues. Essentially, the Singapore they envision is capable of “accommodating different views” and “constructive dialogue.”
Love Thy Neighbour
Besides addressing immediate needs, Yinzhou stressed that physical and mental well-being deserve attention. His overview of the welfare for migrant workers is amazingly comprehensive, which includes classes on stretching and mindful practices. Another programme involved matching volunteers with a migrant worker in a penpal-like relationship.
There are complex challenges to running these programmes, such as language barriers and cultural differences. Yet Yinzhou takes it in stride, acknowledging that managing his volunteer’s expectations is another crucial aspect of his job. Erudite and articulate, he weaves seamlessly in between explaining the micro- and macro-scale of his operations.
Ultimately though, Yizhou asserted that the lo…
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