Ms Harriet Seah
Volunteering with RSVP since 2016
I quit my job as an accountant in my mid-thirties to become a full-time home maker following my husband’s posting to Beijing, China. My family spent a memorable 10 years of our lives there.
When I came back and had finally settled down in 2015, I started searching for volunteering opportunities for me to spend my time more meaningfully. I heard about RSVP from my church one day and was wondering what RSVP was because of the ‘unique’ name. I decided to find out for myself and became a member in 2016.
My volunteering journey started with the Senior Guiding Programme where I volunteered at the National Heart Centre. I was there for half a year and found the nature of the work not quite a good match for my personality. Around that same time, an opportunity arose when one of the staff asked if I was interested in helping at the reception area. I was intrigued by the idea. I missed working in an office environment and totally enjoyed answering enquiries over the phone or in person at the front desk. Here, I got to put my computer skills to good use.
Not long after, another staff approached me to help with some administrative work. I was happy for a while, but I felt my contribution did not directly benefit the recipients. I wanted something more challenging and had a direct impact in the beneficiaries’ lives.
The turning point came when I met Chin Wang, a fellow Cyberguide trainer. Seeing that I was interested in IT, she encouraged me to volunteer as a trainer. I was not sure if I could do it. While a good end user may not necessarily make a good trainer, I was determined to explore the option. I signed up for the “Cloud Storage and Sharing” course as a participant. I was blown away by the trainer Mr Daniel Loo. His lesson inspired me to be a good trainer like him in the future.
I started volunteering as an assistant trainer in 2017. I enjoyed myself as I felt that I had a direct impact on other seniors’ lives through assisting them in class. However, something was missing.
During Silver IT Fest in 2018, our Cyberguide chairman, Mr Sunny Chan, encouraged the assistant trainers to step out of their comfort zone and be a trainer. With his encouragement, I did so. The first course that I taught as a trainer was “SkillsFuture for a Digital Community”. From the experience, I discovered that as a trainer, I could have some level of control over the lesson and could better address the needs of the participants.
After becoming a Cyberguide trainer, my journey did not just stop. I actively participated in the development of courses such as “Introduction to Drones” and “Basic Digital Making (Micro:bit)”. I even received the opportunity to develop a course “Using High Sierra on iOS” which was later endorsed by IMDA.
In Cyberguide, I have been given exciting opportunities to learn new applications for my personal development and thereafter, team up with fellow Cyberguides before bringing courses to the seniors in our community. In 2018, I had the privilege to attend a bootcamp led by Apple where we picked up applications on iOS. After certification, we sharpened our learning as a team and brought the first iArt class Silver Digital Creators Course to the NTUC Learning Hub participants at National Library. I also attended the training at NUS Mind Science to become an Age Well Everyday (AWE) Instructor.
I am very blessed, and I would like to share my blessings with others. I want to encourage seniors to live a healthy lifestyle. I also want to share my IT knowledge with seniors who are intimidated by technology and who might be left behind by the society in our pursuit to become a smart nation. I feel very motivated every time I see the smiles on the participants’ faces. Their laughter, their kind compliments and gratitude they showed will keep me going!