Monday, July 19, 2010

EA: First Volunteers' Meeting

Our first volunteers meeting was in the amphitheatre at Dhoby Ghaut station. Serene and Calvin bought snacks and drinks and we sat on the steps and talked.

The volunteers were so varied - David, Nicholas, Pei Fern and Shu Fen (the two Fen's :>), Nina, Sophia, Lin Lin, Firdaus and myself. All of us were from different walks in life and had no doubt different backgrounds. But we had common issues too! David, Pei Fern and I were all from Malaysia (though the other two live in Singapore now), Sophia, Nicholas and David were all trained in engineering, and Shu Fen, Pei Fern and myself are all dancers. Cool huh?

Each volunteer brought so much enthusiasm and a willingness to contribute something to make the Expedition happen. Of course, none contributed as much as our husband-and-wife-to-be leaders couple - Serene and Calvin. We were flooded with carefully prepared, detailed notes from Serene!

Before we began the committee meeting, we had a short time of getting to know each other. Each of us chose a piece of manila cardboard and on it, drew something that would help us share about ourselves. This was quite a moment for hilarity as we drew funny little pictures that... looked somewhat different from what we wanted them to be... like David's elephant... ;>

When we'd finished our introductions, Calvin shared more with us about Expedition. Calvin and Serene had met up with a guy from Sikkim earlier that week and brought from him the beauty of the people in Sikkim to share with us. Both Calvin and Serene believed that the people in Sikkim did not need our financial contributions as much as the people in Cambodia as they were not in as desperate a situation as some of the Cambodians the previous Expedition had encountered.

Instead we would contribute through the activities we were going to conduct with the children and through small items like stationery.

The height of the area we would be in was emphasized to us... Sikkim lies 3000+ metres above sea level! For that reason, Calvin said that we would probably bring the youth leaders this year - those who are older (18/19 years old) and better able to stand the rigours of the journey.

The amount we would need to raise in order to sponsor each person was somewhat daunting - an est'd. SGD$2,000 per pax.

But for the effect that it would have on each youth's life, yes, we believed it would be well-worth it. Serene shared with quiet inner passion about why she believed so strongly in Expedition and the difference that it would create for the youths. Calvin also shared about some of the other youths who had gone for Expedition before and the changes that had been wrought in their lives. It was inspiring to listen to the stories!

Lists of duties and upcoming activities were handed out to us... ooh.... finally it dawned on the first-timers how much commitment was involved! Week after week of activities had been planned in order to prepare the youths for the Expedition!

Calvin also told us that each youth would have an adult 'buddy' and two adult buddies with two youths would make up a team. I really loved that idea as it gave the opportunity to work one-to-one with a youth.

Then Serene passed out a list of responsibilities to look over and from there, to choose which we did not like and which we liked. Firdaus cheerfully chose about half a page of activities that he really liked, and said he did not 'not like' almost any! :>

Serene also asked what special skills we had. Wow, Firdaus' special skill was cooking! Since on Expedition, we cook our own meals, that was an especially much-needed skill!

Nina had a highly-in-demand skill... she could do physiotherapy! She offered to do massage on the youths who had aching muscles from trekking into Sikkim! All the rest of us were pretty eager to let us be her 'guinea pig' to practise her skill on too!

We broke up after setting our next meeting date (this coming weekend!). To close, we had an affirmation circle (soooooo Camp Vision!) and affirmed the group as a whole.

I think one and all of us agree... this Expedition is going to be something special, and we are all looking forward to the journey ahead!

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