11 November 2017
By: Jaryl Lim, Youth Volunteer
Serving as a volunteer during the Orange Ribbon Walk was an experience like no other. With the electric atmosphere, enthusiastic volunteers, and endearing surroundings, the event marked a memorable beginning for my debut volunteering event! This is, and should be what volunteering entails! Unfortunately, many, myself included (or at least used to), view volunteering as a coercive, mandatory chore, necessary for resumes and academic portfolios. This occurs in part, I believe, because people are not given the opportunity to choose, or create, their own volunteering experiences. Far from that mundane stereotype, this event I chose to volunteer for was dynamic, fun, and enriching.
Situated near the start and end point, I was tasked with crowd control, hyping up participants, and congratulating finishers. We kept up the rapturous cheers and high-fives all the way till the last person crossed. The spirit the volunteers and race participants displayed was truly amazing and awe-inspiring. Juxtaposed against the looming dark of the night was the incandescent passion of volunteers! Such was the atmosphere at the end that our weariness and fatigue eventually evolved to vibrant outbursts of laughter, emotion and fervour!
While serendipity might have been the cause of my participation, what I learnt and took away most definitely was thoughtful consideration and empathy. From event management to interpersonal communication, volunteering provided an invaluable forum to hone and apply such skill sets, for which I’m grateful. The organisers definitely deserve special mention, who despite the capricious weather and the tight timeline, managed to pull off a spectacular race amidst the picturesque evening.
If the end goal was bonding between different racial groups, I would say this walk hit it out of the park! Seeing people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and ethnicities coming together to celebrate racial harmony really reminded me of the melting pot that Singapore embodies. As George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. History has shown that tensions or even violence arises from inter-racial acrimony and vitriol. While this walk is merely a piece of the jig saw puzzle that is racial harmony, it is albeit a significant one. Putting together the puzzle requires time, coordination, and resilience, the glue that sticks individual pieces together. Hence, although some might dismiss such events as one-off and insignificant, their accumulation, in my opinion, does further racial harmony in our multi-racial nation-state. As a national serviceman, we have the duty to serve and defend our nation. But defence doesn’t only come in the form of military defence. Social defence is also critical pillar of our defence infrastructure. Like the blood vessels that connect multiple organs and cells, our inter-racial bonds form the interwoven fabric of our society.
I was really glad to have participated in this walk and I’d highly recommend readers to participate in next year’s edition, or similar walks in future!