“Millennials, involvement and community engagement” was the topic of discussion at the recent National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series event featuring Mr Hsieh Fu Hua, Chairman of the NUS Board of Trustees and Dr Tan Lai Yong, inaugural Toh Chin Chye Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT).
Introduced by Mr JY Pillay, Rector of CAPT, the speakers shared their insights into the millennial generation – what drives them, how to connect with them and the importance of mentoring them for a bright future.
“In the internet age, we tend to mistake information for intelligence. Parents mistake gifted children for mature children. Millennials acquire knowledge responsibly but do not ‘own it’. ‘Owning’ knowledge means experiencing it firsthand. At CAPT, we allow our students to ‘own’ projects at the risk of failure. That’s how they internalise learning,” says Dr Tan, who is an inspirational role model to his students by being personally involved in countless community programmes that help the marginalised and downtrodden.
Dr Tan instils learning about community engagement through life experiences, sharing the example of a disabled student who was invited to live at CAPT. Having a disabled classmate in their midst challenged CAPT students to think of practical and sustainable ways to offer their help on a daily basis. At the same time, the disabled student learnt independence, became a student leader and even went on a study trip to Germany.
Mr Hsieh shared some of his observations of millennials today.
“I feel concerned when I see technology being heavily used to replace relationships today. I once heard a chief technology officer say that their organisation only deals with customers on digital devices, never face-to-face, as they could gain far more information and understanding of the customers this way. In this manner, the phone in effect becomes an extension of the individual, a de facto “virtual person,” relates Mr Hsieh.
Mr Hsieh also felt that this generation has a strong craving to be individualistic, but runs the risk of losing their authenticity, as much of the experience they undergo tend to be curated.
Dr Tan‘s advice for the millennials: “If you yearn to do the right thing, go beyond complaining. Learn to affirm positively, critique meaningfully and be connected with the issues close to your heart.”
The NUS Greater Good Series features talks by leading minds on topics related to philanthropy. These include generosity, giving and service to the community, as well as leadership, personal well-being and mental resilience. The Series aims to raise awareness of philanthropy and its impact on society. The Series was made possible thanks to a generous gift from Newsman Realty Pte Ltd.
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