Community service requirements can spark passion for volunteering

Volunteering is often not intuitive to tertiary students, as they are caught up with studies, co-curricular activities and building friendships.

What the community service requirement does is start students thinking about what they have, and what they can do for society ("Should schools enforce community work?"; March 28).

It does not erode the sincerity and effort behind their contribution to society.

Instead, it allows them to identify their interests and think about how they can use these for the betterment of others. By doing that, they are more passionate about volunteering because they are interested in what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Singapore Management University (SMU) encourages students to not just complete the 80 hours out of obligation, but also to think about how they can start and sustain solutions to meet needs in the society.

This has resulted in many creative student-initiated projects, such as Project Inspirar - a local project that is entering its eighth year, where students develop exercise routines for the elderly - and Project Gazaab - a project that is entering its seventh year, where students travel to Nepal to help the poor start their own micro-enterprises by guiding high school students in coming up with business plans.

What is more important is that students remain committed to volunteering.

A testament to this is the fact that SMU students go beyond the 80-hour requirement.

While some may have started because of the requirement, it is through it that they realise the importance of helping others, and see how their efforts add value to society.

School requirements are merely nudges to start them thinking about how they, as individuals, can use their interests and skills to help others.

As an SMU alumna, I encourage students to see this as an opportunity to pursue their interests while contributing to society.

Fiona Lim Shi Hui (Miss)