What facilitators and participants say about Emerging Stronger Conversations

Ms Iva Aminuddin said the conversation made her realise how little she knew and understood about the range of Singaporeans' lived experiences of this pandemic. PHOTO: COURTESY OF IVA AMINUDDIN

Ms Iva Aminuddin, 41

Civil servant and Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESC) facilitator

It was a challenge ensuring that every participant not only had a chance to share their stories, but also felt that they were heard during the process.

On a virtual platform like Zoom, it took more effort to encourage participants to be curious about one another's points of view, and to engage with alternative perspectives.

One participant, who works with people with special needs, described the challenge of helping them adjust to changes due to Covid-19.

For example, how do you explain the concept of working from home and unpaid leave?

It made me realise how immensely difficult and troubling this period must be for social enterprises that employ special needs adults.

Other participants discussed how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to work together, instead of battling to survive independently.

They suggested pairing bigger and more experienced companies with smaller ones for mentorship and guidance.

The conversation made me realise how little I knew and understood about the range of Singaporeans' lived experiences of this pandemic.

Ms Tjin Lee, 46


Entrepreneur and co-founder of Crib, a social enterprise that empowers women through entrepreneurship. She participated in the ESC this month

I hope we can have more openness, transparency and graciousness from those in power.

I am glad that the Government is open to listening to people from all walks of life, and genuinely seems to want to form a partnership with the public.

I hope we can help shift policies towards building a more inclusive society, to lift the bottom and prepare our next generation for the disrupted future that lies ahead.

We can prepare the next generation to have empathy for others; remain passionate and hungry to grow; embrace lifelong learning; and be kind, humble and adaptable.

These qualities - more than any results from a report card - are going to help young Singaporeans succeed in the post-Covid-19 future.

Ms Druga Rajendran, 28


Management consultant and volunteer with Sinda Youth Club. She participated in the ESC last month

I spend a lot of time talking to youth and listening to their concerns, needs, fears and hopes.

These conversations largely revolve around issues such as job prospects, economic uncertainties, mental health and wellness, as well as social justice and greater diversity in leadership circles.

I appreciated the opportunity to share my perspectives in a safe space which is free of judgment. The discussion was free-ranging, and there was no pressure to converge on a common landing point. The facilitator was also very encouraging. It was also a joy to be able to connect with fellow Singaporeans, both young and old, and hear their stories of dreams, hopes and challenges.

Fundamentally, we all aspire towards a nation that continues to uphold the values and ideals of equality, compassion, inclusivity, boldness, resilience and foresight.

Mr Able Cheong, 45


Management consultant who participated in the ESC last month

News that the ESC was being held came up in my e-mail through (government feedback unit) Reach. The session started with a short introductory speech. We were then broken up into smaller groups of nine participants each, ranging from students to retirees.

Some participants said that they still face some form of discrimination, which makes them feel that society is unequal and unfair.

For those who already have their needs met, they seek a society that aspires towards higher standards and ideals.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2020, with the headline What facilitators and participants say about Emerging Stronger Conversations. Subscribe