The Blue Ribbon @ National University of Singapore (USP)
23rd September 2015
It has been almost one and a half year since the inception of The Blue Ribbon in Singapore. Its peace initiatives have reached a number of high learning institutions, and impacted both local and international youth that are living or residing in this little red dot island.
Last week, in conjunction with United Nation International Day of Peace which happens annually on 21st September, TBR had a wonderful two hour conversation with seven staff and students from National University of Singapore , University Scholars Program (USP) on social enterprise and TBR commitment in building peace locally and globally.
The meeting was arranged by Professor Kang Hway Chuan from Department of Chemistry and USP and coordinated by Ms Ang Lee Koon, USP students’ life manager.
During this session, the students and Ms Lee Koon, and TBR had a deep 30 minute Skype conversation with Mansur, a young peace Afghan volunteer, and Dr Hakim Young or Wee Teck Young, a humanitarian doctor and social entrepreneur. The Skype conversation left USP students with challenging and provoking questions.
Dr Hakim is a Singaporean who is now residing in Kabul, Afghanistan. He mentors young Afghan Peace volunteers in advocating peace and abolishment of war and was a 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.
Norani Abu Bakar, the founder of The Blue Ribbon first met Dr Hakim during The Amber Initiative in June 2014. This Singaporean youth led NPO, founded by Meixi Ng andm Suraj Upadhiah, ordered 200 blue batik ribbon to wrap around the blue scarves made by Afghan mothers. Each youth had his or her name embroidered on a ribbon. This was a wonderful sewing project by Afghanistan and Singapore home bound mothers that are connected through the borderless human family.
TBR has been looking into different ways to collaborate with Blue Scarves / Afghans Youth Peace Volunteers. The initial attempt was to connect both social enterprises’ beneficiaries. Today, both organizations connect their mentees regularly via Skype so that they can learn from each other on being global citizens who embrace equal responsibilities for world peace.
Ms Ang and the president of University Scholars Club, Lim Cheng Lai, are now discussing on how to help selling products made by TBR beneficiaries. TBR hopes that something meaningful and long lasting will surface from this engagement.
TBR hopes that NUS USP students will be opened to participate in various TBR related events that will be hosted by Department of Malays Studies of NUS in 2016. Four key events will be Peace Ambassadors Workshop and Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community (YIPC)Workshop for Asian youth, World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), and Pathways Singapore Institute.
WIHW was inaugurated this February 2015 at NUS. It was made possible due to the dedication and leadership of YIPC Indonesia co-founder, Jonathan Andreas and the support of Professor Noor Aisha Abdul Rahman, the director of Department of Malay Studies. TBR played its role in this ground breaking event by connecting Mr Andreas with key local interfaith leaders.
Besides NUS USP students, at least another 100 students from Temasek Polytechnic were involved with The Blue Ribbon project in the last one year period. They were connected with TBR through TP Enactus, Sustainable Community Development and World Issues subjects, and TP International Students Group’s 1st year students bonding weekend.
The avenue created and the support given by TBR to these students provides experiential learning opportunities in understanding and serving those with needs in Singapore. For TP international students, TBR event at Aliwal Arts Centre connected them with Singaporeans, and this was a critical phase for their social integration with the local community.