An honest, first-hand experience at an SGfuture dialogue session
You may have heard (or not) about the SGfuture dialogue sessions that were organised over the past few months. The sessions, each covering different topics across numerous sectors of society, bring together community groups and corporate partners to generate ideas to improve our nation.
Our writers Kristen and Raphael attended two different sessions over the past two weeks, and returned with their own interesting reflections.
Scroll down to find out what it’s like sitting in these SGfuture dialogue sessions.
I attended the “The Future of Changemaking” session on Feb 25 at Gardens by the Bay, which focused on improving the lives of the disabled community in Singapore.
The session, organised by the National Youth Council and social enterprise ChangeBug, commenced with an introduction by parliamentary secretary Baey Yam Keng. He was accompanied with guest speakers like JJ Lim from CaptionCube and Ken Chua from (these)abilities up on stage.
The one-hour talk comprised questions posed by the emcee and the audience, followed by a few topics that were raised by the guest speakers.
Most of the audience were, surprisingly, made up of working adults. The few youths that were present were mostly enrolled in the National University of Singapore or Nanyang Technological University.
We then broke into our own groups, leaving some groups with less than the average of 10 people. After some minor reshuffling, a facilitator took charge before making us introduce ourselves.
Because we had little time to mull over the topics, we did not get to generate more ideas for our group topic: getting ways for youths to volunteer to provide subtitles for the deaf in lectures from different institutions.
Most of the time, I noticed that the working adults came up with unfruitful ideas like creating “scoreboards” for youths, so that they can share (or “brag”, I suppose) the number of times they volunteered on their social media channels.
Well, you can’t blame them, because they probably didn’t understand us youths. *shrugs*
Having sat in the session, I felt that some of our ideas might be too far-fetched and unsustainable, like using multi-level marketing paired with incentives to attract youths.
Perhaps, a better mix of youths from different backgrounds and interests could have made the discussions more fruitful, as we would be able to benefit from a wider range of ideas.
If the organisers had grouped us based on our age groups, it might be easier for youths to open up. After all, I always feel more comfortable when I’m around people the same age group.
My time as a participant at a SGfuture session made me realise something glaring: youths do care about Singapore and its various issues, but they could do a little more to show that they are engaged.
Organised by Sport Singapore on Feb 26, this session was centred on the theme “Future of Play”, where discussions were focused on how Singapore can use sports or “play” (a more euphemistic term) to create stable, diverse, and bonded communities.
Lasting for almost two hours, my group, which consisted of 10 people with ages ranging from 17 to over 50, discussed how “play” could be used to inculcate individual values.
Great ideas like a “jio app” that lets you join ongoing games nearby and the building of underground sports facilities were enough to convince me that ideas born from these dialogue sessions could impact Singapore in the long run.
The youths in my group showed a lot of enthusiasm in the very beginning, providing great suggestions and ideas on the floor. But as the hour passed, their enthusiasm dwindled, leaving the adults to do most of the talking towards the end.
I fully support the idea of having different age groups mingling around together, as it allows more diverse opinions and ideas to circulate in the discussion. However, youths need to be coerced to speak their minds to bring forth fresher perspectives, as some may feel inadequate or bashful with their ideas.
Nevertheless, these SGfuture dialogue sessions are a great platform for youths to be more engaged and updated with the different issues in our country. They need to make full use of this chance for their voices to be heard.
My sentiments echoed with other youths as well.
Singapore Polytechnic student, Gary Lim, 18, found the session very informative. He said: “I think it’s good that through these dialogue sessions, it gives more opportunities for people to be bonded together through sport with the implementation of these ideas.”
Although the session could have been more dynamic for youths, it’s still heart-warming to see youths (and everyone else) sacrificing their Friday night to attend sessions like this.
Overall, we had very interesting takeaways from these two SGfuture dialogue sessions and we certainly would not mind attending future sessions on various issues.
As future leaders of this nation, youths need to be more proactive and contribute their unique ideas to help Singapore move forward.