Amidst merry conversation and laughter, NUS students and support staff enjoyed a chance to closely interact with each other over food and games as part of an initiative called Thanks!NUS. From 13 to 17 February, a series of appreciation lunches were held at various locations across the campus to encourage students to get to know and appreciate the support staff in NUS.
The initiative is an NUS Students’ Union Special Project that spanned two weeks. In the first week, students penned heartfelt personal messages to support staff — bus drivers, cleaners, canteen staff, operations associates, carpark operators and security staff; as well as treated them to a free drink using ‘Drinks On Us’ vouchers specially made for this project. The messages and vouchers were then given as door gifts to each of the support staff who attended the appreciation lunches which took place in the second week of the initiative.
The vast layout of the campus can make it difficult for students to truly get to know support staff, said Charmaine Tay, Year 2 NUS Arts and Social Sciences student, who interacted with the support staff at one of the appreciation lunches. “The ability and privilege to listen to other people’s stories is a blessing,” she added, calling the experience an “educational” one.
“Thanks!NUS acts as a vehicle of communication, so there's an impetus for us to convey our thanks to the staff. It helps to bridge the gap between students and staff, because alone we don't usually dare to make the move,” said Shu Chian, Year 2 NUS Science student.
Reception from the staff was very positive, with many of them sharing that they did not expect it. “The students are all very approachable,” said Valli, an operations associate from the NUS Business library, who was happy for the opportunity to spend time with the students.
“It’s nice to get to talk to young people; old people and young people should mix more and we can learn from each other,” said Rahimah, an operations associate from Central Library.
The organising committee hopes that the event will serve as a warm-up and springboard for more conversations and interactions between staff and students, even after the event in everyday campus life.
“We envision a more close-knit NUS community, one that involves not just the students but the support staff as well,” said Project Director Luk Ching, Year 2 NUS Arts and Social Sciences student.