Planting Seeds of Good

The panel discussion featured (from left) ophthalmologist and philanthropist Dr Rupesh Agrawal, Jason, Ms Tamura, consultant Mr Alan Ng and moderator Ms Corrine Ong, OSA’s Deputy Director of Community Engagement

NUS Student Affairs and the NUS Office of Alumni Relations jointly launched Seeds of Good on 20 March, a new community development learning programme that seeks to empower NUS students to collaborate with the community, social service organisations and corporations to promote social causes or address issues faced by communities both within NUS and beyond.

The launch at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House featured various inspiring elements to spur students to begin their own projects to serve communities in need, such as exhibitions, film screenings and a panel discussion.

To kick off the event, Guest-of-Honour NUS Chairman Mr Hsieh Fu Hua shared his thoughts and perspectives on serving the less privileged. Speaking to a packed auditorium of students, alumni and staff, Mr Hsieh drew on experiences from his childhood and university days, right up to his previous appointment as President of the National Council of Social Service. He commended the event’s aim of exposing students to ongoing projects, saying, “The heart has to be touched, so by seeing, by modelling, by sharing when your heart is touched, the seed will germinate. And the germination leads you then to make a very clear, conscious commitment. So this whole question of doing good is not a flash in the pan – it shouldn’t be.”

Four short films from the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre’s 15 Shorts project were screened to raise awareness for the issues faced by the autism, migrant worker, homeless and prison communities in Singapore.

One of the films, The Buddy, was directed and created by Year 2 NUS Sociology student Jason Lee. Jason came across the story of Nur Hidayat and Tam in an old newspaper article from 1999, and was intrigued by the genuine friendship the two primary school students shared. He was keen to further explore how these two boys — one with autism and one without — developed a strong bond and loyalty between them. However, not knowing much about autism then, Jason set out to learn more about the disorder, finding the beauty in it, and made use of his film-making skills and experience to showcase autism in a poignant and compassionate light.


Mr Hsieh addressing students, staff and alumni at the launch of the Seeds of Good initiative

Ongoing projects by members of the NUS community that serve various groups in need were featured in a gallery at the event. One project was Project Building of Bridges by the NUS Pro Bono Group, where NUS Law students partner with non-governmental organisations to conduct legal education workshops for migrant workers, using activities such as games, skits and quizzes to enhance their knowledge about their legal rights and issues such as salary and work injury matters. Engineering Good – Student Chapter’s Baby Crawler Project by NUS Engineering students was also on display. In this project, students work closely with the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore) to create a cost-effective, portable and user-friendly crawling device to help babies with Down Syndrome reach early motor skills milestones that have a significant impact on their long-term development.

The event also showcased the ground-up migrant worker’s campaign Sama Sama, founded by NUS Business ’12 alumna Ms Kari Tamura, which displayed a unique immersive exhibit combining art and technology to allow the public to personally experience five different stories of migrant workers.

At a panel discussion on “The Art of Seeding Good”, Ms Tamura offered this piece of advice to the students in attendance who may want to get started on community projects, “Don’t just do it once. Do it a number of times and you would get the hang of it after a while, and you will learn where you need to improve…We have experienced thinking, ‘What are we even doing? Is this even worth it?’ It takes years sometimes to refine the methodology of what you plan to do. So keep doing and keep learning.”

The exhibits are currently on display at University Town to continue to raise awareness about Seeds of Good and student-led volunteer projects in the university community.


Mr Hsieh hearing from members of the NUS Community Service Club about their food distribution drive Project C.A.N.