By Lim Zi Rong,
Second Year Dip in Business Administration, Supply Chain Management Option, School of Business
Over the September holidays, most of the students would use the opportunity for a breather after the Mid-Semester Examinations and projects submission that packed us back to back. Many attended gatherings and stayed overnight in chalets if not travelled overseas.
However, for some 260 of us, the holidays had been very meaningful and well spent. Enjoying a getaway from the busy academic schedules? Nope. We attended trainings after trainings and even fire drill evacuation exercise.
Yes, we offered our support and service in the biggest international event organized and held in our country, the Singapore 2006 International Monetary Fund & World Bank Group (S2006 IMF/WBG) annual meetings. I knew that work would be challenging but it would be an excellent opportunity for me to meet and interact with leaders from the financial sector and different parts of the world
|Vicky Quek from Student and Alumni Affairs receiving an appreciation plaque from PM Lee Hsien Loong at the IMF Volunteers' Appreciation Night |
During the two weeks event, for 5 to10 hours a day, SP volunteers formed from SP Changi Youth Ambassador (SP-CYA) and SP Ambassadorial Relations Corps (SPARC), were deployed to the airport, hotels and the main meeting venue, Suntec Singapore. The SP volunteers, who make up the majority from tertiary education institutions, were entrusted with important front line roles, from Information Desk Officers (IDOs) to Customer Service Executives (CSEs) to Press Assistants (PAs).
During the IMF/WBG, I was very honoured to be able to play a part both in the airport (as a CSE) and Suntec Singapore (as a Venue Assistant-VA). The airport, being the very first and last touch point of the delegates/visitors, definitely added a bit of nervousness in me. As a SP-CYA, I render service to tourists and businessmen, but now in addition was the delegates and visitors of S2006. However the nervousness was overwhelmed by the commitment and passion to serve.
Role-plays came to reality as I reported for my very first duty. Together with my morning team, we ensured that delegates/visitors who arrived were well taken care of and their queries were met with answers promptly, from the arriving gates to their complimentary limousine transfers.
As we serve, we make new "friends" not only with the visitors but also volunteers from different sectors as we work towards a common goal.
|PM Lee Hsien Loong was enjoying a sharing session given by our students, (L-R) Joseph Ong (SP Ambassadorial Relations Corps), Tan Jia Wei and Denise Seow (Changi Youth Ambassadors). |
I recalled one of the many instances where we practiced GEMs (Go the Extra Miles). It was a usual duty morning as we prepared for the delegates/visitors departure when a Caucasian lady came to the S2006 Information Desk and asked if I am the staff of S2006 where she could get help. Apparently, she was supposed to meet her husband who came to Singapore for the S2006 and was supposed to meet him in his service apartment. However, she had misplaced his local contact number and could only remember that the name of the service apartment was "Summer...something." Immediately my partner and I search through the directories and finally found a list of serviced apartments in Singapore. We suggested "Somerset" could be the one however there was a handful with names beginning with "Somerset." As we probed for more details, she told us a very important clue which led to our discovery, it was "its somewhere near to a Hotel 81". Managed not to giggle, we scanned through the locations of all the "Somerset..." serviced apartments. Somerset Bencoolen was it! Now her husband's contact number, after getting a little more details on her husband's job, we narrowed down our search among the 20,000 visitors.After a few calls, we managed to contact Joint Secretariat, the department her husband was in and got his local number with the help from staff at Suntec. Although we were unable to reach her husband via his mobile, I called Somerset Bencoolen to double check if her husband was staying there and inform them about her arrival. As I escorted her through the immigration, my partner called to inform me that her husband had returned our call and would be waiting outside at the arrival hall. I conveyed the message to her and she was filled with excitement, as they had not met each other for months. It was heart warming to see her husband with a welcoming sign in Chinese characters. Although they were unable to get a transport voucher (for limousine drivers to reimburse the fare), the limousine driver was very gracious and generous to drive them to their apartments complimentary so as not to keep them waiting. I remembered the taxi driver saying, that even if he could not reimburse at the end of the day, he was comfortable with it as that is something he can contribute to Singapore and S2006.
Being the main venue of the meetings, Suntec Singapore was filled with police officers and securities. Passing through strict security scanning was a daily routine as I reported for my second calling at Suntec. It was a different experience there, where it was packed with S2006 delegates and visitors. Working with different people, emergency numbers, layout, roles, and questions asked, etc. Together with my counterparts, we went all out to help the delegates and visitors, not only with directional assistance but also little actions such as helping them with the door and ensuring that they are on the right route to their destination. Many of the delegates were very nice and friendly. I managed to have meaningful conversations with them, and in one instance, delegates from Nigeria even initiated to take photographs with us as memories. Many were surprised that we are students and a large number of Singaporeans stepped forward to volunteer in S2006. There was a few evenings when we ended much later (around 10pm) when meetings are held at night. I recollect some delegates pointing out that they were amazed by our smiles; they had seen us smiling in the afternoon and after a long tiring day, we were still there to greet them goodbye with a natural smile.
|Some of the SP students involved in IFM - World Bank Meetings (L-R) Front- Tan Jia Wei, Benjamin Ho, Denise Seow, Jocelyn Gian. Back Vincent Png, Desmond Lim, Lim Zi Rong |
To me, it is not all about being able to see the parade of BMWs in the car park, entering restricted areas like the airport, Suntec and Esplanade or enjoying the food from the various events. Rather, it is the bonding within one another, giving our guests fond and lasting memories, not just about the cleanliness and facilities, but also of our warmth and efficiency, our graciousness.
Having cramps for smiling too long, blisters on our feet because we had to walk around in leather shoes and high-heeled court shoes, sacrificing our holidays and shuttling between airport, Suntec and home, it is all worthwhile.
We stood together providing our excellence service to our best and till the end. Everyone played a part in this memorable and fruitful event.
Being able to contribute to the success of this international event for my country was truly a privilege for me.
This was simply an opportunity of a lifetime.