WHY I CHOSE TO BE A MENTOR WITH BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
Like many expats, I didn’t know how long I’d be living in Singapore for. This was always my reason for not getting involved or committing to anything. Four years went by and I kept feeling a sense of restlessness – the way you feel when you don’t quite know where you belong, you don’t dare grow roots where you are, because you don’t know where you will be next. I kept questioning why I was still reluctant to call Singapore home, why it still didn’t feel like home. It was then that I realised I wasn’t doing the kinds of things I would do back in Australia – like getting involved in my community. I wasn’t putting in any effort to get connected with the country I was living in or its locals, so it was no surprise there was no emotional tie – and isn’t that what makes a home a home?
When I had first heard of Beautiful People, I thought it a strange name for an organisation and had decided to donate money and nothing more. A week later, I found myself sitting in a dusty old room on little plastic chairs, surrounded by a very diverse group of women, at the meet-and-greet. It was this diversity and the energy and commitment of the women who were already volunteers that ultimately made me decide to become a big sister. There was something about their ‘tell it like it is’ attitude that I greatly admired.
Despite my fear of inadvertently saying or doing the wrong thing in the mentorship and possibly scarring the girls for life – yes, I actually thought I might! – I took the plunge and signed up. The first home I volunteered with was Pertapis. I’m a Vietnamese-born, Catholic Australian. My Little Sister is Muslim and a mix of Javanese and Malaccan Indian. I had no idea how that was going to work, but it’s been six years since we stumbled through our Big Sister-Little Sister relationship and we’ve never looked back since – and about six months after I started volunteering, I heard myself say I was flying ‘home’ when I boarded a flight to return to Singapore.