Staff Stories, December 2020
Ms. OngShu Qi
You started as a Social Worker with Residential Services after graduating from school, how would you describe the experience?
My experience was like going on a roller coaster. There were moments of anticipation coupled with fear of the unknown as I embarked on this journey. As with most journeys, doubt filled my mind, wondering if I made a mistake riding the roller coaster. Soon, the fear turned into excitement for what is to come and braced myself for it. Then the ride would end in two ways; me celebrating little successes or me grieving over things beyond my control. At the end of the day, I could look back and say, “I have given my all and that is enough”.
My experience in the Residential Services has been a rewarding one. I learnt a lot from everyone – the staff, to the boys, and even their family members. Again, like a roller coaster, there were definitely ups and downs, but I do not regret taking the ride. I am grateful for the working experience there as without it, I would not have experienced growth as a social worker.
How has the journey changed for you when you were transferred to Boys’ Town Adventure Centre (BTAC)?
I have always wanted to explore alternative approaches to doing social work. Naturally, when I was offered the role of the social worker in BTAC, I was very excited to take the job as it served as an opportunity to explore social work in the context of an adventure. While there are organizations in Singapore that do outdoor education for mainstream children and youth, it is uncommon to integrate and apply the concept of social work with adventure-based learning.
Hence, I feel that the department has provided me with a platform to explore and develop different approaches to social work through integrating elements of adventure-based learning. I hope to further develop and refine this new approach to social work (social work + adventure-based learning) and I believe BTAC is the place for this.
My journey with the clients also changed when I transferred to BTAC. In Residential Services, I got to see my clients every day and it was easier to build rapport with them as they spend most of their time in Boys’ Town. With BTAC, most of the clients are from the schools and we only get to see them once a week over a limited period. With the finite time we have with the students, it is essential for us to build a connection with them quickly as there may be a possibility of them not showing up for the next session!
How would you describe the work culture in Boys’ Town?
It’s very family-like here in Boys’ Town. We may come from different departments, but everyone in Boys’ Town shares a special kind of bond. It’s not just about work, it’s so much more than that. For example, sometimes we meet up to exercise after work (shoutout to the exercise team!), sometimes we go for lunch together (shoutout to the lunch group!). Since joining Boys’ Town in 2017, I have many sibling figures in Boys’ Town who have been guiding and supporting me. I am very thankful for these people.