Surrounded by a class of 15 children and eight volunteers, 30-year-old Chia Wen Jia exudes a sense of warmth and confidence as he patiently guides a young child with his Mathematics homework at one of TOUCH Young Arrows’ (TYA) 24 clubs.
Wen Jia is a Programme Executive at TYA. Wen Jia may have only joined TYA as a fulltime staff in February 2015 but is no stranger to the business of shaping the lives of young children. Since 2011, Wen Jia has been involved with TYA’s activities as a regular volunteer while working as an engineer at a leading semiconductor manufacturing company.
“I enjoyed the time spent volunteering with TYA and found working with children very meaningful. So, when I was seeking a change in career direction in 2015 after almost five years of working as an engineer and found out that TYA was hiring, I took a leap of faith, applied for the position, and found myself starting to find new meaning and purpose in my work”, says Wen Jia.
As a Programme Executive at TYA, Wen Jia is responsible for daily administrative tasks, planning weekly club activities to make learning for the children as holistic as possible through academic coaching and value-driven activities, and is heavily involved in organising events such as camps and outings for the children, and TYA’s flagship charity race, Run & Raisin’. Every Saturday, Wen Jia also shuttles between four to five out of the eight clubs situated in the western part of Singapore to oversee the programmes and activities taking place.
Despite the hectic work schedule, Wen Jia is grateful for the opportunities and life lessons that working at TYA presents to him.
Says Wen Jia, “Working at TYA has exposed me to a team of energetic and passionate individuals whom I have the privilege to work with as colleagues. Much more than their work competencies, it’s their compassion and relentless drive to serve the clients that motivates me to give all I can and go beyond compassion to touch the young lives we come across. Working at TYA has also allowed me to learn new things such as volunteer and management skills, and serving the needy in a different capacity – things that I’ve never done before in the past.”
He adds, “Interestingly, the children that we serve have also taught me a lot about life. As adults, we tend to get too caught up in planning the perfect programmes or coming up with the most awesome games to engage the children. However, the children appreciate the simplest activities at the TYA clubs and even enjoy participating in them over and over again. I’ve come to realise that what matters most to children isn’t the type of game they play but the process – us spending time with them and giving them attention. Likewise, as we go through life, it’s really the journey and process that truly shapes us, and that matters.”
In 2017, Wen Jia hopes to spend more time with the children on top of running the operations and overseeing programmes and events.
“In the course of my work, I have seen positive changes in many of our children’s behaviour and self-esteem. Though such change takes time, it certainly is doable if we partner with volunteers who share the same passion in sowing into their lives! I strongly believe that our involvement can help shape and nurture the children to make a positive impact in society and to be future leaders in the community”, says Wen Jia.