Lights, camera, empathy
25 November, 2015
To the year two students from Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media course, producing videos about ASEAN Para Games (APG) Team Singapore athletes was originally just another assignment.
(From left to right) Miss Mary Chin, Alexander James Papayoanou, Esther Tan and Theodora Ng of Singapore Polytechnic. Photo: Sport Singapore
But after the project was done, they took home far more than just technical skills in news and video production; they instead gained compassion and an insight into living with disability.
For Theodora Ng, who was part of a team that produced a video about Team Singapore Boccia player Jeralyn Tan, this assignment had unexpectedly left her with a deeper sense of empathy.
“When we went into it, we were just thinking of it as just another assignment, but after we left, it was different,” said the 19-year-old student.
“Because Jeralyn had a little bit of speech problems, we couldn’t really understand her. So I think it really teaches us a lot of empathy.
“And not just to understand the profile for that period of time, but to really understand what they have to go through and how it relates to us. It puts things in perspective.”
Through interacting with these APG Team Singapore athletes, Theodora also came to learn about the challenges people with disabilities face in doing the most basic of tasks, and that has imbued in her an appreciation for the little things in life.
Singapore Polytechnic student Theodora Ng. Photo: Sport Singapore
“I had to ask one of the athletes to sign a personal release form. I put it on his lap and he was really trying to adjust his body to sign it, and his arms were shaking… For us, we don’t even think about this kind of things as problems because we do them all the time with ease,” she said.
“So when we met with those athletes, it really showed us that we cannot take things for granted, because a lot of these things that we think are super easy to do, for others it’s not easy to do.”
This unique experience was an invaluable lesson as it had helped the students sharpen their sensitivities and develop life skills that cannot be taught in a classroom, said their lecturer Mary Chin.
“For this particular project, I feel that what they took home is actually very precious. They got to learn a bit more about life,” she said.
“They really learnt to be more motivated, to take up challenges, to overcome and persevere. It was very good exposure for them.
“We always believe that learning is beyond curriculum and that would bring them far, no matter where they go.”