#SMCHiking Library 2022 Year-End Review
By Junfang Xi
Before participating in the SMC Hiking Library, I had been invited by numerous organisations for hiking events. I had always had numerous reservations: one factor was the humidity and heat that made one hesitate, but more importantly, I had doubts about the results of such activities; thus they never came to fruition. However, when the founder of SMC, Dr David Ong, introduced the Hiking Library to me, I was taken by its originality, and SMC’s admirable mission immediately sparked the charity in my heart. I participated in this activity for the first time on the 22nd October, and then twice more: each time, I gained new experiences and rewards, and I now set down some reflections in the hopes of capturing the benefits brought by this activity.
The format of the activity is novel and unique, entailing both creativity and effectiveness. Before the start of the activity, Dr Ong divided the participants into two groups, one group being the mentors, and the other comprising SMC Youths as mentees. Participants engaged in discussion with their assigned hiking partners while walking along the beautiful Hort Park and Henderson Waves. After half an hour, participants changed partners; this format allowed both mentors and SMC Youths to engage in 4-5 in-depth discussions of diverse natures. During the break, a mentor gave a presentation on a theme, ranging from their experiences in entrepreneurship or management, to analyses of the macro-environment and industry trends and prospects. The activity lasted around three hours, throughout which Dr Ong periodically pointed out the cultural significance and history of particular buildings and sights we passed. The event was well-paced and utilised an enjoyable medium to impart knowledge and wisdom; though the long walk was slightly tiring and the constant conversation strained my throat slightly, I gained the catharsis from exercise, a joyful spirit, and the satisfaction that comes from profound conversations. I am in genuine praise of Dr Ong and his wife, Ms Zoe Liu; their heart, kindness and far-sightedness inspire much respect and admiration.
In today’s complex and anxious environment, the SMC Hiking Library is unassuming and unpretentious, but carries significant meaning. What this small event drives are weighty ideas such as education through sharing, nurturing of global quotient in youth, and conversations among talent from both Eastern and Western contexts.
Undoubtedly, SMC is a platform that nurtures leaders of the future. Confronted with complex and ever-changing elements such as geopolitical changes, global pandemics, climate change, scarcity of resources and economic downturn, and in the face of an uncertain future, youth leaders are even more in need of extraordinary courage and an expansive worldview. SMC consolidates Singapore’s advantages in areas such as information, human talents, technology and capital, and connects resources so as to enable a variety of mentors to share and convey ideas, knowledge and experience, in order to foster global leadership talents who have a wide worldview and an open and creative mindset. SMC mentors include executives from MNCs, accomplished entrepreneurs, researchers from academic institutions, and professionals from various organisations. The platform facilitates conversation, and offers the opportunity for participants to create more value in their respective fields through collaboration. In a way, SMC is creating a multi-agent, mutually beneficial talent ecology.
Additionally, SMC plays a unique role in developing youths with global quotient. In October 2019, the Ministry of Trade and Industry launched the Global Ready Talent Programme (GRTP), to facilitate local businesses expanding overseas to arrange for Singaporean students to undertake internships and work experience abroad. The Singapore government recognised that before businesses can expand overseas, they must first nurture youths with a wide worldview and familiarity with operations in overseas markets. SMC’s mission dovetails with that of the Government in developing internationalised talents. The SMC Hiking Library is an effective method towards the achievement of this mission: its engaging format attracts global talents from different cultural backgrounds working in Singapore, and provides youths with collaborative global capacity, allowing them to gain global knowledge, increase their global quotient, and improve their global-readiness, locally at a low cost.
Of course, the integrated format at SMC organically promotes dialogue and mutualism between Eastern and Western cultures. From my observations during the activities, SMC’s mentors and mentees come from different cultural backgrounds, each unique in distinctive ways. Eastern cultures have an integrated mode of thinking, endorsing the wisdom of harmony between man and nature, whereas Western cultures are built on an analytical foundation. Though there is an extent of conflict between the two, Western cultures and Eastern cultures on their own each reveal certain limits. It is a necessity of the times to find a common ground on which the two cultures are complementary, and to incorporate the spirit of both cultures. It must be said that SMC makes a greatly beneficial attempt to that end. Speaking for myself, despite having extended globalised working experiences, I have still been able to gain much from each activity. Additionally, this hiking activity has improved my understanding of the ancient wisdom of the growth of both student and teacher through teaching: the collaborative exploration of issues, continuous discussion and learning from each other allow both teacher and student to grow. The vitality, creativity and fortitude of the youths never stop to move and inspire the mentors.
Utilising SMC as the platform, Dr Ong spares no effort in fostering global talents. I firmly believe this platform will bring together more mentors and youths, incubate more creative ideas and bring about the emergence of more leaders of the future. I commend Dr Ong’s efforts, and look forward to attending each new activity!
(English translation by Zhang Yimeng 张漪萌, third-year undergraduate in law at University of Oxford)