Grace Ann Chua, Community Builder, Singapore
By Joy Lim
Next Generation Special Report 2019.
I’d say that an individualistic and fragmented society is the most pressing political challenge facing my generation. While we accept that society is diverse and individual aspirations are important, narrowing social circles restrict our connection and interdependence with others. The echo chambers we live in reduce interaction and communication, making people more prone to misunderstandings due to simplistic and divisive narratives or stereotypes.
Thankfully, community events that bridge different segments of society are helping with this! Ultimately, it’s about reminding Singaporeans that our society thrives in interconnection, when we live with a mindset of being complementary to, and not in competition with another.
Do you feel optimistic about the future of your country?
Yes, I do! Every generation has new leaders who take up their mantle and own the issues they care about. Seeing other youth leaders hold to their purpose and champion their causes inspires me to run my race and persevere on.
What is your perception of government as an institution?
Positive on the whole. Personal encounters with sharp and smart leaders with strong ground sense have improved how I regard the government. Most of the people I know who work in government are motivated to serve and courageously speak out/act for the people. Occasionally, the government does make bad calls and handles certain situations poorly, but we as citizens should show compassion because the government tries its best with the limitations (and stress) they have.
Which other countries inspire you and why?
I’m inspired by how warm, hospitable and open Filipinos are. They so easily, readily, and sincerely connect with people, creating an experience that includes, disarms, and endears. Everyone could benefit from taking such a friendly and welcoming approach in engaging with others.
Who do you admire? Who is your hero?
My hero is my saviour Jesus Christ, who has given me a clarity of purpose and renews my mind across all aspects of life - from family to health and financial management - so that I can enjoy life through its highs and lows.
I believe there is something admirable in everyone, but it takes humility and reflection to draw out these qualities in others.
Just yesterday I visited an osteopath because of a shoulder issue. He pointed out that the root of the pain was in my biceps, which reminded me how everything is interconnected. The body (analogous to society) adapts to compensate and settles into overcorrection when injuries occur, but this strains other parts of the body over time. The process of restoration requires the treatment of contributory and compensatory factors. We need to look beyond symptoms and address root issues. For that to happen, sometimes things will take longer and get worse before they get better, but we have to trust the process.
What is one thing you would like to preserve for the next generation?
A passion and ownership of one's unique purpose and craft.
Grace Ann Chua leads community development at the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, and is the co-founder of Friendzone, a community-building organisation based in Singapore.