Interview with Staff –
A Familiar Face at Cornerstone Senior Centre
Ms Meng Xishu is our Programme Executive at Cornerstone Senior Centre and a familiar face with many seniors there. We interviewed her to find out more on what is it like to work in the social services sector surrounded with people who are twice her age.
Please tell us about yourself.
Hi everyone, I’m Xishu, 30 years old this year. I graduated with a Diploma in Business Application, and currently pursuing Bachelor of Counselling at Singapore University of Social Science.
I understand you studied IT in your poly days. Why did you decide to switch industry?
After working in the IT industry for 3.5 years, I decided to pursue further studies. A lot of my seniors and friends went ahead to pursue bachelor's degree in computer science, I thought I would just follow the same path because that was what everybody are doing. Without knowing a clear direction, I followed a friend to apply for degree in Computer Science and received the school offer. However, I felt a lot of struggles and hesitations in my heart. From the work experience in IT industry, I knew I prefer to work with people more than computer. In the end, I turned down the school offer.
I am a Christian, so I pray a lot to get clear direction for my studies. And eventually, counselling became the answer. When I started my studies in counselling, I also quitted my IT job and switched to social services to expose myself to the sector early and gain some experience.
How long have you been working in the social services sector?
Please share with us your current job role.
My work comprises mainly on community outreach and senior befriending. This include conducting home visits; getting to know the senior residents; assessing their general wellbeing and promoting active ageing among them. Sometimes, I also assist with the daily operations at the centre.
Are there any challenges you encountered in your work? If so, what are the challenges?
I feel the most challenging part is to build a trusting relationship with the seniors. We have a generational gap and cultural differences where our mindset and viewpoints vary. We tend to have bias against each other. The seniors perceive I am too young with no experience in life. They doubt I can be a real help to them as I cannot understand them.
At the same time, I also have to deal with my own bias towards the seniors. I often underestimate their ability and become overprotective. Hence, I need to constantly learn how to relate to the seniors, put myself in their shoes so that I can understand them better.
Are there any joyful/satisfying moments you experience in your work? If so, please share with us 1-2 moments.
I feel happy for the seniors when they can build a strong social bond within the community and find meaning in their ageing process.
I have seen many seniors experience "empty nest" after their children get married and move out. Some seniors have limited family and social support, and some are socially isolated. They have a pessimistic attitude towards their ageing, often commenting that they are old, useless and just waiting for the day.
It is my greatest joy and encouragement to see them step out of the house; enjoy meaningful activities; find companionship in the community; have some things to look forward to; and become physically, emotionally and spiritually healthier.
Any word of advice/encouragement to get more people to join/work in the social services sector?
If you have a heart and passion for working with the underprivileged, this is the place to turn your passion into action. Every seed you sow has a huge impact on someone's life.