Students from the Association for Persons with Special Needs (PSN) Katong School, Singapore were accepted to do their internship at Istana, Singapore. It is a first for students with special needs to intern at the official office of the Singaporean President, Halimah Yacob.
Skill-learning from Chefs and Gardeners
During a two weeks internship, the students are either located in the kitchen with professional chefs as mentor or in the spice garden of the Nationals Parks Board curators. Istana’s junior sous-chef Muhammad Adi Rezza Fauzilan, 28, coached four food and beverage interns. Instead of having a rigid plan, he asked the students what they wanted to learn. “They chose baking,” Fauzilan said. Murial is one of those students. She watched baking videos on YouTube before deciding she wanted to become a baker. With her internship at the kitchen of Istana, she can exercise and practice her expertise, a first step towards fulfilling her dream. “All the students are very hardworking and eager to learn to perform their job well.”
Creating an Inclusive Society
President Halimah Yacob met the interns at their workplaces. Not unexpected, since the President of Singapore visited APSN during her official visits. There, she was told that the school was having difficulties with securing internships at restaurants and hotels for their students. When she returned to her office, she decided to offer 7 of the students an internship at Istana.
According to Yacob, this is a governmental initiative to show the true meaning of “creating an inclusive society” as she quoted in a recent interview. “Students really need these internships and it does not take a lot [for employers] to provide that kind of experience, knowledge and skills to them. You may need to modify the work processes a little bit here and there, but those are not insurmountable obstacles,” the Singaporean president said. “I hope more employers will open their doors, open their hearts and provide opportunities to our students, so that we truly mean what we say when we talk about being an inclusive society.”
The initiative shows what the nation can do to make such society a reality. Kudos to the President of Singapore for empowering diversity and, especially for leading by example!