With more than 1,800 friends on Facebook help is just a click away for Dr Sia Ah Hiok when the need for student volunteers arises. Her “Need Help” postings have successfully drawn volunteers to rebuild and refurbish homes for Orang Asli, clean up a flood-hit town and raise funds to help the needy and underprivileged in society.
|Dr Sia (left) leads a team of INTI students in rebuilding homes for Orang Asli|
Lessons on compassion started early for Sia, who serves as Vice-President for Student Services Division and Director of Center for American Education at INTI International University. As a child accompanying her mother to the market, she witnessed her mother paying RM 5 for a small amount of vegetables that probably cost less than 50 sen. Although her mother did not explain the discrepancy, Sia soon realized that it was an act of compassion for the elderly vegetable seller.
From this childhood experience Sia understood the need to reach out to the less privileged in society. At INTI, she is an ardent advocate of community service and has supported social awareness initiatives by various student organizations as well as non-governmental organizations. Realising that many students are keen to help but do not know how or where to, she became a facilitator and has connected students with voluntary organisations. Volunteers have, for instance, worked with Habitat for Humanity Malaysia to rebuilt and refurbished homes for the Orang Asli in Sungai Pelek, Selangor and clean up a Girls’ Home in Kajang.
|Leadership by example: Dr Sia at work repainting a home for the underprivileged|
Sia’s job of facilitating students’ personal growth and enriching their campus experience has enabled her to fulfill her passion to help the needy by knowing exactly where to draw the resources from.
“It’s a perfect fit. I have the entire student community to nurture. I plant in them the meaningful values of helping others, connect them with opportunities to help the needy, support them with resources, and develop their potentials as project leaders and productive members of the society. If they all respond positively to this calling, we can ultimately help make this world a better place,” she said.
Sia professes that getting students to commit themselves to social cause has to begin with setting up a campus tradition of social consciousness and generous giving that is supported by structures and policies. Through a systemic process, she has helped create a culture that selflessly reaches out and gives back to the community. Her leadership enables her to make corporate social responsibility a compulsory component in major campus events. The key lies in the environment where students, leaders and student government are aligned in their mission to help.
“When students help the needy, they are the ones being helped as they open their eyes to the real world and appreciate what they have,” Sia concluded.
INTI’s students and staff also draw inspiration for community service and social responsibility from President William J. Clinton, who serves as The Honorary Chancellor of the Laureate International Universities network, a role in which he offers advice on social responsibility, youth leadership and increasing access to higher education. In his 2010 visit to INTI IU, he addressed more than 1,000 students and invited guests and inspired many others. Since then, INTI’s students have participated in global events such as the Clinton Global Initiative University, which brings together students from all over the world to serve the community.
Students of INTI benefit not only from its over 25 years of experience and strong track-record, but also gain from the global synergy and resources that Laureate International Universities provides. INTI is part of Laureate, the world’s largest private education network with a presence in 29 countries and online, with 70 accredited universities and 130 campuses, serving more than 780,000 students globally.