Law Student by day, events host by night and humanitarian at heart. Nadia Samdin, 24, is a fellow Singaporean, traveling the world, spreading the love and doing good, while working it like a proud Singaporean. We had a lepak/chat session with Nadia to find out a little more about her and talk about her local favorites.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hullo! Ethnically I’m part Malay, and part Peranakan-Chinese. It’s a bit of an exciting point in my life now – I’m just finishing up my final exams in the SMU School of Law! The next step for me is to sit for the Bar and begin my training contract. In between hardcore mugging, I’m in the middle of planning my budget grad-trip that will take me back again to the rural North of Thailand, then… Africa! I’m mad excited. Currently, I manage projects with two indigenous rights NGOs based in Chiang Mai. They’re amazing people who have had years of experience running empowering grassroots projects with local communities, but due to language and budget constraints, haven’t really been able to amplify their voice to the wider donor world. The projects grow organically, tapping onto the strengths and skills of volunteers who engage with me, and we work on delivering workshops and systems to meet the needs of the NGOs and the communities they represent. The main focuses of our projects are access to education, and economic empowerment of indigenous women. It does get tough balancing my school and project commitments among other things… but it’s also immensely rewarding, and to be honest every trip back to the hill-tribes feels like I’m going back to my second-home, really (:
What made you start volunteering, especially overseas?
My personal volunteering journey really began in my district, at the Southeast Community Development Council. I had a really inspiring project officer who advocated brainstorming engaging platforms to engage youths and wanted to integrate volunteering into our daily lives, in line with our own passions and skill-sets. For me, the ethos behind volunteering is simply “doing good”, and I’m heartened to see not only a growth in youth volunteer opportunities, but also organic movements such as the CHOPE food revolution for the needy, and Beyond the Border, Behind the Men which provides new perspectives on transient workers in Singapore. Such ground-up movements are new ways of plugging the gaps.
Volunteering is now part of me, and a way I identify myself.I have my parents to blame for the overseas bit; the travel gene was inherited you see. Both of them used to work in the airline industry – daddy wanted to fly like Superman, and my mom wanted to see the world! My mom has a really genuine and giving heart; I grew up watching her always stopping to chat with the security guards, janitors and hawker centre uncles and aunties. Later, even though our family doesn’t have a lot, she would make it a point to give little ang-baos to them on Chinese New Year/Hari Raya, and when she was a pre-school teacher she always had something ready for her students from the one-room HDB flats who had hard lives. She’s really supported me in the work I do with the hill-tribes, and encouraged me to make my first trip there with my secondary school at the age of 15, and has also been with me to the villages in more recent times. I’m grateful for my family.
What is your typical day like?
Uhm.. packed! Besides trying to finish (never-ending) reading lists for law school, I also work freelance as an emcee mostly for music gigs and sports events, and reply emails/meet lovely new people who want to collaborate for the hill-tribe work I do. I squeeze in gym sessions/cycling three times a week, and I used to take Thai language classes and am currently taking Spanish.. next one to conquer is Arabic! My dream is to be fluent in all the UN languages… one day.
This next question will have you wrecking your brains, favourite Singaporean food and drink?
Wah tough question. Probably sliced fish hor fun and iced kopi-cino! Or maybe mushroom cheese prata and teh o iced lychee, hmmmm. Have you tried milo-cino before?! It’s awesome. I also love plain waffles from heartland bakeries, and bubble tea.
Never heard of Milo-cino before but will definitely try it soon! So where is your “hood” and favourite hangout spot in our little red dot?
I’ve never moved house before, so I’m an Eastie through and through. I was a Katong Convent/Victoria JC girl. I love the charm of Katong/Joo Chiat and the buzz at Simpang Bedok. Siglap is cool too. Penny University and The Garden Slug are real gems. Lately I’ve taken to cycling from Marine Parade to Gardens by the Bay and hanging out among the Super Trees and at Satay by the Bay! I definitely love being by the sea, and I think there’s just a more relaxed and friendly vibe about the East, though I’m shamelessly biased lah haha.
What do you vividly remember about your childhood in Singapore?
Ballet/swimming/abacus/art/piano/tuition classes, HAHAHA yes, I was one of those. Fifty-cent machine rides, Pokémon cards, 10 cent fishballs with sambal, daddy teaching me how to cycle at ECP and drawing hopscotch grids on the sand, playing catching but hating 1.6km runs. Ooh and polar animal biscuits.
What did you see when you were growing up that you wish was still around right now?
MAMA SHOPS! Oh gosh, I really miss digging in my purse for whatever coins I had left to buy like a sugee biscuit or 10 cents iced-lolly. There were also all those wang-wang biscuits and ring pops. Nowadays convenience stores are so atas, sterile and expensive man… Back then there were more mama shops than 7-eleven stores!
For those who would love to find out more about Nadia’s volunteer work, or better yet, would like to collaborate with Nadia,
please contact her at email@example.com or learn more about Humaneity by visiting their site.