ANSWERING A CALLING
After polytechnic, Ming Xiu got into Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to study Linguistics and Multilingual Studies. He started volunteering as a tutor and mentor to young probationers at the Muhammadiyah Welfare Home, many of whom come from dysfunctional backgrounds. He connected well with the boys, and they appreciated that he had made the time to teach them. His sincere and open sharing about his own educational detour encouraged them to work hard for their N-levels. Aceing their examinations, they managed to get into their desired courses at the Institute of Technical Education. “When they shared the good news with me, I felt like a proud father,” he says with a grin. “And when they thanked me, it was a feeling money cannot buy.”
The discovery of a new-found purpose in the boys’ lives made Ming Xiu want to do more — and he was prepared to go to great lengths to realise his goals. Once again, he quit his studies, leaving NTU to work at a social service agency that helps young probationers re-integrate into the community. The two years he spent there convinced him that working with youths was his calling. So he applied for, and was awarded, a scholarship at Singapore University of Social Sciences to pursue a part-time degree in Social Work.
Meanwhile, he started volunteering at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), helping elderly schizophrenia patients. This, along with his first encounter with mental illness (in the case of his friend) from junior college, sparked his desire to help youths struggling with mental health issues. Together with a few other IMH volunteers and support from Youth Corps Singapore — which is part of the National Youth Council — he started Campus PSY, a mental health peer support group for youths in 2016 (see box below).