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Choosing Hope and Possibilities: Michelle’s 10-month internship at WeCreate Studio

Hope - A four-letter word, short yet encompassing a profound meaning behind it. As I sieved through the “WeCreate Studio” folder on my computer, it led me to uncover the hopes that I have realised for my internship, as well as the hopes that I have for the upcoming months. Then, I decided to search through my WhatsApp and Telegram chats for photos which literally, brought me back in time to moments that feels long ago. That’s how far April 2021 feels, which was when I decided to embark on a year-long leave of absence with Yale-NUS College, and I began on this journey of honing my marketing skills for a cause that is close to my heart in August 2021 with WeCreate Studio. I was hopeful, I am hopeful, and definitely, I will be hopeful for both myself and the company. After all, hope adds a little tinge of magic and aspiration for ‘what’s to come?’, don’t you think so?

Hope for self

Team photos, because it’s the interaction with others that will stay with me the most.

Let us go back in time to the months between May 2021 and August 2021. If I had to sum up the hope I had for my internship that was to fill up my gap year (a decision that took much courage upon consulting various staff and faculty from my university), it would be this:

I hope to have the opportunity to learn more about something urban of the world, while assisting in elevating a company’s marketing and digital presence.

Sounds quite practical but I assure you that deep down inside, it is driven by something more empathetic; more human. We live in this world whereby we both shape and are shaped by our surroundings. And undeniably, it includes the buildings that we pass by and choose to take a walk in. Over time, through the various projects I have been on, that includes content creation for our social media, a short video for 客聚 (KeJu), A Singaporean Hakka Village, crafting the concept design presentation for Breakthrough Missions’ new café, volunteering at St. Andrew's Autism Centre, assisting the purposeful play workshops at Spectra Secondary School, product development and even having a short stint for our collaborator’s project, I have learnt to appreciate space in a different light – one that is filled with understanding of the considerations behind why certain things appear to be the way they are. You might now be wondering how these texts are related to the photos you see above… Well, the answer is simple - It is through the interactions with the various people whom I have worked with, had a chat with, and supported that have constantly shaped and re-shaped the hope I had for myself.

A montage of the different ways of working I have embarked on in the last 10 months.

Going forward, it is only natural for the hope that I have for myself to evolve as well. In similar fashion, let me try to summarise my renewed hope for the almost 24-year-old Michelle (Just a little less than a week left!). I hope that in my upcoming capstone project and career choice upon graduation will be met with the same core belief that even though we are shaped by what is around us, but because we can shape it as well, we have the power to determine that narrative. And most importantly, I will listen more about what is actually being said when others share their lived experiences, for there are nuances embedded within them that reveal the gaps and opportunities for improvements in the urban world or my personal development. Before I forget as well, I hope to become more comfortable and unfazed with the ideas of collaborating, delegating and perhaps even an agile framework of working. Easier said than done, I took 10 minutes to write out the three preceding sentences!

Hope for WeCreate Studio

In the near future, I hope that WeCreate Studio continues to create the necessary impact in the industry. By necessary, I refer mainly to more community-informed designs, an aspect that I feel is still stuck in a mode of inertia for the larger industry. Indeed, change is made only when thought is paired with action. As I have observed, while guidelines are necessary, they are insufficient in creating a more inclusive environment if the meaning behind it gets lost. I look forward to hearing more stories about the community engagements the team is about the embark on, as well as the changes in the process behind it. After all, everything is still a life-long learning process. Personally, this is also a key takeaway I have. Rather than wanting to finish a certain phase of my life or task so that I have more time and energy for the next, I am learning to embrace the fact that I will always be learning something new during the course of my professional development. And that’s okay.

Going back to my hopes for the team, project-wise, I wish that members of the team will also grow as the various projects progress. With the following projects staying close to my heart, I will definitely look forward to the upcoming exhibitions and grand openings to come: Empathy Box, Breakthrough Missions Cafe and KeJu.

After 10 months, my last ‘little birdie’ for myself, WeCreate Studio and you!

Reflecting on our purposeful play workshop at Spectra Secondary School, where I was heartened by the comments made by the students upon the conclusion of the activity. In this photo, I sit on classic turquoise-coloured bench. Under the sunlight and surrounded by matured trees and flats, much like the shadows cast behind, I am grateful to be part of something bigger than me, and that took quite a while to sink in.

I was thinking quite a fair bit about how to close off my first, and final blogpost for WeCreate Studio. I could not think of any other way apart from basing it on the ‘5 Heart Ways’ of our research 'Empathy Box'. Not necessarily a framework nor guideline but it succinctly captures the beliefs, goals and potentials of what it means to work in this industry, along with being a human. On another note, it metaphorically represents my growth here, whereby it was first inspired by desktop research and had only 4 parts to it. But upon undergoing community engagement efforts, it has matured further. Additionally, it was incorporated into our corporate gifts, presentations and marketing campaigns. Truly, it is not an understatement to say that this concept grew as I, myself, grew!

The first Heart Way is called ‘Respect and Dignity’. Everyone, regardless of whether they are colleagues or members of the public, should be treated the way we want to be treated. This little understanding, while small, might serve as the single thing they need to press on. Then comes understanding, whereby we should not just consult those who are part of the community we are in, but even those supporting or on the other side of the camp. Sometimes, we need to zoom out to be able to identify the small details that influence the balance of the dynamics in a system. Only when we understand, then are we in a position to connect with others. If we want to help or require assistance at a certain point, having a basic understanding is necessary to being prepared and aware of what might be needed. And upon connecting, next, we should attempt to internalise what we have learnt. It is this step that turns thoughts into plans and actions. Yet, there is one more further step to go, which is to find opportunities. Many a times, we are caught up with exploring and analysing that leads us to detour from the main objective, which is to make an impact in what we do. To serve others, whether in a workplace or community setting, the outcome is only as useful as much as we are willing to act upon what we know. As I reflect on the 5 Heart Ways, it has left an imprint in me that will stay even as this internship stint comes to a close.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of the various works we do and for showing me what it means to create ‘architecture that cares’.

Mic drop!

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