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Virtual Tutoring Sessions? (Agnes, volunteer tutor)

Updated: Jun 20, 2022

Image provided by Agnes.

For Agnes who works in the pharmaceutical industry, this COVID-19 period has been one marked with significance, as she juggles between working on the vaccine, and tutoring with us here at impart.

Agnes always had a heart for the underprivileged, and wanted to do something even back in her home country of Indonesia. She contemplates the vast margin between the rich and poor back home: “It’s always made me sad to see a slum right beside a tall building, I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what to do”.

Feeling fortunate to be educated, Agnes turned to tutoring as a means to give back. While she managed to find similar organisations such as Impart, they required her to travel down to low income neighbourhoods where help was most needed. But the journey was far and almost impossible to make through public transportation or without a car. Understandingly, her parents objected to it as they worried for her safety.

Agnes first found Impart through the organisation, Readable, and began tutoring her first tutee right before the start of circuit breaker. Due to the pandemic, all her lessons have been through online platforms and she has never met her tutee in real life.

As for juggling between work and tutoring, Agnes thought it to be a breeze on her end at first. “Back then my company was providing us transport home. So even though I was very busy with work, I could still be on time for our virtual tuition sessions”.

But on her tutee’s end, she needed to share the only laptop at home with two other siblings. To accommodate, Agnes has had to be very flexible with her timings, with sessions sometimes being cut short because others needed the device.

And with unprecedented times, also comes unprecedented struggles. The internet connection in her tutee’s house often poses as an obstruction during lessons. From 15 minute buffers to completely being unable to video call. Agnes has often had to resort to teaching through audio calls alone.

Nonetheless, these little trials have aided in building a good rapport between Agnes and her tutee.

Since Phase two started however, Agnes’ company is no longer providing her with transport home. She often feels guilty for struggling to get home on time. At times she sheepishly requests to postpone lessons for 15-30 minutes, but sometimes she has no choice but to completely reschedule to another day.

“There are even times where I’ve had to teach while on the MRT or buses! I know we’re supposed to talk on public transport - so I’ll task her questions to do and pray she takes long enough for me to reach home.”

Agnes recounts how much of a challenge it’s been with her increasing work loads and erratic hours. “Honestly the only way I’ve managed to tackle this is through a lot of understanding on my tutee’s part and I’m so grateful for that”.

Despite the hurdles, her tutee has remained unfazed. She continues to work hard, turn in her homework fast and even rejects breaks during tuition sessions.

“My tutee has been so attentive that it makes me realise how much she wants and deserves this. I want to keep helping her and hope she continues to make improvements.”

Agnes’ tutee remains hopeful of enrolling in ITE’s business service course.

Agnes says this experience has shown her that every country has similar problems. “I used to always envy Singapore. How nice of you to be born in such a nice and developed country? And it didn’t help with the distaste I had for my own country.” As such, she frequently questioned organisations like Impart on grounds that people might not really need it.

Since diving headfirst and working with Impart, she’s come to realise that some problems are universal and need solutions all the same.

“It doesn’t mean that as a person of a third world country, I can’t contribute to an advanced country. We owe it to each other as humans. No matter where you come from you can always lend a hand.”

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