YSS Platform for Creating Global Volunteers

Last update: 03/01/2019

By Noraizura Ahmad

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Sathesh Kumar Seluaraj used to feel shy, unsure of himself and struggled when talking to people.

That was before the 21-year-old joined the Student Volunteer Foundation (YSS).

The Building Services Engineering student at Sultan Azlan Shah Polytechnic said that working with YSS had not only boosted his self-confidence but also helped in character-building and self-management.

“Some may see volunteer work as dirty, tiring or a waste of time but that is a misconception. A lot of the work shapes us to become a better person and to serve the community with sincerity,” he said.

YSS has also taught him to take on the reins of leadership, particularly when his team was facing an issue or crisis while on a mission.

“Today I feel more confident leading a team and am bold enough to voice my opinion. I have also been encouraging my course mates to volunteer on campus and in rural areas,” said Sathesh, who joined YSS in 2016.




The YSS Chairman Datuk Zuraidah Atan said that many of the foundation’s volunteer programmes were designed to help volunteers speak better, build self-confidence and nurture leadership skills.

YSS was founded in 2012 to create leaders from among volunteers and to turn Malaysia into an education hub to produce global volunteers.

The volunteer organisation is also committed to promoting world peace by nurturing camaraderie through community service locally and abroad.

“To realise the goal, we start at the ASEAN level by involving students from public universities, private institutions of higher learning, polytechnics, teacher training institutes and community colleges,” she explained.

In 2014, volunteers from Laos and Vietnam joined its mission while in July 2018, 200 students from 10 ASEAN countries and China joined its volunteer mission to Sarawak.




“We are not only working on creating volunteer leaders in Malaysia but in other countries as well. We want to create model volunteers to be emulated by others, especially at an international level.

“The support and participation from the ASEAN countries show a recognition towards YSS as a platform to create student volunteer icons,” she told Bernama when met at the annual YSS Volunteer Leadership Development Programme (YSS-VLDP) and Alumni Strategic Retreat (ASR)'YSS-ASEAN China at the Bangi Avenue Convention Centre in Bangi.

Since its establishment, YSS has carried out various volunteer missions in ASEAN countries as well as in France for education, community development, health, environment, technological skills and disaster management.

Zuraidah said YSS alumni and student volunteers were required to prove the impact of every programme organised.

“When they build a badminton court, they need to prove the impact of their contribution.

“Volunteerism is a learning process that not only opens up minds but ensures preparedness to face any situation,” she said.

To date, the YSS alumni comprises over 1,500 members.




The July 2018 VLDP and YSS-ASEAN programme saw the participation of 200 students and YSS alumni who shared their opinion and experience on volunteer missions in their respective countries.

“Every participant is given a chance to discuss the direction of YSS so that volunteer missions can be improved upon. This also helps develop volunteer leaders from among undergraduates and youths.

“The involvement of undergraduates in volunteer work help prepare them to become future leaders that have empathy and integrity,” said Zuraidah.

Participants were also exposed to global volunteerism through various slots throughout the five-day programme, in addition to visits to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters, the Bank Negara Museum and Art Gallery as well as National Zoo.




One of the volunteers who followed the mission to Sarawak last July was Sha Mway La from Myanmar.

The 24-year-old philosophy student from the West Yangon University said he used to be shy and lack the confidence to communicate in English before joining YSS. However, his experience volunteering had helped him overcome his diffidence.

“The experiences I gained while in Sarawak and through YSS inspired me to become more involved in helping others, particularly those from rural areas,” said Sha, who is now planning a programme involving senior citizens in Myanmar.

Phetsila Phoumbandith, 19, from Laos admitted that he, too, struggled to communicate when he first volunteered and was hesitant of his ability to help teach others.

“I was a shy person and found it difficult to voice my opinions. The YSS programme helped shaped my confidence, taught me to work in groups and provided continual support in volunteerism,” he shared.




A YSS volunteer from Brunei, Aminah Faizah Kaharuddin, 24, said her experience with the organisation over the past year had made her more confident in dealing with others and working with the community.

The graduate in oceanography from the University of Southampton, England said the knowledge she gained was now shared with children in Thailand through the Ocean Conservation Training and Outreach (OCTO), an idea that she came up with after joining a mission in Sarawak.

“I am proud to be part of YSS because it has taught me many skills and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

“I was also able to build leadership skills by organising community volunteer programmes,” said Aminah who is now a scuba diving instructor in Khaolak, Thailand.

The OCTO programme gives an opportunity for teenagers aged 18 and below to learn scuba diving, swimming in participate in beach cleaning programmes.

Meanwhile, YSS alumni member Siti Zurianah Ismail, 24, said the experience and knowledge she gained through volunteering with YSS was not one that could be gained from any university.

The finance graduate from Universiti Sains Malaysia joined YSS in 2012 and was one of its first volunteers.

“Previously, people thought that volunteers are ‘touch and go’ types who just provide aid and then leave. YSS does more than that because what we do gives an impact to the community and the volunteer themselves,” said Siti Zurianah who has gone on 10 missions throughout ASEAN countries and France.

Through YSS, she won the Tokoh Sukarelawan Terbuka Terbaik award and was the runner-up for the Higher Education Ministry’s Tokoh Siswa award in 2016.


Translated by Sakina Mohamed