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Bringing Design to PwDs – Wendy Chan

“If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than who you are.”

– Master Shifu, Kungfu Panda

Just as Po has his wise Master Shifu, MTC is home to two outstanding lecturers with big hearts to teach, share and impart skills. Teaching our classes in Essential Communication, Wendy has been a walking inspiration to both her students and the MTC crew.

So, what is it like being a lecturer for our PwDs? Let’s hear what Wendy has to say.

Q1: Hi Wendy! Thank you for taking time out for this interview! How do you feel, now that your classes are coming to an end?

I had mixed feelings. On one hand, part of me was happy for them. After months of learning different softwares, practicing and going through lots of assignments, they were finally ready to “face” the design world.

On the other hand, part of me was worried for them. Were they ready? Would they be able to handle the work? Would they still remember what they have learnt?

Q2: What were your thoughts and considerations when you first decided to take on this class?

I wondered: "Are they here to learn? Are they serious?"

Q3: Are there any differences between teaching this class of PwDs and your previous ones? If yes, what are they?

I was more prepared for the first batch of students. As they were all from the Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore), I could anticipate their needs and craft the class syllabus for the entire group.

However, the current batch compromises of PwDs with different needs. Some are deaf while others have autism. The first class was more challenging as I had to explain the content first and then write or type out for those who can’t hear me.

Q4: Has this class changed or inspired you in any way?

Definitely yes. As we get to know more about each other, I found out that some of them only met with an accident a few years back. They may be disabled in some ways, but they are still very positive in life. This inspired me to be more positive as well, and it spurred me to look beyond their disability and treat them equally as my students.

Q5: I am sure your classes have been engaging and interesting. Tell us about some of the funny incidents that happened!

After a few lessons, the class warmed up to one another and slowly built up their own class culture. They would joke around and at the same time, encourage and help each other out with their assignments. There are no boundaries between them as they treated each other equally. Regardless of the disability, they find ways to communicate with one another.

The funny incidents usually occur when they are teasing each other lightheartedly. For example, there is one particular student who gets anxious easily. As he couldn't really hear well, he double checks with his classmates whenever an assignment dateline was given. As mischievous as they are, his classmates will joke with him and tell him that the assignment is due the next day. Of course, they wouldn't let the joke go so far until he really went home thinking that. Everyone laughed in the end, including the student as he knows that they didn't mean any harm.

Another incident happened on the day a minister of state visited the class at the Enabling Village. The class was very excited and joked amongst themselves that they would get to receive big red packets just by being present in class. That day, they were also tasked to design a CNY card and the best one would be presented to the minister. Just like other students, they started to brainstorm for funny and interesting ideas, and one of them was to include the minister's face in their card design. All in all, they tried to create something different and witty to get chosen.

Q6: In your opinion, what are the main challenges that our graduates will face when they venture out into the workplace? How can we help to bridge that gap?

The main challenge is probably getting the acceptance from society or their future workplace. I do hope that people will look beyond their disability and treat them as normal people like you and I. To bridge that gap, they(the graduates) themselves also need to have the confidence and prepare themselves whatever that comes along.

Q7: Lastly, what would you like to say to your graduating batch of students?

To keep having the passion in what you are doing and at the same time patience too. Not all clients are from heaven- there are some who are nasty and hard to manage, so you need to have the patience to deal with them. Believe in yourself and always strive to do the best.


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