Updated: Jan 20
Vigneswaran first joined Pusat Bimbingan Pelajar (PBP) in 2012. Back then, he was just a timid 13 year-old who always did his work and rarely spoke up. His mentor Simpson would comment how Vig (this was how Simpson would address him) was such an easy student to teach because Vig would never question Simpson's instructions and do whatever he was told. But as a psychology graduate, Simpson knew the reason Vig was quiet was due to his lack of self-confidence and nothing else.
In PBP, we call our volunteers "Mentors" because we believe in mentoring the community children not just academically, but in the different areas of their lives as well. Simpson saw the need to build Vig's self-confidence and would often take time (as he was teaching Vig) to ask Vig about his life, build a relationship, and challenge Vig to do better. After months of interacting with Simpson, Vig eventually opened up and started being more vocal--raising questions on what he was being taught and asking for advice on improving himself.
Simpson's mentoring bore results when Vig excelled in his English & Mathematic subjects in school and grew to be a more confident teen. In 2014 when Vig moved to the morning session and entered Form 3, Simpson took the opportunity to ask Vig if he wanted to teach the PBP primary students English. For Vig, this was a new challenge. He was used to being taught, but was he ready to teach what he knew to someone younger?
You see, when Pusat Bimbingan Pelajar (PBP) first started, our goal was to provide free English and Mathematics tuition for the students in the community; allowing them to learn at their own pace and in small groups with a mentor. But with a lack of Tamil speaking mentors, some of the Tamil speaking primary school students did not get as much out of the program as we would have liked. Simpson saw how Vig was able to fill that need; and being from the community, Vig was no stranger to the primary school children.
Vig agreed and he started mentoring another Tamil speaking primary school student in PBP, teaching him not only English but also Mathematics twice a week after school. Seeing Vig's growth throughout the years and how he was willing to become a junior mentor showed us the importance for a community youth to feel empowered enough to help others in his own community. When asked a little later about his ambition, Vig mentioned that he wanted to be a teacher and that he was confident he would achieve it. At the end of the day this is what we really want to see, lives being transformed.