In our Faces of Co-operators series, we speak to young co-operators who share their passion for promoting the well-being of the communities where we live and work.

 Mother Teresa encouraged us to give our hands to serve and our hearts to love. As teenagers, how can they emulate what Mother Teresa had taught? Chan Wei Yang and Iain Chou from the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) chose to serve with love in Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Multi-purpose Co-operative Society Limited (ACSI Co-op).

 

Why ACSI Co-op?

Fun fact #1: Secondary level ACSI students have two co-curricular activities (CCAs)! This could be a Uniformed Group as well as a Sport, a Performing Art or a Club / Society.

Both Wei Yang and Iain sought the advice from their teachers and peers for their CCA choices, and ACSI Co-op was recommended.

ACSI Coop shop front

Welcome to ACSI Co-op!

The flexible serving hours in ACSI Co-op won Iain over as it allowed him to balance this with his other CCA St. John Brigade. For Wei Yang, ACSI Co-op offers a unique opportunity to give back to the school community as the sale proceeds contribute to the Student Welfare Fund.

 

A day in ACSI Co-op

Co-op duties start on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon at 2.50pm sharp. A senior member will man the cash register and interact with customers to find out what they would like to get.

wei yang and customer

Check out Wei Yang in action

The younger members will be tasked to get the items that the customers want.

T-E-A-M-W-O-R-K as it spelt is present in the Co-op daily.

iain counting stocks

Iain counting stock, one by one!

When the Co-op is less busy, inventory starts!

Members are delegated to do different tasks like stock-taking, following up with vendors on the items purchased.

 

Role in ACSI Co-op

Both Wei Yang and Iain had completed their 4-year and 3-year stint in ACSI Co-op respectively last year. Wei Yang was the Chairman from 2017 – 2018, while Iain had first served in the committee as Publicity Manager before appointed as Vice-Chairman between 2017 – 2018.

 Both were tasked to develop, strategise and execute the publicity of ACSI Co-op’s products.

Wei Yang enjoyed strategising and developing the marketing plan for ACSI Co-op’s products. Along with Iain and other members, he was thrilled to be given the opportunity to identify the needs of the school population and to come up with new products or improve the existing products to better serve the school community.

Through their planning, Iain realised that their target customers should not be limited to just students but also parents and alumni who return to school especially on events such as Founder’s Day. This prompted the Co-op to set up mobile points of sale to market items to this group.

Both agreed that the key skill learnt through the Co-op is the leadership skill. They have learnt how to lead, guide and coach the juniors through imparting knowledge of co-op, teaching organisational skill sets like event management, setting a good example etc. Interpersonal skill is also one of the key skills learnt, as the heart of Co-op is all about the people. Being able to communicate well with each other will empower them to gather feedback from their members so that they can improve as leaders of the Co-op.

 

Challenges faced in ACSI Co-op

Deciding on what items to bring in for sale in the Co-op can be a tricky process as team members have differing views on the feasibility of their marketing plan. Imagine what it would be like to be in their position! Yet, this does not discourage them. Instead, it enables them to keep an open mind, stay resilient and to think in the best interest of the members of Co-op instead of their own.

While the Co-op does not have its own social media presence, both Wei Yang and Iain shared that the Co-op leverages on the student-run school Facebook account to publicise the Co-op’s products. Iain shared that through this collaboration, the Co-op managed to reach out to more alumni because most of them follow the school’s social media platform.

Wei Yang showing their creation – interchangeable keychain

Both Wei Yang and Iain faced challenging issues and tiring long hours, but here is what kept them motivated!

Wei Yang always remembers that his purpose is to make an impact as he serves with his heart. The heart of Co-op is not for self but for the people! “Keep the purpose in mind. Instead of focusing on the how and what, we should focus on the why and the purpose,” said Wei Yang.

Iain agreed.  He felt that one key difference was the focus on service, which differed from CCAs which are involved in regular competitions.

Amazing isn’t it, for these young boys to think this way?

 

Notable moment in ACSI Co-op

 Being able to attract more juniors to join the Co-op and help spread the co-operative message so that more can understand the social purpose of ACSI Co-op is what kept Wei Yang going. The satisfaction derived from selling the ACSI products helped to affirm their business strategy and marketing efforts. To Wei Yang, the sale activity was a golden opportunity for the co-op members to convert difficulties to opportunities!

ACSI Co-op’s booth at Honour’s Day.

One of the key sale activities of ACSI Co-op was the school’s Starter Kit sale on Secondary 1 Registration Day.

packing Y1 starter kit

On the day, parents of newly enrolled Secondary 1 students will purchase the school’s Starter Kit (socks, uniform, notebooks, etc). To reduce the waiting time for the customers and increase the efficiency of Co-op members, order forms are distributed before or while parents queue to order. This Year 1 Registration Purchase form, which was created by Iain, has helped to create a more systematic way for purchases to be made.

Above all, Iain appreciated the close-knitted bond that he has with the members as they spent a significant amount of time having heart-to-heart talks as they do their duties together.

 

Life beyond ACSI Co-op

 Joining the Ministry of Education’s Regional Studies Programme (RSP) is one highlight for Iain as he gets to be more aware of the different cultures exist in Southeast Asia through the Overseas Learning Journey which helped to broaden his perspectives and worldview.

Fun facts #2: Both Wei Yang and Iain learnt Malay as their third language through RSP! Speak to them in Malay the next time you see them if you know the language!

Service Learning is a large part of school life. Hence, both of them get to serve the bigger community. Iain tutored children at the Children’s Wishing Well for his Service Learning project in April 2019. He has also been volunteering at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) since October 2018. Through singing songs and conducting interactive activities with the patients, he brought joy to their lives. This has impacted him greatly and compelled him to continue volunteering at TTSH.

“Service is an important part of life”, exclaimed Wei Yang as he shared about his Service Learning. He and a team of students will be travelling to Indonesia to serve the underprivileged in August 2019. He firmly holds onto the belief that if we have the capabilities to help others, we should help! Even if it is just a small step, it will eventually lead to a bigger impact.

While both have graduated from ACSI Co-op, they continue to put the skills learnt in ACSI Co-op to good use. Wei Yang continues to serve with his heart in the Interact Club while Iain, ACSPress, the School Magazine.

 

Advice to aspiring co-operators

Prior to joining ACSI Co-op, both of them were not familiar with the purpose of a co-operative. After being in ACSI Co-op, they now understand that ACSI Co-op is a meaningful way to serve the student community, by providing basic necessities for the students’ learning through the bookshop, and making an impact on the school community as sales proceeds will be channelled to the Student’s Welfare Fund.

Hence, by joining Co-op as a CCA in school, if your school has one, students will be able to kickstart their knowledge about co-ops and experience running a co-op first hand.

Established on 11 May 2001, the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Multi-purpose Co-operative Society Limited has been serving the school community through selling affordable basic school essentials and contributing sales proceeds to the Student Welfare Fund.

 

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