AT TAYLOR'S: Ray Low (RayKokSeong.Low@taylors.edu.my)
PROJECT PARTNER: United Voices Malaysia (unitedvoiceinfo@gmail.com)
Taylor’s Education Group (TEG) offers students the opportunity to participate in a structured internship programme, in order to provide undergraduates the opportunity to apply what they have learned and expand their knowledge while equipping them with invaluable on-the-job experience. As part of their internship experience, the interns of TEG go through a Service Learning component which is a collaboration between the Group Human Resource and Taylor’s Business School (TBS).  For the December 2014/January 2015 intake, the interns were assigned to work with a local NGO called United Voice (UV).

United Voice pioneered a self-advocacy movement in Malaysia to reduce the isolation of people with learning disabilities. This program seeks to provide those with disabilities with the tools and experiences to take greater control over their own lives and become better integrated within the community. United Voice is also the first society in Malaysia that is led by people with learning disabilities, which encompasses individuals with Down SyndromeAutismAttention Deficit DisorderGlobal Developmental Delay and Cerebral Palsy.

Aligned with their goal of promoting self-advocacy among their members with Learning Disabilities, United Voice has recently launched an employment project where all members are encouraged to channel their creativity into producing items from their Card and Craft Studio, Bakery, and Art Gallery. A team of 14 undergraduates from local and overseas universities is taking part in a TEG Internship Programme to partner with United Voice in this project. Taylor’s Business School’s Industry Immersion Programme designed a plan to increase awareness of this employment project, as well as attempting to boost the sales of UV products. The team, led by interns Carl Cheong and Lim Su Jin, managed to raise RM1,044 in a short sales period of four days while at the same time doubling the number of ‘likes’ on United Voice Malaysia’s Facebook page from 453 to 888.

The United Voice Project was an assignment given in addition to daily responsibilities which the interns have to juggle in their respective departments across Human Resources, Marketing, and Academics. This further adds to the flexibility and ingenuity in achieving their project results. Upon completion of a successful publicity and sales campaign on the campus and Facebook, the interns visited the United Voice centre in Petaling Jaya to present the outcome of their efforts as well as to mingle with UV participants.

“Despite being involved in several other social initiatives before, I found that this was a more personal experience that has taught me to serve out of humility rather than for the glamour” said Carl, who interned at the Brand Management unit at Taylor’s University, where he is also a student. Through participatory observation, the interns got a glimpse into how members of United Voice translate their creativity into merchandise as well as canvas art pieces that could fetch thousands. The interns also entertained the members of UV through simple activities such as ‘Musical Chairs’ as well as an improvised version of Twister, which ended in a dance-off among the more nimble UV members.

United Voice is always keen to work with anyone interested to get involved as a supporter or a volunteer of their cause. You can find out more about how to do so by visiting their website as well as their Facebook page.

Written by Lim Su Jin