With four years of our lives here at SMU, we’ve got many memories to relive our times here— whether it’s striving for stellar grades or leading our passion projects. Community service is a big part of SMU life. There’s something about building something meaningful and bigger than yourself, for the people and communities around us.

What does it take to lead and run SMU’s longest-running and largest community service project, starringSMU? Founded in 2007, starringSMU has surely grown over the years. One of their signature events is starringCARWASH, a one-day event where hundreds of volunteers wash thousands of cars for a good cause. Last year in 2015, the team raised $23,000, almost triple the amount raised in 2007! This year’s carwash will happen on 30 and 31 July 2016.

We speak to Jackie Goh, a community leader at “My Buona Vista Place” and Shaun Chung, president of starringSMU’15, to find out more.

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Jackie at “My Buona Vista Place”, with residents enjoying a morning game with their friends

Challenge today. Improve tomorrow.

Jackie: It’s been more than 25 years since I first started volunteering as a youth with the community. It’s definitely been a fulfilling and meaningful journey. Today, I’m very involved with “My Buona Vista Place”, where we run social welfare programmes for the community. It’s been a pleasure to be working with starringSMU over the years.

Shaun: As a participant in starringSMU’14, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and saw the potential for improvement in the project. That’s why I stepped up and made the changes this year, as part of the organising committee. We wanted to make sure that we improve starringSMU year on year, for both the participants and the beneficiaries we work with.


One of the many cars that starringSMU washed on the big day, at Holland Village

Identify your goal and strive together as one team.

Shaun: Always start with having a clear and common goal for your entire team, and ensure that everyone is focused on that goal. You may not be able to please everyone in the process but the process will be much smoother if everyone has the same ideals and goal in mind.

Jackie: I always like to start by giving the team a free platform to share their thoughts and ideas. I don’t limit the parameters and I let them set their targets. I can help you achieve your goals, but you must be clear and let me know what exactly you want to achieve.

Shaun: The biggest lesson I learned was the importance of working together as a team. Be a well-oiled machine. Get everyone on the same page and take on challenges together.

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Bring your energy and passion.

Jackie: What sets SMU students apart is their energy and passion. Hard skills can be learned, but passion is what drives you to go further than before. A few years ago, the starringSMU team wanted to organise a concert to raise funds. Although it was an ambitious goal, they were very passionate and driven to give it their all.

Jackie: They were very resourceful and creative throughout the planning process. Even though we didn’t have a huge budget to pay musicians or singers to come and perform, they reached out to many and managed to secure an up-and-coming YouTube star back then. This spirit has definitely continued through the years with subsequent starringSMU teams. Each year, the target and scale of the project gets bigger and more impressive!


Determination, perseverance and a can-do spirit.

Jackie: Determination, perseverance and a can-do spirit are, by far, the most important qualities when it comes to leading a community service project. You can learn event organising skills and we’re all here to support you, whether it’s the C4SR team at SMU or the community partners. The success of a project ultimately depends on whether the students are wiling to push through, when faced with tough obstacles.


Build a sustainable and long-lasting project for the future.

Jackie: Over the years, my aspirations are to ignite the volunteerism spirit in young people, and hopefully inspire them to become community leaders themselves. To carry on the passion through their own community service projects. Most importantly, to sustain these projects to create a greater and more meaningful impact in the long run.

Shaun: We have handed over starringSMU to the next organising committee. They are a promising bunch, so do expect some great things from starringSMU’16!


Photographs from starringCARWASH courtesy of starringSMU

starringSMU works with over 300 student participants every year, and has impacted over 5,000 people over the past 9 years. With the mission of inspiring a caring society, starringSMU reaches out to a wide range of local beneficiaries through charity events like starringGIVESBACK and starringCARWASH.  Find out more on the starringSMU Facebook and website!

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU