On 26th August 2018, Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore) held its first ever TIMA* Dental Conference at Orchard Hotel. The planning and preparation for this conference were initially undertaken by TIMA members. However, Tzu Chi volunteers from various function groups joined in midway and worked together with the healthcare professionals to make this event a success. In particular, there were many new TIMA volunteers who displayed strong commitment and a sense of mission despite their lack of experience.
TIMA dentist Dr. Lin Yuan Xu was the emcee of the Dental Assistant Workshop at the conference, and he also helped to coordinate the event.
"Our team is small and beautiful; everyone is very happy to chip in and help. As the emcee, I need to ensure that all the lecture materials have been downloaded before the workshop, make sure that the videos can be played smoothly, and also that the tables, chairs and lights are properly set up. I have to keep watch of the time to ensure that every lecturer does not exceed the time limit as well,” he said.
Despite having to take care of so many details, Dr. Lin did not feel much pressure, as the excellent team spirit of the volunteers made the whole process very fun and interesting. Every team member was able to make full use of their strengths and was free to contribute ideas to make the workshop as best as it could be.
*TIMA: Tzu Chi International Medical Association
Dr. Lin felt especially grateful for the efforts of dental assistants. He said, “Dental assistants are more important than we think. If we think of the dentist as a flower, then the dental assistant would be the leaves. Only with the support of the ‘leaves’, can the ‘flowers’ bloom beautifully.”
Dr. Lin has just obtained his Master's degree in Special Needs Dentistry from the UK. He hoped that his newly acquired skills would enable him to provide better dental care for patients with physical and mental challenges, making dental treatment a relaxing and enjoyable experience for them.
Serving as a table leader in a major Tzu Chi activity for the first time, TIMA nurse Xu Wan Lin aimed to recruit new volunteers, seizing every opportunity to share about Tzu Chi’s various Missions and activities with the conference participants. Among these participants were many dentists who were keen to join Tzu Chi’s medical aid missions, and they were inspired to sign up as TIMA members. One of them also expressed their willingness to attend the annual TIMA Conference held in Hualien, Taiwan, where Tzu Chi’s headquarters are situated. Xu shared that she believed compassion and kindness are inherent in everyone, and this dental conference has paved a way for dental personnel to join the ranks of TIMA to serve the less fortunate.
Xu, who is also a Tzu Chi trainee commissioner, revealed that she is actually an introvert. However, after joining Tzu Chi, she learned how to take the initiative to interact with the aid and care recipients during home visits. Her experience volunteering as a table leader at Tzu Chi’s Chinese New Year celebration for its aid beneficiaries this year had also taught her how to better interact with people.
Dr. Chen Jun Yao, a general practitioner, was also serving as a table leader for the first time. Faced with a group of young dentists, Dr. Chen was clueless as to how to connect with them on a common topic, and thus could not effectively attract their attention. He tried sharing with his group some stories of TIMA, and acted as a gracious host by keeping a warm smile, filling up the glasses of group members, adjusting their chairs, etc. He even took the effort to memorise each of their names.
Although there were a lot of hurdles along the way and none of his group members signed up as TIMA volunteers at the end, Dr. Chen believed that the seeds of kindness had been implanted in their hearts, and he sincerely wished that they would join the ranks of Tzu Chi's family of Great Love when the time is right.