by Sis Koo Yoon Kin

Volunteers from the 2014 – 2018 BGF Counseling Course batches have been participating in the rigorous and intensive Para Counseling Training (PCT) programs conducted by the Counseling Unit. September 8 was the date fixed to celebrate their graduation as Para-Counselors.

The program for the night started with some fun and entertaining ice breakers. Graduates had prepared a few Gratitude Trees for everyone to write and hang their messages of appreciation and thankfulness on paper-cut leaves and pretty cards.

As a PCT 2018 myself, I felt elated. Our 6-month long journey of self-discovery and personal growth had drawn to a very successful and meaningful close. The air of relief was palpable. We had dedicated 6 months of our precious Saturday afternoons learning Person-Centred Counselling theory and practicing role plays with persons-in-need (PINs).

For some graduates from earlier batches, PCT 2014 – 2017, where the training course was less structured, the road to graduation had been long and trying.

The camaraderie that we, PCT 2018, shared, the tear or two that we shed and witnessed, the close bonding that we nurtured, none would have come about if not for the conducive and safe environment provided by our trainers Sis Yin Heng and Bro Suan Seng and our facilitators Sis Yoke Chiew, Sis Iris, Sis Wong Chung Heong and Sis Ke Xian.

Captured below is a snapshot of testimonies shared by our other trainer Sis Chin Choon Moy (2014 – 17) as well as Sis Yin Heng (2016 – current), facilitator Sis Wong Chung Heong and the graduate Para-Counselors who were present.

“BGF is far from home. I taught in BGF, for the first time in English, in 2014. I use exactly the same skills, whether it be at home, in BGFCU or in Mandarin speaking Buddhist centres. This is what motivates me.”

Trainer Sis Chin Choon Moy

“Nurturing is 2-way. I learn from trainees too. I feel very motivated by the close bonding. We help each other to help others too. We are a group of like–minded friends from different backgrounds.”

Trainer Sis Yin Heng

“I am involved in a few charitable organisations. I find that the counselling unit in BGF (BGFCU) has a purpose, to learn and to help and that is what I like to be in.”

Facilitator Sis Wong Chung Heong

More testimonies from Para-Counselor graduates:

“It’s been a meaningful journey, training with all of you. Biggest thank yous go to our trainers and facilitators. We wouldn’t be here without your support and dedication. To my fellow trainee PCs, thank you for being my teachers. I learnt so much from each and every one of you.”

“The PCT is not merely about learning to extend help to others, but also about understanding ourselves better. From this understanding, we cultivate unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence.”

“I understand myself better. I learn to bond well and about self-care. I practice what I have learnt. I consider myself lucky to have embarked on this journey.”

“I learnt to be “in the present moment”. I enjoyed the marvelous camaraderie.”

“I find out what being helpful means. It’s quite different from “Auntie counseling”. I learnt that giving advice is not always the best way. I am grateful for the safe environment in which to learn.”

“I feel blessed. It has taught me a lot about bonding with family, dealing with clients, and about myself.”

“I was fascinated by the diverse backgrounds and the wide age differences of the group. It was so refreshing to bond with and to learn from the young.”

“We are a very different lot. I’m non-Buddhist and non-Christian. Our personalities are varied. It’s so fascinating. I see the passion in my trainers’ and facilitators’ volunteerism. They never diminish in their commitment.”

“Life is fast-paced. I make para-counseling a commitment and number one priority outside of work. I enjoy it very much.”

“I learnt a lot especially from role-play sessions. I also volunteered at a hospice, talking to patients.”

“BGFCU is my 2nd home. I was told by a corporate trainer that we should have a 2nd skill set. I chose para counselling. Along this journey I have changed. So have family and others around me.”

“BGFCU has done a great job. I find para counseling training very useful. It is a journey of self-discovery.”

“Para-Counseling training helps me with my personal problems and to help me move on in life. I try to practice the skills face to face or on the phone. I found it hard to bond with my trainers but could bond well with the facilitators. In 2018, things started moving (closer bonding).”

“I am fast-paced and tend to react quickly. The training taught me to listen to others first. I am grateful to my mentor, the BGFCU. As a committee member, I try to help out after work when I am not travelling. It is my commitment.”

We had a lovely vegetarian buffet dinner and desserts of fruit, ice cream and cakes generously given by a graduate who was unable to attend.

Sis Koo Yoon Kin
October 2018

Buddhist Gem Fellowship