The Sibling Duo Behind Chingay 2024 — Hazel & Derek Wong

The annual Chingay Parade unfolds as a spectacular celebration, bringing together people from all walks of life. Amidst the sea of dedicated volunteers contributing to the success of Chingay 2024, two individuals stand out not just for their commitment but also for the unique bond they share — meet Hazel Wong and Derek Wong, a sister and brother duo, whose journey as volunteers adds a special touch to Chingay 2024’s theme of Blossom.

In the lead-up to the upcoming parade, we speak to the siblings and uncover their story on being volunteers.

A Shared Journey: From National Day Parade to Chingay

For Hazel Wong, a fourth-year undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and an Immigration Checkpoints Authority (ICA) scholarship holder, volunteering was not a new concept. 

Having previously dedicated her time to events like the National Day Parade, she sought a different experience and found herself drawn to Chingay after hearing intriguing stories from friends. Hazel’s decision to join Chingay was not only about seeking a unique volunteering experience but also about connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Meanwhile, Derek Wong, Hazel’s brother, joined the volunteering ranks after completing his National Service. Motivated by Hazel’s captivating stories about Chingay, Derek was impressed by the scale of the event and the positive experiences shared by volunteers. His decision to volunteer stemmed from a desire for something different and meaningful, marking the beginning of a shared journey with his sister.

Blossoming in Diversity: A Volunteer’s Perspective

As the theme for Chingay 2024 revolves around Blossom, the siblings find parallels in their experiences. Derek eloquently describes the successful execution of Chingay as akin to a flower blossoming. Meanwhile, Hazel, serving as a Volunteer Executive Committee (EXCO) member overseeing deployment and training, emphasises the importance of teamwork, which echoes the theme’s essence.

For Derek, the analogy is simple yet profound, as he explains, “A flower can only blossom when it is in the right environment. And the right environment is more than just the amount of sunlight it receives or its climate…every tiny detail matters”. In the context of Chingay, the successful execution of this grand celebration owes itself to the combined efforts of participants and volunteers. Each contribution, like a delicate petal, plays a crucial role in the overall splendour of the event.

When engaging with fellow volunteers, Derek can tangibly see their passion shine through, creating a shared purpose and a common goal. The enthusiasm is contagious, fostering a sense of belonging that transcends individual differences. Just as a flower needs the right environment to bloom, Chingay flourishes when each volunteer brings their unique qualities to the collective endeavour.

Chingay Profile Interview Hazel & Derek Wong - Teamwork
As a Volunteer EXCO member, Hazel works with volunteers from all walks of life

Hazel, serving as a Volunteer EXCO member, has an even greater view of the diverse landscape of Chingay as she cultivates an environment where individuals, much like flowers of different species, can grow and thrive together.

The essence of diversity comes to life as she engages with working adults, each offering a real-world perspective on leadership. Chingay, she observes, is not just a celebration but a representation of our society, where individuals from various walks of life converge to create something extraordinary, much like Singapore and its humble beginnings. The exposure to a multitude of experiences, unlike her previous leadership roles within the confines of a school setting, has been eye-opening.

Through team-building games, Derek and Hazel learned that a common goal is the driving force behind their collective success. Each volunteer, much like a unique flower, contributes to the collective bloom that defines Chingay 2024. The theme of Blossom isn’t merely a decorative motif but an embodiment of the shared effort that goes into orchestrating Chingay.

Leadership, Communication, and Professional Growth

For Hazel, her role as a Chingay Volunteer EXCO member goes beyond event logistics. It’s also an opportunity for personal and professional growth. “I believe the two most significant takeaways in terms of growth will be confidence and managing a large, diverse group of people”, she reflects. As an ICA scholarship holder with aspirations in the public sector, Hazel recognises that the Chingay experience is shaping her not just as a volunteer but as a future leader.

The exposure to managing a diverse cohort also provides a better understanding of leadership in the real world. “I had the opportunity to engage with many working adults who offer real-world experiences. This exposure provides a stark contrast, enabling me to see how managing fellow peers differs greatly from managing a workplace”, Hazel notes. The dynamism of working with individuals from various backgrounds and experiences becomes an opportunity to hone one’s leadership skills. This opportunity would not be attainable in other traditional volunteer roles. 

Hazel’s journey also emphasises the refinement of communication skills, a crucial aspect needed for her future role as an ICA officer. Leading experienced volunteers requires a delicate balance of qualities, and Hazel recognises the importance of firmness, clarity, tact, and empathy in her communication style.

Sibling Collaboration: Professionalism in Volunteering

One unique aspect of Hazel and Derek’s involvement is the balance between their personal and professional relationship as siblings. Hazel highlights the importance of maintaining professionalism on Chingay grounds and following necessary procedures. 

Chingay Profile Interview Hazel & Derek Wong - Sibling
Derek and Hazel are all smiles during the Chingay rehearsals

Hazel emphasises the importance of setting clear boundaries to maintain professionalism, even with a familial connection. During rehearsals, the Wong siblings adhere to the same standards applied to all volunteers, following necessary procedures and respecting the chain of command. The commitment to upholding professionalism ensures that their interactions during volunteer activities are consistent, regardless of their familial ties.

One might assume that working with a sibling could lead to favouritism, but when asked, Hazel dispels this notion and emphasises their commitment to following established protocols. This commitment extends to feedback sessions, where Hazel and Derek provide each other with honest and direct feedback during their after-action review segments. The clarity in their communication allows them to improve and maintain a high level of professionalism during Chingay activities.

Outside the volunteer context, the Wong siblings cherish their family time, engaging in activities like hiking or bouldering. However, when the focus shifts to Chingay, their conversations are primarily centred around light-hearted moments and shared experiences.

In essence, the Wong siblings exemplify how professionalism can coexist harmoniously with familial connections in a volunteer capacity. Their commitment to maintaining standards while providing constructive feedback reflects not only their dedication to Chingay but also their understanding of the importance of balancing personal relationships with the demands of volunteerism.

Challenges, Rewards, and Memorable Moments

While volunteering for Chingay 2024, Hazel and Derek Wong encountered a journey marked by challenges, reaped the rewards of their dedication, and created memories that will last a lifetime.

Navigating the diverse backgrounds and commitments of volunteers presented Hazel with a scheduling challenge. Fellow volunteers, juggling different responsibilities such as daytime studies, night classes, and shift work, faced difficulties finding a common time to discuss their plans for volunteer work. However, the dedicated team demonstrated a collective commitment to overcoming this hurdle.

The solution involved accommodating one another by scheduling repeated sessions to discuss plans and strategies. The team’s commitment even extended to sacrificing public holidays for discussions, underscoring their unwavering dedication to the success of Chingay 2024.

For both Hazel and Derek, the most rewarding aspect of their Chingay 2024 experience lies in witnessing the growth and joy of their fellow volunteers. As a Volunteer EXCO member, Hazel has been closely interacting with the volunteers, from the interview process to the grand parade. Observing newer volunteers evolve from uncertainty to confidently speaking up and leading their peers has been particularly gratifying.

Observing newer volunteers transition from uncertainty to confidently speaking up and leading their peers has become a source of gratification for Hazel and Derek. “We found this rewarding as it shows that anyone with the right support can blossom into their roles, and these are also likely the volunteers who will return because they find joy and meaning in what they do!” Hazel and Derek emphasise, encapsulating the essence of Chingay. The spirit of collective success, where each volunteer, with the right support and encouragement, can unfurl their potential like the petals of a blossoming flower.

Hazel recounts a particularly memorable moment during the training for volunteer leaders. In her role as the overall volunteer leader training IC, she collaborated with various EXCO members to conduct the sessions. One EXCO member faced challenges in devising a game for his station, struggling through multiple refinements. However, during the main session, he emerged as the most enthusiastic and confident game master.

His “never-say-die” attitude and his ability to adapt and transform challenges into opportunities encapsulated the spirit of Blossom. The experience reflected resilience, passion, and a positive attitude — qualities that not only defined his role as a game master but also influenced discussions about Chingay deployment plans. Such individuals, Hazel notes, are pivotal to Chingay’s success — passionate, resilient, and determined to make things work.

A Future Blossoming with Chingay

Looking ahead, both Hazel and Derek envision continued involvement with Chingay. Hazel sees the platform as a testament to how like-minded individuals, regardless of age, can contribute meaningfully to an event. Derek echoes this sentiment, expressing his anticipation for the annual gathering that unites people from all walks of life.

As they continue to contribute to Chingay’s success, Hazel and Derek represent not just the spirit of the festival but also the theme of Blossom — a celebration of diverse individuals coming together, each playing a vital role in creating a uniquely Singaporean identity. Their journey as volunteers reflects not only their dedication to the event but also their commitment to fostering community engagement and cultural celebration. In the grand celebration of Chingay, the Wong siblings stand as blossoming flowers, sowing the seeds of their unique story of unity, growth, and shared purpose.

Chingay 2024

🗓️Date: 23 and 24 February 2024
📍Location: F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Blvd, Singapore 038975

Seat Category
Parade 1 Friday, 23 Feb 2024S$50S$40S$28.50S$20
Parade 2 Saturday, 24 Feb 2024S$60S$50S$28.50S$20

*PAssion Card members enjoy 20% off on all admission tickets.

Make sure to grab your tickets from the SISTIC website! More information about Chingay 2024 can be found on Chingay’s official website.

Visuals courtesy of People’s Association.

Jeffrey Lee

A Singaporean raised abroad, you might want to see Jeffrey's different take on things — especially if you frequently find yourself swinging around a climbing gym or with a crossword in hand.

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