“When I was young, my dream job was to scoop ice-cream. Oh, and be an MRT driver”.
So says Xin Yi, the bright and chirpy head of Marketing and Development at WEEAT, a food catering service that specialises in healthy eating.
While I raised my eyebrows in mild confusion, she smiled back in response, “Weird right?”
When I heard I was going to meet the head of Marketing from WEEAT, part of me expected a stoic lady to show up for what was to be a very formal meeting. When Xin Yi waddled in wearing a pair of beat-up converse and a pastel floral dress, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. She seemed like your everyday bright and promising fresh graduate, except just a little older and with heaps of experience.
Having previously worked at the youth-centric social enterprise Trybe, I was curious as to why she made the choice to join the WEEAT team.
I thought that promoting clean eating was something very purposeful, and I would also be able to hone my professional skills through marketing… but basically, I also like to eat ah. All Singaporeans love to eat what right.
“After all, even in my role at WEEAT, there’s still space to reach out to youths.” she explains, talking about the opportunities to interact with the children she meets during deliveries and workshops.
Xin Yi’s heart is one that beats for the community. From youths at risk, to underprivileged children overseas, to construction workers and the elderly, she’s had a hand in supporting these groups of people.
“For a year and a half, I’ve been journeying with some youths (at risk)… we started off just hanging out as friends, but slowly the relationship deepened and they started to share their challenges in life. Over time, I’ve slowly taken on the role of a mentor”.
She also sponsors a child from the Youth Charity Foundation, reaching out to children in remote villages in Thailand from families affected by AIDS and HIV. Her dedication goes as far as learning to speak Thai fluently and making visits down to the village itself to meet her sponsored child.
“Seeing the children mature into adulthood is something very rewarding… I’d occasionally visit them and we’d have fun laughing at their baby photos together”, she says with a longing smile.
When asked what drives her to be so heavily involved in the community, she says:
I believe in leaving things in a better state than when I first encounter them – be it in our relationships with our friends, family, even passersbys. “How do you make this place you are at a better place than it already is?” – is a question I always ask myself.
A self-confessed geek
Xin Yi shared the importance of what education means to her, which is also part of the reason why she decided to sponsor a Thai child to attend school.
“My dad has always been a very firm advocate of education. And when I was young I was pretty geeky too. I mean, I am still quite geeky,” she laughed sheepishly. “He would always give me the best and buy me assessment books. The fact that some children have no access to education made me think of my own privilege”.
“A Learner of Life”
Xin Yi’s identity extends beyond being a learner of life – she’s also a learner for life. According to her, we’ve loads to learn – about people, about ourselves, about places and spaces, and about anything and everything.
“I’ve been super keen on DIY recently… you know those clay earrings that are all the trend recently?” she shares excitedly. “If I could learn anything or be anything though, I would be a travel photographer. But honestly at this point in time, I think I’m in a pretty good place,” she chirped.
There’s also lots to learn from others, specifically female leaders. “My Thai female pastor of the church I attend is someone I really admire. It’s not an easy feat to lead a congregation made up of predominantly male construction workers, yet she does it, and she does it well.”
To Xin Yi, a female leader with strength can also be gentle. In fact, gentleness to her is defined as “strength under control”.
It’s knowing when to step up when you’re called to, but also when to pull back and listen when you need to. I’m quite strong-headed, so this is something I’m also learning even now.
So who is Xin Yi?
An aspiring travel photographer, MRT driver and ice-cream scooper all at once. But also a woman who is audacious and bold in standing up for the causes she firmly believes in. Xin Yi radiates an infectious positivity, one that fiercely believes that our little actions do travel miles beyond our own lives – that our sphere of influence is not as limited as we think it is.