NUS students use language skills to help Covid-19 patients

“We hope to provide our ‘guest students’ – the patients – with the NUS brand of hospitality,” said Koh Yan Leng, associate vice president (campus life).

“Communication could have been overlooked, given that the mother tongue of the patients is often not English”

“While the primary function of the [Community Recovery Facility] is to prepare them for their last mile on their journey to full recovery, we would like to ensure that their stay experience is great and also inject some fun and spirit of what NUS is all about as an institute of higher learning.”

Many of the patients who will be staying at NUS are migrant workers in Singapore from other Asian countries and further afield.

“Communication could have been overlooked, given that the mother tongue of the patients is often not English,” said Sreenivasulu Bellam, a senior lecturer and resident fellow at NUS who is providing the video voice-over and introduction for patients in Telugu.

“I hope that by providing translation and recording services, I can contribute in my own way to break down the communication barriers, and ease their stay.

“Furthermore, when we communicate in their language, they will feel more supported emotionally and psychologically, and confident that they are not alone.”

A team of around 40 student and staff volunteers has been assembled to help with translations, both for videos being prepared to help patients while away the hours and if they have any issues.

“This is part of the ‘many helping hands’ approach that Singapore uses to tackle social issues…I felt the obligation to serve and utilise my fluency in both English and Burmese to produce something actionable, practical and helpful,” said pharmacy student, Myat Thu Kyaw.

Video courses on financial topics such as internet banking, remittances and budgeting, as well as phone scams and the prevention of back injuries, will be available. Other activities will include exercise, dancing and drawing, although patients will have to stay in their rooms for most of the day.

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