For the first time, a student studying overseas met a fellow Singapore Catholic from the same university. This was during a camp organised by the newly- created Catholic Students’ Overseas Community (CSOC). The camp was held from Aug 24-25 at the FMM Retreat House.
Mr Aaron Tay, a second-year veterinary science student in the University of Glasgow told CatholicNews he felt the setting up of ministry for overseas student was “a very good initiative because I felt when I went [to Glasgow] , I didn’t have a community. It was hard to find like-minded individuals.”
Ms Selina Chin, a medical student at Cambridge University said, “It’s good that they set this up to bring everyone together and have points of contact when you need advice and help.”
The idea for the society came to a group of Singapore students studying overseas through prayer.
Ms Celeste Wee, the society’s president, said, “These students often face unique challenges to their faith, due to being away from home and their usual support system, and especially when they are studying in countries that may be less tolerant of Christianity. Hence we hope to be able to provide a network of fellowship and spiritual support for these students, so as to help them live their faith more fully.”
The camp aimed to prepare the students spiritually before they left for their studies, Ms Wee told CatholicNews. It was attended by 22 students mostly from UK institutions.
The talks focused on how to keep a good spiritual life while abroad; which hopes “to allow participants to understand how to integrate their faith into their daily lives as students” and to “come away with a deeper understanding of the faith and how to hold fast to the faith despite all the challenges of studying overseas”, Ms Wee said.
Ms Chin told CatholicNews that she enjoyed the talks and found them relevant to her as a student.
However, Ms Wee did acknowledge that it will be difficult to have events during school term since students are spread far apart, but activities can be held during school holidays such as Easter, Christmas and summer in the UK or in Singapore.
The society is also considering get-togethers and a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Walsingham Shrine in the UK during the Easter holidays.
Meanwhile, the group will stay in contact through Facebook, but Ms Wee said she hopes that the group will expand to have regional-level activities in the UK during school term.
By Darren Boon