VOLUNTEERING may not be a common pastime for most Malaysian youngsters, but for one in particular, Quek Xing Yen, it has become quite the healthy addiction.
The 17-year-old student, who moved to Los Angeles, California with her family when she was nine, spent 260 hours volunteering in 2012 – earning her a certificate of recognition from US President Barack Obama himself.

Today, the avid volunteer still consistently helps out at a hospital, city hall and a library on weekends and Monday evenings after school.
Hoping to spread this culture of volunteerism to her peers back home in Malaysia, she founded Youth Power Volunteer.

“My parents noticed how much I enjoyed volunteering, so they thought it would be good to bring it back to Malaysia,” said Quek, who was originally from Subang, Selangor.
But her current passion was initially just another academic requirement.

“I had never considered volunteering but I had to complete my hours, so I decided to volunteer at Chino Hills Library,” she admitted.
Eventually, the high school student grew to enjoy her new-found pastime. “I get to say that I did something good today, and that always feels so gratifying”.

Through Youth Power Volunteer, she hopes that other Malaysian students can experience that same feeling. “I believe in this five-step module: requirements, routine, habit, attitude and culture. In the United States, it is usually a requirement for you to commit a few hours weekly.

“That routine will gradually become a habit, and it soon develops into a passion. At the end of it all, you will actually want to spread the culture of volunteering – like what I’m doing now.”

Youth Power Volunteer was launched back in July when Quek visited six schools in Selangor which were selected to participate in the programme.
Participants of the programme are to fulfil at least 15 hours of volunteer work and submit a report on the overall experience by November 4. The experience statements will be reviewed by Quek and from that, a winner from each school will win a mini tablet computer.

“The prize is just a form of motivation. What I truly want to achieve is to have more Malaysians going out there to volunteer, but for that to happen we’ll need the support of organisations too,” she said, adding that Malaysians seemed generally less open to the idea of young students doing volunteer work.

But Quek believes it is important to encourage young people to start early. “Volunteering has benefited me tremendously. It has taught me to manage my time, and it has also given me exposure on how to deal with different people in the ‘real world’,” she added. “I was once very shy, but now I feel more confident.”

On top of that, Quek believes that volunteering can boost one’s “emotional quotient and adversity quotient”, which really came in handy in her quest  for sponsors.

“Companies were quite reluctant when I pitched this project to them because of my age, but I persisted and successfully got Malaysia Airlines on board. I don’t think I would have been able to do so without all the exposure from volunteering,” she said.

For more information on Quek Xing Yen’s Youth Power Volunteer initiative, log on to

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