A community that empathises,
is a community that empowers.

Service at UWCSEA represents an integral part of the learning journey for many students. 

Cultivating deep learning and a positive attitude, Service calls for community-building and community spirit. It represents a space where students put their minds together, to think of ways to support and implement their big ideas from their classrooms.

Migrant Domestic Workers (MDWs) often face linguistic and cultural barriers, employment conflicts and labour rights violations. The HER Journey initiative, run by students on Dover Campus, advocates for and empowers MDWs from Singaporean households.

Together, the team produces a range of resources for MDWs through a three-pronged approach of social media, podcasts and publicity. They designed the Empathy Challenge card game, where players roleplay as MDWs and employers, and negotiate solutions to challenges in their employment process. The team is also involved in the HER Journey Podcasts which are based on interviews with MDWs, where they share their personal migration stories and advice for fellow workers. The podcasts also provide a space for MDWs’ life stories and firsthand accounts of what it’s like to be an MDW. The team also engages with experienced MDWs to give advice to fellow workers going through struggles in worker-employer relationships.

Our project has come a long way since the first liaison with the Migrant Workers’ Center and the Center for Domestic Employees in May 2019. We set clear goals for ourselves and are open to adjustments according to our limitations. We go over feedback and constantly make revisions. Although we’ve been scattered around the world over the COVID-19 outbreak, we persist to operate remotely.
Karen ‘21, Founder of HER Journey

Let’s find out more about the
Empathy Challenge card game.

What is the Empathy Challenge?

Empathy Challenge is a card game that aims to raise empathy for MDWs by illustrating and simulating MDWs’ real experiences. Positioning as MDWs and employers, players collaboratively negotiate solutions to challenge cards based on varying financial goals and skill levels.

Working with the Centre for Domestic Employees (CDE) and other NGOs, we aim to distribute copies of the cards through their wide network of local schools, employment agencies and training organizations to reach out to employers and students. We will also carry out more workshops to facilitate the card game. We have already done five workshops with various age groups and backgrounds and continue to improve the Empathy Challenge based on the feedback we receive.

Why a card game?

By illustrating real experiences, the game’s focus is to instigate empathy for MDWs in the very society they have migrated to. Our aim is to reduce employment conflicts through personal understanding and to create cultural impacts. 

The Empathy Challenge was initially a collaborative effort with our partner organisation CDE, and we ended up continuing the creation of the game on our own - from cards to currently a board game. Our intention from the beginning has been to create a casual medium to simulate the conditions of what it’s like to be a migrant domestic worker; what the challenges and rewards are of taking on this job.
Callista, Grade 12

Ivy and Celia walk us through the rationale behind the Empathy Challenge.

Ivy and Celia walk us through the rationale behind the Empathy Challenge.

Team members Yueyang, Celia, Ivy and Callista share their account of what first drew them to this initiative:

When I first heard about HER Journey from Karen, the founder of this service, I felt intrigued immediately because it is a social issue right underneath our noses. Many of us interact with MDWs almost on a daily basis yet we know so little about who they are and the struggles they’ve been through. With my personal interest in investigative journalism, I thought I could use my skills in writing and interviews to give them a voice. Also, our service helps many workers connect to a wider community of MDWs and be inspired by the struggles their fellow workers have been through.
Yueyang, Grade 11
Yueyang introduced me to this initiative and it resonated with me as I had my personal connection to an MDW in my household. My call to work with this initiative was also borne from witnessing the growth of friendship between two employees – and how our project could help to establish more connections of this kind, and build their community with them. I thought that I could use my skills to gain traction for HER Journey, so that more people can read our content and be aware of the challenges faced by MDWs.
Celia, Grade 11
I wanted to do something meaningful and help people around us, right here in Singapore. I felt it was truly important to raise public awareness of MDWs’ stories and their struggles, they represent more than their role as labourers. It is equally crucial for MDWs to be inspired by their fellow workers’ stories. MDWs are more than their struggles and they have some really powerful life lessons that we can all learn from.
Ivy, Grade 11

We were able to maintain positive relationships with MDWs through participating in the activities hosted by the NGOs and having conversations with MDWs. It is often off-line meetings that are most effective in establishing emotional ties, so Covid has indeed been quite a challenge for us. I’ve grown up being raised by domestic workers. Though I’ve never really become friends with any of the MDWs in Singapore, I care for them deeply. When I hear their stories, I recognise them from the lenses of the women who’d taken care of me in my childhood.
Callista, Grade 12

HER Journey, as a team, believes that social change does not happen overnight, and it takes all of us to work towards a common goal. 

"We hope that the support for our work grows and that our community will look at fellow MDWs with emotion and awareness which will translate into action to help migrant domestic workers in their houses overcome financial and emotional challenges. We want to also show our community, sympathy limits us, while empathy connects us all."

At the heart of the UWC mission, Service enables students to actively contribute to resolving social and environmental problems, both locally and globally. When students deepen their understanding of why these problems exist, they realise that everyone can play a part in taking informed, purposeful action. Together we can create more understanding and empathy in the world, towards a more peaceful future for us all.

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HER Journey is a student advocacy group from UWCSEA Dover that collaborates with local NGOs and heads initiatives aiming to make positive change for domestic helpers.

Stay connected with HER Journey's work as they continue to support MDWs in our local community: Website | Podcasts | Instagram

Stay tuned for a special podcast episode with HER Journey in celebration of UWCSEA's 50th Anniversary.