Speech 5: Your Body Speaks — The Repair Kopitiam Movement

P5: Your Body Speaks — Shows how to complement words with posture, stance, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Image for post
Image for post

The Repair Kopitiam Movement

Good evening my Toastmaster family,

Just from a show of hands*, how many of you have successfully repaired a household appliance in your home? Not that many I see, I for one am proud* to say that I have managed to open up, diagnose and repair my clothing iron 2 weeks ago. Today is my story of my time in the Repair Kopitiam initiative. *Repair Kopitiam is a social cause created to combat the buy-and-throw-away culture in Singapore and to develop a more sustainable future for us all. This initiative conducts repair workshops below the HDB void decks and makes available * tools and coaches who will help participants, propagating a community of sharing and repair culture.

*How I got involved in this volunteer group, was first from my unlikely series of events. *It first started at the National Design Centre, in which I was there for a design exhibition that started* an hour late. I then began exploring the rooms and stumbled upon a workshop with an array of tools and appliances strewn* across the tables. I was then curious* and happened to join one of their Sunday repair classes, where they teach repair skills to their coaches. I was both fascinated and intimidated by the concept of Repair. Having never opened up any appliances in my life and no knowledge of circuitry and electronics, it was a new world for me . However my intrigue kept making me come back, every Sunday morning week after week* for these classes. From there I learnt new skills, understood the diagnosis of repairing and started my path towards becoming a repair coach.

The *first step of the repair process for electrical appliances starts off with the diagnosis. We begin by first understanding from the participant what is the error and the feasibility of repair. *An important concept is that we have to determine if this fault is worth the time and energy to be repaired. If repair is feasible, we then proceed to the *second step of disassembling and work with the participants to open up the appliance. The process of diagnosis of the fault is to trace the *connectivity between the power source to the working mechanism of the appliance using the multi-meter. This allows us to determine where the fault lies, if it is a connection that was lost, a component that was jammed or typically it’s a fuse that was blown. The third* and final step is to proceed to fix these faults, by either hot soldering the circuits together or replacing the blown parts with new ones. However for each and every appliance there are diverse ways of diagnosis and each will be its own adventure.

After attending the internal workshops for two months, time was nearing for me to begin first fearful exposure* of going out into the public and becoming a repair coach. It was an early morning, on the last Sunday of the month in April in which I found myself at under the void deck of Tampines Block 819. We started with *setting up the registration tables, workbenches and seats for each station, and I was to man the Home Appliance station for the day. Not long after we began, my first participant came, he was an elderly gentleman who came with a kettle that would not turn on. The first few tries was a bit of a *fumble first in difficulty of opening the appliance and to also try and work him through the diagnosis process. In the end however, after his patience, we found it was an issue of a blown fuse at the plug head and was solved quite easily with a replacement. From this first case I understood the importance of communication and creating an understanding between each new participant. I then glided through the rest of the day to help repair a standing fan, clothing iron and bicycle tire.

In Repair Kopitiam, you meet amazing people with diverse* skill sets who are willing to teach and share the knowledge they have gained. However*, the most rewarding experience from this is the ability to share* what I have learnt with others, empowering the community at Tampines to a repair culture and giving them the ability to fix what was once broken. Sustainability is a cause for us all who have a future here on Earth, as said by Tikun Olam “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it”. *We all have our role to play in this world, as a collective body we can fix even the toughest of problems in our future.

This was another experiential speech, going through my journey with the Repair Kopitiam Movement. For this speech there was a focus on bodily gestures, and to me it was a good opportunity to put on my Repair Coach apron and take my audience along this journey with me. Focusing on my gestures and postures while delivering my speech on autopilot was a new experience for me, took a lot more coordination in my mind to pull it off on stage. On the Repair Kopitiam movement itself, I felt that it was a really exciting ground up movement that sought to achieve a long term goal of sustainability through empowering the community. The community was really motivated in sharing and educating the public on the part we all could play for the environment. And it was a lot more interactive as the public and the coaches were on a mission together to fix what was once broken. I learnt a lot from the people there on complex hardware skills, softer people skills and how a movement can be sustainable by opening its doors to sharing and empowering its participants.

Originally published at qpskpii.wordpress.com on May 7, 2017.

Written by

Programme Manager @ Padang & Co | Architectural Designer | Startups, Participatory Design and Social Enterprise sectors https://www.linkedin.com/in/llqingping/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store