Project Week 2019: Service

For my Project Week, my group decided to go to Jakarta under Jakarta Street Kids (JSK). Our trip covered two CAS aspects: creativity and service, but mainly service. To say it impacted us is an understatement, because of the different events we’d witnessed during our stay in Jakarta.

Our time with XSProject was undeniably eye-opening to the entire group. XSProject is a “non-profit organization that works to improve the lives of poor families living in Jakarta’s trash picker communities.” Through the process of upcycling and donations, XSProject aims to raise global awareness of the effects of trash on the environment and society, advocate consumer recycling and to break the generational cycle of trash picking in families of poverty.

Upcycling is the process of creating an object that can be used from plastic and trash. Waste such as billboards, flags, banners and most importantly, plastic can be turned into a quirky bag, pencil case, laundry basket, laptop pouch, etc.

Only one of the many creations XSProject has produced
Before we got into the office where XSProject designs and produces their products, we managed to spend some time with the children of the trash picker families. There was a slight language barrier between us and the children, as they did not know English. I can only speak very basic Bahasa Melayu (which is slightly different from Bahasa Indonesia) but I did try my best to communicate with the children. But that didn’t matter so much, most importantly though, we managed to spend time with them and watch how they go about their day in school and at home.
We managed to form a sort of bond with them, and through that, I could see how bright and happy they were, despite living in such rural conditions. It didn’t matter to them that they lived in such a hazardous environment, they had a roof over their head, and they were already happy enough with that. With that in mind, it really put things into perspective for me. Sometimes I complain about how my bed is too stiff, but I forget that some people don’t even have beds to sleep on. Just spending time with the children was already enough to make me contemplate and reflect, but the real part of service came when Ibu Retno arrived at the trash picker community area.
She was very thorough when explaining to us the situation of the trashpicker community, and how they make less than US$4 a day, and how the trash they live right next to is a toxic waste dump. She also explained how this isn’t a recent occurrence, but there are generations of trash pickers living here. And that’s why it’s XSProject’s job to cut this generational cycle of the community and to restore dignity and health into them.
A pile of trash dumped outside a person’s house, unbothered
The playground. The children would play around here barefoot.
A learning outcome of this experience is LO 6: Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance. Through working with XSProject, I was able to open my eyes to the trash picking community in Jakarta, a community I wasn’t aware of before Project Week. Many people are aware that plastic does not biodegrade and goes into the ocean, killing off marine life. However, it does much more damage to life beyond the ocean, and this is the side of society nobody wants to see. In response to this, I have personally reduced my use of plastic by bringing a tote bag around, and telling more of my peers about XSProject. UWCSEA had also purchased 400+/- iPad sleeves for the middle schoolers for their iPads.
While visiting the XSProject office, I also managed to purchase a wallet that they had yet to release. It was still under approval for release, but Ibu Retno was nice enough to sell it to me first. The wallet was made out of faux leather, billboard paper (as lining) and leftover fabric from a textile shop that was going to throw the fabric away. Absolutely no waste, all reused material.
Working with XSProject was a great opportunity for me to see the consequences of our actions, straight into my face. It also helped me to reflect on myself more and be more grateful for what I have. I believe LO7: Recognise and consider the ethics of choices and actions was fulfilled as well. When I returned to Singapore, I found myself a lot more plastic/trash conscious and I realised how much unnecessary plastic a country like Singapore used (takeways with a plastic bag for a plastic container, with a plastic fork and spoon was something I saw way too much.) Singapore is a country of convenience and efficiency after all, but I would like to believe that one day we’d wake up and realise the impact it has not just on marine life, the environment, but humans as well.

Project Week 2019: Creativity

For my Project Week, my group decided to go to Jakarta under Jakarta Street Kids (JSK). Our trip covered two CAS aspects: creativity and service, but mainly service. To say it impacted us is an understatement, because of the different events we’d witnessed during our stay in Jakarta.

Before the service with XSProject, our group visited a museum in Jakarta called Taman Mini, where we learned about the historical culture of Indonesia, showcasing the historical household items, different types of housing, traditions.

 

Taman Mini wasn’t just a museum, but a culture park that showcased every aspect of the Indonesian culture. From the indigenous species that live here to the type of houses from the 18th century to present, Taman Mini had it all. The first thing that visitors see in the museum are the different traditional costumes, from different parts of Indonesia, and even the history behind it. Out of the entire tour in Taman Mini, this had to be my favourite part.

We were told that the costumes the mannequins were wearing were genuine traditional costumes from history, and yet, they look so well maintained. Before this, I wasn’t aware that Indonesia had such a variety of traditional costumes, and to see all of them lined up was so intriguing.

The remaining two levels of the museum featured the different cultural traditions that most Indonesians celebrate, for example, a 7 month pregnancy tradition called a Mitoni ceremony, a ritual for the safe passage of a woman’s first seven months of pregnancy, (7 bulanan). Mitoni comes from the Javanese word ‘pitu’ or seven. Sungkeman is when both the expecting mum and dad ask forgiveness from their parents in order to have a smooth and healthy pregnancy journey until labor.

Siraman is from the word siram, which means ‘to take a bath’. This holy bathing ritual in Mitoni is done to purify the would-be mother and the baby. The expecting mum is bathed with water filled with 7 flowers and usually the oldest member of the family starts the procession.

I came into the museum with an open mind, wanting to learn and understand more about the Indonesian culture (because Malaysia and Indonesia have very close roots with each other) My main goal was to go out learning something I didn’t know, and for me, that was specifically the 7 month pregnancy tradition. For some reason, that was the display that stuck out to me the most, as I had never heard of such a tradition in my life. I’m glad that I was able to experience and learn different cultures of the world and have my horizons expanded!

One major learning outcome from this experience is LO 3: Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience. Taman Mini is a very big culture park, and in order for us to get the most out of it with minimal time wasted, we had to plan ahead of our route and what we’d do. This included collaboration from all of our members, as we wanted to make sure everyone was satisfied with our schedule and if there were any problems, we could work around it. We even planned to use the pay-as-you-go go-kart to go around Taman Mini to save time (and it wasn’t that expensive anyway!)

us having a good time 🙂

 

 

 

 

CAS Reflection: HS Netball 19&U Girls

In my previous high school, I wasn’t able to join a sports team because of how demotivated I was to go out and join. However, I enjoyed playing netball casually with my sisters, that’s why I decided to join the U19 netball team and give it a go, and I have no regrets whatsoever.

Joining a sports team was nerve-wracking because I wasn’t sure how it worked or how my team would perceive me if I were to mess up one way or another. On top of this, I hadn’t played netball in such a long time and out of my entire team, I feel as though I was the least experienced. However, I told myself that if I wasn’t going to give it my all, then I might as well leave. So, throughout training and games, I wanted to do the absolute best I could to contribute to the teamwork of netball, and sometimes, it just felt good to get out there and play. Because of this, I feel as though I have accomplished learning objective 2: demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process. Throughout training and games, I always learned something new. Not once did I get out of training without new skills or information about the sport and I feel like my mindset towards netball and passion for it grew, the more I played it.

 

One of the best parts of joining a team is the friends that you make. I was the only grade 11 in my team, but I didn’t feel out of place. It was great fun being able to play with friends who had a mutual liking for netball as I did, and through my interactions with them, I managed to get out of my comfort zone and talk to new people, whom I’d never met before. Learning objective 5: demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively was another LO I feel I had fulfilled in netball. Without collaboration and communication, the team simply cannot function. It was crucial to talk to the members, both in court and out of court.

My overall goal for joining netball was simply to be able to play for a team and have fun while doing it. Yes, sometimes it was tough to always have fun because of the competitive nature, but I’m glad I was able to represent UWCSEA while playing with various other schools.

One big drawback from netball, however, was my full commitment to the activity. There were days where I prioritised schoolwork over sports or was simply too drained to go. This is the biggest aspect I wish to improve on in the future, because knowing that if I attended all sessions, the impact of netball on me would have been much bigger. In the future, it would be optimal to balance schoolwork and sports (or creativity) to ensure consistent attendance, because sometimes, it’s just better to go out and do something else besides mugging over schoolwork all the time.

CAS Reflection: Down Syndrome Day 16/3

The 16th of March is World Down Syndrome Day, a very big day for all members of the down syndrome community. The event, which I was gratefully been able to partake in, had the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore perform two songs. Specifically, Lucky by Jason Mraz and How Far I’ll Go from Moana. Because of our team’s presence in the centre for the past 9 months, we were invited to join them for the songs. I was excited! But anxious too. Not only would I be singing in front of an entire crowd (performing and acting in front of a crowd is no problem, but singing is another thing!), but it would be my first time seeing the down syndrome community outside the association.

Fast forward from the anxiety-ridden wait to our performance, I was having a much more fun time than I expected. On stage with us was Reuben, Alan, Jaspree and a few others. It was especially nice to perform next to one of the members and sing along with him, he seemed to have a lot of genuine fun just being on stage and singing. The one thing I wish I could’ve done better on stage was having a stronger relationship with Wei Kong next to me. I mostly interact with Reuben and Alan because they’re some of the most outspoken ones in the association. This made me think that perhaps I have been focusing too much on specific members, rather than speaking to everybody as much as I can, which was my goal.

 

All in all, I’m glad I managed to perform with the members of the DSA. It really made me open my eyes to the down syndrome community in Singapore too, seeing so many supporters in a tiny space of Tampines Hub was heartwarming. Personally, in terms of goals, I’d say I’d like to speak to the other members of the DSA more. Since I’ve been in the association for about 9 months, certain relationships have been established. But I want to establish more, and create deeper relationships before my time with them is up.

EE: Initial Reflection (1)

Initially, I wanted my EE to be centred around the extreme cases of method acting and how it psychologically affects actors. I would do so by going on the internet to find reliable sources, using the books in the library and even asking other theatre students about method acting as secondary sourcing. This was a good time to build my knowledge and interest in theatre further. In my initial conversation with my supervisor, she mentioned that method acting in film and theatre are on different spectrums. I was not aware of this and had to take a different approach to my research and main question. Right now, I have the idea to gather as much data as possible about method acting itself before diving into details of method acting in theatre. Of course, I would cover both aspects in my EE but I would focus on method acting in theatre, making references to the psychological effects later on in my EE.

CAS: Reflection on DSA – 29.11.18

It has been about 4 weeks since we started going to the DSA for our sessions and I’ve learned many things! Firstly, I feel fairly happy with my journey and making friendships in the DSA. Personally for me, it was a challenge to get to know them. But I managed to be acquaintance with a few of the members of the DSA.

So far, I’m learning a lot about leadership and the reality of interacting with people with down syndrome. Being a part of the group, you usually have to take the initiation to start a conversation, or prompt them to be part of the group too. While it helps with my leadership skills, I also learn about people with down syndrome at the same time. Being part of the DSA has made me widen my horizons and views of people with down syndrome.

I feel like I developed knowledge, skills and understanding, all in different areas. Firstly, I’ve been more knowledgable on what down syndrome is like, and how it plays in real life. Being around the DSA members gives me an insight and understanding of living life with down syndrome, even if it’s only 2 hours with them. One skill I definitely developed would be my conversation skills. Talking to the members of the DSA challenged my conversational skills. Initially, I couldn’t hold a conversation because I simply did not know what to say, or what to do. Though it isn’t significant, I’m glad that I managed to be friends with some of them and know what their interests are, outside of singing songs!

My initial goals were to be acquaintance and be familiar to some of the members, and now that I’ve reached that first goal, I want to create another one and strike for that. So, by the end of the 3rd term, I would like to take one a leadership role inside the school’s service itself. Be it logistics, communications, etc! I generally think I am capable of being able to be a leader, I just need to get out of my comfort zone.

CAS Reflection: LaunchX

I started LaunchX at the beginning of the year because I wanted to start a company. I didn’t have an idea what, but I knew I wanted it to help the people of Singapore, and create something that was never been done before. But it’s tougher than it seems, because it took a long time to brainstorm and get the idea. Nevertheless, we came up with the idea of setting up a platform that allows students in Singapore to easily find jobs. The difference between our platform and any other platform is that ours is specifically for students. It’s a platform that also allows them to find internships suited for them. I thought of the idea because it is personally a struggle for me to find jobs because of how messy the website is, or how ambiguous the jobs were.

It started off smoothly, however, as we progressed through the idea, we picked many flaws and misunderstandings, which was expected. Factors such as how we’ll contact the companies, wether they want to be a part of this, and even visual designs were a struggle.

In the picture above was our first ever discussion, and a mini Q&A session for any misunderstandings. We didn’t want to go into this business blindly and questioned many things about the idea, though a lot of questions could be answered, there were a few that I needed to research on.

“How do we profit from this website?” 

“Are the companies willing to pay for this?” 

“Can this be established before the end of 2019?” 

It got me thinking, I still needed to know so much about starting up a business. The pressure started adding up, and I figured I should take it slow and steady, instead of rushing out and stressing myself out.

One thing we absolutely needed to get down was primary research. Eventually, I managed to make a survey towards Singaporeans. Luckily, I had connections and I asked a few people to complete the survey.

I managed to get some information out, so at least we had substance. My next plan is to go out and talk face to face with students and start contacting companies about the idea. There are still so many aspects to think about with this platform, but with teamwork, it would work out.

I would say I wasn’t that successful in achieving my mini goals, it’s hard to balance LaunchX with schoolwork and activities as well. But I’m extremely determined and passionate to make this platform come true, because I believe many students in Singapore face this problem as ell, and given the support of LaunchX, the platform could become real, and that is, the biggest goal.

CAS: Music Therapy with Down Syndrome Association (Day 1)

Today was the first session for my service to finally initiate our class sessions with the people at the DSA (Down Syndrome Association). After many in-class sessions of planning, we had a plan to introduce and acquaintance ourselves to the people and to get to know them as well! After that, we’d start the fun bit: singing.

Deciding what song they’d like, mostly Disney songs.

 

Now, I’m not a singer. Nor have I ever dealt with people of special needs, as ignorant as it may seem, I was never given the opportunity to. So of course I was excited! But also nervous, one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t know how to deal with them or that I’d come off as rude. I decided to put that all aside and focus on my main goal: to befriend one person and come out having a better understanding of people with down syndrome. 

As we entered the centre, we were warmly greeted by one of the students of the association! His name was Allen. He was a student at the DSA since he was “very little” and seemed to know everyone around. Despite some misunderstandings, I felt like Allen was genuinely happy to see us, which is really nice! Before getting into a circle, I managed to catch some small talk with some of the other students. I noticed some of them were much more talkative than others which actually surprised me in a good way. If anything, they talked more than me!

Another interaction that made me think was when I saw two students doing a type of handshake, y’know, the kind of handshake that are special only to specific friends. Kinda like a secret handshake. Seeing them have such an interaction made me think that just because they have a disability, that doesn’t stop them from being just like us. I feel like people stereotype other people with a mental disability as someone who doesn’t ‘understand’ the norm. Only to a certain extent is that true, but it’s important to remember they are just as capable as us in doing anything. 

My partner that day was Micheal. Even though I managed to fulfil my goal of being able to come out with an insight of people with down syndrome, I didn’t interact with Micheal as much as I wanted to. I felt as if I was too quiet and didn’t quite initiate enough, and that left me fairly disappointed.

I got out of the centre feeling somewhat surprised, pleased, but also let down. I was pleasantly surprised that the people at the DSA were very accommodating towards us and really treated us as friends! I also managed to get an experience of working with people with down syndrome (I’ve always wanted to work with people with special needs!) But I was also let down because I did not manage to really get to know any of the students. I told myself the next time I come back, I would get to know Micheal –or any of the students- more. Talk to them, ask them about their day, or anything really. But I was definitely happy with our first visit to the DSA.

 

CAS: My initial thoughts.

CAS stands for creativity, action and service. In the IB, it incorporates your creative side while allowing you to go out and do some sports and give back to the community as well. Honestly to me, that sounds extremely tiring but also very worthwhile. I’m very excited to finally start my CAS journey and feel accomplished about it.

For my creativity I’ll be joining the film club and trying out for the school’s production. As for my activity I’ll be doing netball, basketball and touch rugby and lastly, for my service I’m helping out my local community in baking with elderly and an equality focus group which I’m looking forward to very much.

Though I can foresee the CAS being very stressful and time consuming, I’m looking forward to see what I can do and the experiences and memories I’ll make!

Maths and Me

Hi! I’m Jasmine from Malaysia! I did my IGCSE’s and I did both E-Math and A-Math for it.

I generally have a very pessimistic view towards mathematics. I won’t lie. I always told myself I was an artsy student and disliked math but I did it for the sake of it anyway. However, I don’t feel too nervous about starting this course. Since I did additional mathematics, I feel like I have a base foundation for Maths SL in IB, maybe not the best, but if it weren’t for my subject choice of A-Math in the IGCSE’s, I’ll probably find myself struggling much more.

I like to stay between doing things myself and having someone explaining it to me. I can’t study maths by myself since I get stuck easily, but I also like to do my work by myself (since I concentrate best in a calm and quiet environment) with nobody bothering me.

When I’m stuck in mathematics I always rely on my peers of teachers. For me, I can’t learn math through something like Khan Academy or online videos. I must have someone be there and teach me! I like to ask questions on the spot anyway.

My biggest skill is once I understand a concept, all that’s left is just to practice and practice. I’ll be able to finish the job easy. However, it takes me a while to actually understand the concept before I get to that level.

I want my math teacher to know he’s cool and I hope his leg gets better.