From the very beginning, I told myself that since this is my last year here, I am going to throw away all my fears and try out everything I wanted to do even the things I don’t usually do. In that bucket list is to be in a drama production. The last time I touched drama was when I was in grade 8. To be honest, I always thought that I was actually quite good at it. I was not shy, my voice was loud, and I’m quite creative, so … Actually, when I was a child, my another bucket list is to be filmed in a movie. Very funny.
The point is I think that I was not bad at it, if I audition for the parts in the past, I think my chance of getting in was not that low. However, in the past 4 years, I never really had the chance. I never have anything related to drama, in fact, it was rare for you to find me hanging around the drama area at all during the year. Hence, when there are drama productions coming out, I have little to no idea of how it works. How to audition, and what to expect. It scares me off a bit.
However, this time, I searched up about the production itself, read the story, read the audition scripts, ask people to help to audition with me. I have to make sure that I at least went to the audition, and I got it. Whatever I got, I’m happy. So, I am a Nubian servant!
The rehearsals were something new to me. All the vocals training, things that I only heard of for the first time. My role was quite small, most of the time, we were sitting, and watching others rehearse. However, I was really awe every single time by all the main leads. They were really good! Basically, all the experiences are all so interesting. I learnt so many new things out of it.
During in the past games and even in the first few games in this Tournament, I was still doubting myself. I was not fully into the game. At one point, Coach Susu called me over and told me that it’s not the skills but she thinks that it’s fear. And that’s when it hits me, I’m scared of games. That’s horrifying because I am supposed to be the libero. I’m supposed to be fearless and run to every ball. It needs a rethinking.
I realise what I am good at is putting the coach’s words into action. From that one comment, I told myself, all the past mistakes were from my fear, it’s not from my skills. Coach thinks I got it, so I better give them what I got. Have fun, be competitive just like the way I am in the past. Bring it back! And, I think then I was fully engaging in the games for the last 2 sets against the Canadian school and the whole game with the SAS.
Now, every single time I’m on the court, I told myself these tips: “Don’t look at the servers, focus closely at the ball. Go to the ball, be brave. If it comes to my teammate, step back, and wait in case the ball bounces off them, you gotta take the bounce-away ball. Look at the hitter, and shift accordingly. Watch the ball and anticipate. Calm down during play.”
One thing I realise that I am good at during this game is that I have a really strong mentality. I don’t have that “giving up” spirit. I don’t feel “down” before the game even ends. For example, during the last 5th set against the CIS, the score was only till 15. We were in somewhere in middle. We had a really long rally, and finally CIS got the point. They cheered loudly. In my mind, I was not disappointed, I knew that I just needed to get the next point. However, as soon as I looked at my teammate’s face, man, I realise that I gotta speak up. So, I screamed at the top of my lungs saying that, “Guys, come on, we got this, one point at a time, no time to feel down, we WANT this.”.
And I realised then that everyone was so on the same page. We felt like a team, both on and off the court. We from different countries, different grades, never once played together before, have the same goal, is to win the game. And, come on, volleyball is such a psychological game. With similar skills, it comes down to who wants it more. And we wanted it more and hence we won the champion on that day.
I think this tournament was a gateway to self-realisation to a lot of people. It’s a lesson to many, well definitely me. It’s also a gateway to teamwork. Realising that one person wanting it alone wouldn’t work, it requires 12 people in the team to want it exactly as much as each other in order to win the game.
I hope that in the future and especially in SEASAC, we all play in this mindset that we will never give up, and anything can happen due to our determination.
At the beginning of the year when I played just for fun with my friends, I know that my Volleyball skills improve and yet I don’t know to what level yet. Therefore, after the try-outs, I sadly told my friend that I’d be in C team or none at all as I wanted to be at least in B team. However, interestingly, that evening, I got the email saying that I was in the A team. I was bewildered. I mean I was shocked, till the point I sent an email to the coaches asking whether they’ve mistaken. However, they replied that they didn’t. I mean at some points, I was expecting it, too but as I was in C team last year, the hope was thin.
During the first few trainings, I was very awkward, I was conscious of what people think of me, and I didn’t do as well as I wanted it to be. Hence, I went back and took some time alone and reflected about this. I told myself, the coach chose me for a reason, and the least I could do is to feel confident in training, for god’s sake. So, I told myself that I am going to earnestly train with a rookie’s mindset. I may not be the best yet, but I’m definitely not like the rest. I’ll slowly crawl towards perfection.
After that, I think I’ve open myself more to my teammates, my coaches and especially to my own mistakes. Therefore, the training has become a time I was waiting to attend during the day. And I hope with this progress, I could keep improving.
I am the type of person who doesn’t usually follow the crowd. I’ve experienced Culturama Cambodia couple of times and I saw a trend of it, and I heard the feedback from people. I think when people heard of Cambodia, they expected slow motions, same old Apsara dances. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dance, but that is not all to it. Cambodia’s art has such interesting and exciting flavours to it. And I want to embrace it.
In the past, all the Khmer dances consisted of fully one very classical dances. It was amazing, however this year, I want something new and more and good. That’s why we decided to come up with the concepts of dancing to different eras of Cambodia. It begins with a very, beautiful, graceful classical dance of Khmer, existed thousands of years ago. Now, it’s usually only performed on very special occasions on stages by professional dancers. Then, it moves on to a song and dance from the 60s where Rock n Roll took a toll in Cambodia just before Khmer Rouge destroyed it all. Thirdly, it captures the dances more frequently danced by anybody during Khmer festivals such as Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben or Oum Touk… Finally, we never forgot to inserts in classics moves like Rom Vong, Saravan and Jok Kompis where we all dance together to the last song, which describes how we are all so proud to be a Cambodian and that we will do whatever it takes to make Cambodia forever on top.
I think it was very well thought and designed dance. The only problem was that it means we have to create everything from scratch, there are no particular videos that we can learn from and none of us is a particularly good dancer. We just have to fake it till we make it. I mean, we are Cambodians after all.
We choreographed everything. The next problem arises when we got our group members and started to teach them the dance. I remembered the one rehearsal we had on Wednesday, in the auditorium, it was a clear mess. I was very disappointed, with everyone, and with myself. Being a dance leader has so much pressure on their shoulder, that the moment that it goes wrong, you realise immediately that something is needed to be done instantly.
I was so stressed, I was so mad because I want to make it good, and it doesn’t go as smoothly as I expected. I think I had so much on my shoulder at that time, that I actually skip TOK and went to the counsellor for it. A good time for me to reflect and think of what’s wrong and what can be done.
The next rehearsal was on the next day, Thursday. I recalled that I called everyone together, and I gave them a talk about how I felt. Thanks to IFP experience, the mood was set right, they realise that I am very serious of what I’m saying. And on that day, we finished learning the whole dance. The rest of the rehearsals were getting better, where we just have to correct everyone’s little details and energy.
I do think the moment where I face a problem, take a timeout, and come back knowing exactly what needed to be done and act accordingly so, was very needed to have a good performance. I’m glad I did it.
In the beginning of the experiment, I found it hard to do the experiments in a controlled environment, as it requires me to pick up the test tubes from the water bath, and immediately pour it into the syringe. Sometimes the water pour out and on to the beaker beforehand, which can eventually cause the inaccuracy of the results. It became a nuisance at one point as I have to keep repeating the experiment for that particular point again and again and I just keep finding more mistakes.
Then, I realised the best possible way is to sit down, take a break, and write down the precise method of what I think would work in a google doc. Then, I just did the experiments calmly just like how I described it in the doc, and I can notice that the data that I collected was more credible and the process of the experiment is less stressful.
Since this is my personal reflection, which is meant for me, MYSELF, I am going to write this as the way my thought processes.
I choose to write because it gives me more time to think. When I speak into a camera, I am a bit self-conscious, and I don’t like it when there’s a silence, which means I probably just keep talking and talking. I don’t want to do that with this, I need time to fully process and think it through.
Let’s start at the beginning. Since grade 9 or 10, I always knew that I am going to join IFP and I always knew I am going to love the conference itself. I remember I used to sneak into the Peace One Day conference held in Singapore when I was gr 9 or 10 and absolutely love its atmosphere. To be honest, I still half-heartedly think that the training we had at the beginning of the year is a bit waste of time, but it’s worth putting the effort to go to so that you can get into one of the conferences because trust me, the conference is BEAUTIFUL!
But in terms of skills, I think I learnt a lot. Although, I always knew that I am good at public speaking or controlling the crowd. I used to run mini-workshops (skills based: leadership, collaboration…) or various activities for orientation in the past. However, most of them are usually light-hearted, and I always aim it so that the audiences are having fun and at their highest energy. Through IFP, I learnt that there are of course different moods you can set in a conference, and it has as much of an impact if not more, to the audience. For example, a more down-time for reflection and a deeper, meaningful discussion (candle time…).
Most of the stuff I did before as I mentioned earlier is more light-hearted, hence this is my first “serious” conference I facilitated in. And I can see the differences and I’m learning a lot. We have a much clearer, more important goal that we want the delegates to get by the end of the conference.
Another interesting thing, maybe because of the confidence I have through past experiences, I thought that I can just wing the speeches sometimes. But during this trip, Sanjay asks us to create scripts, and it was planned to the smallest detail of it. I think our team shall thank him for that. Because after that, our team was working with the plans with more concrete checklists to check off like have we got a presentation, a script if we do then let’s run it through while timing it. (Although, my best speeches were unplanned 😉 )
However, what’s most important that I got out of this conference is that it got me thinking, reflecting A LOT. I cried because I realised that I miss this feeling so much. The pumping energy in me trying to make everyone feeling happy and comfortable, the me who gives the best to make everyone smile. And the happiness felt when all the delegates are happy, and all smiling. Because if they are happy, I am happy to the fullest.
In Singapore, there’s not much time I felt like this. But you can see the difference in me, during orientation, or when we go to our service partners, my energy runs through the roof, seeing them happy makes my day. But the feelings don’t last very long, as soon as we got back, everything is back to normal. I don’t know why before, but now that I think of it, maybe because people at our school, the students, the teachers, don’t need any of this, everyone still survives and thrive anyway without the energy in me.
I want to live in the IFP world, even though I and my friend used to talk that it’s a fake world. It’s too idealistic. It’s very sad, but it’s true to some extent. The past workshops I’ve done in the past was very beautiful, too, but as soon I am out of that world, I hit back to reality. Everyone goes on with their life just fine. We went back to our original lives worrying all about tests, colleges or family. To be honest, I’m afraid that IFP is going to be like this, too but seeing that we all still talking to each other on social media (like every day), I’m super glad. Now, I’m thinking of how we can bring the IFP world and share it with the outer world. And now I’m thinking of how I can make use of my own energy to benefit the world, how I can make everyone happy and hence myself happy to the fullest always.
IFP makes me think a lot. One of the delegates wrote me a letter saying that I have a potential to be a great community worker rather than a scientist and ask me to keep that in mind. And to be honest, it shocks me. I remember I used to tell people to do what makes you happy. And I’ve been thinking of what makes me happy, and I overlook the fact that helping people is what makes me happy the most. Now, I’m not too sure, I need to think more about my career path.
One of the many interesting conversations I had with the delegates. I think we somehow are defined of who we are by our pasts to some extent, especially matters like life and death. I remember talking to this delegate. I know him, at least the one at the conference, and that’s who he is, I think. Then, we got talking, and he told us that he has killed 2 people and he was also once shot, he fights a lot. I thought you know before that I would be so scared of anyone who has killed a person, A PERSON. But I realise my mind during that time was like, “Really? Oh my god. Tell me more.” And we got talking more and more. And I still see him as the way he is. I don’t know how to explain it, but during that time, we just listen to each other, advice each other, it really was a place without any judgements at all and if the world could just be like this.
During the passion speeches, I don’t know, I think in our real life, or maybe just me, I was always afraid to cry mostly about my own personal problems. Never shares it with anybody, because I always thought that everyone is just to busy to care. But again in here, when everyone has problems, instead of forcing that one person to man-up, be strong and face through it, and that it’s okay, and just pretend that it doesn’t happen; we encourage each other by being vulnerable altogether. People just want to be listened, and we did. And when you did so without any judgements, you can actually feel their pain. I say we embrace each other faults and passions. And only then, we all became one. It was very clear.
Before going to the conference itself, I was really afraid that what if they got out of the conference feeling that I shouldn’t have come here, what if they didn’t get anything out of it. And I have to say I WAS WRONG. But it’s also thanks to their open-mindedness as well. We, 17 years old, talking about violence, and they are a few years older, have done so much more to their community, have experienced real violence when we are only talking about the theory bits. But instead of judging us, they embrace us, they admire us, they open their mind and heart, getting as much as possible out of the conference itself.
Another, I thought I was on average a better listener than everybody else. The point is that when I listen to people, I look at them in the eye and listen. However, during this conference, at one point, during the candle group discussion, I was taken back when it’s my turn to speak, everyone leans in, their eyes focus on me, they just look so keen to listen. I was shocked, that the confidence when I look right into their eyes when they speak is gone. I just looked down at the candle and talked instead. It means a lot to me. These people are so real, so nice, so beautiful, they are going to do the world a big favour!
A few days ago, a delegate post on social media, “Best speech quote: Life without challenges is meaningless.”. I am soooooo glad that some of my words or my actions or ones from my mates, can have a slight, slight, slight inspiration and hope for some delegates. Because seriously in some cases, those slight hopes can save a person’s life.
The delegates said that we inspire them, but the truth is the delegates inspire me 100 times more than we inspire them. They know what they want and they do it. They have a burning torch of passion in them. They don’t care about where they are from, what they are capable of, literally, they are not afraid to make mistakes, they are truly brave people, they just do something to change what they want to see changes in.
Now, I want this IFP Maesot experiences to keep my life in check. I want to live with passion, with the energy to make others happy, without any judgements, to listen to problems and embracing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Because then, I can be happy, and peaceful within myself and hopefully it’ll have a domino knock-on effect by bringing peace to others too.