Being new to the school, I was also new to the idea of global concerns (GCs). I thought that it was a wonderful idea that we students could strive to make an impact on important issues in domestic and international communities. Thus, I decided to join the ACE GC. ACE works with an organization called JAAGO, who help provide education for underprivileged families in Bangladesh. This is something that I think is extremely important as all people deserve access to quality education, no matter their economic status.
In order for me to develop myself as a gymnastics coach and help the kids enjoy themselves more, I decided to go to the gymnastics hall after school where I could observe the gymnastics coaches teach my fellow students. Since I had basketball training at 4:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays, I went to watch and help the coaches from about 3:10 to 4:15 on those days. Doing this definitely helped me because it allowed me to learn new and creative ways of making gymnastics fun for the children. I also learnt how to spot the children properly whilst they’re doing the gymnastics which now prepares me to make sure the children are safe whilst learning different moves.
Coming to the school this year, everyone was telling me that if I like to dance, I had to do CultuRama. Naturally, I inquired about what exactly it was and then I found out that it was a kind of dance festival that incorporate dances from around the world. Honestly speaking, at this moment I was a bit hesitant to audition because I like to dance but my dancing ability is mainly centred around hip hop. Thus, I decided to sign up to audition for the USA group.
Whilst rehearsing the dance choreography for the dance auditions, I showed my mother the choreography and she immediately said that she didn’t approve of my doing the dance. It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to dance, it was just that the angle of the video recording sort of depicted the dance in a sensual manner. My family and I are christians and so my mum felt the dance was immoral and ungodly. However, I was able to convince her that the recording didn’t do justice to the actual dance and, with help from one of the USA dance leaders, my mum gave her permission to let me audition.
I got into the USA group, however, there were only five boys that auditioned for the hip-hop part and so it was kind of a guaranteed acceptance for everyone. At first, I felt a bit scared and nervous, because at this time I was still new to the school, however, I soon realised that I was there for a reason; I was chosen to dance in this group. I just tried to be myself and soon I befriended everyone and became very comfortable in the group. I was put at the front for one of the dances as well as having a five second solo during the dance transitions. This I am extremely grateful for because it allowed me to just be myself and gave me an opportunity to shine in front of my new friends, peers and fellow students.
Looking back, I feel that doing CultuRama actually helped me settle into school better because people now look at me and remember me from my CultuRama performance. It also gave me more confidence to go and do events like Unplugged and was one of the reasons why I was chosen for Aida.
All my life I’ve had a love for music. Listening to it, dancing to it, singing/rapping along. Talent wise, I can play the piano, rap and I enjoy dancing. One thing that I struggle to do, however, is sing. This is a source of annoyance for me because my uncles sing, my mum sings, my cousins sing, and my younger sister sings, so I feel as though I was left out in the singing blessings. For this reason, I wasn’t really that excited when my music teacher invited me to the a capella group, Bersama. Initially, I was asked to audition for Aida, but I had CultuRama during this time and so I didn’t want to sign up for too many things or else I wouldn’t be able to do well in school. Then, my teacher asked me to come for Bersama, and I couldn’t really get out of it since I didn’t have a valid excuse to not show up, and so, I went.
Don’t get me wrong, in my room, with my headphones on, I can sing like Mariah Carey but when I have to sing in front of other people, that confidence and ability vanishes. With that being said, I decided to take the same approach to Bersama as I did for Piano Masterclass; having a humble attitude and being willing to learn and take something positive away from the activity. I came to understand that singing in a group has been one of the best things for me, musically, as it has helped me train my ear for music as well as appreciate other styles that I wouldn’t readily listen to. I’ve also been asked to write a rap verse for a song that we’re performing at the end of the semester and so I’m able to not only learn from others, but show what I can contribute to the group.
Personally, I feel that learning how to sing – I don’t have to be great, just decent – will help me with my performances, that for the most part, are just me rapping and dancing. I usually interact with the crowd a lot but I feel as though sometimes my performances are a bit monotonous in the sense that people, when they see my name on the list of performers, already have an idea of what to expect. Learning to sing, however, will help me diversify my performances and allow me to perform my songs that I like, but am currently unable to sing.
Growing up in the United Kingdom for nine years, football was a big part of my life. As with many kids, I aspired to be a professional football player when I grew older, hopefully playing for my favourite football team, Manchester United. However, when I entered middle school, here in Singapore, I sort of felt left out during our lunchtime games. I’m not one to make a big deal out of things, no matter how important the situation is to me, and so I looked for alternatives. In my previous school, Chatsworth International School, the only sport available at lunchtime was Basketball, thus, that day, I became a basketball player. I was instantly hooked and suddenly football didn’t seem such a big part of my life. Regardless, I still followed the sport, played
Fifa, checked out how my team was doing in the league or who they were buying in the transfer market. However, the love I had for basketball was different; I was doing research on the history of the game, reading Wikipedia bios on all of the greatest players in history, learning about the different roles of each player, and of course, playing NBA2k.
CAS is not just about doing creative/artistic performances, staying active and completing service. It’s about pushing yourself past your boundaries and trying new things. Despite loving football so much, I had never been on an actual team before. In the UK, I was either too young, or my school didn’t have a team. When I moved to Singapore, I loved basketball so much that I focused my athletics solely on that as well as the fact that football training was in the mornings and I lived too far away from the school to be seriously committed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played football during lunchtimes, after school, in-school tournaments, you name it. But I’ve never been on a football team before.
As a result, I tried out for the football team.
Tryouts were both easy and hard at the same time. It was easy because I was new and so I didn’t really feel pressure to make the A team; I was just trying out. However, it was hard because being new, and making friends so quickly, I felt pressure from them to be good. I decided to play as a defensive midfielder/centre back as this gave me the opportunity to showcase skill without actually showing skill. Basically, since I still know the game – it’s embedded in me – I can read passes and the play of the game. This helps me look really good even when I’m subpar. The strategy worked, and somehow, I made the A team.
It was here that I felt the pressure. I’d made the A team, now I had to defend my spot, and prove that I had earned it. Showing up to the first training, it crossed my mind how out of shape I was. I also didn’t realise how not playing seriously for so long had affected my ability. I found myself struggling to control the ball, make accurate passes; it was just terrible.
They say that nothing good comes easy and that was my motto. I just wanted to keep getting better and if not impress the coaches, impress myself.
We went undefeated in the ACSIS Division 1 league (4 wins, 2 draws), however, we finished second on points. We also won two tournaments, again undefeated, as well as the Friday Night Lights match against an academy team (7-1). Personally, I had my ups and downs. I had some games where I couldn’t be stopped. I had some games where all the goals were my fault. I even had some games where I didn’t even play a single minute, keep in mind we have rolling subs so you can go off and come on as much as you like.
I didn’t make SEASAC, the most coveted honour, yet I feel that this season was a success. Throughout, I kept a positive attitude and encouraged my teammates, who were miles better than me but never voiced it. Their humility is what boosted my positivity. I reinvented myself and discovered the true meaning of hard work. They were so many times during the strenuous training sessions that I wanted to quit, yet I reminded myself of my motto: Nothing good comes easy. I’m really grateful for my best friend, Aansh, who having made SEASAC last year in Grade 10, was so encouraging and supportive, even when I made mistakes.
I didn’t make SEASAC this year, but, mark my words, I will be SEASAC captain next year. Believe that.
After 3 weeks of Piano Masterclass, I have come to understand my limits as a human being. Before starting the activity, I knew I wasn’t the best piano player, but I considered myself decent. However, after the first session, this consideration seemed very deluded. The issue was that I’m ‘gospelly trained’ in the sense that I learnt by playing in church. What this means, essentially, is that I’ve learnt to play what I play by listening to it. Most of the people in Piano Masterclass are classically trained, which means they have learnt (and most of them have been graded) how to play by reading sheet music and learning a lot of music theory. I immediately felt disadvantaged because my sheet reading ability is very bad and I know basic music theory. Everyone came in playing pieces from composers I’d never heard of, holding a giant book filled with sheet music and I felt quite novice, to be honest. For the first two sessions, I’d leave the activity feeling like I was a failure.
Despite all of this, I am committed to learning how to play classical music and to develop my music theory and sheet reading ability. I realise that everyone has to grow and that just because my growth might be a later stage than everyone else’s doesn’t mean that it still shouldn’t happen. I think that it also teaches me humility and actually, this has allowed me to develop relationships with the other students.
In this service, me and eight of my peers work together to help teach 4-5 year olds how to do gymnastics and help ensure proper technique. I chose this service because I enjoy working with children and witnessing their development. Honestly speaking, I’m not very good at gymnastics (never have been), but I think that this will help me because I understand their struggles and I understand that feeling when your friends are able to do all different kinds of flips and you can’t. Additionally, the children we are working with come from lower income families and so – I’m someone that likes to laugh and spread positivity – I’m hoping we as a service can help be that source of joy and happiness for these children.
From amongst my peers, I have been elected as chair of the service. With this added responsibility, my goal this year is to improve my organisation and my responsibility. I’m not necessarily lazy, but sometimes I slack in my organisational skills and I think that being chair of the service will help me build that skill. It will also help me build my collaborative skills, which are essential when working in a group. Furthermore, working with children, especially them being so young, means that we as 16 year olds need to put their safety and ours (but mostly theirs) first and prioritise it before making them happy. I think in a situation like this, it’s possible for us to want to please them that we neglect the safety risks of the activities.
After hearing the CAS presentation, my initial thoughts on CAS are that it doesn’t seem to be as hard as people make it out to be. This is contrary to my prior beliefs thinking that CAS would be difficult. According to the CAS presentation, we have to do at least 2 seasons of sport (action), 2 seasons of arts (creativity), and at least one year of local service. When broken down like this, it makes my CAS targets seem much more achievable and less burdensome. One thing that I took away from the presentation was that I should choose activities and services that are connected to my passions as well as trying activities and services that are outside of my comfort zone. I’m starting to see that CAS is not about completing IB requirements, but about exploring and reinventing yourself as a person.
After looking at Akanksha’s digital portfolio, one of the main takeaways for me, regarding Grade 11 life, is the meaningfulness of it all. Akanksha was born with Leukaemia and you can see the impact that that has had on what she has done. What I mean by this, is that her creativity, her action and her service, are centred around something that is important to her. This, I think, is essential in order to do well in Grade 11 as well as to enjoy it. If there is no meaning in what you are doing, if you have no connection to your work, you can’t go far with it and you won’t be able to succeed.
Secondly, something else that jumps out to me is the organization required in Grade 11. Akanksha posts very frequently, up to three times a day, and this shows me how fast Grade 11 life is and the need for organization is essential. Without organization it’ll be hard to keep up with all the many tasks that will be completed throughout the year.
Finally, the last thing that I was struck by, was the opportunities available to Grade 11 students. Akanksha’s work was not just done on a local stage, meaning that she did things in school or at home, but she had the opportunity of doing activities on a much bigger scale, such as working an internship at International SOS or having an article published in the American Cleft-Palate-Craniofacial Association.
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