Project Week, for me, was a very fun, cohesive and interesting experience for me. I tried a lot of different and new activities, some I enjoyed, most I didn’t. But I think what made it cohesive and interesting was that I realised the kind of person I want to become in life. I got to meet people on this trip that there was nothing I could do except admire their positivity and outlook on life. A lot of these people are nowhere near the kind of privilege, that we enjoy everyday and constantly take for granted. Yet the way, they have smiles on their faces; the way they just get on with life and take it day by day was what really touched me. I think these kind of trips, when you get to do service, help you remember that not everyone is like you in the way that they live, however, I think Project Week, just its uniqueness, helps you also remember that life is what you make it. Sometimes people think they have to make a difference in these big environments, or where it can be recognised officially. But the man that let us help him build the dining hall, proved to me that making a difference is simply trying to make the life of those around you, better. Service doesn’t have to be explicit; you can say hi to your quiet classmate everyday, or you can tell your teacher everyday, “I appreciate you”. All of this can help to make the lives of those around you better. I think this has given me more direction on what and how I will want to live my life in the years to come.
Today we completed our Breakout Box, and I have to say, it turned out very well. Our box was complex but also understandable and followed a logical process. We also ensured that there was an educational aspect to our box, in which the people playing it would also learn from it. The challenge was then to try and unlock other boxes. This was a challenge as we first had to try and understand what the Sustainable Development Goal was before we could see how it was connected to the unlocking of the box. This process was annoying yet fun at the same time. It kind of showed me how being stuck in your own thinking or being narrow minded can prevent you from perhaps discovering new things. I think being open-minded was the key to unlocking the box, and having the mentality that anything can be a clue to success. It’s almost a metaphor for life really, you can find hidden treasures everywhere.
This season was filled with much more events than the previous seasons. In Season 3, ACE GC partook in Run for Rights and Family Festival. Family Festival was fun, because it was in school and almost everyone was there. I remember that I didn’t eat much, but it was hilarious watching some of my friends from other GCs sell products or people in my own GC advertise a cotton bracelet as if it was worth millions. Run for Rights, however, I remember more vividly. I showed up, expecting to be a supporter and motivate those who were running around Bedok Reservoir (4.3km), wearing jeans. I hadn’t expected to run but when I saw everyone dressed in running gear, it was the most embarrassing thing. I still figured I could be a supporter, since it was obvious to everyone that I was new and hadn’t realised what I was supposed to do. But all that went away when I saw one of my Grade 2 buddies show up with her dad, decked out in all her running gear. Just seeing that melted my heart because, honestly, I didn’t even know how she knew about the event. She only ran about 30 metres before she stopped and walked with her dad, but I realised that if she could run, then so could I, even if it was in jeans. The fact is, this wasn’t a race. The learning point for me, was not that I had to be the fastest, but that I could show my support in any way possible, even if it was just walking the 4.3 km.
This season, I think was the most effective for me, in regards to building interpersonal skills. We had a new member, Molly, join our service and so I unofficially deferred my chair authority to her, since she was in Grade 12. It was a nice experience, having someone new, because it was almost as if we got to relive starting this service. One of the highlights for this season was the fact that I resolved my “beef” with one of the kids. For months, this little girl and I had some issues, to the point where I didn’t want her in my group, and she didn’t want to be near me. For some reason, one day, we just happened to be in the same group, and she called out to me and asked for help. This, somehow, instantly ended our beef and now we’ve become friends again. It’s petty, I know, considering the age difference, but this is me being honest. Another key moment from this season was that my group made me do the service video, despite all my contributions to our group. People started saying I do the least work, which is a complete lie, but I guess when you can have false information and preach it like its truth; if you have people supporting it, it becomes the truth. So I ended up doing the video, only after my football coach, told me to always see the opportunity to learn in every task given to me.
This season I think I really got a chance to come out of my shell and show my development in singing. Apart from From All Corners, the other performance that stands out is when we performed at the Grade 12 Assembly. This stood out for me because we sang One Day More, from the film Les Miserables. The song is quite vocal, and so I had to really challenge myself to hit some of the notes. What was also notable about this performance was the fact that I had rapped the day before in front of the entire high school and so throughout this performance, people (they told me after) were expecting me to break out a rap verse. This didn’t happen but it gave me added pressure because I felt like people were surprised to see me sing and not rap or dance.
I’m really passionate about Basketball. Although I played football in Season 1, basketball was the sport that I was most looking forward to playing. I had wanted to do Pre-season basketball, however, with football being 3 times a week, similar to my reason for turning down Aida, I decided against it; apart from it taking up my time, I would also end up drained, physically and mentally. I did go for one session, however.
When it came to tryouts time, I was excited but also nervous because I had heard a lot about UWC’s A team, and figured it wasn’t something I would’ve been good enough for. However, when we started playing, I realised that I wasn’t totally bad, despite not playing for like a year, and that I fitted in with the rest of the guys. When it comes to basketball, I’m decent at most things, however, I often struggle with shooting the ball; I try to make up for it with effort and playing defense. I ended up making the B team, which is not bad, although I felt that me and the rest of the B team didn’t really get a chance to actually “tryout” for the A team. During tryouts, we were immediately split up, without playing a second of basketball, into those that had been in pre-season and men’s league. I suppose there was justified reasoning for that, but it just seemed unfair that we didn’t even get a chance. I decided, though, to commit myself to the team, and focus on being the best teammate I could be; instead of sulking about not making the A team, use it as motivation to bolster our team, potentially to the point where we would be better, as a team, than the A team.
As mentioned in my last reflection regarding our gymnastics service, I’m not very good at gymnastics. Thus, it makes it even harder to coach it, because it’ll be quite awkward, not to mention embarrassing, if one of the 4/5 year olds ask me to demonstrate what I’m trying to teach. However, I realised that I can learnt, at the very least, how to protect them from hurting themselves since they’re our responsibility. One day, Mr Dunn, our service supervisor was absent, and representing him were two gymnastic coaches: Coach Amy and Coach Tiffany. They were really friendly and offered us really good advice in terms of how to coach and control the kids. After the service session, they told us about their training sessions that they have everyday after school in which we could come and help out and learn from them.
I thought it was a good idea, and decided to go before I had basketball training, on Mondays and Wednesdays for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. It was a bit awkward at first because I was the only one from my service that went, and I was the only secondary school boy in the gymnasium. However, I’m really glad I did go for these “help” sessions as it gave me a chance to focus on keeping children safe, helped me get to know some of the younger kids that I still say hi to today. Also and most importantly, my learning paid off and our service benefited from it, even if they won’t admit it.
This is much harder than I thought. I’m someone who learns by repetition. Like when I have to learn a musical piece, I don’t remember every note, instead I remember the flow; I remember what came before and what comes after. However, that doesn’t seem to be working in this situation. Perhaps, I haven’t done it enough but it feels like my confusion stems from my lack of understanding of the actual play. In all honesty, I think – keyword being “think” – the play revolves around a love triangle set in Egypt and Nubia, and a lot of people end up dying.
I am enjoying it though. I know some of the cast members from other activities and performances that I’ve been a part of, although, the whole cast has been really welcoming, leading me to make many new friends. Everything hasn’t been all rosy though. The student that I had to replace due to his leaving, ended up coming back to school and back into the musical. I wasn’t against his coming back, however, it did cause me to feel as though I would then be deemed as surplus to requirement, though I was later comforted by Mrs Stirrat that I wouldn’t be asked to leave and that they would figure out equal parts for both of us. Regardless, I still decided to just focus on what I was being asked to do and not worry about the politics of everything else.
All in all, participating in Aida really helped me grow as a person. I underwent challenges that I had never faced before, and through it all, I just tried to keep being myself, and keep giving my best. William Golding’s Lord of The Flies sends the message that given the right situation, even the purest of us can become savages. However, in this situation, I focused on the following: Don’t let your situation define you. The situation lasts only for a time but the impact it has on you lasts forever.
I was initially asked to audition for AIDA, however, I had already signed up for football at the time. Because of my football commitments – 3 days a week: Monday, Wednesday & Friday after school – I had to decline the opportunity to audition. It was quite a back and forth process because I knew that this was a big opportunity; the school musical only happens once every two years, so me being in Grade 11 means I won’t have another opportunity to do this.
It’s quite interesting how we get second opportunities in life, most of the time, when we explicitly and deliberately rejected the first opportunity. I was approached by Mrs Stirrat in late November and was asked whether I could step in to feel in for a student who had left school unexpectedly. At the time, I was participating in the Basketball team, so I was still quite busy, however, I’m particularly close with Mrs Stirrat and I couldn’t say no to her, especially when I could see that she was very stressed about the situation. So I said yes. Being thrust into a completely new environment, my main goal was not to steal the spotlight, but to work hard to understand the story of the play, understand who my character (Egyptian soldier) was, and to be a good team player.