I enjoyed this season. Even though we didn’t do very well, our overall record was 3-5 (win-loss), I enjoyed being part of a group where we laughed together almost every training and game. Through this experience I learnt to be a mentor. It was different than football where I was the worst on the team and knew that I made contributions elsewhere, but with basketball, I wasn’t the worst but I was one of the older kids, and so I realised the importance of giving the younger kids opportunities, comforting them when they made mistakes, and setting a good example as an older student. That was something that I had to constantly remind myself of. Me being older, regardless of what was said on the court, or who got on my nerves, I had to remember that the implications of what I said or how I behaved would go way past the 1 1/2 hours spent playing basketball. Sports is a great test of character, because it shows your true nature in its rawest form.
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.
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.
After being part of this GC, for 2 seasons, I think the biggest thing that I’ve learnt is just the need for organization. I’m not really that organised of a person, I’ll admit it, but when I see our GC chair Fayyaz conduct our meetings, as well as have to deal with all the stress and pressures from the IB, it makes me question why I am not more organised in my life.
One disappointment this season was the fact that we had wanted to do the Holiday Fair which got cancelled. Even though me being new, I don’t know what the Holiday Fair was, I recognised that this was a prime source of funding for our GC which now put us in a vulnerable situation since our GC is almost completely based on funding the education of children. Our Goal this year is to reach $1750, which will help us continue to sponsor 5 children.
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.
One of my highlights this year was Wavelengths, it was our only performance for Bersama of the semester. Not only did I rap my own song during this performance, but we did a cover of Adele’s Rolling In the Deep in which I wrote a rap verse for. This was the first time I had ever been asked to write a rap verse, and I felt a bit of pressure for it to be really good, however ,I was excited at the prospect. It was an interesting process; I did research into the song, considered different ‘flows’ and tried to really communicate through what I was saying.
My verse went like this:
Roll deep, never lonely,
Cause I got the whole team, with me,
And you know this, hoping that your absence,
Will be noticed, thinking you’ll be so missed, so wrong
So I’m coming at you, I’m a savage animal
Discovery channel what I’m ’bout to show y’all
Thought it was skyfall, by the writing’s on the wall
I was running through the Six, you’ll be rolling in your woes
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.
I didn’t get to stay in Piano Masterclass for Season 2, since I had to join Aida but one of my highlights was being able to perform at Esplanade. What made it such an accomplishment wasn’t that it was at Esplanade but that I did it despite me being fatigued from Unplugged, which was the day before. I played a personal arrangement of Kevin Gates’ Know Better. This was a significant performance for me because I was used to just playing chords, as I mentioned in my previous reflection, however, in this performance, I combined my chords with quick and simple melodies. Even though I know my performance was the best that night – that goes to Shoon – I still feel proud of my work, simply because I understand how much I grew from doing that performance.