To begin with, I would like to state that I don’t use Instagram. I use Snapchat, and Facebook (pretty sparingly), but I have never installed, nor created an account on Instagram. That being said, I think that Social Media addiction can be a pretty serious issue in today’s society, that has grown so dependent on social approval and smartphones to keep our own self-esteems afloat. I believe that people, in History, have always been dependent on other’s social approval of themselves (which is why, in past, people have bough extravagant clothes and purposely over-the-top goods). Social Media just makes it easier to receive that approval. However, equally paradoxically, it also renders us more dependent on it; the more likes we receive, the more we crave the like we’ll get on our next post… And on our next… And on our next… There’s nothing wrong with wanting to show off yourself on Instagram, and see what your friends think about your own life, but there comes a point in time where you have to stop and think “Is this really necessary?”. And, in my opinion, that point is fast approaching.
This, now concluded, scripted performance has been, by far, the most impactful assessment in Drama thus far, and has, in the process of working on it, opened my eyes to the strengths and weaknesses that I have, as a Drama student. For example, I learned that one of my greatest difficulties in Drama was not only my lack of organisation (I often found myself behind in comparison to my group partners on learning lines and blocking scenes), but also the challenge I had to overcome in “entering” my character. I found it extremely daunting to really “get into” Christian as a character; I had to be him on stage. That meant I had to renounce everything that I had grown so accustomed to. I couldn’t shuffle my feet or fidget, as I was used to on stage (mostly as a symptom of nervousness); I had to remain confident, steadfast, and arrogant to a fault. Every single one of my actions needed to communicate the traits that defined Christian. This entailed heavy research into Christian as a character. However, by “entering” Christian, I actually managed to discover some very interesting and crucial details about me as an actor, which, until that point, I had been largely unaware of. An example of this was how I didn’t realise how much I fidgeted and shuffled; the real problem wasn’t just overcoming those subconscious motions. The real problem was realising that I had always practiced them, even when I was unaware of it. The result of this was me gaining a deeper understanding of myself on stage, and as an actor. The logical next step for me is to focus more on body language (which, I could argue, was the real focus of our Cyrano De Bergerac performance); I need to fully enter my character, and begin to devise and plan certain motions or body positions that define the character I am playing. This will, undoubtedly, be an incredibly useful and crucial skill to have in our upcoming “Monologues” task, and I hope that I will be able to fully master it and gain a greater awareness of what it means to understand, and, perhaps more importantly, to play a character.
In PSE, we have been covering and reflecting on the topic of wellbeing, and how our choices in dieting and exercising affect our everyday lives. We’ve listened to Jamie Oliver deliver a TED talk on the dangers of an unsustainable food cycle encompassing food at home, food given to children at school, and the food eaten by both children and parents in local restaurants and eateries. We’ve also listened to Kelli Jean Drinkwater deliver a TED talk on the dangers of “fat-phobia”, and the importance of being comfortable in one’s bodies. Overall, I find myself much more in agreement with Jamie Oliver on the topic of obesity and healthy eating, especially when his theories are applied to a nation like America, which has a dangerous obesity epidemic.
If Mathematics was a sport, I would say that it would be Marathon Running. Because, much like running a full, 42-KM marathon, Mathematics can be ruthless, punishing, and, on occasion, cruel, if you are forced to run the gauntlet unprepared. Much like a marathon, Mathematics is not something that can prepared for the night before exams; it requires constant, long-term practice and training to achieve the desired outcome. Also similarly to a marathon, during the exam, it is very possible that you will hit “The Wall”; a question or equation you simply forgot to study for, or otherwise lack the capabilities of solving. However, it is up to you to see if you will give up at “The Wall”, or persevere beyond it. Also similarly to a marathon, in mathematics, your better-prepared compadres will pass you on the race (exam), and there is little you can do to stop such. However, also similarly to a marathon, mathematics has the potential to delivering great satisfaction, especially in relation to the amount of time you have invested in practicing for it. This has been crucial to my maths experience this year, and has greatly expanded by appreciation of the subject. Even though mathematics can be difficult at times, it can also be a very rewarding experience, if you enter with the right mindset and commitment to learn.
My time living in Hong Kong (three years), has shown me what it’s like to be thrust into a hostile, completely foreign environment, and, by extension, has shown me the importance of being able to communicate with those around me. While my Chinese was (and still is), very poor, I like to think of my time in HK as not only highlighting the importance of linguistic flexibility, but also the importance of having an open mind to a foreign environment. This experience has stuck with all the way to today, and when I first moved to Singapore, I felt inclined to put it to good use. My experience in UWC thus far (being my third year here), has been overwhelmingly positive, on all aspects. Be it academic, or social, or service-based, as an education institution, UWC has excelled in almost all areas. But, perhaps the most intriguing element of UWC was the aspect of community-building and service that it cultivated within me, as a learner. Service has always been a large part of the UWC curriculum, as we work on it since Elementary school, but it takes an especially important role in high school, where high schooler are expected not only to work with teachers in our services and Global Concerns, but also to take initiative, and work on our own, to quite literally “be the change we want to see in the world”. This can be seen all around our high school, in the plethora of student-led service initiatives that have been both supported and encouraged by the school such as the Infenergy project. The reason this is so crucial to high school is that it is the reflection of what high-school in UWC is all about; growth and initiative. With such a wide variety of facilities and tools at our disposal, students are actually encouraged to work hard to turn their dreams into a reality. High school may have appeared overwhelming at first glance, especially given the new classes that students choose (in my case Drama as an Art and History as a Humanities subject), and the ever-present looming threat of end-of-year exams. However, over time, I’ve found I’ve adapted quite well to the high school environment. Being considered “mature” gives me astounding freedom in my work methods and processes, and has allowed me to progress considerably as a learner. Even with exams right around the corner (next week, to be precise), I’m feeling considerably more relaxed about them now than I was at the start of the year; yet another piece of evidence that shows just how much high-school has affected me. And, as corny and overused as it sounds, the “growth mindset” that the school has been encouraging us to adopt over time has helped me improve a lot, as a learner, too. When I get a subjectively “bad” grade that doesn’t live up to my expectations, I don’t feel the same shame or sorrow as I did before; instead, high school has taught be to expend more of my energy on improving myself. Finding what I did wrong in the grade, and improving on it, so I can succeed next time. This has also helped me manage my workload considerably, as I can no longer get “stuck in a rut”, and am always moving forwards, as a learner and, more importantly, as a person. This constant focus on growth and self-improvement, coupled with the increasing challenges that a new set of classes and an increasing workload, has, in a sense, “forced” me to adapt to the challenge of a new environment, and I am grateful to this school year for having pushed me out of my comfort zone, and, as a consequence of such, I have grown greatly as both a student and a learner.
With our most recent study of the rather visceral, but brutally truthful, documentary, The Girl in the River, it is time to pose ourselves certain questions regarding the universality of human rights, and how this is in conflict with the concept of Cultural Relativism. For those of you who are uninformed, cultural relativism is the belief that all actions in a culture must not be viewed through the perspective of a third, neutral party, but from the perspective of the culture itself. For example, a cultural relativist might argue that the federal (government-given) punishment of damaging or otherwise disrespecting the Quran (Muslim holy book) in countries such as Saudi Arabia is justified, as Saudi Arabia is an almost entirely Muslim country, and, as such, all laws would be applied from a traditionalist Muslim standpoint. However, when regarding a topic as serious as the question of honour killings, and whether they should be exempt from punishment, due to them being commonplace in nations in which they are practiced, I feel it is necessary to take a hardline stance on the issue; no grey area. And I am of the firm belief that Human Rights are universal and, above all, unavoidable. If any activity, regardless of its religious or otherwise cultural value, infringes upon basic human rights (as honour killings infringe upon the Right to Life [Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights]), it cannot be tolerated in a civilised society. This does not only apply to religious activities; any action that infringes upon human rights merits punishment. If a simple murder, with no ties to religion or family honour, justifies a trial and punishment, regardless of the victim’s family’s forgiveness, then I cannot see how a murder, committed in the name of religion, or the preservation of family honour, cannot be treated the same way; meriting of trial and legal verdict, regardless of forgiveness. One of the pillars of the legal system that drives the world forth, preserving justice and freedom, is that Justice is blind; blind to culture, to race, religion, sex, or ethnicity.
On the 4th of April, 2005, Officer Christina Lau, of the Singaporean Police force, was driving through the thick sheets of tropical rain that fell over Malaysia. She sped towards the border to Singapore, returning home after a day of work, with nothing in particular on her mind; a normal person, much like you and I. That was, until she lost control of the vehicle, the tires skidding against the slick road as the car swerved off the path… She awoke, almost an entire day after the incident, in a hospital bed, surrounded by concerned family members and a doctor, who informed her, with great poignancy, that, in the accident, she had suffered severe damage to her spinal cord, greatly impairing control of her fingers, and almost completely severing her control of her legs. Devastated by the news, Christina Lau retreated into a shell of introversy and isolation, confining herself to her home and terrified of leaving her nest of comfort, lest she be ridiculed for her confinement to her wheelchair. This continued for months on end, until she discovered something magical; an art that would not reintegrate herself into the world, but also allow her to create something beautiful; timeless. When Christina Lau discovered mouth painting, she was reluctant. The idea of making such a radical change from the life she was living, quite frankly, scared her. However, with encouragement, she managed to begin painting, and soon picked up an aptitude for it; creating works of art that few people, disabled or not, can match in skill. However, more importantly to her was the social aspect of it; when she was painting, she wasn’t discriminated by her disability, and when she was around other mouth-painters, she felt she belonged, a feeling that, regrettably, only very few disabled people can experience.
The Unfair Treatment of the Disabled in Singapore
In a survey conducted in 2016 by the Straits Times, it was found that, out of the 477 disabled people that had taken the survey, a staggering 7 in 10 stated that they had issues “living with dignity”, due to their treatment from other people. Not only is this alarming statistic in and of itself, but it becomes even more worrying when contrasted with statistics concerning the percentage of disabled people in Singapore. 2.1% of all students in Singapore suffer from a legally recognised disability, 3.4% of all adults aged between 19-49 in Singapore suffer from disability, and an incredibly 13.3% of all Singaporean citizens aged above 50 suffer from a handicap. While this may seem like a small, almost insignificant percentage at first glance, it quickly develops into something far more substantial, when confronted with the population of Singapore; the statistics point to not hundreds, but thousands of members of our communities suffering from a serious disability, and, yet, Singaporean law has been reluctant to modify itself to better aid them in their journey to integration. In 2012, a study conducted by the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower indicated that there were 275 work vacancies open for disabled people, which may have seemed like an improvement from the situation in 2010, where there were as few as 121 job openings available, it still isn’t enough, as disabled citizens are not only faced with a handicap concerning their physical or mental state, but, perhaps even cripplingly, massive discrimination in job applications. This can cause many of them to revert to a state similar to Christina Lau’s, where they are not only discriminated against and thus, incapable of actively contributing to society, but are also unmotivated to do so, which can have significant effects not only to their professional careers, but on their general interactions with society.
Why Change Must Occur
Christina Lau travels in and out of Singapore on a regular basis, giving motivational talks about overcoming her disability in educational institutes; educating students about the difficulties many disabled individuals face in every aspect of their lives. Her works are displayed in multiple galleries around Singapore, acting not only as a viable source of income for Christina, but also as a medium; a medium to convey the inner struggle every disabled person goes through, regardless of age. As citizens of Singapore, and members of such a dynamic and complex community, it is not only in our best interests, but our duty, to modify legislation, to create a more accepting and open environment for the disabled. This would not only be a great step forwards from a humanistic perspective, as it promotes the creation of an atmosphere of understanding concerning the difficulties these individuals face on a day-to-day basis, and acceptance in treating these people as active, contributing parts of our community, but also from a purely economic perspective, as the integration of thousands of employees into the workforce would be of great benefit to the Singaporean industry, and would bolster Singapore’s already-powerful economy to greater heights, acting as a mutually beneficial, ethical, and relatively simple way to boost the economy, all while aiding a long-ignored portion of our community.
Efforts to reintegrate disabled people back into our community are not only effective from an industrial perspective, and will be richly rewarded in future through the myriad of economic benefits Singapore can reap from them, but are also necessary from an ethical perspective. As members of a dynamic and active society, it is not only in our best interests, but our duty, to render Singapore a safe place; a place where all people, regardless of disability, be it mental or physical. Change must come; there is no alternative for this. I can only hope that, through this article, I have given you insight; insight into the punishingly difficult life these people are forced to live in every day. It is through this insight, through this empathy, that we can understand each other, and make Singapore a better place.
• “Workers With Disabilities Face Greater Difficulties In Job Searches.” SPD – Singapore, www.spd.org.sg/updates/detail/workers-with-disabilities-face-greater-difficulties-in-job-searches-140.html.
•Zaccheus, Melody, and Priscilla Goy. “People with Mental Issues Face Job Discrimination.”The Straits Times, 8 Oct. 2016, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/people-with-mental-issues-face-job-discrimination.
•“CHRISTINA LAU LAY LIAN.” ActiveSG, www.myactivesg.com/team-singapore/athletes/l/christina-lau-lay-lian.
I would say yes, but only to a certain extent. I’m not an avid user of social media (WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Reddit are about it for me), but, despite this, I have noticed something pervasive that’s been growing in recent years; a filter, not only of social media, but of everything. Everything that’s being shown to me (advertisements) have been tailored; years upon years of marketing research poured into showing me the product I am most likely to buy. This is evident just about everywhere; on YouTube, for example, the ads shown are shown to be correlated to the video history of the person they’re being shown to. So, while I haven’t recieved the “brunt of it” (Facebook seems the place where so-called “Filter Bubbles” are most prevalent), I still feel that it is an issue to society a large; an issue that also dips into the huge influence that multinational corporations have on our lives, and how even the smallest of things (everyday rituals) can be seen, by producers, as an opportunity to sell. This means that it is not only a social issue (marketing to sell “cool things” to young people), but also an economic one, as it showcases the grip many multinational corporations have on our day-to-day lives.
I think that this unit helped me quite a bit, as not only is it just important to learn about theatre, regardless of circumstance, but this also ties in to my other studies as I take Drama as of now. This means not only was I learning more about Italian, but I was also gaining an extra, more technical insight into the nature of Dramatic arts. Keeping up to date with the work has been occasionally difficult, but I feel I’ve been holding up significantly well, as I have usually assigned papers on time, and only very sparingly as for extensions. I feel I need to work better on being a Self-Manager, as I still have issues, on occasion, finishing work.
It was April of 2005 when Christina Lau, an officer in the Singapore Police Force, suffered a car accident on a rainy night and awoke in the hospital with serious damage to her spinal cord. She had lost movement of her legs and fingers, and was devastated to find that she, as an active individual, could not only no longer continue pursuing activities that had made her so happy previously (biking, jogging, etc.), but she also could no longer be an active officer in the police force. Emotionally devastated, Christina turned to her husband for help, and found herself in what she defined as a “very introverted, depressed state”. However, she found a way out of her shell of emotional decline when she discovered painting; more specifically, painting with her mouth. A great outlet for her to express herself in visual form, as well as to create fantastic artwork, despite her disability, Christina quickly became an expert painter, with many of her artworks showcased in various art galleries around Singapore. However, also didn’t let her disability keep her away from enjoying sport; she taught herself how to play Ping-Pong, and thoroughly enjoys the sport; even traveling overseas with her teammates to participate in tournaments.