Personal Statement

This year has been extremely enjoyable and exciting for me. Whether it be making new friends or being faced with a challenge I enjoyed most parts of it and have been able to overcome the stressful parts.

One of my main goals for the future is to be successful. Success for me means being happy, being in a stable position, being healthy and also having good relations with my friends and families. I am currently aware of my future careers but I think I want to do something related to dance, cooking or humanity. These are all my passions, therefore, I want to pursue these as future careers.

 

My goals were also to be more organized not only in terms of getting all my materials to school but also in organizing my time effectively so I don’t get too stressed when tests and assessments are due. I think I have achieved this goal pretty well as I have used the technique of to-do lists. The to-do list is on a board in front of my desk and serves as a physical reminder of the things I need to do and proved to be extremely helpful as I have found that I have been more organized so I definitely think I’m going to continue using this method since it has been quite effective.

 

However, it has been quite difficult to manage my time effectively during exam season or when there’s a lot of tests/assessments due in a week. I’ve found myself getting extremely stressed and having a lot of pressure to get all my work done by the deadline. I’ve understood that this is usually caused by me procrastinating and leaving my work till the last minute and that usually results in a negative impact on me. For the weeks leading up to exams, I made sure that I studied for my exams in the order that I would be taking them and I made sure that I was well prepared for each exam before moving on to preparing for the next one. That method proved to be successful as I felt well prepared and ready for my exams and am quite happy with the results. 

 

I think one of my personal strengths is my confidence. I was able to display this strength through all my performances throughout the year. Culturama, Kahaani, The Dance Showcase and ITP recitals really help me develop my confidence and display it. I think another one of my strengths is being able to communicate well. I was able to showcase this through my services and GC and also all the activities I was part of. The GC that I was part of (Daraja Academy) gave me several opportunities to develop this skill because of the several events that we held throughout the year (Run for Rights, Family Festival, Service Expo, etc) and communication within the GC and to people outside of it was vital in order for the events to go smoothly. In my service, I also got the chance to display my communication skills by being the communications officer and organizing activities each week and coordinating with the service department.

 

Overall I think this has been a quite successful year as I have been able to develop and discover several new skills and also make lots of new friends. I definitely think compared to previous years I was able to befriend more people and expand my friendship group to people who I wouldn’t usually talk to. While there were challenging bits where things got a bit hectic in the year, I managed to work past them and learn from them to make sure I would be able to overcome them easily if they would come back again. I am looking forward to continuing to getting know more of my classmates next year and hopefully tackling more challenges and experiencing new things.

Life After Incarceration

The media and society’s role in the outcome of a prisoner’s life after being released

 

Society is fascinated with crime and justice. From films, books, newspapers, magazines, television broadcasts, to everyday conversations, we are constantly engaging in crime “talk”. The mass media play an important role in the construction of criminality, the criminal justice system and the portrayal of ex-convicts.

 

The public’s perception of victims, criminals, deviants, and law enforcement officials is largely determined by their depiction in the mass media. There is no longer a distinction between real events and media representation, and it has reached a point where people unconsciously accept what they are told through electronic media. The influence of media becomes increasingly significant when alternative sources of information aren’t available.

 

The media plays into society’s fear of ex-convicts, they’re portrayed as vicious people who have committed heinous crimes and will never change their behaviour. Dr Christian Perrin, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the rehabilitation of sexual and violent offenders says: “Do I think society treats ex-offenders fairly? No, I don’t, but that’s also not society’s fault. The media has a lot to answer for, the media portrays offenders in a certain light that affects people’s perceptions on what offenders are, and whether they can change or not.” He proceeded to explain how sex-offenders are represented as being at high risk of reoffending. Once a sex offender, always a sex offender is the common portrayal, but in actual fact, sex-offenders re-offend at the lowest rate across all crimes besides murder. The media takes society’s fascination with crime and twists it to make ex-convicts appear as heartless villains.

 

Life for ex-convicts is hard enough without misperception from the general public. During 2015, 641,100 people who had been sentenced to state and federal prison were released to their communities. In the first full calendar year after their release, only 55% reported any earnings, with the median earnings being $10,090. Of those with earnings, 4% earned less than $500, 31% earned between $500 and $15,000, and only 20% earned more than $15,000. While there are employment programs to assist ex-convicts in rehabilitation, a lot of ex-prisoners don’t have access to them.

 

Jonathan Ng was caught for unlicensed money lending and was handed a hefty jail sentence. Even though he found a job after being released, he found adjustment hard. “When I first started work here, the stigma was definitely there. Being an ex-convict is not easy. You are afraid of how people look at you, how people judge your past and all that”. According to Mr Michael Teoh, a convicted criminal faced with a murder and robbery charge, who now holds group counselling sessions at Changi Prison in Singapore, rehabilitation for ex-prisoners is extremely difficult and needs a lot of patience. “They take it hard when they don’t get callbacks from employers or landlords, or their families don’t want to talk to them”. The misrepresentation of ex-cons adds to the difficulty in leading a normal life that they already face once they get released from prison.

 

According to Jeremy Travis, author of The Growth of Incarceration in the United States There are around 1.7 million children under the age of 18 every year that have a parent in a state or federal prison. Roughly 55% of women in prisons are mothers with 73% of them having lived with their children prior to their imprisonment. This can prove to affect young people greatly as the child can experience degrees of poverty is the family breadwinner goes to jail. They will often have to move homes or school and can face severe isolation. There is a loss of parental relationship which prisoners who are parents have to deal with once they get released. It can get to a point where in some cases, their own children can’t even recognize them as they had grown up without their parent in their lives.

 

Children can get easily influenced by the media and if they see current and ex-convicts being shown in such a negative light, that can really affect the relationship that a parent may try to develop with their child after being released from prison. It can make a reconnection with the prisoner’s children and family extremely difficult and alongside that, there are employment, financial, and housing issues and the stigma that they have to deal with.

 

However, there is a positive change occurring within society and their views which paints a bright future for ex-convicts. There are more and more organizations being created every year that help ex-prisoners reintegrate into society and provide several services for them such as counselling and professional training. Governments are also putting in place more programs in which prisoners will be trained, provided with education and will be given a secured job after being released.

 

Society has also begun to be more accepting of ex-cons with more employment offers being given and seeing treatment from the public improving drastically. There is still a long way to go as there is still a lot of misrepresentation but, these kinds of positive changes give hope to ex-convicts for a better future and a better life outside their jail cell.

 

Citations:

 

Travis, Jeremy. “Chapter 9: Consequences for Families and Children .” The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences, by Jeremy Travis, The National Academies Press, 2014.

 

Looney, Adam. “5 Facts about Prisoners and Work, before and after Incarceration.” Brookings.edu, The Brookings Institution, 20 Mar. 2018, www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2018/03/14/5-facts-about-prisoners-and-work-before-and-after-incarceration/.

 

“A Second Chance for Ex-Convicts.” How Performance Appraisals Hurt Employee Performance | JobsCentral Community, community.jobscentral.com.sg/articles/second-chance-ex-convicts.

 

Ariffin, Nur Afifah bte. “From Jail to a Job: How Ex-Offenders Reintegrate into Society.” Channel NewsAsia, 5 Nov. 2017, www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/from-jail-to-a-job-how-ex-offenders-reintegrate-score-society-9377236.

 

Wei, Cheng. “He Wants to End Bias against Convicts.” The Straits Times, 1 Jan. 2018, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/he-wants-to-end-bias-against-convicts.

 

Dowler, Kenneth. “MEDIA CONSUMPTION AND PUBLIC ATTITUDES TOWARD CRIME AND JUSTICE: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FEAR OF CRIME, PUNITIVE ATTITUDES, AND PERCEIVED POLICE EFFECTIVENESS.” Stable Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (SIRMS) Laboratory – University at Albany-SUNY, 2003, www.albany.edu/scj/jcjpc/vol10is2/dowler.html.

 

Nike Women’s Day Advertisement

Today in mentor time we watched Nike’s ad for women day. I found the ad very empowering and inspiring and I think that for such a big brand to endorse this movement is highly effective in reaching audiences as Nike is a huge global brand. It does make me wonder however why they are doing this, is it just a business strategy to get more women to buy their products or is it from them genuinely caring.

Writers Fortnight – Elephant Conservation

The fourth talk I attended was by a wildlife conservationist Dr Tammie Matson. She spoke about her journey in advocating for the protection in Wildlife, namely elephants in Rwanda, and how she got there. She spoke about how she had been passionate about wildlife conservation from when she was 15 and had gone on a trip to Africa. I found myself relating to her when she spoke as I too have an interest in animals and wildlife conservation. She talked about some of her experiences in dealing with animals in their natural habitats and her most memorable moments. From the questions that we asked, she said that she thought Education was the key to wildlife conservation. If people get educated then a large portion of protection for animals would get solved. I didn’t find this talk as interesting as it could have been but overall I quite enjoyed it.

Writers Fortnight – Saved From a Flood

The third talk I attended as meant to be by a rock climber but he didn’t make an appearance so we had Dr Sweeting (an English teacher in our school) talk to us about his experience where he got rescued from a fatal natural disaster. He and his old friend Tom had gone on a trip to Myanmar. Tom was a very impulsive adventurous type who was also extremely charming so things usually went his way which is why Dr Sweeting agreed to go up near a refugee camp for the Rohingya people on an 18 hour bus ride for Tom to meet the refugees and interview people as in that village lived two people who were the last speakers of a specific language and they were around 80 so the language was going to be dead soon. At this point, I was questioning Dr Sweeting’s trust in his friend as it seemed that he blindly followed his friend. Heavy rain began to fall and a flood started to make its appearance but Dr Sweeting still followed his friend to interview these two speakers. It eventually got so bad that it was declared a crisis by the President of Myanmar and Dr Sweeting and Tom had just barely managed to catch the bus back to the city and it was a very rocky and dangerous journey where he was sure that he was going to die. He eventually made it back home and made a promise to himself to never embark on a journey like that again which could risk his life in such a way. I asked him if he thought it was a good idea to have such blind trust in someone and he responded by saying that he didn’t think that anyone should have that much trust in anything or anyone. He had followed Tom as he’d known him for 15 years and things generally always worked out with Tom. I thought that this was a very interesting talk on risk-taking journeys and the amount of trust you should have in someone. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this talk as I liked the aspect of danger and panic that the story contained.

Writers Fortnight – Fostering Children

The second talk I attended was by a resident teacher here at UWCSEA (Mrs Pauline Sharry). She shared her experience in fostering children and when sometimes things don’t work out. She and her husband had applied to be short term foster parents and had figured that as they were already teachers fostering children shouldn’t be much different or harder which is what I would’ve thought as well if I was in her position. They ended up receiving a 6-year old boy in need of an emergency home. And ended up fostering him for about 11 months. She spoke about how even though she loved him he became too much, he would constantly act out and cause trouble and they had realized it was because the boy had genuinely thought that he didn’t deserve their love or anything they gave him. It became so bad that Mr and Mrs Sharry decided to stop fostering him and he ended up going to another foster home. I wasn’t too big of a fan of this talk as I can’t understand how you can love a child for 11 months then give him up so he has to live with another family. After the talk, I understood that fostering for a child and being a teacher are two very different jobs that demand very different things from the respective person doing the job and I have huge respect for Mrs Sharry for caring for children who need a home.

Writers Fortnight – Criminal Psychologist

The first talk I had the chance to attend was by a visiting criminal psychologist. I was quite surprised by his appearance as he seemed extremely young and I had been expecting someone older with more experience. Once he began speaking, however, I was intrigued by his experiences working with criminals and working in the justice system. He spoke about his time monitoring convicts in rehabilitation programmes and how his perspective on courses like that changed and how they really helped the convicts generally. He also spoke about how going into the interview the convicts had become almost methodical for him, it had become part of his daily routine so he’d feel generally calm even around the felons that had committed the worst crimes. He also told us how he identified whether or not people were lying which really interested me as it was so different than we were exposed to by the media. I then asked him a question on whether or not he had been deceived by any of the convicts he had interviewed and he proceeded to tell us quite a graphic story about a time where he had a judged a convict based on his appearance. The criminal he was interviewing was quite similar to him in the sense that they were both near the same age and appearance wise as well there weren’t too many large differences so he hadn’t expected him to have committed any crime too serious. He revealed that the man had actually been convicted because he had several thousand videos of filming up girl’s clothes and one day he had ended up grabbing the girl. Later when reading the convict’s file, he found out that the girl was only 8 years old. He told us about how he had let himself be deceived by the man’s appearance into thinking that he couldn’t have committed a serious crime but in reality, it was the opposite. Overall this was my favourite talk as it sparked discussion into topics that can generally be seen as taboo in society (mental health, certain graphic crimes).

Significant Learning I Have Had This Term

I think that having the freedom to do subjects that I chose has made me more driven and has made me more aware of my capabilities as a student. As the workload has also increased, I have learnt to be more organized and manage my time better. I have to make sure to have enough time for school, friends, family and myself. There are times where it is challenging to continue to be organized and focused and not procrastinate, especially when we have several tests coming up but I have learnt to work past that and continue to work hard.

A Promise to Myself

A promise to myself. Here are some new things that I am planning on trying on my approach to learning.

I hope that this year I will be able to set myself realistic goals that I know I will be able to complete if I put in the effort and time. My two main goals this year are, to not procrastinate and to not get distracted when doing work.

For my first goal, I have noticed that I tend to leave somethings to the last minute and then get extremely stressed when I see that I don’t have much time to complete whatever I was doing. I really want to improve on making sure that I finish my work before due dates and have enough time before handing it in to check over it. I also want to be able to manage my time better so that I don’t just mess around until the last minute, I want to be able to plan my time effectively and spread my work over the course of the week to make sure I don’t get stressed and have guaranteed completion in work. I will make sure to plan out my week and try to do my homework on the day it is assigned or the days near it and make sure I don’t leave anything to the last minute.

My second goal is to not get distracted. I have come to the realization that sometimes when I’m working, I tend to get distracted and end up spending more time than needed on my work. I find this extremely inefficient and bothersome as I’d rather be finished with my work than spending extra time on it because I got distracted. I will focus more when doing tasks and remind myself to concentrate if I find myself going off task or getting distracted.

Overall I hope my goals to be realistic and achievable. Whether I can complete them in the next few days, weeks or even months, though I’d prefer to be able to achieve them as soon as possible. I think that if I do achieve these goals, a huge weight will be lifted off my shoulders as stress is something I constantly have to deal with a lot due to activities within and outside of school and also from the amount of work we get in school. I will try my best to work towards these goals and put in the effort and focus needed to accomplish these goals.