One day, when I was in class, Dhir asked me to MC for Culturama and I agreed to. Thus started a whirlwind of Culturama madness. One day I was a regular civilian, minding my business, the next I was receiving a barrage of emails with information on who the other MC would be, the needs for the script, and regular updates on new things that the script needed to be. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but Vivian and I were given a deadline to write the script by. Learning outcome five is to “Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively”. We started working together, but from computers in completely separate locations. This gave me a unique view on the benefits and challenges of collaboration. Maybe it wasn’t the best form of collaboration, but we also discussed it at school.
I began to realize that collaboration could decrease workload if done well, enrich the product, and make me learn new ways of thinking about and doing things. I didn’t have to write half the script, which decreased my stress levels a lot. I got feedback on what I wrote, which made me think more about what I wrote and improve it. I also got a bit of a peek into Vivian’s mind and the different ways we could write the script. I had approached it from a very formal and informative standpoint, but Vivian reminded me that scripts can be funny too. Unfortunately, this initial collaboration was a double-edged sword. I didn’t get to write half the script, meaning I had less control over it, I got some negative feedback on things that I still think might’ve worked well, and part of me feels like I got forced into doing a cheesy script. However, it wasn’t only two of us who had an input. In this entire process we were getting emails from a myriad of people who all wanted different things, which really complicated the process, and I think was bad for the script.
There was only one season of Cross Country, but I went to two practices every week, and I ended up going to the ACSIS meet on the 31st of October. I did not place well in the race, but it was very encouraging because I had finished the five kilometers and I accomplished a lot. I know that I improved during the season, and I really challenged myself with continual repetitive activity. In addition, the girls team got second place, and that was very encouraging, because while I may not have contributed to the score, I still felt like I was part of something. The second learning outcome for CAS is to “Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process.”. I think the first part of this post effectively demonstrates the challenges, but what I have yet to mention is the skills. For me this was a lot harder to think about. For a while I didn’t think I had developed any skills. Then, I realized that I developed social skills, I have new friends that I gained through cross country. I also gained some very practical skills, such as ways to exercise better to achieve desired outcomes, like better aerobic capacity. I also learned methods of warming up and diminishing the effects of lactic acid and fatigue after a hard training session.
Walking into this service I hadn’t been sure what to expect. I had experienced service with the elderly and the sick before, and while that is different from working with mentally disabled people, it has many similarities. I knew that part of the reason I chose this service was that I knew it would allow us to enrich our relationships with service partners through a wide variety of interesting activities. I knew we would eventually leave the school and try to do things all around Bedok. I had wanted to really help people develop social skills or at least provide a positive experience.
I helped plan the first session where we interacted with our service partners. It was hard for the three of us who volunteered to run this session, because we weren’t sure what to expect. However, we came up with the idea of eating lunch with the service partners, and then doing some games with them. We knew that we had to have lunch first because given the time they came, the first half of the session would be when the cafeteria is most empty. Since we had never met our partners, and they had never met us, we had the idea to get name cards for each person, so that we could all see what each others names were. We did all of these things because we had a bit of a three point strategy for planning this session. First, identify the needs of the session. That was actually rather difficult. We had to reflect on how we wanted to help our service partners. We came to the conclusion that the main purpose of the first session would be ice breakers and getting to know each other. That was the reason for the name tag activity. Second, we needed to identify the plausibility of all our plans. One of the earlier ideas we had was to play tag with our service partners in a gym. We then realized that this would probably not be safe given that not all of them are very young or able to do things like play tag. Thirdly, we needed to make sure we could make it happen. We went to the service office, and they let us into the store cupboard so that we could look at the supplies and see what things we could use. That gave way to the idea of using a giant parachute and balls. The activities that we did with them went rather well. Overall, I’d say that session was a success as an icebreaker.
Having been part of the service for several sessions, I now know that my original expectations were a bit excessive. Yes, we do interact with our service partners, but right now we’re still getting to know them. Maybe at some point in the year we’ll change our meeting place, but not yet. In addition, part of me feels very discouraged because we haven’t made a lot of progress with them. With several of the activities some of our service partners have become annoyed, bored, or frustrated. However, some of our activities with them have been going well. Unfortunately we haven’t been very successful with our communication, as that is something which many of our service partners find very difficult. We haven’t learned that much about their interests and personalities, and while we know who they are, I’m not sure they’ve started recognizing us yet. I’m not completely sure how our service and interaction with them actually constitutes a service, and whether it’s successful in helping them integrate with society and work on their motor and social skills. Still, there’s a year to go and I have hope.
Yesterday we had the first MUN meeting and I’m in advanced now so I’m a bit apprehensive as I feel like everyone else is better than me at debate. However, I’m very excited as this is the year they’ll start grooming us to run the club. I’m also very excited as the first conference this year I’ll be debating on Trump’s first 100 days in office, and if as a committee we can create a viable solution that would be wonderful. However due to the issues of sovereignty and so on, most likely our resolutions will not be as great as I hoped. By the end of the year I hope to be confident in debate and better at formulating well worded arguments. Learning outcome one is to “Identify their own strengths and develop areas for growth.”. I know that I’m in advanced now, and that got me to thinking about what my strengths are. In this reflection I realized that I tend to have a good grasp of the issues we debate. I’m good at writing resolutions that tackle the issues, and I’m good at writing speeches. I also have a lot of experience with MUN, and as a result know procedure rather well. However, there are some areas for growth. I’m extremely insecure in MUN which is why it took me a while to figure out why I’m in advanced. This insecurity makes me stutter when making speeches and blank in the middle of debate. This never happens when I’m speaking in front of crowds or debating someone outside of MUN. It only happens when I have to debate in MUN form. I also don’t have very extensive knowledge of random UN treaties and statistics. On top of that, I don’t read the news as much as I could and should. However, these are all things I can improve over the course of the MUN year.
At this point in the year, I’ve been to only three cross country practices. To be honest they’ve been kind of intimidating. I’ve been running to get ready, but this is my first time really doing cross country and I’m very far outside of my comfort zone. It can be kind of discouraging because everyone’s a lot faster than me, but I think I can start keeping up better. In the future, I hope to be more confident in myself and my ability to face challenges. Maybe I’ll even be excited about doing sport next year. In the first learning outcome students are supposed to “Identify their own strengths and develop areas for growth”. I definitely know that I have areas for growth here. My track record in sport isn’t necessarily a great one. Not only do I need to develop my confidence, but also my perseverance. My general pattern is that I get really into a sport, I get really committed, and I work really hard, challenging myself a lot. That is a strength. However, those periods tend not to last for more than a couple weeks. Sometimes they last a couple months. So, a strength would be my ability to challenge myself and really do a sport to the best of my ability. However, one area for growth is my perseverance. If I’m still going to two practices a week by the end of the season it would be a nice change. An even better thing would be if I could continue exercising after the season. Lastly, even if I’m nowhere as good as the other kids on the team, I’m a lot better than I was in ninth grade, and I think that is also a strength because I was able to work on exercising on my own. I exercised without a team, even if it wasn’t as regular as possible.