Hope House Visit

Today, as part of our ArtScience project, I headed down to Hope House to know more about them, as well as what spurs them to continue their mission.

Before I talk about them, I would like to talk about our ArtScience project. This year’s theme is Energy For The Future, and our group has decided to embark on a different and unique course – spiritual/positive energy. Hence, we decided to research on what do positive energy mean to different groups of people. Hence, we visited Hope House.

Hope House is a shelter for youths aged from 17-21. They have committed an offence before, but not so major for them to enter jail. Some of these boys are unfortunately abandoned by society and their family, hence they come to Hope House where they are cared for, and most importantly, given a second chance.

I guess finding out about positive energy from Hope House is a very beneficial thing to do. I mean, we do not volunteer or donate to them, but we spread the word about them. From this experience, I learnt why do people volunteer, what these boys go through and what do other people think about them.

People volunteer here because they have a passion for volunteering. They see that others are worse off than them, hence they help them in any way they can. Sure, volunteers don’t receive any pay and have to contribute countless hours, but I guess to them every minute of volunteering. To them, positive energy is their passion to volunteer, and the effect their actions make on the boys.

One thing that struck me most about these boys, is that they put their past behind, and go the extra mile when doing their work. For example, Hope House make several hundred loaves of bread every last Friday of the month for hundreds of foreign workers in Singapore, and distribute the bread to them for free. At first, they aim to make only 400. However, in the end, they make over 800 loaves. They don’t bake these loaves because they have to or because they have nothing better to do, but they make it because they see that these foreign workers are living in worse off situations than them, hence they do whatever they can to improve their livelihood. They work together as a community, and encourage one another to put in more effort than necessary. That isn’t just amazing. That’s leadership. Leadership from people that many in the society disregard because they committed a crime.

I guess my visit, in itself, can be considered positive energy. After reading this, I’m sure you have hope in people. This energy being radiated from others to yourself. And this energy is the energy of the future. The passion, the motivation, and the hope these people give. Best of all, this energy is doable by everyone, it is within everyone, and it touches everyone.

1st Training

Today was my first training in NCC (Air) as a Specialist!

Of course, it wasn’t easy. Despite our efforts to bring extra black socks and standardising almost everything, the parade was really long, as our parade “position” had to be changed more than 6 times :l. In the end, the “Hell Parade” took more than 1.5 hours…

However, today’s training was rather unique. It was a vast difference from last year’s trainings. We kept doing drills, PT, and all sort of UG stuff. However, today’s was different. We learnt to be an example/role model for the younger cadets. We learnt that any tiny mistake others make, ALL of the Specialists have to bear the brunt. In NCC, it’s a ‘One-for-all, all-for-one” system. I guess as a Specialist, we really have to “rise up to the occasion” and be a leader for more than 50 cadets to follow.

Hopefully, as the year goes by, I will improve in maintaining positive relationships with others, and improve myself as a whole.

Time Flies… Despite Having Fun or Not

Then it dawns upon you that it is already July. 5 more months to 2015! More than half the year has passed. That was fast.

Looking back, I realised there were so many moments, good and bad, stored at the back of my mind. I’m sure if you take the time to think you do have these special gems in your head too. I remember the time when I was taught by this teacher, who no longer teaches me today. I remember the time I went into depression, after failing a test and losing all confidence in myself and the people around me. I remember the time spent in camps, passing on the passion and sharing precious memories with others.

Unfortunately, with all these also come along the regrets. We all have regrets. I regret the times when I was lazy. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time studying harder. I wish I had said the right things at the right time.

However, I guess what’s done cannot be undone, and we shouldn’t cry over spilt milk. Hence, I hope this will be some sort of ‘reminder’ to live life to the fullest from now onwards, and have as little regrets as possible. Maybe someday when I look back again, there will be tears of joy and nostalgia…

Annual Parade 2014

Before I post about AP 2014, I’d like to apologise for being so inactive on my blog recently. I’ve been rather busy quite recently with school and projects. But anyway, here’s a post about an event I been through yesterday.

Annual Parade 2014. SJI’s most important event for all the Uniformed Groups. For the students, AP is the most important for the Secondary 3s and 4s. For the Secondary 3s, it is the official parade where we step up as leaders to take over the entire unit. For the Secondary 4s, they step down after 1 year of leadership and their final year in the unit. Of course, for us, it is one of the most nerve-wrecking periods of the year.

Excitement. Nervousness. Uncertainty. I guess you could say I was trying to keep afloat in my sea of mixed feelings yesterday. It was good to finally take over the unit as a leader. I mean, we waited three years for this moment. But, with great power comes great responsibility. I was unsure. How would we work out as a team? Our previous specialists have nurtured us over these few years to have the confidence, skills and passion to take over the unit. Will we disappoint them? Will we disappoint our own part mates, who we have been with for these three years?

Also, I’m sure we’ll miss our training specialist who had been with us since last year. He was the meanest specialist in the entire unit, and of course this somehow pulled up our standards tremendously. Sometimes I must admit he was rather biased and unreasonable. Did he do all this for his personal pleasure or with the determination to improve our drill standards? I don’t know. But of course, I guess memories are made during the hardest of times. And, he has somehow made our part bond together better.

I’d like to thank once again to everyone who came and supported us during AP: My parents, OTs, Old Boys, the senior specialists who have passed out in the previous years. I hope we won’t disappoint after taking over, and that we’ll have a fantastic year together for our last year in the NCC as a proper part!

To greater heights!

Saluting to our Commanding Officer during Passing Out Parade (POP). I was the guy on the right. Credits to Eugene Ng for the photo.

Saluting to our Commanding Officer during Passing Out Parade (POP). I was the guy on the right. Credits to Eugene Ng for the photo.

LLTC 2014 – Heritage Play

‘High School Musical 4′ was my first thought when I watched this Heritage Play. Unlike normal camps where the participants of the camp have to create a skit, this time in LLTC it was the OTs who planned the Play. This play was a proper play, with months of rehearsal and planning. And you might be asking, ‘What’s so good about this Play? What is it about?’

The word ‘Lasallian’ comes from the name De La Salle, who was the founder of many Lasallian schools internationally, starting in France. Despite being born into a rich family, he felt a calling to serve people, especially kids, who were not as fortunate as him. And one of these acts of service, was to build a school for the poor children. However, he faced many obstacles along the way, and even thought of giving up sometimes. It was difficult pursuing his passion, as people around him would look down on him, and think that his service was ‘a waste of time’ and a ‘failure’. However, he persisted, and his efforts have blossomed into a family of Lasallians all around the world.

Heritage Play is a “revisitation” of this story. In SJI, Josephians have listened and watched this story being recreated over and over again. And as we all know, repetitions can be very boring. Heritage Play managed to sustain our interest, not through droning on monotonously on the history, what he did and all that stuff. The OTs actually created songs, skits, costumes and stuff. It was fantastic. There were moments of sadness, moments of uncertainty and moments of craziness. There was a concoction of history and enjoyment, and this was of course something we Josephians don’t always experience or get a chance to view a lot. And thus, of course we enjoyed it.

Fun and laughter aside, this play of course aims to let us remember our roots. Behind all the songs and costumes, there’s also a constant reminder of what De La Salle went through, all his hardships and mockery, before actually achieving his dream. And this is why SJI always shows us this every year. Some might say it’s an example and reminder not to give up on pursuing our passion. Others might say it’s important to remember the origin of the De La Salle schools. But what do I gain from this entire experience?

I guess all of us will someday find a calling, and have a goal in mind. To achieve that goal, we will come across milestones, hurdles, obstacles and emotional distresses, but when we want to give up, always remember why we started.

LLTC 2014 – Walk The Talk

“Talk the Talk, and Walk the Walk.”

Sure we’ve all heard of that phrase before. As a leader, we shouldn’t be simply all talk and no action. We should lead by example, and lead by our standards to show others how we want things to be done.

However, ‘Walk The Talk’ was a totally different context and experience for LLTC. It was our first main activity for the day, and the first activity for the camp. Despite it being the first, it was the most tiring. We had to assemble at St. Stephen’s School, which was in the East of Singapore. Our “campsite”, or school that we were going to have the camp in, was at SJI International, which was near Central Singapore.

I think you can roughly guess what we’re going to do by now. Yup, we’re going to walk halfway across Singapore to SJI International. While walking, we were supposed to talk and make new friends and break the ice for the camp. Honestly speaking, I have never, ever walked so far in my life. During a camp, especially. Maybe I guess you could say it was an ‘eye-opener’ (literally), as we had to open our eyes to look out for the signs, maps and road names during our walk. We could not have any maps, board any means of public transport or use our phones. However, hey, luckily some people knew a couple of roads that leads to our destination and we followed a bus route.

Throughout the walk, people were staring at us. From their cars, from shops, from everywhere. However, we were honestly too tired to care. We walked for about 4 hours under the hot sun. By the time we reached SJI International, we were exhausted. Really. What’s worse, it was only Day 1 out of Day 4 of the camp!

But honestly, I guess Day 1 was the least memorable of the camp. I mean, Walk The Talk and Heritage Play were the only 2 activities I remember till today, from Day 1. The ice wasn’t really broken yet, there were some “conflict” and “fear” about opening up to our group members, and it was a rather awkward day I guess. I mean, we were strangers at first so…

Walk The Talk was memorable. Would I choose to do it again? If I had a choice between walking and taking a bus, of course I would choose the latter. But as they say, it’s the tough times that makes things memorable in the end. I guess Walk The Talk was an eye-opener in some ways. But I guess the fatigue it brings about really makes us want to shut our eyes.

Lasallian Leadership Training Camp (LLTC) 2014 – Overview

“Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.”
Harold S. Geneen

From 21st to 24th June 2014, I had one of the most amazing, reflective and hilarious experiences of my life as a Josephian and Lasallian. I attended a Lasallian Leadership Training Camp, and I will be sharing my experiences with several posts in this blog.

For this post, here’s just a reflection on what happened during the camp. This isn’t just a leadership camp. This camp trains us to learn more on how to be a Lasallian Leader. The theme for this camp is ‘Service Over Self’. And honestly, this camp has merged the various aspects of leadership together, into an enjoyable, memorable and outstanding epitome into our further leadership in SJI.

First of all, I learnt from this camp that everybody can be a leader. I don’t really believe in the saying ‘A leader is born’. I think leaders are moulded. They aren’t people who simply take life for granted, go through something and forget about it. They learn from past experiences. They remember the negative feelings and try their best not to let others go through the saddening moments they have been through. All in all, they try to make a difference, for the better. Leaders aren’t only people that drone on about boring deep stuff that seem really difficult to listen to. Leaders are people who can use whatever techniques, humour, joy, stories, for one purpose – to let the followers share the same vision as you. That’s my main takeaway from this camp on learning what is a leader.

Next, I guess the main spark that lighted this entire camp were the activities. Nothing better than action. As they say, “Action speaks louder than words”. This is so true for this camp. People can bombard us with the lessons on how to be a leader, but the most effective way to do so is to experience the activities yourself. We can have icebreakers to get to know new friends, but going through thick and thin and forging memories from it is an of course more powerful tool. We can be told how to help the elderly or donate to the poor, but interacting with the elderly and feeling their experiences are of course better.

Finally, the thing that complemented the action is of course the people. I’d like to sincerely thank the OTs (Organizing Team) and of course the participants. All of us been through the same difficulties together, laughed at the same jokes together, and forged beautiful memories together. It is through various interaction between people that we learn to grow, and memories are created.

All in all, LLTC 2014 was a glorious camp. We didn’t just talk The Talk. We Walked The Walk. I used to think after LLTC I would give up all my leadership positions. But no. This was simply the beginning of my new journey.

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”
Arnold H. Glasow