1960s Avenue

This weekend I managed to drop by The Arts House for a little walk with a friend after a very productive homework-completion session in the afternoon and I felt like I learned many things that I should be shared. There was an exhibit ongoing in The Gallery of The Arts House (that ends tomorrow by the way) done up by a couple of university students exploring the things in Singapore built by the pioneers and founding fathers, that our generation has missed. 

It’s a shame because the things I saw were beautiful even from photos and the stories behind each one of them made me wish I was born just that decade earlier to at least experience a little of it before it was all gone. Now, we can only read about it and hope to feel half of what it really felt like for our parents to be in these places. 

I imagine that one day 50% of the buildings around us will no longer be there, replaced by even higher, high-rise skyscrapers full of rat-racers. I don’t think I’d like that very much. Someone once said that if insects perished from the face of the Earth, within a couple of generations, every other species would as well; but if humans perished from the face of the Earth, every other living species would flourish. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

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Also, I read about this thing called ‘Kampung spirit’, it sounds pretty distant now, like a far-fetched thing I can only dream about. I wish I could say ‘hi’ to every neighbour in my block, and I could know the names of at least those neighbours around my age and we could meet up for dinner before heading home together once in a while. I wish I could walk up flights of steps to hang out in their houses and they could do the same. Or maybe where I needed help with something, I knew of at least one out of the goodness knows how many people who stay in the same block as me who could offer me that help. And how lovely would it be, if when someone wanted something sewn or had extra cloth they wanted to throw away, they’d think of me, walk flights of stairs down to my unit and offer all that to me. 

Heartening it was, though, to find out about movements attempting to retain these efforts, do check them out in the following sites: 

Blockpooling- http://www.blockpooling.sg/

Good Neighbours Project- http://www.hdb.gov.sg/fi10/fi10333p.nsf/w/CNGNP14_ABOUT?OpenDocument

And I suppose a good way to start appreciating what we have now is to understand everything else before what we have now. Asking our parents for their stories could be a start- from favourite childhood games to where they used to stay, to what education was like in their time. From there, we learn to story of where what we are experiencing today came from. We are all part of a chapter in a bigger book than we think, dating back to the 1960s. Let’s write our chapter well.

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Taking 5 to Appreciate

Since I’m at it tonight, I decided to say a little more, HAPPY FRIENDSHIP APPRECIATION DAY! Take 5: the super awesome fun-in-the-sun getaway from school and have loads of quality time with friends chill out on the beach, was supposed to celebrate a healthy lifestyle and commemorate friendships (trying to make this less about gender and valentine’s).

And I just wanted to say that I’m truly thankful to have these people close by. We often think we have to right to things that we have, the right to have fun in the beach, the right to a picnic with loads of food, the right to access to quality education and a comfortable life. We do, I suppose since we were born in the circumstance that allows it, but sometimes I like to think that, we were lucky to have that right and at the end of the day it’s wasted if we aren’t thankful. If we don’t feel grateful for it, that right was wasted on us. 

Plus it’s silly to assume we have the right to everything because what’s so great about you anyway?

So today, also, I thank:

ImageThe ones who watch me grow for four years and still love me somehow.

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The ones ten times smarter and stronger than me but still appreciate my company all the same.

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The ones who have faith in everything that I do, especially the things that I make. They’re surer about my work than I am.

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And especially the ones who’re younger than me but give me strength to do whatever I love.

JC: Entry One

Checking in from JC, I know I said I’d be back when I had things to talk about so I suppose tonight I have things to say–

It’s been less than two weeks into JC and I’m starting to see what they mean when they say it passes in a flash because everyday really ends before you know it at all. Orientation was a frenzied mess of meeting-new-people, reliving new friendships and discovering a surge of adrenaline to do late nights out consecutively; and now with the new classes out it’s the cycle repeated but coupled with attending lectures and walking from place to place, and sometimes, sitting around doing nothing. Well, today I fill you in with things I’ve seen and experienced.

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Meet the bunch of us from OG that I’ve come be really close to though it was just 4 days of intensive approximate 15 hours of fun each day back to back, so maybe my JC worse-case scenario (the part about not forging new friendships because I’m terrible) isn’t quite turning out the way I saw it. I’m thankful for all these new people I’m meeting and for the beautiful memories we’ve shared already and the more that we continue creating each day.

The part I love best about making new friends is learning about the stories and experiences behind each person that explains how he/she became what he/she is today. It’s like an exchange of histories that makes my heart ump that much faster after we move beyond “Hi, I’m Shermaine, what’s your name?” And the great thing about this bunch is that after the numerous truth questions, first impressions and games we’ve played together, seeing each other through the most exhausted times in orientation, we still haven’t gotten tired of each other’s faces, voices, slangs or jokes.

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And turns out the part about losing the old friendships turned out false because meet the bunch I’ve grown very distant from since Year 2 but have come to meet along the way in orientation! My lower secondary classmates may not have stayed in touch for a long time but I suppose now I learn to appreciate the comfortable knowledge of their presence in this very big school with my new, very big, J1 batch. So I suppose it takes more than 2 years to tell the value of friendships.

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The campus is beautiful and the resources and facilities are unbeatable (in my heart)– I’m grateful beyond words that this school has so much that I can learn with and from, there’s so much here to experience and I’m afraid my two years here will be far from enough. Together with great resources that we’re all having the privilege to enjoy, comes all the big expectations this school has of us and of the kind of people we are to become. Seems like I can’t quite escape all the expectations people paint out of Rafflesians at the end of the day: but the same way I entered RGS, I enter RI, with the biggest promise to myself not to allow these expectations to make me who I don’t want to become. At this point, I mark my words and I hope I get back to this two years later, pleased.

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And meet a small bunch of us from class- they’re the company I’d have admist the crazy academics rat race over the next two years and I have little to say about them except that I’m trying to be more excited than scared.

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And hi, this is me- at this point I feel overwhelmed by what RI has given me already and I’m thankful for the very happy days I’ve managed to enjoy in this beautiful school till this day. By the way, I got into Runway and Interact (yay!), we surprise ourselves everyday when we challenge our boundaries.

P.S. please support RGS Room to Read Chapter! It doesn’t matter if you’re not currently studying in RGS, following our social platforms will simply raise your awareness on literacy rates around the world and in Singapore, better understand the Education playing field and learn to appreciate what you have everyday! It’s a beautiful cause led by very passionate people (including myself) so you can ask me if you want to find out more!

(Instagram: @rgsroomtoread

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rgsroomtoread)

RGS Room to Read Chapter

Sorry for the hiatus over the past couple of days, I suppose it’ll be happening a little more often now that school is starting for real; I’ll probably only find myself here blogging when I need a special space to think. I wanted to say that two days ago I made an announcement with the RGS Room to Read Advocacy Team beginning the first of our self initiatied movements and it was the most amazing and exhilarating experiences I’ve had since 2014 started- so here I shall tell you our story.

It dates back to the time I posted this and asked for support from the RGS Community, and they were few of the passionate ones that replied enthusiastically and efficiently indicating their clear interest and commitment. It was inspiring and very much a pleasant surprise. I think the beautiful thing is that we have come together for a shared vision we see value in- raising awareness and funds to support Room to Read Organisation with their work. 

It may look like yet another initiative raising money and educating, but beyond that, we hope to cultivate a sense of empathy that comes with the knowledge and awareness. With the understanding of global issues related to literacy, we hope to give local students (especially the RGS Community) a bigger idea of the literacy platform around the world, and how privileged we are to be standing at the pinnacle, receiving the luxury of quality education in well-equipped schools and trained educators. It would be hard to be thankful for all this without being exposed to the larger picture. So if you see value in what our chapter does and if you appreciate the platform of empowerment (where RGS students may contribute to this cause/ further understand these issues), do support us on our social networking platforms and stay tuned for more: https://www.facebook.com/rgsroomtoread or (Instagram) @rgsroomtoread 

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At this point I also want to thank this team for their courage in stepping out of their comfort zones, and mustering the courage to take the first step to doing something for a bunch they care about. Some of us live by our lives doing countless things that give us recognition and certificates, but if it was all out of hoping to ‘succeed in life’ which no one actually proved to be necessarily possible just with portfolio, then one would’ve become but a robot of society. 

After all, the purpose of life is a life of purpose. And for this team I am so proud of, we have stepped out ever since ready for more heartwork and hardwork. That, I believe, will bring us all a long way from here. 

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One Day, it Wouldn’t Matter

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
Joseph Campbell

It is difficult to remember that little things like tripping over nothing, forgetting to bring something out, forgetting what I did last Tuesday, having nothing to do for a day; doesn’t matter as much as it may seem to in this particular moment, since the best things we leave behind aren’t these little things but the larger things that they become.

Of the little things that don’t matter but I overdramatize often, I think the hardest to cope with is losing friendships. It’s hard to remember that these memories aren’t as important as who we’ve become because of each other.

I find it difficult to cope with losing friendships and people because the relationships have so many memories and emotions encompassed in them. But I suppose I can try to convince myself that at the end the memories remain in our hearts and those emotions once felt were great while they lasted, and that part would matter as much as it’s a pity the person is gone now.

And I guess, also, that I can convince myself that the miracle that we’ve crossed paths is something fortunate that I should be grateful for. I can also convince myself that it’s magical it even happened in the first place. I suppose that’s as optimistic as a loss can be perceived so bye, and enjoy the music!

I Heart NLB

I Heart NLB

This afternoon I spent a good six hours in the National Library, and it’s the fourth Sunday in a row I’ve been here- browsing through the endless collection of history books leaving with information overload each time.

It occurs to me that I’d never be able to read all these books and remember all that information even if I spent my entire lifetime staying in this library, just this level alone. Needless to say, the entire library’s worth of books would be impossible to finish. And that just goes to say how much we have preserved within the compounds of every public library that we have such easy access to.

I remember how I used to be in Library Service CCA in my first two years of secondary school; that was 2 hours a week just chilling in the school library, shelving the endless rows of books, pushing in the chairs that keep coming back out. It was only when I went through those two years that I actually realised how much resources we had kept within our library.

So, anyway, today I celebrate libraries. We are so lucky to have them.

Lunar New Year

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Sometimes I believe in destiny, to some extent. There are things and people that you’re born to meet and have by your side, by destiny. Family members are like default friends you’ve been bestowed with since birth. And to me, that’s destiny at work. I remind myself how lucky I am to have this many default friends from birth who would, without a doubt, be here for me if I needed them. It’s a beautiful thing to think about how we’ve spent our growing years together and been part of each other’s childhood, teenhood and soon enough, adulthood. My wish is that when we all become old rocking in our rocking chairs, moaning about our white hair and walking slowly towards our great grand children, we’d still be spending that time together. 

I sometimes feel envious of people who have friendships that last don’t-know-how-many-but-very-many years together and they end captions in their pictures with (number of) years and counting. But I often take for granted that right beside me, I’ve got these friends too. They’re beautiful, kind, loving, and a part of my life every step of the way. In fact, I have a whole bunch of them, from every walk of life with that array of experience and perspective to share with me. 

This year my new year house visits have been cut short because many relatives are overseas, but that leaves me more time to hang out with these cousins who meet yearly and we find ourselves making even more effort to get to know each other better every single year. 

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