Happy 17th Sarah Wong!

In the midst of this preparation for the Promotional Exams, I’m actually doing a mini social networking hiatus unless I have something that I want to say and I deem ultimately necessary, like now. So here’s a short but heartfelt post I would like to dedicate to Sarah, and the friendship that we share.

1396073_10201530967574236_881508263_nIn this time that I have been so privileged to get to know Sarah, she has almost been the exemplar of being beautiful inside and out to me. I will never forget the memories that we have shared, half of which are volunteering experiences or supporting global organisations like this time above, when we checked into Picnic 1345 by World Vision, and the other half of our memories, all about mutual support that I will talk about later. Being around Sarah reminds me to be who I am and love those around me and myself unconditionally, which is something truly rare and beautiful. I am constantly reminded of the kindness that she stands for even when we pass by in school or in the hugs or ‘are you okays’ that go a really long way to make my days. Thanks for giving me all these kind exchanges and showering me with love, Sarah.

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Then, in our friendship, there is the acceptance of whoever we are. Allow me to explain myself, in the years we have known each other, we have watched each other grow: stronger, and braver. I’m not completely the same as the Shermaine she got to know at first, but I’m thankful for the way she has continually loved me over and over, and accepted me for who I became with whatever ordeals we had to get through or challenges that shaped us in the hardest years of our teenage life. The continuous acceptance and ability to love completely every new change that has evolved from our experiences, keeps our friendship stronger every single time. Thanks Sarah!

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And this leads me to talk about all the bad times we have shared. It’s somewhat a secret (every friendship has their secrets) but the idea is that we have seen each other through the worst of one another’s times, the worst states and shared tears, blood and sweat. There has been blaming of ourselves, of each other, a cyclical process fueled by the underlying love that supports our friendship. And I dare say this is something I share with little of my friends today, so thanks Sarah for allowing me to be part of your moments and for being there for me over and over again. You are truly a friend I can call up anytime and someone I can count on to be there anytime.

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But of course we have had our best times too, from art exhibitions, volunteer opportunities, and other random cafehops or adventures that I have ultimately lost count of. They say that we are the silliest in our teenhood and the most reckless, impulsive and almost stupid. But I think these silly things really do count (as I expressed once in my post ‘Lets Count the Silly Things’) and I am glad to have had the privilege of sharing these stupid things that will amount to be what shapes who become and what we pride ourselves in in time to come. So thanks for the memories that are still being accumulated by the day, for the kindness and love the supports me in every way possible and for being my friend because it really isn’t easy.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARAH!

Success| Significance

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It’s strange to think that these memories of the best days of my life were a year ago, and my friendships forged with these people has come into our fourth year counting.

This study break has begun with three extremely productive days of keeping up with revision, challenging myself as a learner and still committing to Youth Corps Singapore training and Project Work meetings. Here’s to more days like this for the rest of my week and a journey of resilience towards the Promotional Exams, yet another milestone in our journey as college students. As I sit back against my chair taking a break after another fruitful day, I remember something that was mentioned yesterday at YCS Training and browsing through these photos that Larrie finally decided to upload, here today, I’d like to talk about success and significance. 

So somewhere yesterday, someone mentioned that success and significance were two very different things. It’s like the way we’re studying so extremely hard now and the way the Straits Times for these couple of weeks have been reviewing our obsession over the “paper chase” (that is, the pursuit for portfolio and degrees and certificates) that could seem very well to be the road to success. But it definitely isn’t the one-way road to significance. 

I think, success is only a stepping stone to significance, but indeed it has it’s place and is very important. Where you’ve gotten the success that attests for your self-worth that you desire and have constantly worked towards, whatever your indicators may be, and that’s important. But the only time you really feel significant, I think, is when others are involved. 

There’s a saying that I have on one of the stickies I look at on my Macbook when I’m feeling discouraged and it goes, We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give and I guess that’s why our connections with people are so important, the way one man is no island. We need these human interactions and these fellow people around us to share feelings with us to feel real, and alive. Because there’s so much less value in a memory, a gift or a thought unless it’s shared. 

success to significanceSo I guess that’s why I invest so much in relationships and people; for a kind of significance that I don’t think the assessments that testify for my hard work and capabilities can give me. I’m not saying these aren’t important— I think I’m trying to say that they should be consciously weighed out when we make decisions, because it just could change the way we paint this picture out of our lives. And they really aren’t two choices on two extremes from which we can only choose one, I imagine it’s like a single highway with 4 lanes and you get to choose a mixture of two to different proportions as you signal to change lanes once in a while. 

As for me, I think for these weeks to come, I think I’d be taking a side track to focus on the lane to success. Good luck for promos, you’re not alone! 

 

The Communities I am Thankful For

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As the last school day of Term 3 comes to an end, I like to spend time thinking about how I’ve spent the term and the kind of company that has helped me tide through this very difficult term for me. So allow me to tell you about the communities I have been privileged to find my place in as I do a mini check back at the end of this term. 

Starting with Raffles Runway, this group of passionate beautiful people are lovely inside and out. As the seniors paved the first half of our runway journey for us as we worked our guts out for our First Runway Show this term, it has marked the beginning to our term. We have had afternoons, evenings, almost nights; sitting in a circle in the runway room with big blank paper before us brainstorming, doing word association, drawing, discussing and doing the most productive idea generation I have done this entire year. With the witty sense of humour that I’m blessed to be entertained by with these people around, being in runway is a getaway from the hectic and usually serious curriculum time. So I am incredibly thankful to have landed in a CCA where I truly love what we do and have found people who feel the same. 

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As for Raffles Interact, we are a big big family. It’s difficult to get to know every single person to a level beyond acquaintance all at once, but the platforms are many and the people are mostly the friendliest you can find in school. I don’t think I’ve met such a big group of like-minded peers and seniors before this and I feel truly blessed to have spent the first months of my JC school life in a family this compassionate and this willing to sacrifice time and energy to make someone else happy. Being an Interactor has also given me numerous opportunities to meet new people, to find new service opportunities and upon every club service, I feel an immense pride toward this family and what we do. This is exactly Why I Love Interact. And above all, I love that in this community, every individual comes together, combined, to create something bigger, better and more beautiful, that one could never create alone (which is well depicted in this photo).

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And outside of school, I definitely owe an incredible amount of thanks to my teammates in Singapore Youth Corps whom I have met for at least 5 times within this term, on the first weekend of every month and in the nights of weekdays. We have all put in so much hard work in every meeting, made so many sacrifices to be there and yet displayed an exuberant energy in hopes to encourage one another. That inspires me constantly. Community service has been a big part of my life especially since secondary school, and there was often the uncertainty about how long this passion and drive will last because of the glass ceiling created by age or by future career that will minimise the time that I have to possibly voluntarily serve community. But this community has increasingly proven me wrong on this and I think I might just be serving voluntarily for a really long while from now. So I’m thankful, for the lessons we have learned together and for those they have taught me. 

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Here is my unofficial support group from Halogen Foundation: I can’t remember when last year when their office became my third home after RGS and to today as I frequent the office for chats with my friends from there, it seems through the tide of time, little has changed. This group is special because each and every individual, so talented and incredibly creative, smart and capable work toward the simple but noble ambition of showing every youth that they have the potential to lead with their influence. I have so much admiration and respect for the people whom I’ve met through their occasional Halogen Hangouts and from my interaction with their staff. I am also incredibly thankful for their constant encouragement through sharing my story and finding me platforms for amplify my views. Do check out their latest blog platform for youth sharing- www.postscriptstories.wordpress.com!

teachers4And with regard to the communities that I have ‘graduated’ from commitment from, I know the ones who have truly nurtured me and influenced the way my heart has grown over this year, will find me constantly coming back with a strong sense of nostalgia and love for the people who continue to be there. 

This last community I’d like to tell you about is the UPstars Community, where we come together weekly to tutor low-income children in the Buona Vista area. Each of us, privileged, want so much to give these children the learning experiences we once had and transfer to them as much knowledge as we possibly can in every week’s 2 hours session. Our sessions are 739-930PM and it surely isn’t an easy time to commit to weekly and also a difficult time to keep ourselves away and energised– but we do it regardless and I’ve seen this group of people weekly for a long while now. As I leave this community hoping to dedicate myself better to the other communities I’m presently within and fully immerse myself in them, I will have the spirit of perseverance and constantly trying to better myself as I have learned from this community, etched within me. And I am assured that if I find my way back into this community again to serve and discover more learning takeaways yet again, I will be welcomed in with open arms, a little like the alma maters I love dearly. 

To me, it is important to honour and be conscious of the communities that we choose to be a part of because they say just as much about the person we have become as they say something about the kind of life we are choosing to lead. And only when we are more conscious do we realise we have almost absolute control over which communities we find ourselves in and how we let them influence us. Thanks for being with me throughout this year and especially in this term!