Saturday morning: it is early enough for the buses to be almost empty and for elderly who came out for a breezy walk at dawn to be seen on the streets. The sky is a soothing shade of blue, and I can already feel a beautiful day coming on. Today’s agenda begins with a morning at my alma mater, Raffies Girls’ School (Secondary) advocating for filiae melioris aevi at Open House 2016. This long bus ride is for reflections on the courage to believe and commitment to service that I learned in the compounds of this school.
There is reason for many of my peers and I to refer to our alma mater as “home” – it is more than the familiar green, black and white campus or the folded sleeves we liked to call our “thing”. A house is just a building; “home”, it’s a feeling. The culture of the school championed the celebration of ourselves as people. We were characterized by our beliefs, values, convictions and the community causes we held close to our hearts. Our teachers taught us that we were more than our grades and valued us for the things we loved to do. I picked up the double bass in Chinese Orchestra and went on to partake in concerts and Singapore Youth Festival showcases with the ensemble. While those who know me well would be billionaires if they got a penny for every time I expressed wishes to be playing more than the bass line, I was taught that learning is a process and your peers are your most valuable tutors. Amongst peers, there was an expert for everything – the best part was a sense of humility that garnered respect and created a culture of exchange for the better of one another. Much of the academic excellence I attained in my years in the Raffles Program was a feat made possible only with kind guidance from peers.
Then, another important understanding achieved was that privilege was the basis of gratitude. Noblesse oblige meant that our privilege entailed responsibility to contribute to the greater good of society. We are “daughters of a better age”. Every other day, there would be Community Problem Solving Program teams or Youth For Causes teams announcing fundraising efforts for their respective community causes. We were taught to look at circumstances of the underprivileged with empathy and meaningfully impact their lives to the best of our ability. Service starts small – I learned it while serving the school community through House Committee. We were united on the common vision to create a more vibrant learning environment and integrate new additions to our RGS family (Y1s) into the school. These causes we believed in passionately allowed us to focus on our similarities more than our differences. Consequently, from putting our self-interests aside to serve the school community, we developed empathy and selflessness. I will never forget the late nights for orientation camp that the leadership boards pulled through together, nor the countless meetings with the House Committee to improve our “House Time” with the members of the school community.
When I walk backwards in my learning journey from where I am presently, I always come back to some of the most turbulent but important days of self-improvement and character development in this school. Being involved in Youth Corps Singapore that champions service before self, Halogen Foundation Singapore that advocates “influence is leadership” and my dedication to the healthcare industry; all of which are means I keep myself a part of something larger, living and breathing what this school has taught me.
Filiae Melioris Aevi