Saturday, July 17, 2004

Busy, busy day. If Cikgu Ibrahim hadn't reminded me about today's Racial Harmony Day celebration/forum at SMU I would have slept this morning away in the midst of a fine thunderstorm. The celebration might have been more fun for the crowd of primary school kids who were taken on a discovery tour of the Botanic Gardens by their assigned student leaders; but for me it was like been there, done that. Literally speaking, because our college had exactly (well, almost exactly) the same programme two years ago to celebrate Teachers' Day. A good idea is worth recycling on an ever increasing scale.
I took a greater interest in the forum, especially with what the 2nd speaker had to say about her CDC's NE Youth Ambassadors. Ms Phua seems like a very passionate, bubbly personality who genuinely loves working with youth. What I liked about her presentation was that she emphasized very strongly about what our youth can do once we give them enough trust to have a free rein to do their "thang." Her approach to NE is so simple and yet so real -- provide an environment where youth can mix it up and form strong and lasting friendships. That's all the NE that our youth need; and I believe her. Our "system" suffers from too much micromanagement and it turns out lots of kids who are crippled in imagination, motivation, and confidence, so it's great to see that there are civil servants like Ms Phua who has her head screwed on right.
Already the forum has got some ideas sizzlin' on the backburner, but now isn't the time to discuss them. I need to do a little further research before I can verbalize what's going on in there.
A number of issues from this morning resonated in Mean Girls, which I managed to catch this evening. Cady's observation that schools are places where adults don't trust youth to do the right thing applies in our context as well as in hers. This lack of trust is truly a terrible thing. Within her school is a society in microcosm, fragmented along racial, linguistic, fashion, intelligence, cultural and lack-of-cultural faultlines. The obvious distrust between the different groups rests on such a hair-trigger that it takes a single malicious event to cause the whole society to erupt into violence and chaos. It's funny to watch in the movie, but it's not half so funny as we apply the same model to different parts of our world where people are fighting, killing and dying for the exact same reasons.
Ha! Only the NE coordinator could turn a high school chick flick into an NE lesson for Racial Harmony Day. Hope I haven't spoiled it for you!

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