Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Here's the text of the article I wrote for Contact, the Ministry's newsletter about happenings in schools. I wasn't inspired this afternoon, so this was a laboured piece of writing. It's quite long, so please bear with it. I tried to be factual but the journalistic lingo, I feel, is lacking. It's about our Cultural Adventure:

Most people take their immediate neighbourhoods for granted. They commute between their workplaces and their homes and spend so much time in either location that they seldom notice the neighbours they live with, and the community around them is usually ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ For Nanyang Junior College, this National Day commemoration event, held on 6 August 2004, aimed to open up Nanyang students’ minds to their own ‘backyard’ by organizing a walking tour around the community surrounding the campus.

Decked out in eye-catching red and white, NYJC students and staff began the celebration in the newly constructed gallery facing the college track. The ceremonyof the flag-raising accompanied by the Concert Band, the solemnity of pledge taking, and the Principal’s reading of the Minister of Education’s National Day Message to Schools grounded the festivities in the serious matters that are the nation’s independence and social cohesiveness.

The college’s Dance Society followed up with a celebratory dance number incorporating different dance styles, and the Drama Club presented a light-hearted reenactment of the Japanese Occupation and the racial riots of the past and postulated what would happen to Singapore in the future if we forget our history.

After a rousing round of community singing, the NYJC Community Adventure got underway. Civics Tutorial Groups from JC1 and JC2 competed against each other to reach their checkpoints and, once there, complete the tasks allocated to them. Accompanied by their Civics Tutors (one CT by the Principal, Mrs Ho Woon Ho, as well), each group walked routes that took them past the various community features such as Neighbourhood Police Posts, Community Clubs, sundry shops and marketplaces where the students could observe for themselves people’s lives beyond the college fences.

Each checkpoint, housed within common areas and void decks, posed activities that were both fun and challenging, but they all emphasized group participation, cooperation and communication in order to succeed. Groups performing the tasks were also competing against each other and received points according to how successfully they met their challenges. The points accumulated towards some attractive hamper prizes at the end of their Adventure.

All groups gathered in the college hall for a final round of community singing before the prize giving. There was much spontaneity as students sang, clapped and jumped along with the music, formed conga lines that snaked through the hall, and the occasional, if brief attempt at “body surfing” by some members of the crowd.

In college there are few occasions for staff and students to let their hair down. NYJC fully took this opportunity to do so, and learned to appreciate each other beyond the usual classroom context. Nation-building begins in the hearts of all citizens. These occasions make for lasting bonds, and are hard to forget.

Well, an echo anyway of what went on from a PR point-of-view. Wish I had read the Cikgu's email properly, though. Contact only wanted a 150-200 word write-up. Sigh. Time to exercise those old summary skills...

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