Hello there, Alex here.
Due to the terms of my scholarship, I’ll have to split the week 5 and 6 blogs into two different posts – just a function of the wording, really. So, to make sure I don’t run afoul of anything, here’s half the post from Week 5 and 6. This part recounts my involvement (during week 5) with Hushu School, our local partner for community service.
As part of the TFI-LEARN (Temasek Foundation International Leadership Enrichment and Regional Networking) Programme, us recipients go through an enriched version of the Asian Leadership Programme (as if it were not packed enough already!). Amongst these many wonderful additions, including the writing of these blog posts, we also have the opportunity to undertake some form of community service – and for this batch, we’ve had the privilege of working with the Hangzhou Hushu School. As mentioned in my prior posts, the school serves those with special needs, and we were to plan and carry out a handful of activities for their students. As planned, these activities were clustered within these two weeks – while we were still reasonably free (although the DIP students would strongly disagree).
Our liaison, Teacher Wu, had suggested prior that we should plan activities that distinguish us from the common university student – that the students should sense, at the very least, that we came from a very different place (what’s the point of having exchange students, after all?). We wracked our brains for something with a distinct Singaporean, or SUTD, flavour, and I’d say (in retrospect) we did pretty well.
Our first activity was a paper plane competition – the brainchild of our resident DJ and memelord, Keng Hin. It’s not an original idea, given that Keng Hin and I were running the same event under the House Guardians banner some time back, but I realized it carried that typical SUTD flavour – one that demanded depth in creativity and technical competency, with a dash of fun and competition for sharpness. In almost any other circumstance, it seemed like a good idea.
But I suppose we forgot about our audience – the first activity was to the youngest of the students. Now, to clarify, the students of Hushu are split into classes not by age, but by approximate ability (which also comes with age, but it’s a broad enough metric to safely account for those who are faster) – and that also means we were dealing with students who were least likely to have that technical competency needed for folding paper planes. Cue the activity, and the problem became obvious – the students were, understandably, distracted and disinterested. Some were fascinated by the paper planes we folded as examples (and also practice, for us) but almost none took interest in the folding process itself.
Before I continue, I must make clear that I really, really, really don’t like kids (not all though; some are alright. Kinda cute, in fact). I’m a grouchy old man in a 22 year old shell, and the younglings always get on my nerves with the screaming and crying and general misdemeanour. It’s such a sore spot for me that I’ve often found myself asking my mother if I’ve ever behaved that way (She claims that I was quite an easy child to handle – always laughing, and very round as well). I know that they’re kids, and kids will be kids, but it doesn’t make it any less irritating.
Imagine my absolute joy when I found myself with the youngest of the batch. I don’t deny I was equal parts frustrated and helpless during the activity.
The next activity we planned, which was scheduled in the later half of week 5, entailed a dance that Wesson, Kenji and Timothy choreographed to some popular Chinese tune (I still doubt this, given that the tune is about seaweed). Timothy, given his International Baccalaureate background, isn’t really proficient with Chinese, so the burden of teaching (and hence speaking in Chinese) fell upon Kenji and Wesson – which they proceeded to do with aplomb. The students definitely enjoyed themselves, and I think it’s a testament to the trio when you have teachers joining in and having fun as well.
Well then, that covers my week 5 activities. Not much, which is precisely why I opted to merge the weeks for a better narrative. Oh well.
K. Thanks. Bye.