Friday 13 February 2015


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, for a number of reasons. I rather bashfully must confess the main reason is my looming mock IB exams that begin this coming Monday (makes a pitiful cry and falls to the floor), and so when in doubt, (exhaustion, frustration, confusion and on the brink of near delirium) introspection, naturally, seems the way forward! This reflecting is really inevitable, especially when the AC chapter of my life is drawing to a close. This blog of course will always be my personal link to my time at UWC Atlantic College. Its unavoidable really, and if you want to find out why you can read my earlier blog posts, which is what I have been doing.

The duality of time strikes me as I mull over those initial posts. On the one hand, if I shut my eyes, I am put back into the Liechtenstein exhibition all over again and can see every stroke of the brush, but on the other, little moments documented in this blog seem like events of a past life. The odd two-way tug that I feel in my chest trying to piece, to put together the past two years has really made my head spin. Indeed, this blog itself is centred around time (you really have to read those blog posts if you are not drawing the connection) and there is a twinge of regret in my spine each time I think of moments and even minutes lost because they are not stored in some form, digital, written or even pictorial. 

And now it is a bit too late to change any of those mistakes and in the words of one of the pioneering English female novelist Charlotte Bronte: "I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward." In summary, (precision of language is something I've come to realise I need to work on through my introspection) I am going to attempt to be more conscientious in documenting the last few months in my time at AC. 

Anyways, it's back to writing Physics notes for me! To end, here's a fitting and hopefully poignant quote from Einstein: "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

Friday 30 January 2015

UWC's UWConference

It feels like an eternity since I last posted on this blog! Indeed it's been a crazy few months since the start of 2015. So much has happened in so little time, time doesn't just fly now, it breaks the sound barrier. But all that for another day. In this post, the focus is UWC's UWC. That's right, we like our puns. It stands for United World College's United World Conference. It was the first time we held this conference which previously was known as MUN or Model United Nations. What made this conference different and justified a change in its name was that this was the first time the concept of MUN was combined with the Peace Council. 

The Peace Council does what its name suggests. It focuses on areas such as conflict resolution, discussions on integration of peace and the facilitates such discussion by utilising the diverse body of international students found on campus. Considering the premise of a model United Nations is to place oneself into the shoes of a professional politicker, I, personally, see the merit of including the Peace Council within the conference. 

My role in the conference gave me a camera lens view (literally) on the ongoings of the conference. I was part of the media team. My role specifically was to film the conference with my fellow director of film, the genius that is Andrey. With this footage, we are going to make a "mini documentary" as our service teacher, Ken, calls it. I'm just hoping our final product will warrant the title of being a 5-minute clip!

I greatly enjoyed the conference, perfectly content with my 'fly on the wall' type role. Having participated in numerous MUN conferences before this, it was a breath of fresh air seeing the conference from 'outside in'. There was something so symbolically acute in terms of how I was feeling as a participant in the conference and what I was doing with the cameras I was using. 

This feeling was perhaps most obvious to me on the morning of the first day, when at breakfast, for once, I was not sharing an intense conversation with a fellow representative but rather listening intently to the various perspectives - personal and adopted - of those who were indeed putting on their MUN faces.

I feel like there should be a part 2 to this post when the final video is completed and I will definitely be editing this to include the URL. I must admit that this experience is perhaps more experiential than reflective, perhaps the reflection will come when I am no longer in 'don't-you-dare-lose-that-shot' mode and am in the comfort of the art studio editing in the bask of an electric radiator. 

Till then, let's all follow the wise words of Bono, "we need love and peace, love and peace". Make love, not hate. Peace out <3 

Saturday 4 October 2014

August Period

There are many reasons why I joined the Global Faculty. I really believe in its mission, 'thinking globally, acting locally', and I was very attracted to how they put that mission into practice. What I didn't realise, is the added bonus of joining the Global Faculty, is that while lifeguards are doing patrols, and social justice members were waking up in the middle of the morning to rush off to sessions, we had a faculty trip to Bristol. 

The trip was three days long, and a time not only to meet and help new organisations, but also a chance for the faculty to bond as a year group before our first years arrived. The programme went something as follows. We set off at about 8ish from campus and embarked on a three hour plus trip to Bristol. upon arrival, we then checked into our hotel, found our rooms, etc. before gathering again to start our galavanting. The first organisation we visited was The Bristol Cable: a people's media co-operative, created, owned and produced by people in the city. It was fascinating to listen to views on popular media and the negative influences it could have on its readers. Moreover, the engaging way in which the organisers conducted the workshop meant that most of us had means to give our two cents worth as well. This of course made the workshop very interactive and assisted in allowing all the members of the faculty, both students and staff, to get to know each other that bit better. Personally, the most interesting activity we did was to carry out interviews with pedestrians on the street. We were meant to find stories on discrimination, inviting our interviewees to share personal views and experiences. This led to many different opinions being expressed, including workplace discrimination. 

The following day we went to a drop-in shelter for sex workers, called One25. They are an amazing organisation who are committed to providing assistance to  the street workers of Bristol. What is interesting about their approach is that they do not actively try convince such women to come off the streets, they believe that such a decision should be the woman's own choice. Instead, they are keen to provide everything needed in the interim to ensure such workers are protected. 

After visiting their centre, we left for the Julian Trust Night Shelter where we were to spend the rest of the day and some of the night. As it's name suggests, it is a shelter for the homeless people of Bristol and is the only such shelter that not only provides them with a hot meal and clean facilities, but the first twenty people to arrive at the shelter get a bed to sleep in for the night. We arrived sometime in the afternoon, because there was much to be done in preparation for our guests, and we were also attending a follow-up session to an earlier course that had been done by the same people who helped at the shelter. 

The course is called Alternatives to Violence Project (or AVP for short) and it is about reflecting the ways in which we react to situations. After that session, we began cooking dinner for ourselves in the kitchen since helping at the shelter meant we weren't able to get dinner for ourselves. Those that weren't busy in the kitchen busied ourselves outside of it by preparing the beds and other necessities for the night. This was a lovely time for all of us in the Global Faculty to bond and it was good fun eating the fruits of our hard labour. 

Before we knew it, our guests were arriving. My job was to serve them dinner, more specifically tea and coffee, behind the counter. It was an eye opening experience, meeting people from all walks of life. The stereotype I had for a homeless person were quickly eradicated, especially when I went to interact with our guests. Most of them were eager to engage in conversations with us and many shared their personal experiences willingly. It was fascinating to hear their stories, and as I mentioned, the reasons attributing to why they were currently homeless were so unlike what I had expected to hear. Many of their stories were heart wrenching, and it was challenging to speak to them with a face of neutrality (which we had been advised to uphold) while feeling like I was falling apart inside. This was probably my favourite experience from the whole trip, because I felt like I learnt so much from it. 

Finally, on the last day we went to another centre where we used their community kitchen. The main learning takeaway being awareness on how our global food sources are produced. With our diverse origins, we had rather fascinating conversations, especially with everyone chipping in in areas that concerned their native countries. We then finished the session with another communal kitchen session and it was great to finish the trip with a big bonding and eating session.

I feel like the trip definitely strengthened the bonds within my Faculty and it was also great getting to explore the city of Bristol, even if it was only for a few days. Also final fun fact, apparently Bananarama is considered as having origins in Bristol and so, 'Venus was her name! She's got it, ooh baby she's got it!'

Saturday 5 April 2014


A contentious question we face in today’s world is the question of global warming. While some are fervent believers in what they believe could be the apocalypse-causing phenomena, others scoff at the idea that the world is facing serious environmental threats. However, climate change and its many theories are just the tip of one of the many melting icebergs that is sustainability and all it encompasses.

What is sustainability? This was a question that I kept posing to myself throughout the duration of the Sustainability Conference or SusCo as we came to know it. It was a two day long conference, held as part of our latest Diploma Period, and organized mainly by AC’s Sustainability Council, funnily enough, also known better to students as Susco and ECT (Environmental Campaign Team) or as one Susco member put it, the more radical wing of Susco.

As I mentioned above, the conference ran for two days. It started on the first day with talks from guest speakers and students to introduce the idea of sustainability and the purpose of the conference. It was then followed by student run workshops to do with the concept of ‘Roundview’ which is basically a concept to slow down and eventually reverse the damage we have done while causing minimal impact to the normal operations of current modern life. Though I thought the concept was too idealistic and in my view unrealistic, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how small permanent changes, where eventually more beneficial than making large disruptive ones. The second half of the day saw us being split into groups to attend the workshops we had chosen. I attended a workshop that shocked me because it was more about personal and positive thinking than sustainability. I guess the message was that to start taking care of the environment and others, we have to first get ourselves in order.

The second day continued with speeches made by potential Susco chairs and vice-chairs, talks and a panel discussion in the morning, followed by workshops again and my personal highlight of the whole conference, a FARMER’S MARKET. I left with a bag of loot, ranging from my dear, dear persimmons, to delicious homemade cupcakes and gluten free produce made of cheese and chickpeas.

That afternoon being the conclusion of the conference saw the final, closing speeches and concluded with the announcement of the new chair and vice-chair of the Sustainability Council. All in all, though admittedly not my favourite conference, there had been some takeaways that were interesting to mull over.
To end, not with the intention of sounding cynical, but just because it sums up reality; and sometimes the truth hurts, “I am glad I will not be young in a future without wilderness.” - Aldo Leopold

Sunday 16 February 2014

Point of Personal Privilege

I have not yet encountered a method to better simulte the United Nations Conferences for tweens, teens and youngs adults than the Model United Nations (also more commonly abbreviated as M.U.N.). It is not only a way to introduce young minds to the United Nations, but also a great way to spread better global understanding - by getting people to do in-depthresearch on the countries they are assigned to represent. Since these sort of objectives are exactly what UWC would like to achiveve, it was no surprise our latest conference was an M.U.N. Conference.

Delegates of the Human Rights Committee 

The duration of it was not too long, it lasted only two days. I believe it was extremely sufficient and believe it or not, by the conclusion of the conference, I felt more drained than I usually did after my last code for the week. In following with real UN Conferences, there were a number of different councils that were set up to deal with specific topics.

I had signed down for the Human Rights Council which was set to debate on the topics of:
  1.  Advancing emergency response for displaced populations affected by conflict and natural disaster (Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines)
  2. Refugees, internally displaced people and the right to humanitarian aid in Syria
More of my fellow delegates... Can you spot China and Cuba?

I was assigned delegate of the United Kingdom and though this did not affect me personally, was rather pleased to know we had veto rights.

Security Council... who have VETO Rights

We were assigned the history room which is located in the castle as our venue and it was defintely a fitting classroom to be discussing the topic of the Syrian Crisis and other recent conflicts. I had thought we were going to start the deabtes on the first day with the issue of the Philippines, and so had spent my morning in the computer lab with a cup of mocha, frantically looking for information on the UK's stance on the topic. Not only did I wake up ealier than usual for this, I had also used up quite a lot of my prinitng credit (something very very dear to all AC students hearts), only to discover the chairs having believed that discussion on Syria would be more engaging, had chosen to start with the Syrian conflict first.

Security Council in the Great Hall

Luckily my previous knowledge on Syria was far more substantial than the human rights aspect of Typhoon Haiyan and so I was able to manage through. The other beneficial piece of information I had was that the UK tended to be extremely neutral when dealing with such issues. I shadowed and supported the US and whenever I did contribute, I was sure to stick to politically correct, rather morally obvious choices.

On the second day, we continued where we had left off on the first. By this time there had already been a split in the house, with countries like China, North Korea, Cuba and various other Middle Eastern countries banding together. On the other side, there were the Western powers with the UK, US, Germany, France coming together.

After more intense debate and decision making, we passed 3 clauses for a patched together resolution and moved onto the next issue. In the meantime, we survived a terrorist attack from a radical environmental group, dismissed the delegates of Spain (for taking a nap) and Cuba (for passing toxic gas). By this time I had sworn to myself not to become a politician, and soldiered on.

Environmental terrorist in action!

Sadly after the hectic and draining happenings in Syria, many people were eager and keen to pass a resolution for the Philippines so that we coulf adjourn for a break. The resolution for the Philippines was passed tragically as quickly as teh Typhoon had come and gone, and the delegates had left the room at the same speed afterwards.

Modelling the UN look

Though it was no 'working holiday', I did really enjoy my time during the conference. It was a very good chance to e exposed to a array of different views and to take a minute to reconsider why and how we made our own judgments and decisions. 

And so to conclude 'Delegates, the honourable chair would like to close the debate'.

Credits for the photos used go to those who contributed to:!/UWCACUN2014

Friday 27 December 2013

Takin' it Eeeaaasy

It's the Third Day of Christmas today. And for all of us students on vacation, here's a little task for our semi-conscious minds... What's the date of the this post? Ahh ahh no cheating by looking at the automatic date attached to this post by blogger. 

Not sure how long it took you but it took me a good minute before I figured out it was the 27th of December. I even had a massive internal debate over whether it was the 27th or 28th. Finally it hit me it had to be the 27th because the first day of Christmas is Christmas Day itself (25th).

Yes I'm definitely in 'holiday' mode, after all I went through all that to say this... I AM ON HOLIDAY as you probably deciphered a long time ago. It's currently my writer break which is a nice whole month. From the 12th of December to the 12th of January. 

Since the start of the holidays I spent a couple of days in London before heading back to the sunny island of Singapore. I can't believe I'll be back in Britain the Great in about a week. Time really does fly (what's the name of this blog???). It's been nice being back. Giving me a little bit of a breather after all that UWC. Not saying that I don't miss it... I do and I guess that's why I have been harassing a number of co-years. If such behaviour was to be translated into any form other than on Facebook, I think I'd potentially have a criminal charge for harassment and perhaps have a restraining order placed on me. 

Unfortunately, the one thing I have not been able to get away from, irregardless of a break or no break is the IB. I have just completed the first draft of my Economics IA and my second English Literature in Translation essay. Sadly I still have a reflective essay for Literature, History notes to complete and much needed revision for Mandarin left on my to-do list... Quite a mood dampener!

But I have been leading quite a 'balanced lifestyle'. I have been having my required 10-11 hours of sleep a day. And though it may seem sloth-like I think my seemingly lazy behaviour can be pardoned when one remembers the number of hours I have yet I catch up on after my time on campus. 

Catching up with friends and family has also been very enjoyable. Genuinely. Personally I think my closest friends are still the ones back here in Singapore. To me it's inevitable. The number of years I hae been lucky enough to get to truly know my local friends tragically can't be matched by the 2 years (despite the 24/7 time I spend with people on campus). Definitely I already have a couple of people who I feel I am really close to on campus and am sure our relationship will last for years to come, if not forever, but for the majority, I don't think that's possible - to have a truly deep and close friendship.

But that's one of the things on my list to try and do when I am back at AC. Getting to know my friends better. It might be a very short 2 years (less really when you think about all the holidays and breaks we have) but you know what they say, don't knock it till you've tried it! In this case how close I might find yourself despite the short time I spend with someone else. Who knows... Maybe many of the people I consider as friends will soon have a best attached in front of friend by the time I graduate!

But for now let's hear it for deep holiday philosophising aka idle procrastination! 'Today I don't feel like doing anything. I just wanna lay in my bed!' - Bruno Mars, The Lazy Song

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Engaging Critically

I admit that I have been posting less and less. If you believe the reason for this is due to me not having as many things in the first 2 months, you are 180 degrees off. Having now entered my third month at AC (I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S ONLY THE THIRD MONTH) I find myself almost twice as busy as I was previously. But having come into the third month also means its time for yet another AC Diploma Period. This time the first years had out Critical Engagement Conference while the 2nd years had their Middle Eastern Conference. 

I was particularly excited for this conference for a number of reasons. First, many 2nd years had told me this had been their favourite conference in their first year. Secondly, I personally feel that the idea of learning how to engage and more broadly, communication, is essential when trying to start projects, etc. Thus I thought this conference would be extremely relevant to arm me with skills and ideas for future projects. Thirdly, the idea of a couple of code-free days is heaven right now. It's the last few weeks of school which also mean that we are having our end of year tests ): a real mood damper. 

Our conference started on Wednesday and lasted till Friday. Unlike our first conference, this one was only three days (as opposed to five), everyone is feeling the 'business' build-up. We had a little introduction before the official start of the conference on a Tuesday night as we needed to be given a few instructions on the when, where's and how's before the start of the Diploma Period. Moreover, I was even more involved with the conference being in the Global Faculty. Because we had gone through some training programs in Global that were similar to the ones that were going to be held, we were also the Faculty in charge of assisting the Conference.

On all three days, we started the mornings with introductions to the areas we would be focusing on for that day. We would all gather in the Tythe Barns and one of the facilitators would talk about the idea for that day. Next we would split into smaller groups and go to the classrooms to discuss the topics for the day and basically let the conversation flow where it will. in the afternoon, we were allowed to sign up for 2 different workshops of our choice that were led by one of the facilitators. 

I really preferred the fact that for the Critical Engagement Conference we could choose our own workshops. As for the Social Justice Conference, we were assigned workshops, and though all of them seemed extremely interesting, there were some I would have really liked to attend just because they dealt with issues that I felt very passionately about. Which is why I liked the fact that for the CE conference, they left it up to us to attend the workshops we were interested in. 

I won't go into the details of the days and the workshops because this blog is already running pretty long and I have to go and revise for a Physics test right after this. But I will say that I really enjoyed this conference and personally found the things we learnt a lot more useful for application in everyday life, and life right now as compared to the Social Justice Conference. It really made me consider the hidden implications of the everyday actions I might be carrying out have. That is not to say that it has made me extremely self-conscious about what I do, rather, that I must always remember that every thing I do has some form of consequence or another and that it is always good to take some time off to carefully consider the possible outcomes, especially when the reason for my carrying out this action is for the purpose of helping someone else. I would not want to ultimately be harming them instead!

"There's nothing wrong with things taking time." - James Dyson