Dwen An

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hello there :-)

What can I say? School has reopened and life is back to its crazy pace - something that I really like but really detest at the same time. Then again, I have no complains for the first week of school because the first three days were taken up by Dwen An and I didn't actually attend any lessons at all :-) 

It was such a nerve wrecking time period for myself - I was finding it extremely difficult to concentrate on executing the programme which we have planned for our Taiwanese friends because my mind was on House Campaigning and burdened by school work. I tried my best to focus though, because I know that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'd be able to catch up with schoolwork later on. 

Before we started executing our plans, all of us were all so scared that nothing will go as planned and that many problems will crop up - indeed, many unfortunate events happened but we emerged so much stronger from it and it was truly an unforgettable journey. 

Day 1 (July 1) 
Headed to YMCA at 6.30am in the morning to bring the Taiwanese to RGS and we found out that they were not given breakfast yet :( Then, it was supposedly going to be a short walk from there to my school we didn't realize that the route we were going to take didn't have proper road-crossing functions such as zebra crossings or traffic lights and we ended up having to walk a crazy long distance around Orchard Road and had to jaywalk even more because we were so unsure of the place ourselves. 

We reached my school on a fairly bad note, with all of us being tired, hungry and sweaty. But they were all so understanding and I'm glad that my school welcomed them warmly during assembly. 

Afterwards, we proceeded to the Cyber Learning Centre for some ice breakers :-) 

 Double wacko! 

Everyone was a lot happier after ice breakers :-) Plus we had tea break as well so their stomachs were filled yay. It was quite awkward though because the four of us (Tiffany, Leirong, Yijing and myself) had to control everything and we had a lot of long pauses in between because we weren't super sure of the entire programme plus we all faced the language barrier difficulty (except for Leirong who was amazingly proficient at Mandarin).

After that, we proceed on to Service Learning sharings - we invited some SL groups from our school (Overseas Service Learning, Project WISH and Project GOLD) and RI to share about how Service Learning is like in Singapore while the Taiwanese also shared about what they have been doing over at their country.

They did their presentations in English and it was quite impressive, good job friends :-)

After lunch, the RI dudes came over from their school (both the Service Learning groups as well as Ben, Kenny, Sean and Jiaze) so it was a big relief to have more people on hand to help us! 

It was rather difficult to sit through so many presentations at once but all of us managed to and I do hope everyone has learnt a bit or two from them. We then proceeded to give the Taiwanese a briefing on the Service Learning that we will be having on Day 2 - which was to plan activities for the elderly at the Seniors Activity Centre at Toa Payoh :-)

We split them up into two groups and had them discuss on what they thought was best!

 Intense :-) 

 Engaged :-) 

I really really admire the way the Taiwanese plan things - they truly do things with a lot of heart, unlike in Singapore where we sometimes plan activities for the sake of it and don't think too much about it as long as we get the job done but for them, it's so different, the effort they put into it is truly amazing.

Ben, Kenny and myself packing goodie bags for the elderly!  

 Each goodie bag contained biscuits, a sachet of cereal drink, two sachets of milo powder and a toothbrush :-) It looks so kiddy-like but we wanted to have this so at least the elderly will still be very happy no matter the outcome of the activities we planned for them!

To be honest, at this point of time during the programme, I was feeling a little uneasy because I was worried not only for the Service portion the next day, I was facing a little bit of an identity crisis. On one hand, I knew that I had to oversee the entire programme but on the other hand, I didn't feel like I had enough authority to take charge and really wanted to participate in the discussions as a member of the team, just like in Taiwan and I think many of us shared the same sentiments. We felt really strange and I don't think our Taiwan friends felt that comfortable with it either :( 

They still had such amazing ideas though (':

The facils! :-) 

At the end of Day 1, I was feeling extremely disheartened about what has happened so far - there were so many hiccups and I didn't feel that the Taiwanese were having fun (which was ultimately the most important thing out of all). When the programme ended for the day, we headed to the Congress Room to have a little bit of reflection - there was so much I wanted to say but I just couldn't seem to put them into words. 

When Sean, Jiaze, Leirong left one by one (Yijing left early for piano), leaving Tiff, Kenny and Ben in the room, I started getting so many whatsapp messages from my various groups, especially the Captains whatsapp group with things related to Campaigning and I started getting so worried about Waddle and my candidates. I was worried that my candidates weren't able to get their scripts vetted in time and that there won't be enough manpower during Swimming Carnival the next day. Thinking about all that, I started getting extremely stressed out and cried at 10.30pm in the Congress Room in front of the three of them :-( It was such a terrible way to end the day but I just let whatever that has been bothering me the entire day out.

Day 2 (July 2)
Woke up with a heavy heart but managed to pull through a day that was actually pretty amazing :-) (I mean, nothing could have been worst than day 1) Unfortunately, I didn't manage to capture any photographs of the day's events as I was too caught up with so many things but the memories will stay with me forever, as cliche as this may sound.

We headed to RI in the morning and were introduced to the school during their morning assembly - their assembly was so formal, so different from in our school and the guys didn't seem to show any form of expression at all, though perhaps it was too early in the morning to tell. We then proceeded to the lecture theatre and sat through a talk that raved about the school and it was quite intimidating for myself because I don't see myself as that "perfect" Rafflesian that they talked about. Afterwards, we did a bit of preparation and then boarded the bus and headed to Toa Payoh Seniors' Activity Centre to carry out our service for the elderly!

Yijing and myself didn't join the group though, we had to collect Popiah (fresh spring roll) ingredients from a stall in Toa Payoh for an activity with the elderly later on and it was so tiring, having to walk such a long distance and being clueless about the location of the hawker centre. When we finally got the ingredients, it started raining and sauce overflowed and spilled on Yijing's pinafore as well. We decided to take a cab to the Activity Centre instead and we met this really amazing taxi driver who was so nice and sweet to us - thank you uncle for making my day! :D

Service went quite well and even though there were a few hiccups here and there, we ultimately managed to brighten up the days of many elderly and that is the most important :-)

We headed back to RI for some reflections and it was the final round of 回饋分享 ever, on this Dwen An journey and to be honest I was quite affected by it because many of the Taiwanese didn't feel that the Service went well and were very upset with themselves about it. One of them even broke down into tears and I felt so bad because this wasn't the experience I wanted them to leave Singapore with. However, there wasn't really anything I could do about it, except that tell them that they have done really well, because they did in fact put in so much effort and did a truly amazing job with entertaining the elderly.

Fortunately, we were going to have an outing to Bugis so I hope that cheered them up :-) It was quite fun bringing them out, squeezing into public transport during the peak hour but I was a little too fatigued to be able to enjoy myself fully. In addition, we still had a lot of unsettled plans for the next day.

Day 3 (July 3)
The day with the most fun - we got to bring them around Singapore and there wasn't much pressure with the day's programme except that we had to stick to the timings rather strictly :-)

Shall let the photos do the talking!

First, we brought them to Raffles landing site, which was near the Singapore River and is a very pretty place.

Jiaze being the tour guide for the day - his knowledge for Singapore was extensive and Sean was telling me how proud he was of Singapore when hearing all these. 

Lan Chen! :-) 

Ben and Xuan De :-) 

Xuan Yan :-) 

Yayzerz a group photo :-) 

Raffles! :-) 

A lot of them decided to imitate his pose - here's Zi Ning and Anru! :-) 

Then, we proceeded to the Merlion Park which was nearby so we just walked there!

I never knew that our merlion had such an ugly green stain down the front of him :-( Perhaps the Singapore Tourism Board should do something about this because it is rather unsightly.

Yijing & Leirong! :-)

Tiffany & myself! :-)

Xuan De & Chuan Ming walking backwards haha :-)

From the Raffles Landing site, we took public transport to Little India! :-) It was amazing leading my group through everything, together with Jiaze and Ben!

The girls - Xin Ru, Xiao Bai, Su You & Jia Yi :-)

And the guys - Xuan De, Yun Zhi, Zheng Yuan & Jun De :-) 

Half the group got left behind when crossing the road towards Little India!

We brought them for henna painting!

After Little India, we headed to Chinatown to showcase another side of Singapore's culture, possibly the other end of the spectrum!

We brought them to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the entire place was so exquisite and beautiful. After the tour around the temple, we let them go off for a free-and-easy lunch at the Hawker Centre there :-) 

After lunch, we headed to a little dessert shop along the streets of Chinatown and it sold a lot of amazing things, such as snow ice, which is a popular dessert in Taiwan :-) It was a walk down memory lane because snow ice was the first thing Leirong, Tiff, Yijing and myself ate when we were in Taiwan - we got a mango snow ice then and we ordered another mango snow ice from this shop as well (':

Watermelon and longan snow ice in all its glory :-) 

The mango snow ice which Leirong, Tiffany and myself shared! :D 

After that, we headed to Sentosa, which was the final tour destination for the day :-) 

I was so glad that the weather that day was great :-)

They sat on the Luge and skyride (I sat out as I was too tired to ride it and there were some Taiwanese who didn't want to play either so I accompanied them, together with Tiff and Sean) 

Had a nice chat with Zhi Xuan, Yun Zhi and Ya Xuan together with Sean and Tiffany at Mcdonalds while everyone else was playing on the Luge - Yun Zhi treated all of us to drinks and I felt really touched when he did because I never expected that and it was such a sweet gesture.

After that, all of us headed to Palawan Beach :-)

Another group shot :-)

When we were heading back to RI, there were so many problems related to the transport and there was also a lot of tension within the group. The Taiwanese were all so understanding about the entire situation so I'm really thankful and appreciative of them. All these, however, are very horrible things that I do not wish to remember of the trip so I shall not put them down into words.

We ended the entire programme with dinner and a gift exchange session and it was overwhelming to think that I will most probably meet this group of people ever again, and although it was only a short eight days which we spent together (including the times in Taiwan), I don't think I'll ever forget this experience because it has taught me so much, so much more than I can ever imagine.

謝謝你們這幾天教了我那麼多- 你們對生活的態度,你們辦事的心情和最重要的,你們服務學習的精神。我從你們身上學了不少,而我希望這些的交流活動也讓你們得到了不少收穫。雖然我們可能永遠不會再見面,但是我有信心我們所建立的共同回憶會永遠留在我們的腦海裡。我非常高興能有機會認識你們,好好照顧哦!我會想念你們!

Finally, this whole journey would not be complete with my fellow saikang warriors - Yijing, Tiffany, Leirong, Ben, Kenny, Jiaze and Sean! It is insane, how we have been through so much together, from being awkward people on the Whatsapp group that we started because we had to settle our performance and gifts for the Taiwan trip, to meeting for the first time at Changi Airport, to hobo-ing at the hotel lobby trying to settle our performance, to opening up to one another and now to successfully executing what we have planned for so long.

Thank you Yijing for always being there with me through all the shit - being in the same 活动组 and feeling so very miserable about it back in Taiwan to going for recceing together! It was so horrible yet heart-warming having to see you along the corridors in school and groaning because we knew that we had so much more work to do for Dwen An but we didn't want to do it. You are amazing, so thank you :-)

Thank you Tiffany for always being so incredibly understanding and mature in every single situation. Although I know that you are probably very worried yourself, you always find a way to calm yourself down (perhaps with your lovely calming tea) and it's really great working with someone who is so steady all the time because you don't affect others' and that's is amazing. You are incredible, so thank you :-)

Thank you Leirong for being another sensible one of the group - you are such a strong girl and I admire you so much! We'd probably wouldn't have survived through all these without your amazing command of Mandarin and the bus incident that happened on Day 3 just made me so proud of you! You have so much confidence in yourself and others around you which makes working with you and incredible feeling, so thank you :-)

Thank you Kenny for being one of the most responsible people in the group. To be honest, I think you are extremely capable, having to handle so much stuff and sometimes I know I fail to empathize with you but thanks for being such a wonderful person to work with, it has been so fun hanging out with you. Oh, and thank you for the jellybeans as well :-)

Thank you Ben for all the ridiculous laughter you have brought to the group. It really lightens the mood a lot, especially when we are all so stressed out about everything. You always tell me to "relax" and to be honest I don't think you are all that relaxed yourself but it feels nice to know that someone else is not panicking and gives me a sense of assurance as well so thank you :-)

Thank you Jiaze for being such an amazing tour guide - your knowledge for Singapore is so extensive and it boggles my mind how you are actually able to remember all the historic dates which I have since thrown out of my brain since studying Singapore in History in Year Two. You made the tour on Day 3 a lot more educational and fulfilling for the Taiwanese so thank you :-)

Thank you Sean for always laughing at my jokes/ me and although you are quite blur most of the time, it is quite nice having you as company. It was hilarious when we were discussing about how cool the Nazis were and you were so shocked that I shared the same views as you. The Taiwanese really like you and I think you've made their trip here quite fun so thank you :-)

This concludes my Dwen An journey and although I'm having mixed feelings, I'm really thankful for everything that has happened. 

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