28 July 2010

Be A Communicator, Not A Speaker

Today, work begins. As we entered the room, we came into our first session. To be a world leader, you have to be able to get the people you are leading to have the same vision as you do. Nothing can be achieved if your people have no intention of reaching the same goals as you. To do that, you need to be able to persuade them and there is really only one skill you need to master, Public Speaking!

We were asked to give a 1-2 minute speech on the topic "Your Most Embarrassing Moment" and I must say that I was very surprised to hear 2 stories that had something to do with me (thanks a lot guys *sarcastic mode on*) but hey, it was part of the fun. Long story short, we had a great time and I want to thank Yu Li for the very interesting session!

We then moved on to the Icebreaking session where we got to know the other Youth Delegation Leaders (YDLs) from Singapore and Vietnam. It was nice to get to know them better, especially the Vietnamese YDLs who we were staying in the same hotel with.

I came the time to do a Mock-up of the things that would be happening at the actual convention. We each presented about ideas on the problems in ASEAN and how we could fix them.

As the presentations went by, we started to learn about how the problems each country was facing was very different from one another. For example, the Singapore Delegation talked about Youth Empathy. From an Indonesian's point of view, and I guess the Vietnamese also felt the same way, there are problems in our countries far more serious than Youth Empathy such as Poverty. The Vietnamese talked about how Youth Empowerment is a very hard thing to achive in Vietnam and the best place for them to start taking action is by improving the educational system. According to them, 98% of the school curriculum is dedicated to sciences.

Through the presentations I learnt how different the problems facing each country could be. However, at the same time, two or all of the countries could be facing one common problem but at different levels. Two issues that we found were common to all three countries were the Education System and the Environment.

Tomorrow we will be meeting with Ambassador Ong Keng Yong at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Ong is the former secretary of ASEAN.

On Friday we have to present on the topic "Can Indonesians Think?" Can Indonesian people think and get creative and innovative? Can they think as well as people in the US or in the EU? We will be very strongly considering your comments since we were asked to get the opinions of the people back home. This is you first and one of the best chances for you to make a difference. So come on people of Indonesia, Can Indonesians Think???

26 July 2010

What You Say, What You Do, Can CHANGE The WORLD

Over 300 Youth Delegates from 10 countries from all over South-East Asia will come together in the bustling city-state of Singapore for one reason, to build the future of ASEAN. As we get closer to the ASEAN Youth Convention (AYC), I wonder if I will be able to make my mark on this world. I mean, who am I? I'm only a "kid"! Am I actually going to be able to do something for the better of ASEAN?

The Preparatory Day on Sunday was coming to an end. We were all reminded about our flights. Then, it was my turn to lead an exercises that to me, explains everything.

We form a circle, holding hands with the people beside us. Toby turned off the lights, then, we closed our eyes. "Imagine you are on a field, where not a wall is in sight." I began. I for one, kept my eyes open, just to make sure that nobody was fooling around. The main idea of the activity was to get them to imagine what was on the line. When I did a way less "dramatic" version of this when I had the Copenhagen Gala Dinner, it really made me realize that what I did there and then could make a difference, for better or for worse.

I then went on. "There are 70 million Youths in Indonesia, and there are 20 Indonesian delegates standing in this circle. Now turn you head and look behind you. Standing behind each of you are 3.5 million youths, youths of Indonesia, youths that you represent. What you say, what you do, what you achieve in Singapore, could make a difference in their lives!"  Then, I went on to telling them that we don't just represent the Youths, we represent all the people in Indonesia. That's 10 million people standing behind each of us. On that field, all 200 million Indonesians stand united as one.

As I began to picture that, I kind of started to realize how big a responsibility I had. I could make a difference in this country, and ultimately the world.

So, what is it actually that is so special about Youths that we can actually have a say in the future development of ASEAN? What can YOUTH Empowerment do?

17 July 2010

"Kak OSIS" - Walking With The New Generation

One thing I must confess that most of the current 8th and 7th graders in Laurensia don't know is that I have never experienced MOS, MABIS or School Orientation or anything like that. I came into Laurensia in the 8th grade and PSB never seemed to have such a thing at the beginning of secondary school. I must admit that I do feel "unqualified" to be "mentoring" the MABIS (Masa Bimbingan Siswa) as I had no idea what to expect other than the unpleasing descriptions given to me by my fellow Student's Council Members. As much as these new 7th grades had no idea what was in store for them, I had no clue what was in it for me too!

After out early morning clock-in time on Monday and after 7:15, I came into my assigned class, 7E,  to start counting the number of empty seats in the classroom. I waited a little longer till there was only one vacant seat left to then finally come to the decision that it was the right time to start talking. I told them that I would be one of their mentors, though not the class coordinator (of course, I was a blank as them), and asked them to turn off their phones. Then all the other OSIS (Student's Council) mentors came in to help me out with my half-hazardly Bahasa Indonesia.

Nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened apparently, to my surprise. But it just felt weird throughout the whole process. For one thing, it was the first time in my life I had been called "Kak" (It means like older brother or the title you use to address someone who is only a few years older than you F.Y.I.), moreover "Kak OSIS"! First of all, I'm the type of person who finds no age barriers between me and younger kids. I really was just expecting them to call me by my name. I guess for formality they kinda had to address me properly, but I hated how I was kind of seen as "higher" than them. When I came to Laurensia, I didn't really have to call anyone "Kak" because no one was "higher" or more superior than me. It was like your first day in a new office. But it just felt weird that now people were "looking up" at me (probably not the best way to put it).

With that being the situation, I finally accepted that I did have some authority over them (hehehe). Having other duties in other classes, I kind of took the opportunity to "observe" what the other OSIS were doing to their so called "victims". Well, to me, they kind of basically made sure that they did their job and ensured that their individual classes were not going to make a fool out of themselves during the closing-ceremony performance (sorry guys, but this is really kinda the best way put it). I know this sounds very overly mature of a 13 year old kid to say, but seeing the situation I was in, I thought that if these kids "looked up" to me, I figured it was an opportunity for me to inspire them, so that at least they would actually get something out of  looking up at me instead of seeing me as a role model only to gain no good qualities in themselves.

So, with that said, I really tried my best to implant some good qualities in these kids so that they don't make the same mistakes I and other people made in Junior High School. How did it go, well, I guess they would definitely remember me for giving out sweets and scolding them for not singing well enough. But whatever the result, I wish 7E and all the other 7th grade classes all the best in their Junior High School Journey!

7 July 2010

Do Others Care More About Us Than Ourselves?

The other day I was at Burger King at Supermal Karawaci about 4.30 pm. I sat between two occupied tables (well not really between, more like close to, but it doesn't matter).

On the table to my right, there were two men, most likely in collage or something. Though they looked Asian, they had very strong American English accents. I inferred that they were definitely not Indonesian.

On another table in front of me, there was a family of a father, a mother and two sons. Now there was not question that they were Indonesians.

Long story short, let's skip to the part when these two tables finished their meal. At the table in front of me, the family finished up their meal, wiped their hands with tissue, placed it on the table along with all the other rubbish and stood up and walked out of Burger King. If you're Indonesian, you might think "Nothing so special about that, it's a common sight!"

At the table to my right, I saw something that shocked me. The guy basically put all the rubbish onto the tray, took the tray with him to the rubbish bin, emptied the tray and put the tray on top of the bin. If you're Indonesian, you might think "Kurang kerjaan banget nih orang!"

Ok, I've got to be honest with you. What the foreign guy did was really something I haven't seen in a very long time. The last time was probably in Singapore or in Australia I guess. But think about it, and compare and contrast. Think about the title of the blog post and think about it. What do you make out of that. Share your thoughts and comment!

13 June 2010

Dari 1 Sampe 34, The Journey Of Delapan D

As the title might suggest, the number 34 may have very significant meaning, and it does and will have a very important memory behind it that will be with me for the rest of my life. Sure, its about my old and new life again, but thats why its so special.

My name is alphabetically behind enough for me to always be the last index number in every class i have been in in my life. But 34, thats the biggest number ive ever had, thats because 8D, is the biggest class ive ever been in.

Sure enough, i wasnt able to attend the farewell party, mostly because im trying to make the dreams of 20 people to go to singapore come true, but i regret it a lot. It seemed to me that i had to compleat the whole year to learn to appreciate them, like Kris Allen's song, Live Like We're Dying, "You never know a good thing till it's gone"

I can still remember day 1, when i came and had a hard time spitting at least one word out of my mouth. Trust me, it wasnt because of the language barrier, i had a bahasa vocabulary enough to make it past life, but it was because it was not prepared for the "hell" i was faced without transition!

Culture shock could be the best way to describe it, and when i say culture, i mean school culture. one i was definately not prepared for. but long story short, i leart about the real world.

but towards the end of the school year, i realized that 8D isnt just a class, it could change my life, and its going to stay with me forever. Unless im not promoted, im never going to have a class with the number 8 but a different letter ever again. This being my first time to switch classes, ive come to realize that im never going to be in the same class of the same people ever again.

As the last days of 8D come to an end, i came to think of the memmories ive had thoughout the year. From the first few days of school which featured my early confrontations with a few people which ended up a big misunderstanding because of the language barrier, to the final days of class meeting and farewell parties, ive come to learn that sometimes, its the naughty things that will be remembered the most.

Its hard not to tear up thinking about how much fun we had. all the blood, sweat and tears, laughing together, crying together, suffering together, living together. im glad that no matter what, our class still stayed together. In the mids of all the comedy, action and drama, is amazing how we've come so far, but remember guys, like Big Time Rush's song goes "We're halfway there!"

My message to 8D:

You guys have been AMAZING!!!! and have really shown me a lot of things. Youve made me "Glow Inside" and "Shine", maybe thats hard to believe, but ive shined in a unique way. I'll never forget all the hard times, all the jokes we cracked and all the moments that will stay in me forever.

I would like to appologize to all you guys if ive ever offended you, may it be in my words or deeds, but i hope u guys understand that it was never meant to offend. I hope we can move on from our past and keep moving forward

To the citizens of 8D, my last words for you. You guys are the "Kids of the Future", youve got talent, from maths to science, from writing to speech, from leadership to organizing, from music to art, from sport to spirit, and you could potentially be the future leaders of the world. Youve come so far from your starts, but the road is long, and its definately not a "Boulevard of Broken Dreams".

Remember in life, opportrunities come, and then they can go just like that, coz in life, second chances only come to the deserving, coz sometimes, theres only "One Time". Always remember what we've learnt this year in english, im not talking about the language, im talking about the moral values, Where can a journey take you?, What defines success?, Can we see change as it happens? CHANGE CHANGES LIVES, and one change leads to the next, one success leads to change, and one success leads to another. Go and make the most of your lives, coz ur all worth living,

"Everybody Knows" that "Life Is A Highway" and it's "The Long And Winding Road" but your have a "Beautiful Soul", so "Don't Stop Believing", "Keep Holding On", coz you've just gotta say to yourself, "It's My Life" and "I'm Alive". If you ever need me one day, "I'll Stand By You" and help you take it "One Step At A Time". Remember that "Your Beautiful" and you need to keep saying to yourself "I Believe I Can Fly", coz "I Will Fly".

8 May 2010

The Love Story Behind The Taj

I have always asked myself where in the world I could find a building so magnificent. Standing about one kilometre away from the Taj in Agra, India, I could already see the top of the white marble structure reflecting off rays of sunlight.

The Taj Mahal was built by the fifth emperor of the Mughal dynasty, Shah Jahan, in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, and was built over a 22 year period beginning in 1632. This huge mausoleum was built to serve of the final resting place of Mumtaz Mahal. It is said that many tourists have been touched by the magnificent love story behind the Taj. This place is definitely the highlight of most people’s visit to India and for sure, it’s mine as well.

Travellers are warned prior to actually departing to visit the place that they are not allowed to bring not only edibles, but also any form of stationary. As I listened to the explanation given by my guide, Faraz Khan, the reason behind this rule was really something I never thought of, but made sense. In the past, many visitors have tried to copy the designs on the walls of the main tomb where photography is not allowed. Having heard that, I started to wonder “are the designs that beautiful?”

As the bus pulled over, there was no sign of the Taj yet. That was when I found out that the Indian government blocked out the area within one kilometre radius of the Taj as a pollution-free zone. Polluted air causes the white marble of the building to turn yellow. This was one of the many efforts of the Indian Archaeological Survey to preserve their Wonder of the World.

It wouldn’t be as hospitable as the rest of India if they got us to walk a kilometre. Visitors can catch a ride on one of the electric cars which run all day long. From the drop-off point of the electric cars, it’s actually just a short walk to the entrance, but for some, this walk may seem long. Mr. Khan told us not to buy anything from the thousands of people trying to sell you all sorts of things. From drinks to souvenirs, if you ask the price, basically, you have to buy. Best not to buy for a very simple reason, they will rip you off! Sounded like a very sensible reason to me.

When I reached the West Gate of the Entry Gardens, I had to wait in line for security screening, another effort of the Indians to make sure that the Taj stays intact.

As soon as I got passed the security screening, I came face to face with a magnificent structure which in my opinion can be a monument in itself. The atmosphere suddenly becomes grand! We then slowly approached the grand entrance, ready to come face to face with the magnificent marble structure.

I don’t know if this is common, but when you see the Taj for the first time right in front of you, the first word that comes into your mind isn’t “amazing” or “spectacular” but rather “love” or “romance”! The magnificence of the mausoleum is just beyond words. Knowing the love story behind it, it’s amazing how all this was built for a wife who we should note down is dead! The long fountain that stretches down the gardens only makes the place more beautiful. I couldn’t resist taking a couple of pictures in front of the Taj before making the long walk to the sacred tomb.

As you get closer and listen more to the story, you begin to notice how the little details that make it much more beautiful. As I reached ten meters away from the marble structure, it was time to wrap our shoes with some cloth. I didn’t want to risk losing my Nike sneakers while inside the main tomb. It was a good alternative for people who aren’t risks-takers like me!

Walk up the 22 steps and you get closer to the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal and her husband. The time has come to enter the sacred tomb!

I walked into the main tomb and was awed by the grandeur of it all. In the middle of the room laid the final resting place of two very important people.

The first thing that struck me were the marble patterns on the walls. The translucent marble was stunning and the designs were all crafted by the thousands of craftsmen that came in from Persia, place where Mumtaz was born.

There, in the middle of the room, lay the only thing in the entire complex that was not symmetrical, the tombs. In the very middle was the queen. Her husband who built all of this for her rests in peace to her right. Surrounding them was a marble gate which was built at quite a far radius from the tombs. Tourists will only get a clear view of the tomb from the glass panel in front. The problem is that the panel is no so wide and a few people could easily block your view. Visitors are asked to walk around the tomb in a clockwise direction to control the traffic flow. Though the room was dark, it felt warm and romantic inside.

It is said that the Taj was built to look like the throne of god on the Day of Judgment. Indeed, being in this magnificent place feels like you’re about to enter heaven. As I walked out of the mausoleum, I began to reflect on life and the concept of love. Love, not only to a significant other, but to anyone really, is about true sacrifice for others. I left the place ready to see more of Hospitable India.

3 May 2010

The Writers Of The Future

Ok, I’ll be honest. I HAVE been slaking off on my blog. But I have a VERY REASONABLE excuse for that. I’ve been very busy cooking up something big for the next writing club term.
I'm not quite done with my Travel Writing Assignments yet so you might have to wait a little longer!

In the meantime, for writing club, we have to do this blog post about what we think of our fellow writers (which I was supposed to do a VERY long time ago), so that’s what I’ll be doing below. Without further delay:

Willa – I was amazed when I first met her at the interview. She used to live in the UK which is probably why her English is good and she has an English accent. I must say that she’s probably the dark horse of the club and that when competition comes, she can get us pretty easily. I find that though she’s quiet, she can really produce some quality work. Because our classrooms are far away and Becky takes care of the right wing of the school, I don’t really meet her often and I have yet to get to know her better!

Natasha – This girl popularly known as Sasha is one of the most energetic ones in the club! I was really surprised to find out that she goes to the same church as I do. That just goes to show how un-active I am at church. Well, she has always amazed me with the amount of effort she puts in into her essays! Though her English is a little behind compared to the others in the club, she works very hard to produce work of the same quality. As for her personality, it’s hard to ever find a frown on her face. She always lights up the spirit in our club meetings, something we all appreciate. The club has high hopes for her!

Karin – The Pilipino of the club never fails to amaze me! Her ambitions as a writer have surpassed my expectations. I remember when we met for the first time at the interview. I was amazed by her story of how she was first raised in Manila! She writes very descriptive narratives that are always enjoyable to read. She was probably born to make writing club. Her name even has the word “Novel” in it! She does a lot of writing club work when I have other people to chase after. She claims she’s a nerd and is proud of it, but I don’t see the nerd in her. But overall, she’s nice and helpful.

Erico – This guy was probably the first really good friend I made since I came to Laurensia, though the way I treat him in writing club doesn’t really show that. He’s got vision in life, something I really admire about him. It’s very clear what he wants to be and how he’s going to be it. Sometime, I kind of wish I was like him. He does his best in everything he does. Sometimes, the things he does can be a little quirky and odd, but that’s alright, no harm done. I’ve always seen a burning passion in his written word. He’s the best guy in the club (he’s the only other guy in the club) and I hope he keeps it up!

Becky – I chose her as the PIC for one very simple reason, she wants to be an author. Sure she has other dreams that she would really like to fulfill but her passion for writing stands out. What I love about her is the way she has clear goals in life, just like Eric, that’s why he’s her bro! As much as nothing gets in her way of reaching for the stars, she knows that we’ve got to live like were dying! She’s kind of one of the only students in school who I can speak English with and have no communication problems. Well, there a lot of qualities I admire in my PIC. The road shines brightly for her.

5 April 2010

I'm Going to INDIA!!!!

Coming to you from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, I'm about to board my plane to Delhi, India!!! I'm looking forward to seeing my Sec 1 history lessons about India come to life!!! I'm going to be doing my travel writing assignments as I go along!!! I'll post my work on this blog when I get back. Till then, Namaste!!!! :)

28 March 2010

My First Journal Entry

Alright, this is going to be my first Writing Club Journal Entry. Lots of pressure thinking that I dedicated this blog to all my English teachers and all my Writing Club buddies!!! Ok, where do I begin???

First of all, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate certain people:

1. Priscilla Manuel and the S.C.O.P.E. team at PSB for their success so far in preparation for S.C.O.P.E. 2010 (formerly known as TSA)! I’m sorry that I won’t be able to make it on the actual day of the race but I do wish you all the best!

2. Owen and Becky of Science Club for their inspirational achievement at ISPO!!! We wish you all the best in Brazil!

3. Writing Club (Me, Becky, Willa, Natasha, Karin, Erico, Silvia) for making it this far in Writing Club and surviving! Let’s work harder towards creating better writings!

With all that said, let’s hear about the highlights of my week!

The travel writing competition that I’m organizing together with the 8th grade writing club people (Becky, Erico, Silvia) has had its ups and downs. But of all the downs, Thursday’s training session was the biggest train wreck! I thought having a game would be a good idea and that everyone would be happy, and that if one of the splits would go wrong, it would be mine, the lecture. But I WAS WRONG!!! Why did the fun activity go more disastrous than the boring one. Was it because the games were lame or was it cause I was such a good public speaker (but I don’t think so)? I don’t know, but whatever it is, if you’re wondering why we just have to have another session on Wednesday, you might want to blame it on Thursday’s disasters.

Ok, since this blog is quite new, let me let you in on basic facts about me. I’m your not-so-typical guy from Santa Laurensia Junior High School who’s crazy enough to set up a writing club! I just moved in to this school from PSB Singapore School, which the environment by the way, are WORLDS APART!!! I call my life in PSB as my “old life” and my life in Laurensia as my “new life”, note that there was nothing wrong with my “old life”! I’ll be using these two terms often in this blog!

I’m one of those few kids who are crazy enough to say that teaching is my passion and I would like to be either a Maths or English teacher when I’m older. Me teaching Writing Club and my iPSLE students will serve as the start of my teaching career.

You’ll most likely get to know me more as this blog goes along.

Aaron C

Welcome All!!!

Hey Everyone,

Even though the main reason of setting up this blog was because of the Writing Club Assignment of having weekly blog posts, I'll be writing about anything and everything under the sun (and the moon, but astronomically, were always under the sun right?).

This blog is dedicated to all my Writing Club people (Becky, Willa, Natasha, Karin, Erico, Silvia), all my English Teachers that have made me reach this stage in my writing career (Ms Jen, Mr Arthur, Ms Thiang, Ms Malini, Ms Ng, Ms Pia, Ms Patricia, Mr Jim) and everyone in PSB Singapore School and Santa Laurensia Junior High School. I hope to be able to post blog entires in languages other than English once I've mastered them! Enjoy my written words!!!

Aaron C