I’ve always found comfort in the knowledge that at the end of the tunnel, you’d be there.
General Paper: 3 hours. Chinese Paper: 3 hours.
Total time spent on exams today: 6 hours.
In all complete honesty, the General Paper is the great equaliser of Arts and Science students, and the guidebook of academic writing, whether you’re going into writing for science, or writing for the humanities. It really doesn’t do either side any favours because the type of writing one differs from the humanities and the sciences.
But of course, humanities students do have an edge for writing faster after churning out numerous essays. Probably one of the reasons we went down this road anyway.
The 12 essay questions concerned themselves with youth, censorship, the Arts, conformity, the commercialisation of education, image over ability (or vice versa), the poor in society, ethics and business, governmental power and individual rights, sports and sportsmanship, natural disasters bringing out the worst in Man, and science and profit.
There were a couple of reasons why I didn’t choose the others. When it came to censorship, the Arts (‘there is no practical value in the Arts’), and conformity. It came down to passion. I didn’t want to go crazy, and when I really get into something, I won’t be able to stop writing. Also in that moment when I read the question, I couldn’t really think of much except to vehemently disagree. That was a warning sign to me not to do it because I wouldn’t be able to stand writing something that I didn’t spend time really mulling over and understanding completely before writing it down. I have an opinion, but I’m pretty sure it’s still gapped and the logic may be flawed in certain areas.
The only question I didn’t even give a second thought about was sports and sportsmanship. I love sports, but… I just don’t have much to say on that, I suppose.
Eventually I chose to write on natural disasters bringing out the worst in Man, and denied this as a fact, but rather, balanced this on the variables of the government system and the culture of the country. I have an entire essay on this, and I’m not about to go into it at 10PM in the night on the same day, but I will say this: I stand firm in my belief that the human spirit overrides the instinct for self-survival.
After the essay, there was a sort of second essay in Paper 2 where I wrote about consumer culture. There is so much talk about consumer culture, and I even went into scrape the surface of the counter-culture of “hispterism” in Singapore.
That was the first language paper.
Then there was the second language paper. Mandarin Chinese.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ll never say I hate Chinese.
I just really don’t understand Chinese. I’m literally (and I mean literally) illiterate. I can’t read Chinese. I’m Chinese, for God’s sake, but I can’t read it. My literacy level is probably at about 3-5%. It’s terrible.
And I had to write an entire compo, and read several passages in a language I can’t even read. Kudos to me.
Who decided it was a good idea to chuck two language papers on the same day, anyway?
But at the same time, I’m mighty grateful they did, because that just means two less papers to worry about. 🙂
4 more papers to go. 1 WR to write and polish. Several proposals to run back and forth. A script to memorise. IS to work on. Dance steps to learn and recap. Life moves on as per normal.
On the 7th of September, 2015, a class of 25 students taking the Drama Elective Programme put up a showcase, just like the last 9 years have, and the showcase was called Inventio.
Inventio comes from the word “invent” or “discovery”.
And that’s the thing about the showcase – yes, the product was commendable, but what mattered was the process. Process work.
As my teacher says, “I don’t need people to love you [me]. Just your art.”
And well, before they can love your art… you need to love your art. To sink and immerse yourself completely into your art. To pour your soul into it. Into every piece. Inventio was a path to discover this. To discover our art so we may step and dive into it by the time our A Levels hit.
My teacher is amazing. She laid the groundwork for us without us even knowing it. Viewpoints. Theatre of Catastrophe. Stanislavsky.
I recently picked up Stanislavsky’s book: An Actor Prepares, and An Actor’s Work on a Role, and I read some of it. I had to leave it behind in the library though. Unfortunately, that thick reading will have to wait until after Promos. But yes, back to my point. It really just fits into the grid of our piece, all three aspects of it. Stanislavsky’s System is my preferred form of acting. Unknowingly, I’ve been using it since I was in Secondary 2, in preparation for KAHA, which was performed in Secondary 3.
I forgot how much I loved the library, until I went in today and picked up a mountain of books, of which I borrowed four to bring home for academic writing – the Inventio essay.
While marks can build you up or tear you down, I don’t think they’re the most important part of a performance.
Art can’t be graded on a scale. You can’t tie art to a graph and measure it’s greatness. That’s why it’s so beautiful. But, I do suppose in order for it to be an examinable subject, it has to be accessed critically in a form. And so there is a rubric. And the stuff here is very technical. But if I get to perform for my A Levels, then you know what, that’s enough for me. I just want to do what I love.
I’m positive I’ve written my Story of Reluctance here before, but I really can’t thank destiny enough that I’m here today. I won’t go into it, but I just want to thank the people who came to watch. Who experienced the piece with the five of us in our group. Who appreciate my art.
Also my teachers… the alumni… my seniors. Everyone who’s helped me to this point, and continues to help me develop and grow.
I can’t thank them enough.
The 3rd of September 2015 marked the seventeenth year since I started living and breathing in the real world.
In retrospect, there are so many things to be grateful for. In a short term view, I’m so grateful for the homecooked meal I had that night for dinner. It wasn’t lavish or anything, but my aunt cooked damn good pork chops with delectable soup on the side, and of course, the ultimate bae: rice. I was so happy, to be completely honest. I didn’t want anything special. I wanted to have something hot.
There was a euphoric moment when I stepped back into my secondary school in the afternoon and went absolutely crazy. It’s a feeling I never want to let go of… it’s the feeling of going home.
And I have to admit that I didn’t collect my O Level certificate on purpose. It’s my last tether to SCGS. The last tangible thing that they have of me left in that building. I don’t want it back. I want to keep having an excuse to keep going back. I want to keep forgetting that they shouldn’t have my things any more. I don’t want it back. I just want to leave it there so I can come back, and pretend that’s why I’m back. But it’s not. I want to see the people that are still there, I want to roam the halls and the corridors the way I used to. I want to sit in the lecture theatre and listen to the teachers, and joke with them and talk with them. I want my friends back with me walking from class to class, strolling from the seminar rooms… being the first few back… talking during recess…having the same breaks and being together again.
I want to sit at my study camp desk, strip my skirt off, change into my scsocool shirt, leave my things behind at my desk, with my shirt tucked inside, or laid over my bag, and go out to Starbucks, or Subway, even to Orchard Road for a movie, to throw some frisbees or run around the school, to have a consult with my teachers because they’re nice to chat with, or to go to the board room or the outside to study instead. Then I want to come back to my desk, pack up the things I need to go home with, leave my work behind, wear my sky blue skirt, and set off with my friends.
That was how I spent the sixteenth year of my life.
But life isn’t like that all the time. Things are going to change. After I left the school without my certificate… well… maybe I should’ve taken it. I don’t need an excuse to come back any more. I don’t need an excuse to go home and see everyone again. Next time, I’m taking it with me. And I’ll take it with no fears that I won’t come back again, because eventually, I’ll go home. I always do.
This year I spent my time in ACJC. Teachers’ Day celebrations. I performed. Some people might wonder why I didn’t mind, but I really didn’t. My friend cooked pancakes for me at 12AM that day, and he brought them to school for me for breakfast. You can bring me to Strictly Pancakes when I’m starving, but I won’t enjoy them as much as I did the pancakes he made me.
And I love performing – love the thrill and the dance and the song, and the fact that I was doing it for the teachers. Teachers always give so much, and the students rarely give much back. But the teachers deserve the thanks they get with all the lavish celebrations. They really do.
Looking back, when I went to my secondary school, all the hopes and aspirations I had there I still have, but things are different now. When I was in Sec 3, I nearly retained. When I was in Sec 4, I scored 30 points for my prelims. That’s just scratching the surface. Just the last two years.
Things could’ve gone really bad for me.
But my friends were there with me. My teachers guided me, and pulled me up and believed in me. I can’t ever thank them enough. These are the people who have moulded me, shaped me, and helped me. They made me who I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t be in ACJC. I wouldn’t’ve scored 9 points from 30. I wouldn’t be in DEP, in ACSian Theatre, and in Students’ Council.
I wouldn’t be who I am today.
Seventeen years of my life, and I can’t believe so much good has happened, despite the bad. I can’t believe the support I’ve gotten over the years. And I’ll keep working hard. I promise not to slack. I won’t let all their support and work go to waste. I’ll make something of myself in the end, and make them proud.
Do what you love, love what you do. And do it with and for the people you love.