by Ethan Aw (4E)
This year’s residential leadership programme took on a decidedly different Twist – the year 3 boys staying for a full term in RI Boarding were joined by Student leaders from four cluster schools, namely Bishan Park Secondary School, Peirce Secondary School, Guangyang Secondary School, and Whitley Secondary school, joined the South 7 Joint Residential Leadership Programme (S7JRLP). Yugesh Kannan (Bishan Park Secondary School), Rayner Tan (Whitley Secondary school), and Chew Jay Hong (RI, 4E) were roommates in the past term, And they were eager to share stories about their time in boarding.
Settling into the boarding house can initially be very daunting for some, with many suffering from homesickness in the beginning – but Yugesh, like many of his fellow boarders, took it in his stride. ‘It was a big surprise meeting my roommates – turns out, they are both head prefects like myself! Besides, the majority of people were quite jovial and engaged with each other a lot. I had expected many of us to be quiet,’ Yugesh said with a laugh.
Rayner, sharing the same sentiment, also added that experiencing Boarding also helped him become more disciplined. ‘Having stepped out of my comfort zone, I found that I could take charge of my own schedule and achieve a balance between work and life.’
The interactions between the three roommates were not limited to small talk and chatter, either. As the chairpersons of their respective leadership boards, their conversations naturally gravitated towards topics like their experiences with leadership styles in their schools. It was especially fortunate that the RI Prefects’ Investiture happened to coincide with the boarding term – it was a good opportunity for them to exchange feedback about the ceremony as well as helpful advice. Ultimately, they were in full agreement that they each had many useful ideas to take back to their own councils.
Of course, one’s experience in Boarding is also defined by the relationships built with other boarders, even with those from diverse backgrounds and of different personalities. When asked for his impressions of his fellow Buckley block boarders, Rayner quipped, ‘Guys from RI aren’t as “hardworking” as I had expected!’ In all fairness, that is not all that surprising – they only had ten weeks of access to the foosball table, after all!
Somehow, boarding together as one community breaks down the walls distinguishing students from one school from that of another – for one, Rayner was often joining Rafflesians, even those not in the S7JRLP, to catch Pokémon at Ang Mo Kio!
Furthermore, Jay Hong appreciates how Boarding helped him reach out and get to know other boarders, not by the scale of their achievements, but by their personal stories and personalities. ‘For me, this was important, given that may have been a preconceived notion that we (Rafflesians) are contained in our own bubbles, and that we are unwilling to step out and connect with our peers.’ We are sure that based on the experiences Jay Hong has shared with his fellow boarders and peers, he has overturned this notion in his own right.
Surely, the S7JRLP has been nothing short of fulfilling and enlightening for both Rayner and Jay Hong. As for Yugesh, he appreciated how the House Committee members and the House Tutors were friendly, yet able to take charge and be serious when necessary. His takeaway: ‘I would also like my Student Council Executive Committee and myself to engage our juniors similarly. Through this, I hope to cultivate patience towards others as well. Inspired by his experience and personal growth, Yugesh is also planning to organise a camp to simulate the Boarding programme and experience!
The boarders under the S7JRLP participated in not one, but two Community Engagement events this term – the first being the Silver Homes home refurbishment exercise, and the second, a kayaking-cum-river clean-up activity. Yugesh thought it more enjoyable and noble to plan the former along with the people in his homegroup, while Jay Hong liked the team effort of the latter better.
The boarders had their fair share of fun and games as well, such as the midterm event. For some, it is fondly remembered as a night of great fun and games, with activities ranging from peeling a banana with a chopstick, to a cooking competition between boarders of different blocks. For others, it came as a timely reminder that they had just another five weeks to make the most out of their boarding experiences. Eventually, the boarding term had to come to an end.
They remain connected by their bonds of friendship and their WhatsApp groups. At this juncture, both Yugesh and Rayner have decided that they would certainly encourage their friends and juniors to take part too, in the hope that all would benefit from the JRLP experience.