I'll be posting your comments here if y'all don't mind so that I can read and reply through here: From "-" (hahah yo...

A message to my juniors - Continue to fight the good fight

I'll be posting your comments here if y'all don't mind so that I can read and reply through here:

From "-" (hahah you guys ah, better put your name ah.)

"Hi Sihui, I am a junior from wkw who stumbled upon your blog and your blog gave me so much hope!! Been feeling a little jaded with school and all, all i really want to do is go out there and help people. like my community, and all, maybe join MCCY or something. can you tell me more about your journey in myanmar? the blogpost about you and shine made me tear up. you have such a lovely heart. Sometimes i feel quite lost in school, even though i enjoy whatever im doing, ill always be wondering: do i really want to do this? have you ever had the "i want to save the world" feeling? how did you overcome it? thank you so much for posting and sharing your experiences. it really made me feel less alone :)
ok ive been reading your blog for 2 hours HAHA. your 2015 posts about solo tripping in myanmar left me so misty eyed!!! sent photos of your trip to my friend and we're convinced to backpack SEA now. i went to laos this year and i fell in love with the tranquility and the conservativeness of the people, so i could really relate to your myanmar posts :) SORRY FOR THE SPAM just wanted to say i really really enjoy your posts and please dont stop posting it really made me so happy reading it all :) be well si hui!"

Hey you.. first of all, YOU made me happy just reading your message. You're the one with the lovely heart! Look at yourself, you've dreams and ambitions of what you aspire to do... and that's great. And never forget those aspirations. You also made my heart bloom like... spring haha I fail at coming up with beautiful phrases.

When you asked if I ever felt like saving the world.... Yes, yes, yes and a thousand times over YES! And it was very recently when I had that feeling. And I got seriously depressed when I realised how nonsensical the world is, and how we're churning more harm and damage to ourselves and each other. I felt so low that I felt like we were all living for not a particular reason - Like we were living without a purpose and then you know... we just die after that. A very sorry state that we're in eh? It was really quite an apocalyptic state of mind.

How did I overcome it? I overcame it not by doing more things to save the world. I overcame it not by trying to go against or fight against it. I overcame it by first.... Letting go. I slowly came to accept that... yes, no matter how much I think this world is such a pain in the ass, I will accept that this pain will stay in the ass for quite a long time. But it is not choosing to ignore but choosing how to face it no matter how painful it is by fighting the good fight. Instead of fighting against it, you fight alongside it and try in the littlest of ways to remedy the pain. Till it eventually goes away. That is the ideal. And that is an ideal that cannot be achieved within a day, or even a lifetime. But we must choose to wake up each day, choosing this. And it is what I will stand by for as long as I can.

When you talked about feeling jaded with school and wanting to really get out there and do the things that matter... I know exactly what that feels like. It feels like you're not really impacting the community by doing the mundane things that you're doing now. But you know what? Take heart. What you're studying now? What you're learning now in school? I tell you, it will go a longgggg way when you finally get to exercise what you learnt. They may seem fun and frilly, but all those lessons and projects that you do in PR, advert or journ, broadcast, they are shaping you as you learn and they will come in handy when it's time for you to face the real world. I know it doesn't seem like they matter now, but believe me, I have seen projects done in school that impacted the community one way or another. Or one individual at a time. The effects may not be obvious, but they will shine. And if you miss seeing them, you will miss the little glimmers, But if you focus on what's there now, I'm very sure you will see a bright light in the future that will be absolutely blinding and stunning. They're moulding your character now to prepare you for what is to come. So don't give up on school! Hang in there :-)

Just by reading how you type, I can tell.. that you care. You care a lot about people and the things that matter to you. And that's excellent. I say, keep them close to your heart and never forget them. Soon enough, you'll be bold enough to do all that you want to do. So take your time to grow while you're still at University. Make mistakes, get up, recover. Because of the mere fact that you can. When it's the real world, mistakes will cost you. Enjoy the journey. Take in all that you're doing now at school. I truly believe that you're doing your best to learn as much as you can right now, so I'm not worried about that and I'm not going to tell you to work harder coz I think you already are. You do your part. And time will do its part. Before you know it, you can do whatever you want when you're ready for it!

Take this time at Uni to grow... Just like how I did.

I grew by taking part in a few activities at Wkwsci. But of course with a fair share of dilemmas too. You mentioned Laos. And Laos has a special place in my heart too and I'll show you why...

In 2012, I took part in OCIP, and was part of the pioneer team of WeeTrippers created and organised by my wkw senior, Carrie Ho.

It was a two weeks trip where we taught english, math and art to local students, built furniture for a newly constructed kindergarten and also lived with the Laotian villagers through homestay.

Laos was immensely beautiful
(photo credit: Xiangyun Lim, 2012 - my senior who used film to capture these stunning images)

... and afforded us a lifestyle away from the city - one we never could've imagined.
(photo credit: Xiangyun Lim, 2012)

"Our first polaroid of the series! This was only the beginning" -
Carrie's captions when she posted these photos on Facebook.
"... and we're back from farming with yummy ripe bananas!!!"

"I remember that we had a graduation ceremony when we threw our gloves in the air haha"
"A last group photo with our hosts when we left the village. Super emotional day and I don't think I'll ever forget the moment when the truck drove off and we waved goodbye, not knowing when's the next time we'll see them again." - Carrie Ho, WeeTrip 2012 President.

I was a participant and I remember one of the debrief sessions that we had when we shared our thoughts and feelings. I'll always remember the moment when my friend, Peiying who was the VP at the time, broke down when she recounted how helpless she felt before she came to the village. Because she had already been told that "you are not there to help the villagers. This OCIP is for you Singaporean students to learn and grow. It has nothing to do with you helping the villagers." She was told that sentence during a leadership course she took, which was mandatory for all OCIP leaders.

She felt helpless. Because it was as if she went to Laos for a self-serving need.

As 20-year-olds then, that notion was inconceivable because we felt a purpose larger than ourselves when we went to do OCIP.

I felt the guilt as well for not being able to give more than to receive.

And it didn't just end there. Coz guess what?

I chaired the next WeeTrip in 2013.

...  couldn't have done it if not for these two sisters

This time, I went with a lot higher expectations both for myself and for my team. That we could do so much more for the villagers. Teach, build, just anything. I wanted my team to be able to give more than to take away.

This time I knew what it felt like to be told the same thing through the leadership course, that we were not there to help the villagers. And that we should never try to act as if we could change the world.

So once again, I left the same village, feeling quite sad that maybe once again, we didn't get to do what we wanted to do.

What's worse? What's even worse than not giving back was this...

Before we went on this trip in 2013, my co-chair and I went for a recce trip to the village. It was all good until the final day when the village chief told us to pass a note to a previous team from Hall 12, which had done OCIP with the same village. He had secretly passed the note to us without our minder knowing. He wanted us to pass that note to the Hall 12 team's chairperson upon reaching Singapore. We thought he simply wanted to send some greetings over to them. But it was rather to the contrary...

It read: "Please come and build toilet for us".

And you know what? That felt almost like betrayal. Because it was not as if the village chief didn't have a functional toilet. He was asking for a brand new spanking toilet because he knew he COULD. He was asking for things. Asking for Singaporean kids to come build a toilet for him and only his family. Because he wanted one.

The village chief had grown greedy over the course of one year. Because after 2012, when WeeTrip first did OCIP, quite a number of teams came to do OCIP as well. And so... I believe he must have become dependent on those fundings that Singaporean students came with.

So yes.... I had grown jaded with the OCIP industry. Were we doing more harm than good? Were we even helping them? Did they even need our help in the first place????? What is "help"?

I was really disheartened.

But you know what, looking back, I've come to accept that things like that happen. There will always be a dark mark in certain things that we do. But it is what you choose to see. It is the littlest of little things that you've given to the community that are the small steps you take in moving things along.

Whether it's bringing joy to the kids for a day of fun.

or doing things together as a team.

I now believe in this. And I think it wasn't right for the leadership course to be dampening our spirits at such a young age, telling us that we couldn't do anything for the locals. Shouldn't they be empowering us? That we are more than just kids going on a learning journey.

So when you asked me if I ever felt like I wanted to change the world, yes, I have and I tasted how disappointing it can be too when I didn't feel like I could and also when I saw the ugly side of things. But it is my conviction now that things are changing with the little things that you do.

And this is evidently so.

Because last year, during my Southeast Asia tour with Sianpei, we decided to drop in at the same village again to check out how things have been since we left two to three years ago!

The villagers were still more than welcoming and ready to receive us in open arms.
(this was not the village chief who asked for toilet btw hahaha)

Most visible of all, were the projects that we had done - completed, and standing tall. After the many years of different teams coming in and contributing to building the social hall and kindergarten, the project at Ban Na'Phong was finally completed. (Didn't take any pictures unfortunately, sorry!)

There were other projects by other teams like the water project that was part of Na'Phong as well. It was excellent to see everything come together eventually.

And of course, what was most comforting was seeing how much our children had grown :')

My favourite girl heeheee. From baby to toddler to kid - we've seen her grow


If you look at these kids here, they are no different than the ones in Singapore.

Take this girl for example

There was a moment in time while we were there when I caught a glimpse of yearning. She's poorer than some of the other kids so she was hesitant at first to approach us to play. So she and her jean gang of friends kept doing tricks to attract our attention.

It was when I realised she felt like perhaps, she wasn't good enough and that made me ponder a lot. Because I had never felt like she wasn't good enough despite the muddied clothes she was wearing. Instead, I saw her confidence shining so radiantly.

Which leads me to the next comment I'll address by "Inkling" :-)


From "Inkling" (I must say, this was quite a cute name that you came up with. I quite like it):

"Hi Si Hui, I just discovered your blog today while fretting over my matriculation to WKWSCI. I've been intrigued by the school since I first found out about it during JC and I've always wanted to join WKW since then. However, now that I actually got an offer, I'm starting to wonder if media is really my thing due to the general "dog eat dog" nature of the industry. I'm not exactly smart and so I'm not sure if what I produce as future journalist would be good enough. I'm not sure if I'm creative enough to be in advertising and PR and I'm not sure if I have what it takes to be an information analyst. However, at the same time, I just light up at the thought of a dynamic and purposeful work environment and working to realise a cause. 
Another huge fear I have is the kind of people that will be there. I've heard way too many tales of backstabbers and leeches in mass comm courses and while I'm the type to stand up for myself, that usually means a clean break from the people in question. I loathe trying to keep afloat superficial relationships for the sake of connections but I know that connections are extremely important for uni AND the impending work life. I understand that I can't control external factors but I still can't help but be absolutely petrified of living miserably for 4 years then coming out with mediocre results. Do you perhaps have any advice for me? I love the issues that you discuss and the works that you take part in! My heart goes out to you for the loss of your dear friend whose personality shone through the pictures and congrats on your job offer!!"

Hello to you as well!! And apologies for addressing your comment after a huge chunk above.

Reading your message, I saw one phrase repeatedly, which was "Not good enough". Not smart enough, not creative enough... Simply not enough. You reminded a little bit of myself when I first entered wkw too. Because I came from a neighbourhood secondary school and JC while everyone else was from elite schools. All high and mighty and tall and beautiful. (Hahah, just throwing that in for good measure). I was sure that I'd lag behind.

But you know what? Everyone else who's entering wkw the same time as you are? ALL OF THEM won't feel like they're good enough either. Especially so for the JC kids. Because you know why? Because all of you haven't had a taste of the modules yet. And so, there is a lot of uncertainty. You don't know what's out there and so there is a fear of not being good enough. The media industry is a niche industry, so unless you've had an internship before, there is bound to be that feeling like you're inadequate.

So I implore you to get out there first, to have a taste of what it is like, before you second guess yourself. You followed your heart. And you stated a reason why you chose it... the thought of a dynamic and purposeful work environment. Bingo! Always remember why you chose media in the first place. You're being bold by choosing something that's not the typical route. Maybe you could have chosen accountancy if your math was good, or maybe you could have chosen engineering if your science was good, but would that really be what you want to do? It is the fear of jumping into something you're not used to, which is what's giving you cold feet at the eleventh hour!

Take your time within the next 4 years to find your craft. To find out what you like to do. At Year One and before I entered Wkw, I never would've imagined doing Broadcast and producing a documentary for my Final Year Project. The possibilities are endlessss. So first, you must give yourself a chance. A chance to tantalise and tease those skills and senses. Give yourself time to grow and learn what it is that you excel at. Your strengths, your weaknesses.. They will go a long way. Have faith in your abilities! You got an offer at wkwsci and that means something. And you know... I feel happy knowing that you said that you light up when you think of a dynamic and purposeful work environment. That's where you will shine. But you must first find out what you will like to do within that dynamic work space. And trust that time will reveal it to you as you work for it in the next four years. Keep at it even when you encounter struggles and difficulties. There will be things you dislike studying but you must soldier on. And yes, Fight the Good Fight.

With regards to scary people in wkw...

There will be loud people, there will be crazy people. But backstabbers and leeches... I actually think it is quite the contrary! I loved the folks during my time at wkw. Before I came in, I had the thinking that people were going to be very hypocritical and acting all fashionable and I was wondering if I could ever fit in. But would you believe me if I said that I haven't met one backstabber, or one leech during my time at wkw? Yes, they were loud and crazy but they were never evil... I think nobody can be that evil actually because word spreads in a school cohort that's so small.

Instead, try to look at it this way: Find the gems in school. Wkw people are some of the most intriguing people, with insights and perspectives different from a lot of regular Singaporeans. I dare say I learnt a lot from my peers - how they think, what they choose to do... You'll be surprised, a lot of them are very passionate in what they do, such as social causes. Your senior, the one who commented before you in my tagboard, she's one of them. I choose to see that there are a lot more committed and spirited individuals studying at my alma mater than "backstabbers and leeches".

And when you realise that everyone else has their own insecurities or have the same insecurities as you do, it is a lot easier to see them as equals and you won't have to be afraid of them. Everyone has their own battles to fight. Cliche but true.

As for yourself... Always remember to stay true to yourself, little Inkling. But be open to people and what they can share~ it is a wonderous world out there.

Lastly, I think the notion of "Dog eat Dog"is overplayed. Even if it does exist, it doesn't just exist in the media industry. And if you try to escape it, you'll still see it somewhere else. So, embrace it! It's not as bleak as it seems to be. It will be a lot of positivity and self-growth at wkw, I'm sure of that for you :-)

All the best!!

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