Ascended

This post is part of our throwback series as we look back at the enriching and exciting events of 2016.

The Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit (HC-APYLS) is a student-led international forum that aims to bring together student leaders from partner schools worldwide to engage in intellectual discourse and to forge a stronger understanding of global issues, and a greater appreciation for our world. A team of 23 student facilitators was involved in the organization of  the 10th Summit held from 18th to 26th July 2016.

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HC-APYLS delegates pose before the iconic Hwa Chong clock tower as they eagerly begin their HC-APYLS journey. Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Photographic Society

I remember, quite vividly, stepping into the frigid cold of the conference room, curiously peering into the eyes of the interviewers opposite me, and retreating from the interview room certain that I would not make it onto the team.

The next three months was life-changing. Looking back, I could not have been more glad for the bold step that I took to sign up to be a facilitator at the APYLS.

I can say with some conviction that each of us cannot forget the first time we met as a team—we were facing trepidation due to the  journey that we were about to embark on. Memories of work sessions melded into one another, fear collapsed into exhaustion, each of us fighting battles that had never crossed our minds. Ask any of us “How was APYLS?” and we give you a weak smile. That answer was both the long and short of it.

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Delegates engage in team bonding and icebreaker activities. Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Photographic Society.

Sleep deprivation became quite the norm: we occasionally woke up in the Ops Room at 3am and wondered—aloud—where we were, only to realize that the media team was still up editing photos, their eyes red from staring at their computer screens for hours on end. We faltered, our hits and misses apparent in the nightly debriefs—chiding ourselves for slip-ups, vowing to do better the next day. We clamoured to cover for one another for the lack of mental and emotional capacity to think critically while the sense of lethargy threatened to overwhelm us. It was both difficult and meaningful.

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Delegates engaged in a day of experiential learning and community service at the Ground-Up Initiative (GUI). Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Photographic Society.

But we wore bright smiles and cracked cheesy jokes. And we laughed, because despite it all, we enjoyed it.

We gathered, post-APYLS, for lunch, and naturally decided to take a mandatory facilitators’ photo.

Bringing the camera to my eye, I looked through the viewfinder, afraid to see the scene before me—23 of us, assembling, for the last facilitators’ photo.

I pressed the shutter button, and my vision blurred.

On behalf of all student facilitators, I would like to thank our teacher-advisors, Mr Sim, Ms Tan, Ms Huo, Ms Phang, Mr Ho, Mr Wong and Mrs Vetri for their kind guidance and patience, as well as each and every member of the student Organising Team (OT). The journey would not have been the same without all of you. :)

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Teacher chaperones pose for a photo with the Principal of Hwa Chong Institution, Dr. Hon Chiew Weng, and the Deputy Principal (Student Development), Mr. Chan Kwok Leong. Photo Credit: Hwa Chong Photographic Society.

Written by Chiang Yan Qi (16S7D)

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