Battle Won

19 November:

Tiring is an understatement to describe the journey for them girls. Immediately after their end-of-year examinations, the students had to review their business plans, spend afternoons making their handmade recycled crafts and stained glass products, plan for a sales pitch, prepare the props for the skit, stocktake their products, create online advertising platforms, package their products etc. And while we teachers had to do A LOT (really a lot) of pushing and pulling, disciplining them at times even (oh goodness the scoldings were necessary and so bitter), I think the credit must really go to them.

There was a period when I thought the team may fall apart if the girls did not learn to work together and be responsible for this challenge. Some of them were sour and bitter at having to spend their holidays labouring in this way, and they allowed their nasty attitude to show (as young girls tend to do). But through the past two weeks they increasingly exhibited greater initiative and ownership towards this challenge, making suggestions and solving problems.

As the challenge drew closer, the number of complaints grew lesser too. What started out as pure obligation turned into ownership and duty, and today I think it turned into pride and maybe even a sense of identity. I was worried that the girls would be demoralised and tired after a long week of preparation, so I decided to pop by and see how things were going. To my surprise, the energy level of the team was high, morale was good, and the girls greeted me with enthusiasm, eager to share how much they had sold and how their day went. I took a tour of the other pushcarts. There were some worthy contenders, but altogether I think our pushcart stall (NUMBER 12!!) is pretty neat!

The girls told me some of their schoolmates and teachers came and bought some products. I know from their eyes and their voice that they were really encouraged by those forms of support. I think it’s more than support, I think its recognition too. The days, weeks of hard work is finally bearing fruit in the form of public support and recognition.

Tomorrow, they will report early in the morning and sell their goodies till nightfall. I know it will be a long and hard day for the five of them, but it’s no doubt that this challenge will mould into them resilience and teamwork, if it has not already. My prayer for them is that they will grow stronger from the experience and find joy and contentment while working hard. Tomorrow they give out the awards too. I’m crossing my fingers that their hard work will pay off. (It’ll be a great morale boost for the club too yay!) And if it doesn’t work out, let’s keep our heads held up because from what I saw this evening, I’m already proud of them girls for doing such good work.


After 20 November:

We won. Overall Champion of the National Pushcart Challenge 2011! God is good, and it is indeed a pleasant surprise and huge present to the deserving team. Praise the Lord!

I hope the rest of the club members share the same joy for the girls as the school. More importantly, I hope the girls will not let this win clog their eyes with complancency because it was really a team effort. No doubt, the girls spent many hours of their time hard at work preparing for this challenge. But there were many others who worked behind the scenes for all the products to come together, CCA members who made a trip down to show support by purchasing the items, teachers who rallied their friends (me! me!) to drop by. The next lesson for the girls to learn is humility and graciousness while enjoying their prize, and to share the joy with the rest of the club.

One of the most important things the girls learned over this challenge, would have to be teamwork. Initially some flared up at each other, and some others gave up working leaving the rest of the team to do her part in bitterness. When there was a customer at the pushcart, they push each other towards the customer because they couldn’t be bothered to do so themselves. But towards the conclusion of this competition, I saw a team working seamlessly together. When one of them was in a less-than-happy mood, the rest of the team quietly did her duty and supported her rather than point fingers in accusation at each other. We insisted the girls work in shifts to ensure they had sufficient breaks during the day. But on Sunday, the girls just insisted on sticking it out together. Maybe because what mattered more to them was not time for their own personal rest, but that the team’s pushcart was a success. Maybe because they wanted to be part of that success. Maybe because they wanted to share the exuberance and good feelings as a team. When there was a customer at the pushcart, they automatically went forward to offer their services. I just thought it was a beautiful thing to witness.

On a personal note, I beam with pride for our school because on the 20 November, the public and 14 other schools learned that we had emerged champions. Whoever did not hear of us before, would have heard of us then. And a small part of me beams because we may not have academic achievements to boast of, but we have claimed this small but certain space for ourselves.

Now with this teamwork shared between the five girls, my prayer is that they take this teamwork and spread it to the rest of the club. We need that pride and joy and enthusiasm to fuel our next year 2012!


An Accomplished Day

I have never felt so accomplished in a day. This proves that it is better to work than not to work at all!

I woke up and made my way to school, mentally prepared to clear my workstation at school. It is a mess, with piles of worksheets and documents stacked up all over my desk. As much as there is truth in an orderly mess, my messy workstation that threatened to compromise on my optimum efficiency at work. So there – the mess has to go. I worked from 9am to 2pm – nearly five whole hours – and to keep myself sane, I sang and talked to myself, being a humongous idiot in the staffroom.

Then I decided to drive down to Suntec Convention Hall to the Popular Bookfest! I know the name Popular may not ring a particularly sweet sound to some (it has a horrible range of fiction books in my opinion) but just going to a huge hall with books and stationery just made me happy. So I browsed through novels, non-fiction books, encyclopedias, history books, stationery racks, and everything else they had there. It was bliss – albeit with an empty tummy.

I bought stickers – colourful, bright and cheap stickers. Postit pads – they use so much of this in school! More than pens! I bought files. I also bought an illustrated William Blake poetry book, a photography book by Nat Geo, a book on Famous Speeches in history, and a Physics Ideas book for the boys. Happy happy things. :) After shopping, I dropped by Starbucks to grab their Toffee Nut Latte – a random treat!

Thank God I had a colleague who kindly offered to show me the way back. And what marks the end of an accomplished day? My wonderful brother accompanying me for a jog at Bishan Park at night. Now that my calves are truly aching, I feel truly accomplished. :)

Previously, not working and lazing around seemed a great thing to do. But after today, I am persuaded that an active lifestyle is the way to go! More activity, less lounging and gaining fats!


At Home At School

Special things are worth keeping check of.

This afternoon at school, our principal treated our English Department to lunch! She paid a school staff of ours to cook an Indian Curry luncheon specially for our department, so lunch was home-cooked and served warm from glass bowls and a rice cooker. Coolness!

It is the best lunch I have ever had in school, because our principal specially invited us to lunch with the heads (informally, of course). Because it was cooked by a school staff, it was all the more special.

With all the additional changes to prepare for in the coming year 2012, I see it as a power lunch to boost our moral and nerves!!

Today, there was a true taste of home at school. :)

By Default

November 20 is the day when I get to get a free phone upgrade. This opens a really huge door for me, because I can discard my current cranky phone (that has served me well in the past up until in recent months) and get a new phone (probably an android phone). I am definitely excited, and while I have joked about it, but I do still have reservations (or thoughts) about this whole getting an iphone trend.

Firstly, my family doesn’t buy into this iphone fashion. Paying hundreds for a phone just “to fit in”, “for convenience” or “for the apps” etc. is not a legitimate justification for (I’d imagine) most of my family members. I need to be very well persuaded in order to be persuasive that I’m not blindly buying into a trend just because. I need to know what exactly I want to do with my phone before I decide which one to get.

Secondly, I really only want my phone to make calls and send smses. And I find it increasingly awful that the world is creating an app for everything. From predicting bus arrival times, to forecasting the weather, to using a planner and organizer. What’s worse, I think these apps are useful. They help to make your life more efficient. Do you need them? No. But you could do very well with them, especially since everyone else is doing well with them. Level playing ground, you know? THE PHONE is no longer a simple electronic tool to do the two most essential things – to make phone calls and send smses. Now everything else has become essential because time is so expensive and worth saving rawr.

Let’s move on to some of my thoughts.

Recently I feel like I’m getting booked for not having an iphone. The point is that it seems like it has become my fault for not having one. My friends use the iphone what’sapp to arrange for dinners. That makes me quite unhappy because now it seems like that silly what’sapp is the default form of communication now. Since when has what’sapp become the default form of communication? Speaking of which, since when has Twitter or Facebook become the default form of communication? Shouldn’t that only be an option of communication between people who use an iphone or accesses Twitter or Facebook on a regular basis?

I have been feeling quite bummed because I have been spited enough for not using an android and/or not using Twitter often enough. We dictate how we want to use these gadgets and tools; not let these gadgets and tools inform how we live and communicate with our friends in real life. And because of this apple mania I have decided not to get an iphone. I think that would be a decision that hopefully speaks louder than words.