ISSN NO. 0218-7310
NTUSU completes student survey on S/U option Results from the study may see the Union push for changes to the university’s policy on the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory option in course grading NEWS | 2
Beer brewing contest returns
Dancing the night away
NEWS | 3
LIFESTYLE | 4-5
SCBE taps on last semester’s success to organise the competition again this semester
Three final-year students recount the four years they spent dancing in the annual HOCC
Giving new life to rims NBS freshman starts mobile business spraypainting the car rims of Carousell clients
SPOTLIGHT | 6-7
NTUSU: Consultations with students prompt latest S/U survey Results of the Union’s latest survey, due out these two months, may drive changes to how students can be graded for their courses REXANNE YAP THE Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option is commonly used by students every semester before their grades are out, to withdraw the grade of a particular course from being considered in their Grade Point Average (GPA). But soon, there could be a possibility of the S/U option being available even after the final grades are released. This appears to be the popular suggestion of students who responded to NTU Student Union’s (NTUSU) latest survey, conducted this February. Results of the study are currently being calculated. To ensure greater accuracy of its findings, the Union is using data analytics. Algorithms are used to sieve out keywords that highlight the main concerns that students have. Business intelligence software will then be used to visualise the responses to the S/U survey. With these methods, NTUSU hopes to put forth a stronger case to the NTU management, said NTUSU President Edward Lim. In November 2016, an S/U option survey sent to all Union members revealed that 55 per cent of more than 3,000 respondents found the S/U option “helpful”, while the rest found it unhelpful. But the university had found no compelling reason to make changes to the S/U scheme after discussing the findings with the Union, as reported on the Union’s blog, U-Insight, in August last year. Lim said: “(The previous survey) was simplistic...the questions that were asked were very leading questions. In a sense, it wasn’t a very objective study.” So this year, the NTUSU used a “proper approach” to the S/U option survey to accurately represent students’ sentiments toward the S/U policy. Furthermore, focus group discussions with students of all years were held from 27 to 28 Feb to collect qualitative responses, in addition to the online survey conducted from 2 to 8 Feb.
Any changes made to the university’s S/U option will affect the majority of undergraduates at NTU, who have voiced their concerns to NTUSU through the survey and in feedback sessions last year PHOTO: JOEL CHAN
This study was the culmination of months of planning ever since the Union’s executives were elected, and was not a reactionary response, said Lim. “Students do not want to gamble with their grades. “Having the S/U option before the release of (letter grades) actually worries students. It might impede their appetite to try modules beyond their curriculum,” said the 24-year-old NTUSU President. He said that the Union received this feedback through their Town Hall forum last October, as well as through their consultation sessions, social media channels, emails and daily interactions with the student body. The results of the study will be published to students in March or April, after the analysis of the focus group discussions is completed. Following that, a proposal will be presented to Professor Tan Ooi Kiang, the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education.
greatly appreciated by all of us. “They are speaking for the entire batch of undergraduates,” said Ahkshara Sankar, a first-year student from the School of Computer Science and Engineering.
Satisfied with the survey
Peh Ying Sien, 21, a first-year student from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, praised NTUSU’s work thus far and hopes that the proposal passes to benefit both freshmen and seniors.
Students that the Chronicle spoke to were pleased that the Union is putting in more effort into their research. “What the NTUSU is doing is
“Having the S/U option before the release of (letter grades) actually worries students. It might impede their appetite to try modules beyond their curriculum.” Edward Lim, 24 President NTUSU
“If we were allowed to (use the) S/U (option) after our results, at least we will try to put in the effort (for the entirety of the module) to get a better grade,” said Peh. Some students compared the National University of Singapore (NUS)’s S/U option policy to NTU’s. NUS allows most undergraduates, except those from law, medicine and dentistry, to exercise the S/U option on specified modules after they have received their letter grade results. “It’s quite unfair. Their CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) would be higher than ours,” said 22-year-old Brian Chong, a first-year student from the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. Concerning that, Lim said that they would only use other universities’ policies as a reference point. He reiterated that their case would be primarily based on the context of NTU. Officially, the University has stated that the objective of the S/U option was to encourage students to try modules beyond their core subjects without worrying about their CGPA. This allows for a more holistic assessment instead of basing aca-
“If we were allowed to (use the) S/U option after our results, at least we will try to put in the effort (for the entirety of the module) to get a better grade.” Peh Ying Sien, 22 First-year student School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
demic performance solely on the examinations. “The University’s stance is that they do not want students to manipulate their CGPA by toying with the S/U option,” said Lim. “But does the reality of setting the S/U option before the release of (letter grades) discourage students from manipulating their CGPA? We are looking at the consequences of this.”
Brewing up a storm for the second time The School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering brings back its beer brewing competition this semester due to popular demand JONATHAN CHEW POSITIVE response from students has prompted the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE) to bring back its beer brewing competition for its second edition this semester, this time featuring stout as the beer of choice. Last semester, pale ale was used as the category of beer to be made. This competition sees students and professors working together to create the best-tasting beer. The competition kicked off with 12 teams in its first mingle session on 23 Jan, when the groups brought their own brews for the others to try. This was also when they shared stories about their beer brewing experiences with the other teams. Four other mingle sessions are scheduled to take place before judging day is held on 24 Apr. Assistant Professor James Kwan, who was a participant in the competition last year has returned as a judge this year. He said: “When we did it the first time...people were unsure of what it took to actually run a competition. “This time, we have a much better understanding, (we are) more organised, and it is running more smoothly.” All competitors will receive an SCBE souvenir, with the winning team walking away with a beer brewing kit that includes a fermenting vessel, carbonation drops that are used to carbonate the beer, and beer bottles, which typically retails for around $100. Teams will also be reimbursed up to $250 for ingredients and materials, and granted access to the school’s pilot laboratory with equipment to experiment on, and its cold room, which is used for the fermentation process. Judging is done by a panel, and beers go through a blind taste test. This semester, judges in the fourman panel include Prof Kwan, as well as the chair of the SCBE, Professor Xu Rong, and Bryan Picco, a brewer from Brewerkz. Tan Jian Song, a second-year student from SCBE, is participating in the beer brewing competition for the first time. Tan was inspired to start brewing beer for the competition, having already been interested in the process of making alcohol. He had only recently heard about the competition from his friends. “I’m aiming to make a beer that I would prefer and cater to my own tastes. "Hopefully it will be a good brew, and others will like it,” said the 23-year-old. The competition serves not only as a way for students and professors to bond outside of academic
Assistant Professor James Kwan (in white) shares his experience as a participant and winner of the first competition last semester during the mingle session.
work, but also for students to apply concepts learnt in school. “Beer brewing is actually very hardcore chemical engineering. There’s concepts such as heat transfer and process control that need to be applied,” said Associate Professor Chew Jia Wei, the associate chair for students in the SCBE. “It’s also something everyone can relate with, and you can actually see and taste the results,” she added. Prof Chew, who was on the organising committee last semester, decided to try her hand at beer brewing this semester as well. She said: “We are thinking of different flavourings right now. “We will probably try conventional ones such as coffee or chocolate, before thinking of other (flavours) to try. “Someone suggested durian, but we probably won’t go with that.” On the future of the competition, Ptof Chew is hopeful. She said: “So far, the number of teams is very promising. "Last semester, even though the
“Beer brewing is actually very hardcore chemical engineering. There's concepts such as heat transfer and process control that need to be applied.” Associate Professor Chew Jia Wei, 37 Associate Chair School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE)
judging day was right before exams, we actually ran out of catered food due to the large turnout. "As long as there’s interest, we will continue to hold this competition.”
Contestants in this semester's competition had stout as the category of beer, compared to pale ale last year. PHOTOS: JOEL CHAN
The final dance
The annual Hall Olympiad Closing Ceremony of 2019 drew to a close earlier this month, and Krishveen Kaur spoke to three final-year dancers who have dedicated themselves to this event for the last four years
Ang Wei Qing, 24, performs a dance routine with his team, at a showcase held at Hall of Residence 8’s multi-purpose hall on 26 Feb.
A DAY after winning the annual Hall Olympiad Closing Ceremony (HOCC) dance competition, Nabeel Azhar, a final-year student at the School of Social Sciences, was not celebrating his victory. Instead, he spent his time rushing to submit his final-year project due that day. The last three months had been a gruelling challenge for this Hall of Residence 16 resident – juggling intensive rehearsals for HOCC while working on his sociology thesis meant that Nabeel only slept two hours or less every day. But this was not the first time the 25-yearold had gone through such trying times. For him and some other final-year students, this was an annual routine that they chose to go through for the last four years.
Painful but rewarding experience Nabeel stumbled across dance in his freshman year. “I didn’t have the intention to dance,” said Nabeel, who had no prior dance experience.
“I just wanted to study.” But after watching just one dance practice session during the hall’s Freshmen Orientation Programme, he was drawn in. “There was no turning back. My passion for dance was ignited,” added Nabeel. Nabeel recalls how dance quickly became part of his daily routine. “I would imagine myself dancing to steps in my sleep, even on days when I didn’t have practice,” he said. From then on, Nabeel pursued his interest in dance actively. Besides being part of his hall dance team, he also joined the MJ Hip Hop Dance Club, and took part in their competitions. But in his third year, Nabeel’s dance journey met with a demoralising turn. He tore two ligaments in his left knee while playing football one weekend, forcing him to withdraw from HOCC. “I planned not to go for an overseas exchange in the second semester of my third year, so that I could dance for HOCC.
“But the injury occurred in January, so I had to sit out for that competition as well as my performances for the MJ Hip Hop club,” said Nabeel. He had to be on crutches for two months after his surgery in January last year. “It was a real torture,” said Nabeel, who also plays football and sepak takraw for his hall. “I went from being so active to just sitting around and watching others dance during practice.” But the experience taught him not to take simple things, like walking and running, for granted. “It pushed me to gain the mental resilience to go through any struggle,” he said. Even though Nabeel was not able to dance with his team in his third year, he helped out in other ways, such as managing the lighting for his hall’s dance items on the day of the competition. “I wanted the dancers to have peace of mind, knowing that the lighting guy was
PHOTO: JOEL CHAN
someone who was familiar with their dance routine,” he said. After his recovery, Nabeel returned to dance, despite the risk that he might injure himself again. “I just continued because my passion made me want to take the risk again,” he said. Nabeel and his dance team from Hall 16, Strawberry Stretch, were crowned champions in this year’s HOCC, but the dancer remains humble. “I’m proud that we managed a good performance,” he said. “Results were always secondary to us, but winning was a nice bonus,” he added.
A safe space for new dancers Nur Liyana began her competitive dance journey with Soulmix, the dance team of Hall 10, in her first year at NTU. “I’ve always wanted to try hip-hop dancing since I was in primary school, but I never had the opportunity, up until university,” said the final-year student from the School
Nabeel Azhar, 25, shares the stage with his dance team, Strawberry Stretch, at the Hall Olympaid Closing Ceremony earlier this month. His team went on to clinch first place. PHOTO: AUDREY LEONG
of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Like Nabeel, it was Liyana’s first time dancing on stage during HOCC four years ago. She found herself strugglng to keep up with other dancers in her team who were more experienced. “I was a mess even after putting in so much effort dancing for three months,” said the 23-year-old. “It was nerve-racking to start at such an age as compared to those who already had experience.” Furthermore, Liyana faced some negativity from her peers who could not understand why she was putting so much time into dance. “I had some fallouts with friends back in my first year due to this competition. “Most of my friends were not as supportive as I was hoping them to be,” she said. But she was thankful for her dance seniors who created a nurturing environment for her to develop as a first-time dancer. “They were very patient with my awkward movements and lack of body awareness in the beginning. “Furthermore, we did not hire any external choreographers to teach us the basics, so I really had to start from scratch and learn from my seniors and on my own,” said Liyana. Her seniors also advised her on how to manage her workload while participating in HOCC. “I was struggling in the first semester of school. “So they advised me to take more modules in semester one and less in semester two
so that I could spend more time dancing,” she said. “Going through these difficulties knowing that I could count on my seniors for advice really made the journey worthwhile,” added Liyana. In the latest competition season, Liyana missed the first month of intensive dance training for her final year in HOCC, due to her winter exchange programme last December. Despite this, she did not back down from the opportunity to represent her hall in HOCC for the last time. “I wanted to dance with my team for the last time to carry on the culture that my seniors had provided for me,” she said. “That is, providing a safe space for new dancers like myself to enjoy dancing.” Liyana’s team placed third in this year’s HOCC, jumping a place from four years ago when they placed fourth. “As a senior now, I relay the same advice I received as a freshman from my seniors down to my freshies. “But the most important thing I tell them is that, you dance for the people beside you, and not the audience,” she said. Liyana added that when dancers carry out the steps in harmony, the audience will be able to feel their synergy naturally.
Lessons in managing time and people Ang Wei Qing first started dancing when he was 17. Watching a neighbour’s dance performance had sparked his interest, and he spent
Nur Liyana, 23, hugs a dancer from her team, after receiving third place at the Hall Olympiad Closing Ceremony dance competition. PHOTO: AUDREY LEONG
the next five years joining different external dance crews. But it wasn’t until he entered university, that he truly had a fulfilling dance experience. Now, 24-year-old Ang is a final-year student at the School of Social Sciences, with considerable experience as a choreographer and captain for his hall’s dance team, and school’s MJ Hip Hop Dance Club. Ang said he gained fulfilment from overcoming several dance-related challenges over the years. He recalled his first role as a choreographer for the Hall 8 dance team, Srethgie, in his second year, after participating as a dancer in his first year. With little prior experience in choreographing, this proved to be a steep learning curve for him. “It was really stressful because I didn’t have much experience and I was suddenly thrown into dealing with 50 or 60 dancers,” said Ang. “The scary thing was watching the amount of difficulty your dancers had with it,” he said. After winning first place for HOCC that year, Ang craved for more challenges. In his third year, he took on double captaincy for both the dances in HOCC and MJ Hip Hop Dance Club team. These added responsibilities meant that he had to make personal sacrifices, such as spending less time with his family.
“There were times where I didn’t go home for more than a month because I would choose to catch up on sleep in hall when I wasn’t preparing for school or dance practice,” he said. But Ang’s parents were a constant source of support for him, and they continuously encouraged him to pursue his passion for dance. “We know that he loves dance and we respect his choice, even though it pains us to see his tired face,” said Ang’s mother. Ang feels that these responsibilities have helped him to be more adaptable, and better at managing his time, as well as the people around him. Even though Ang will graduate this year, he has already expressed his interest in coming back as an alumni to help out in the future. “I will really miss this comradeship, for sure. “Unlike other types of dance competitions, the main goal of HOCC is to blend in, so that when people watch our item, they see how bonded we are as a team.” Ang’s dance team, Srethgie, did not manage podium finish this year, but he says that his shared experience with the team is something that no trophy can replace. “Nothing’s changed even if we have one less trophy to display,” he said. “The only sadness comes from knowing that I won’t be able to share that stage with my team again after graduation.”
Jazzing up rims with spray paint Spurred by his longtime interest in cars, Chang Yong Keen started a freelance business, RimsOnly, with his friend that specialises in spraying car rims in fun and creative ways. Photo Editor Joel Chan finds out more SINCE his national service (NS) days, the first-year student from the Nanyang Business School (NBS) had been looking for a means to support himself while studying, and wanted it to be a job that he was passionate about. Being an avid car lover, Chang, 24, observed that most car rims are silver. The uniformity and lack of creativity annoyed him. “I have been spray painting bicycle frames for a year and it hit me that I could change the colour of the rims by spray painting them,” said Chang. “This will not only help to beautify the car, but also give the car a brand new identity.” After extensive research, Chang realised that this market in Singapore is very niche and underdeveloped. Sensing an opportunity, he founded RimsOnly last year with his friend, Gilbert Chandra, 21.
Starting out Prior to the founding of RimsOnly, the duo dedicated their free time during NS to watch YouTube tutorials on spray painting as well as learn some automotive trade practices, like how to protect a car from damages. After two weeks, the duo asked to hone their spray painting skills by practicing on their friends’ cars. Chang said: “This helped us tremendously as it gave us confidence. It also helped to prepare us mentally for the complaints that we are bound to receive especially when we first started out. “We are going to deal with people’s babes (sic) and we will definitely mess up somewhere, so we had to learn to willingly take the criticism and backlash in, and work from there.” The duo’s mutual friend agreed to let them work on his car, despite their lack of experience, as they were offering to do it for free. Chang and Gilbert felt that it was more valuable to gain experience on the job, so they officially launched RimsOnly after practicing their spray painting skills on just one car.
Business operations In total, the duo forked out $150 on cans of spray paint that could last them for about a month. Other materials such as newspapers and playing cards were reused from their homes. Majority of RimsOnly’s customers come from local online marketplace Carousell. Clients have to
schedule an appointment slot for a spray painting service, which fills up quickly. In the past month alone, the duo have spray painted 15 cars. Each car takes an average of two hours to complete. The cost of each job varies, depending on the size of the rim as well as the the colour and type of paint used. “The average car rim size is 17 to 18-inches. If the client chooses the basic matte black paint, it will cost him or her $150,” said Chang. “More extravagant paints like rose gold will cost them $170 for the same rim size.” Chang and Gilbert can serve up to four clients on a good day. Chang said that business is seasonal and peaks in the lead-up to big festivals, such as Christmas. During the recent year-end holidays, the duo worked every day for a fortnight. Gilbert, who is waiting to enter university in August this year, works almost every day. However, due to Chang’s school and hall commitments, he only works during the weekends. Gilbert does not mind assuming more responsibility as he feels that it is important for RimsOnly to establish themselves in the market. “It is not like he (Chang) is skiving. It is a little inconvenient for Chang to help on weekdays as NTU is so far,” Gilbert said. “In fact we have an agreement where I will keep the profits on the assignments which I do on my own.” Just from RimsOnly, Chang earns enough to pay for his hall accommodation and daily expenses, which can come up to about $600 every month.
Difficulties of the job Even though business is lucrative, it is not easy, said Chang. Before spray painting the rims, the duo have to thoroughly scrub brake dust off the surface of the rims as this affects the way the paint settles on the metal. But they can only do so with wet wipes, as their makeshift workspace, a multi-storey carpark at 404 Fernvale Lane in Sengkang, does not have access to running water. Spraying the rims also requires finesse and precision. Each stroke must be carefully thought out and executed, said Chang. “This ensures that the surface is smooth. Also different parts of the rim require different spraying techniques,” he added.
Despite the physical demands of the job, Chang said that the hardest part of the job is dealing with customers. “The overly-cautious ones worry about everything. I don’t blame them because cars are very expensive in Singapore. Also there are the impulsive customers who make last minute appointments in the wee hours of the night,” he said. “We still have to attend to them because if we don’t, they will find someone else.” Amid the challenges, Chang loves his job. He said: “Rims are like shoes for a person and every car deserves nice shoes. Even though I am dead tired after every project, the satisfaction from the customer’s face is priceless.”
1. Chang Yong Keen, 24, prepares to work on his next project. As prolonged inhalation of spray paint can be harmful to the body, Chang wears a mask to protect himself.
5. Chang (R) and his partner Gilbert Chandra (L), 21, work on a Hyundai i30 at their makeshift workspace, a multi-storey carpark in Sengkang. The duo will be coating the car’s 16-inch rims with glossy black paint.
2.. Chang packs his tool bag with spray paint, playing cards he uses to line the rims, masking tape and wet wipes whenever he goes out for painting jobs. 3. Chang wipes the brake dust off the car rim so that the paint can settle well on the rim’s metal surface. 4. To ensure that the paint does not stain other parts of the car and damage the sensors, the rim’s border must be lined with cards and a trash bag must be slotted inside.
6. Chang revisits each rim to inspect and touch up on unsprayed patches. 7. To build rapport and reassure their clients that their cars are not damaged, the duo makes it a point to explain their spray painting methods their clients. Chang believes that going the extra mile to provide good customer service helps RimsOnly to get more clients through referrals.
A smart campus Since the launch of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative in 2014, institutions across the island have come on board to embrace digital solutions for the future. In 2018, NTU President Professor Subra Suresh unveiled plans for the university to become a Smart Campus, in line with the nation’s push towards becoming a Smart Nation. A host of technological and sustainable initiatives have since been introduced to the campus. In this issue, graphic artists Darryl Cheong and Nur Sorfina explore four smart initiatives that are set to improve the lives of the NTU community
#02: Real life C-3POs Nadine and EDGAR are humanoid robots made by researchers from NTU’s Institute for Media Innovation back in 2015. As human-like robots, Nadine and EDGAR can physically observe and interact with other humans. Did you know? Nadine is one of the most realistic female humanoids in the world. “She” can engage and react naturally in human conversations. EDGAR is an autonomous service robot that performs robot-mediated communication and social applications like striking human-like poses and maintaining conversations with humans using automation technology. What’s so unique? Nadine was built as a possible solution for ageing populations and shrinking workforces. “She” can become the personal companions for children and the elderly at home while also serving as a platform for healthcare services.
#03: The NTU Smart Pass
EDGAR, on the other hand, was manufactured with two variations.
Otherwise known as the matriculation card serves as more than just an identity card fo The Smart Pass allows users to carry out nu from cash-free payments to registration at t centre, with a single tap.
EDGAR-1 was built to project a person’s physical presence by virtual reality technology. This allows people to participate in events or meetings all over the world, saving travel time and costs. EDGAR-2 was built to give practical information, such as directions, to visitors in public venues like shopping malls and airports.
Did you know? The Smart Pass enables stu groceries, parking fees, school feels and mea restaurants on campus and 80 per cent of ou also serves as a personalised key for access facilities.
Where can you find them? School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
What’s so unique? NTU is exploring the pos Smart Passes to take attendance in class, on features. Students can tap their Smart Passe reader located outside a smart classroom to attendance.
Where can you find this? If you are a stude member, it is probably inside your wallet.
#01: Fully-automated Group Rapid Transit minibuses The electric driverless minibus is the first of its kind to be launched on campus. As part of a collaboration between NTU, SMRT and 2getthere, an autonomous vehicle technology company from the Netherlands, this minibus is designed to provide students and staff with a more sustainable, technology-enabled transport solution between the halls of residence and the main academic complexes in school. Did you know? The minibuses can travel up to 40 kilometres per hour and have a maximum capacity of 24 passengers, with a seating space for eight. What’s so unique? The minibuses are designed to move like a “horizontal lift” and use magnetic pellets embedded in the GRT route for navigation. To ensure the safety of passengers, the vehicle comes with ultrasound radars to detect obstructions on the road, and in-built cameras to provide visual feedback to the transport operations centre on campus in real time. Where can you find them? These minibuses are expected to travel along the 500m route connecting student halls with the main academic complexes sometime this year; no specific date has been set yet.
d, the NTU Smart Pass or staff and students. umerous daily activities, the campus medical
udents to pay for als at selected ur canteens. Lastly, it to other on-campus
ssibility of using these n top of its existing es on the identification confirm their
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#04: AiQ the smart air-cleaning robot Engineered by the Energy Research Institute at NTU in collaboration with the NTU Library, the AiQ robot disinfects and deodorises the air in Lee Wee Nam Library through the use of a filterless system. Did you know? Indoor air quality can be worse than the air outdoors because of the build-up of pollutants in an enclosed space. What’s so unique? Armed with a suite of intelligent sensors, this germ-zapping robot can be programmed to roam freely 24/7 to continuously filter and clean the air inside a building. As opposed to normal air purifiers, it uses a filterless system thus eliminating the hassle of cleaning and maintaining air filters. Where can you find this? Lee Wee Nam Library
Opinion EDITORIAL More feedback needed for changes in S/U option The Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option is often brought up as a point of concern from NTU students when surveyed about academic matters. This is a choice they can make to receive a pass or fail grade instead of a letter grade for courses they feel they have not excelled in. At the moment, the S/U option can only be used before the official release of semester grades, but many find this a risky move – with no clear indication of their final course grade beforehand, they might end up choosing to exempt the wrong subject, thereby compromising their grade point average (GPA). Over the years, the academic office of NTU has revised the metrics of the S/U option, the most recent being the lowering of obtaining a pass from a C grade to a D. But no change has been made for the option to be used after the release of grades, as some concerns include a possibility in compromise on the quality of degrees, and enabling students to influence their GPA. Last month, the Nanyang Technological University’s Students’ Union (NTUSU) conducted a campus wide survey collecting student’s opinions on the application of the S/U option. In this survey, more qualitative methods such as focus groups were used. The NTUSU believes this can help strengthen the case for the S/U option to be applied after grades are out. As it seems, the NTUSU is putting forth concrete steps in
pushing the agenda, but whether they will be successful depends largely on whether the student body is willing to work together with them. Back In 2016, a similar survey was conducted by the NTUSU, but only slightly more than 10 per cent of the 24,312 undergraduates participated. With such low involvement from students, results were neither substantial nor representative, and therefore not significant enough for change to happen. While anticipating latest survey results, the student body must prepare itself for disappointment, if once again, the number of participants falls below representation. The phrase “change begins with you” cannot be more apt in this situation – no change will happen to the system if there is no action. If the population wishes to see change, they must first actively seek to make it happen, and that includes participation in channels that allow them to express their opinion. Meanwhile, the university needs to work harder in encouraging students to learn beyond their specialisation. This is something that tweaks to the S/U option can help to promote. The possibility of a revision to the S/U option is also a timely move, alongside the nation’s move toward a “Learn for Life” approach. It can serve to remind students that learning is a lifelong journey and that the GPA is merely a stepping stone.
CHRONICLE CHIEF EDITOR Khairul Anwar
DEPUTY CHIEF EDITOR Natalie Choy
LIFESTYLE EDITOR Edwin Chan
OPINION EDITOR Jeanne Mah
Tan Yu Jia
PHOTO/ GRAPHIC EDITOR
Joe Tok Kenny Wong
Vanessa Tan Vinice Yeo
Wu Shangyuan Zakaria Zainal
LAYOUT SUPERVISOR Yeo Kai Wen
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GRAPHIC: NAMITA KUMAR
The perks of being a young parent ARIF TAN OVER the last two decades, the median age of marriage of both men and women has increased from 28 to 30.3 years old and 25.3 to 28.3 years old respectively, according to a report by the Singapore Department of Statistics in 2017. Incidentally, during that same period, the fertility rate in Singapore has been decreasing steadily, reaching a record low of 1.16 in 2017, according to Manpower Minister Josephine Teo early last year. Experts have attributed this to Singaporeans marrying later in life. Yet, amid this trend, there still exists a handful who choose to tie the knot and have children before the age of 25. I speak from experience – I am a young parent and an undergraduate at NTU – and I see many perks of young parenthood. Starting a family early has improved my discipline and productivity, and also made me more mature.
Nurturing resilience and discipline The top concern one might have about marrying early and having a child is the huge commitment they have to shoulder. Increased caregiving responsibilities can cause significant stress to an individual, revealed a study published by the American Sociological Association in 2008. Coupling this with academic responsibilites in university can surely overwhelm some. But it is exactly these tough circumstances that help to build resilience, which in turn increases maturity. The challenge of marriage can make a young person rise up to the occasion. When one has to wake up in the
middle of the night to attend to a crying baby, one must get used to being deprived of quality sleep. Bearing in mind the baby’s needs, one also realises how important it is to make every second in school count. But knowing that such sacrifices are made for a little human being that one loves and treasures can give him that added push to voluntarily give up some personal luxuries. Having to go through all of this at an earlier age makes one feel more empowered to face life’s challenges more confidently. In 2015, Bayan Raji, a freelance writer and mother of two, wrote on care.com, a global online portal addressing family care needs, that young parents learn important lessons earlier in life due to their duties towards their child. Furthermore, being a young parent instills discipline. Before I got married, I could afford to laze around a little. However, such behaviour is something that I (gladly) can no longer afford as I now have to be accountable to my wife and child. Having them constantly on my mind has pushed me to cultivate a better work ethic.
Consideration and servitude Being a young parent also means one has to make more calculated and informed decisions. A married person does not decide to do something simply because they want to. Both parties have to seek the opinion of the other and discuss matters openly. To some, such a life may seem restrictive. But for me, the hours of communication with my wife and going through important milestones in life together has helped me better appreciate views beyond my own and deal with circumstances with
more tact. I have grown more considerate and compassionate as a result. Local journalist Shea Driscoll shared his experience as a young parent in a Straits Times article in May 2017. He mentioned that, even though young parents lose some privileges that a single person may have, that loss is compensated by the satisfaction gained from voluntary servitude to another being (their baby). The simple joys of watching his son grow up healthy, and seeing him grin, laugh and take his first steps, have given him much happiness. This satisfaction that he felt is something I can relate to very well. The often youthful idea of “You Only Live Once”, in my view, is not about taking a hedonistic approach to life, but rather to find purpose and direction with every step that we take. This interpretation, I believe, would drive young people to spend their time more meaningfully and in more fulfilling ways. Nonetheless, not everyone would want to get married at a young age, and that is fine. It is more important that one is mentally and emotionally ready for marriage and parenthood as these are huge responsibilities. Although not a path commonly taken by many, with the right motivation and attitude, early parenthood may prove to be more advantageous than crippling. We need some trailblazers in our society, who are willing to step out of the traditional path of graduating from university, getting a high-paying job and then getting married and having children. Choosing to take up the challenge of having children while still in university is an example of that.
Reducing plastic waste: the long road ahead Institute published last year citedfindings by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food, which stated that someone using a paper bag would need to re-use it 43 times before having a net environmental benefit. This is due to factors such as carbon dioxide emissions during production, water use, and land use. Similarly, an organic cotton bag – much like our reusable shopping bags – would need to be re-used at least 20,000 times for it to be worth switching from plastic bags. That said, until we can find a more environmentally friendly solution, paper or cotton reusable bags may be our best bet for now. We will just have to ensure that we keep reusing them to make the switch well worth it.
Eco-friendliness starts from us
GRAPHIC: DARRYL CHEONG
JONATHAN CHEW IN OCTOBER last year, NTU implemented a $0.20 levy for every plastic bag taken from all retail and food outlets campus-wide. The move was announced during NTU President Subra Suresh’s State of the University address in August the same year, and is part of a move to reduce plastic use on campus. Initially, I was annoyed when I realised I needed to carry reusable bags wherever I go or pay for plastic bags if I didn’t have any. But in the past five months, the policy has made me more aware of my habits and how my decisions can impact the environment. This green initiative in NTU is part of a larger anti-plastic movement in Singapore that began in 2015, supposedly after a video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up its nose went viral, according to a Channel NewsAsia report last July. While the new policy at NTU can help reduce plastic bag use, I believe we can do more for the environment by also cutting down on the use of other single-use plastics like cutlery and takeaway boxes. By introducing better alternatives such as biodegradable cutlery and encouraging students to recycle more often, single-use plastics can gradually be phased out.
All the small things Environmental research conducted by experts and scientists revealed that plastic straws only contribute to a small percentage of plastic trash causing marine pollution. In an interview with Stanford University’s campus newspaper The Stanford Report last year, Jim Leape, the co-director of the Center for Ocean Solutions, said that plastic straws are “only a tiny fraction of the problem – less than one per cent.” Furthermore, straws are so small and light that they do not actually contribute significantly to plastic pollution in oceans by weight. According to an article on Science X, a science, research, and technology news site, the combined weight of all the straws polluting the oceans only adds up to about two million kilogrammes. This is rather insignificant, compared to the estimated nine billion kg of total plastic waste in the ocean. As for plastic bags, a study published by international journal Marine Pollution Bulletin found that such soft plastics made up only 1.27 per cent of the total plastic debris they found on two beaches in Alphonse Island, Seychelles. Other items such as plastic bottles and foam sheets actually contrib-
uted more in terms of pollution, compared to plastic bags.
By introducing better alternatives such as biodegradable cutlery and encouraging students to recycle more, single-use plastics can gradually be phased out. Seeking alternatives We can see this almost every day in NTU. Even though canteens and food courts no longer provide free plastic bags, takeaway cutlery and utensils are still largely plastic. In our supermarkets at the North Spine and at the halls of residence, rolls of plastic bags are still openly displayed for customers to use. At convenience stores, micro wavable meals are stored in plastic boxes and wrapped with cling wrap.
We should look towards easily recyclable alternatives for these items. One of these is bio-com -postable corn starch cutlery and containers as their production pro cess is much more eco-friendly than their plastic counterparts. Corn starch, as the name implies, is made from corn, which makes it both sustainable and renewable. This puts much less strain on the environment. Items made from corn starch are also compostable which means they decompose at the same rate as paper, and do not produce any harmful substances when breaking down. Another way that we can encourage recycling on campus is to make recycling easier for students, especially those living on campus. While there are recycling bins around the school, they might be located at secluded areas. This could be countered by increasing the number of recycling points on campus, especially in the halls of residence.
Welcome to the bag parade While finding environmentally viable alternatives to plastic is laudable, it is important to note that some alternatives might actually cause more harm than good, such as the use of paper bags and metal straws. An article by the World Resources
NTU is already making strides on the environmental front. Last October, a group of five students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information gave away 1,000 free reusable cutlery sets as part of their campaign efforts to improve the recycling culture in Singapore. Earthlink, a student organisation in NTU, also conducts bi-annual recycling drives where students help collect recyclable materials from hall residents. Since this year, Giant supermarket on campus also allows students to borrow reusable bags with a small deposit of $2, which is another step in the right direction. The Wave, a building in NTU that was constructed in 2017, is an ecofriendly sports hall that is built using timber from sustainably managed forests. Additionally, the Earthlink club in NTU also reported that the university has reduced waste intensity per capita by 21 per cent as of 2015. This waste production refers to the total amount of waste collected from NTU’s main bin centre. But more can be done. NTU can adopt some successful recycling strategies and initiatives from other universities and countries. For example, in North Carolina in the US, reverse vending machines have been placed in Rite Aid pharmacies, where people can deposit bottles or cans and receive points or prizes in return. The points can then be redeemed from the host venue. At the University of California, students have adopted another strategy for waste management. Since 1975, they have operated a hub for repurposing used or old items instead of disposing of them, which they have named as Aggie Surplus. This has allowed the school to sell over 8,000 items every year, which has greatly reduced the amount of waste generated. Through the creation of a culture of recycling, we can all take small steps to heal the world and make it an environmentally friendlier one.
《玛蒂尔达》探索学生内心世界 — 刊14页
制作动画短片 探讨选择性缄默症 谢坤良 ● 报道
洋理工大学艺术、设计与 媒体学院2018年毕业生王 沛思（24岁）的首部二维动画 剧情短片《沉默不是金》（ Silence Is Not Golden）获选今年首 届新加坡心理健康电影节（Singapore Mental Health Film Festival） 中上映。 《沉默不是金》根据真实故 事改编，主角为一名患有选择 性缄默症 (Selective Mutism) 的本 地男生, 影片用动画叙述他的切 身经历，带观众走进他的内心 世界。 此作品也是本地首部关于选 择性缄默症的影片。 选择性缄默症是一种社交 焦虑症，患者有正常说话的能 力，但在特定情况下却无法与 人交谈。 在电影节中，王沛思的短片 吸引了超过150人入场观看。 她在电邮访问里说：“我身 边很多人都不知道选择性缄默 症的存在。我希望借由短片不 仅加深观众对此心理疾病的认 识，也启发他们重新重视和谈 论心理健康问题。”
灵感来自于好友 王沛思说，决定以选择性缄默 症为短片题材，原因追溯至她 的好友黄钦卫（25岁）的切身 经历。 黄钦卫在9岁时被诊断患上选 择性缄默症，因为在学校无法 说话，所以常遭同学欺负。他 的焦虑甚至导致他会忍不住用 头撞桌子撞墙。 王沛思在2010年认识黄钦 卫，两人参与同个佛教青年组 织，但当时并没有很多互动。 王沛思于2014年加入南大的艺 术、设计与媒体学院主修数码 动画，直到她在2017年从大学 外国交换回来后，两人才开始 有深入交流。 如今已痊愈的黄钦卫，在 2016年出版了《沉默不是金》 一书，期望能够鼓励其他患者
成立支援组织 为了让更多选择性缄默症患者 以及他们的家人和看护者有 个平台寻求支持，王沛思在 去年与黄钦卫携手成立了名 为“DoorSING”的支援组织，为 成员设立聊天组以及举办各项 活动让他们做交流。目前，组 织已有将近50名成员。 组织的名称“ DoorSING ”背 后有着特别的意思。“ Door ” 是英语中的“门”，代表组织 为成员打开了一扇门，让他们 进入一个安全和具包容性的空 间互相扶持，并更快的融入社 会。“ SING ”则是黄钦卫的书 名“Silence Is Not Golden”的缩 写，同时也代表新加坡。 在接下来的几年，王沛思 希望给予自己时间摸索录像片 得奖影片《沉默不是金》讲述王沛思的朋友与选择性缄默症的切身经历。 图片：《沉默不是金》 摄制与动态影像制作相关的工 作。她希望继续从事有意义的 勇于战胜症状。在阅读了书籍 色调，也能更生动的运用比喻 纠正错误认知 事，在能力范围内投身于造福 后，王沛思有感而发，决定把 展现片中角色的内心感受。 王沛思认为，普遍社会大众还 人群。 他的故事制成一部与书同名的 “在短片中的一幕，代表黄 需多了解选择性缄默症，纠正 动画短片。 钦卫的角色因为承受不了无法 对患者错误的认知。 “在阅读钦卫的书之前，我 与人交谈的压力，一股通红的 最常见的例子是，很多人误 其实对他的症状毫不知情。因 鲜血突然从他的喉结中喷了出 以为选择性缄默症患者是选择 AN ANIMATED short film made 为本身也曾被心理疾病困扰， 来，比喻他内心中日积月累的 不说话或只是害羞，但其实患 by a recent graduate from the 在了解钦卫的遭遇后，我对他 挣扎。这个效果是很难通过真 者在焦虑的情况下，声带会进 NTU School of Art, Design and 的故事有了更深层的体会。” 人演绎出来的。” 入紧绷状态，使他们根本无法 Media, Wong Pei Si, was featured in the inaugural Singapore Men策划短片画面时，她会让黄 发音。 tal Health Film Festival this year, 在作品中寻求真实感 钦卫过目故事板和短片草稿， 对王沛思而言，要了解心理 and is set to travel to other film 王沛思说，由于短片叙述真人 若他觉得有任何部分不够或过 疾病，视觉类作品如动画短片 festivals around the world. 真事，片中的细节必须确切的 于戏剧化，他们都会进行商量 是个理想的媒介。 In her film, Silence Is Not 反映真实情节、人物和布景。 和为短片做适当调整。 “与其阅读一本书籍，短短 Golden, Wong shares her friend’s 为此，她参考了许多与黄钦 她原本还想要黄钦卫为短片 几分钟的影片可以更好的营造 personal experience with Selec卫相关的照片和视频，并把当 进行配音，但因为他对此感到 情绪氛围，与观众进行情感交 tive Mutism, a rare anxiety dis中的元素，如他的肢体语言、 不自在，所以她最终舍去了这 流，但又不会让他们感觉它有 order that affects one’s ability to 家中和学校课室的面貌等，准 个点子。 任何‘侵略性’。” speak in certain situations, and 确的呈现于短片画面中。 然而，制作动画片最困难的 短片深受影评的认可，不只 sheds light on his extraordinary 另外，她也在动画短片中描 部分是要求黄钦卫重演几段他 在本地上映，去年也在墨西哥 journey to recovery. Wong recounts to the Nan绘了黄钦卫的家人以及导师， 以往的遭遇，包括他曾被欺负 和巴西的各影展登上大荧幕。 yang Chronicle the difficulties 并把这些角色融入进一些画面 或排挤时崩溃的一幕。 这个月底，影片将受邀参加位 she faced while making the film, 里。 “虽然明白这么做会让钦卫 于美国德州的影展。 and how she has gone beyond 王沛思也说，有别于现场录 勾起不美好的回忆，但为了刻 王沛思坦言，处女作能够备 the film to establish a support 制片或写实纪录片，通过数码 画最属实的故事情节，我需要 受本地和国际专业肯定，她感 group, “DoorSING”, for people 动画的形式呈现短片让她更有 借由他的示范了解这些经历。 到非常荣幸，也希望日后能多 with Selective Mutism, their car空间依据故事情节不同阶段的 我非常感谢钦卫这段期间的支 参加不同类型的影展吸取更多 egivers and family members. 情绪氛围，为画面选择合适的 持和配合。” 经验。
地生活网站The Smart Local 在二月中旬分享了一支影 片，对四位青年嘉宾提出了一 个课题：你如何看待死亡？ “死亡，除非有意外，否 则应该离我们还很远吧？”“ 那应该是一个很可怕的体验 吧？”谈到死亡，镜头前的 青年，大部分都给了类似的反 应，就好像我们听到死亡当 下会碰碰木头后避开不谈，“ 死”成了一个没什么都不会随 意触及的禁忌话题。 自我们呱呱坠地起，无论 来自什么样的背景，我们的结 局都是一样的——咽下最后一 气，向这世界告别。每个人终 将一死是条不归路，因此我们 一定要习惯练习告别。
聚是缘分 而散是命理 在《论死亡与临终》的书籍 里，作者为人生里会发生的任 何灾难性损失提出了一套“悲 伤的五个阶段”(the five stages of grief) 模型，最后一个阶段既 是“接受”它。 要思考面对死亡，可以先从 如何接受失去开始思考。 我们生命中的每个相遇，都 可以用不同的进度条（ progress bar）来表示。一段关系的发展 从相遇的那刻就开始孕育了一 个进度条，那些匆匆而去的生 命过客，一生的缘分仅能换来 一刻的擦肩而过，进度条在擦 肩那一瞬间便奔向了终点。 同窗苦读的知己好友，进度 条和时间按着同个节奏不停地 飞逝攀升，走出校园后各分东 西去追逐各自的理想，渐行渐 远，不知不觉就消耗了两人一 生的缘分。 孩子和父母的缘分，在无与 伦比的呵护中成长，在令人无 奈的退化中衰老，缘分在彼此 陪伴中达到进度条的极限。 进度条被相聚的日子填满 后，我们都得从这个关系上“ 毕业”，领着两人用回忆谱写 的成绩单，往下一段风景而向 前直行。 两人得要有多么幸运才能够 有“缘分”把两条平行线牵引 了在一起，在人生里的某个阶 段拥有彼此的陪伴。就算进度 条达到极限时，我们也应该为 此而心存感激。 关于如何接受失去，这篇来 自微博公众号”视觉志”的一 文是我看过其中最棒的一种形 容了。
畅销书籍《在天堂遇见的五 个人》(The Five People You Meet In Heaven) 中的主人翁艾迪以及他 一生里羁绊着的关系，告诉我 们来到人世间，每段关系中的 你和我，就好比风和微风，是 无法轻易割舍开来的。 面对失去，尤其是至亲和爱 人的逝去，我们都很难不沮丧 起来。 大部分人的通病莫过于， 当人还在的时候，关系总是残 弱，而死亡却带来最真实的亲 密感。 对于生命里的每段关系，若 把他们都看作进度条，我们会 在当下更珍惜身边的人。一辈 子可能随时变得短暂得像一阵 子，但是我们该把每段关系活 得像金凤玉露那样，即便是一 阵子，却能胜过一辈子。
为人世间留下纪念物 明白生命的限度后，会发现到 与其强行挣扎卯足全力，试图 去“留住”什么，倒不如看看 我们可以为人世间“留下”什 么。 台湾作家蔡康永有句名言， 稍作修改之下，是笔者生活里 最重要的价值观 —— 感情最珍 贵的纪念物, 从来就不是那些你 送给我的手表和项链, 甚至也不 是那些甜蜜的短信和合照，而 是你留在我身上的, 如同河川留 给地形的, 那些你对我，造成的 改变。 想要在你的丧礼上听见别人 如何形容你，只要朝着自己觉 得对的方向努力，不失去自己 的价值观，勇敢用我们的影响 力鼓励并扶持别人。 大家之所以不喜欢讨论死亡 这个课题，是因为它触及心里 深处最封闭且最柔软的地方。 我们害怕生死，害怕失去所 爱的，也都害怕被遗忘，尤其 是被自己最爱的人被永远地遗 忘。 曾经读过一段摘自《龙族》 的文字，说的是不同层面的 死：“可人不是断气的时候才 真的死了。有人说人会死三 次，第一次是他断气的时候 ， 从生物学上他死了；第二次是 他下葬的时候，人们来参加他 的葬礼，怀念他的一生，然后 在社会上他死了，不再会有他 的位置；第三次是最后一个记 得他的人把他忘记的时候，那 时候他才真正的死了。” 在死去以后，我们的肉体和
插图：Namita Kumar 这个世界分开了。但是哪怕距 离相隔多远，凡有一个爱我们 的人还记得我们，我们就在他 们心中留下了深刻的记号，继 续活着。 不曾遗忘，就不曾分离。
学会面对死亡 便懂得活着 如果每个人都可以知道自己大 限是落在生命里的什么阶段， 那么或许人世间就不存在“遗 憾”这回事了吧。 练习告别也会使我们珍惜当 下，把握时机为人生自传谱写 动人的篇章。 站在哲学理性思维高度上 的著名哲学家马丁·海德格尔 （Martin Heidegger）更是为了唤 醒人求生的欲望，提出了一个 在思想上把人逼近绝路的“向 死而生”的观念。 海德格尔说，在不断倒数的 生命中，一旦看清了生命的极 限，我们就可以看清人生自身 发展的无限。 生活依然还是一样地过， 但是遇到那些令人咬牙切齿作 抉择的瞬间，徘徊在说还是不 说，但愿我们都有勇气有力量
去表达。 遇到欣赏的就赞美，遇到不 合意的就拒绝，碰见好的就给 予肯定，不让自己因为错过而 扼腕痛惜。 美国哈佛大学心理学家加德 纳(Howard Gardner)于1983年提 出的多元智力（Multiple Intelligence ）理论，认为智能以不 同形式发展，其中一道在21世 纪末新加入此项理论的智能即 是有关认识生与死的智能，称 为“存在智能”(Existential Intelligence)。 存在智能指的是一个人跳脱 于世俗的框框，以更宏观的角 度看待各种事物的能力。看待 生命，不仅被眼见的事限制， 存在智能让我们能够参透生 死，晓得生命从哪里来，该往 哪儿去，思考着万物之灵里人 所追求一生里的“意义”。 由此可见，坦然面对生命的 诞生和逝去是一项可以培养起 来的智慧，而生命教育确实是 一门我们一生都要学习的课。 盼在读着这篇的你和我会一 起加油，拥抱生命，直到抵达 终点线的那天。（文/ 黄迪勤）
In summary IN LATE February, local lifestyle website The Smart Local posted a YouTube video, in which they gathered four young adults and asked them to write their own eulogies. Through the process, the young adults' initial fear of death transformed into a deeper appreciation for life. Riding on the topic, this opinion article presents a renewed understanding about death and loss. The writer believes that death should make us cherish the limited time that we spend with each individual that we cross paths with in our lives. Moreover, the reality of death can also be an impetus for us to seize the day and leave a legacy. Ultimately, death need not mean that we cease to exist entirely, as long as we are not forgotten by our loved ones.
CHRONICLE 08 娱乐
透过“神童”玛蒂尔达 探索学生无限潜能 荣
获众多国际大奖及备受关 注的《玛蒂尔达》（Matilda The Musical) 终于首次来到新 加坡，于2月21日开始在滨海湾 金沙剧场上演。 音乐剧改编自英国作家罗尔 德·达尔（Roald Dahl）的畅销儿 童书籍，讲述了年幼的玛蒂尔达 （Matilda）突破重围发掘天份的 故事。 生动有趣的情节、精致的布 置场景和道具、演员们精湛的演 技，成为音乐剧的最大看头。 玛蒂尔达天赋异禀，四岁的时 候就已经把家里的书读完了，但 是她那经商的爸爸和爱跳舞的妈 妈并没有察觉到她的天赋，反而 还歧视她爱读书的行为。 后来，玛蒂尔达被送上小学上 课，但作为前掷铁饼冠军的校长 特拉奇布尔小姐（Agatha Trunchbull ）却认为孩子只有透过纪 律、体罚、体能训练等才能被教 育得好。因此，全校师生都生活 在她的严苛阴影之下。 就这样，玛蒂尔达的天赋，无 论是在家里还是在学校都被埋没 了。但是，一年级老师汉妮小姐 （Miss Honey）的出现，却给予 了玛蒂尔达一线希望。
歌曲和演员生动活泼 在音乐剧中，歌曲理所当然地成 为了此剧的焦点。 当玛蒂尔达迎来开学日时，舞 台上的布景立即转换成一扇布满 格子的大铁门，将新生与学长隔 开。而此时，舞台上的演员唱起 了“School Song”这首歌。 这首歌有趣的地方在于，里头 的歌词是根据英文字母顺序的发 音而编排的。因此，当演员们唱 到该英文字母的音时，演员便跟 着节奏将写着该字母的小木箱塞 进格子里。 观众同新生以相同的视角看着 学长们演绎这首歌，仿佛身临其 境般地和玛蒂尔达一起迎接自己 的开学日。 “School Song”一语双关的含 义，看似在教导新生们英文字母 的顺序，但实则也暗示了进入学 校犹如进入到监狱般一样可怕。
在长达两个小时半的音乐剧 中，玛蒂尔达这位主角的戏份是 由四位演员轮流扮演的。当其中 一位演员在扮演玛蒂尔达的时 候，其他负责扮演玛蒂尔达的演 员们则会在台上扮演其他角色。 值得一提的是，来自我国年 仅九岁的苏菲亚·波斯顿（Sofia Poston）是首位参与《玛》的本 地演员，负责扮演“玛蒂尔达” 的角色。 她受亚洲新闻台访问时表示， 她非常热爱现场的舞台表演，也 很喜欢玛蒂尔达这个角色。 参与此音乐剧的儿童演员年 龄不等，但几个月下来的排演和 训练，无论是在演技还是歌喉方 面，他们都表现亮眼。 虽说他们是在演一场音乐剧， 但从观众的角度而言，他们的演 绎自然，仿佛将角色与自己融为 一体：将孩童应有的活泼、胆 怯、调皮和天真的一面展现给台 下的观众。
精心策划的布景和故事 音乐剧还没上演之前，观众可以 从舞台上看到的是由大小不一的 正方形格子布置而成的场景，印 着英文字母的格子则零散地穿梭 于其他空白的正方形格子当中， 而舞台中央则悬挂着玛蒂尔达的 英文字母。 舞台的背景，则是一片书柜， 暗喻了此音乐剧与书、学校甚至 是教育制度与体系之间的联系。 此外，灯光打上的亮蓝色和粉 红色，便已先将孩童的活泼气息 洒在观众席上。 故事线的双向性发展，即玛蒂 尔达与家庭、学校之间的冲突， 以及玛蒂尔达诉说的故事的不断 穿插，看似是两个分开的故事， 但在与哈妮老师的对话后，才终 于将这两个故事串连起来，形成 一个完整的故事。
每一个孩子都是奇迹 在这部音乐剧中，最印象深刻 的一句歌词便是：“My mummy says I’m a miracle”（我妈妈说我 是个奇迹）。 显然的，在玛蒂尔达的家庭
图片: BASE ENTERTAINMENT ASIA 中，父母和哥哥都不认为玛蒂尔 达是一个“奇迹”般的存在。在 学校里，玛蒂尔达的奇迹般天赋 也被校长的严厉压制而埋没。 这句话显然对玛蒂尔达是一种讽 刺。 然而歌剧想要表达的是，每个 孩子就像歌词中所说的，都是一 个奇迹的诞生。有些孩子也许像 玛蒂尔达一样看似是个怪胎，但 他们也同样被赋予了一些被隐藏
起来的天赋。 倘若通过刻板的纪律和教条来 教育，是无法将他们的天赋发掘 出来的。 概括地说，《玛》悲喜交融的 剧情、演员们生动活泼的演出， 除了让我们能从孩童的视角去看 待故事发展，也让我们开始省思 教育制度对学生，到底是一种才 能的发掘，还是对天赋的压制？ （文/ 吴诗蕾）
FOR THE very first time, multiaward winning Matilda The Musical has come to Singapore. This also marks the show's first venture into Asia. Based on the well-loved children’s book by Roald Dahl, it presents Matilda as a precocious girl who unleashes her full potential and intelligence with the help of a kind schoolteacher, despite discouragement from her and a domineering principal. The elaborate sets and memorable songs create the atmosphere of both childhood innocence and restrictive rules. The cast of children is endearing and lively, especially with young local actress Sofia Poston taking on the titular role. Matilda The Musical ultimately reminds its audience that every child is a miracle, and the adults around them can either help them reach their potential, or destroy it.
Sports Racing towards health In collaboration with the Health Promotion Board, the NTU Runners’ Club piloted the use of District Race – a unique mobile phone application that awards points to runners for completing challenges, in its weekly Wednesday runs YUKI LING HE MIGHT have covered an additional kilometre during his weekly run with the NTU Runners’ Club on 20 Feb, but James Tan, 22, a second-year Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) student was not as tired as he would usually be. This was due to the club’s use of the District Race mobile phone application that allowed him to collect points while passing checkpoints along the running route. “Counting the points I received at every checkpoint distracted me from how tiring the run was,” said Tan. As part of a collaboration with the Health Promotion Board (HPB), the runners’ club saw the app as a fun and interactive element to add to their runs. If the pilot test is successful, the app could potentially be added to the club’s annual event, X Campus, or even become a regular part of their runs, said the President of the NTU Runners’ Club, Lee Xiao Yu, a second-year EEE student. District Race, however, is not a new app. It was created by District Technologies, a joint venture between Singapore-based Exceed Sports and Entertainment and Lightweave, an Australian-based experiential technology agency. The app is used globally as a means to improve the experience of running using augmented reality and location-based triggers – triggering actions on the app by detecting the runner’s location. Users of the app have described it to be one where Pokemon Go meets The Amazing Race. Participants compete for points by passing through checkpoints mapped out on the race route and completing challenges within a time limit, such as a quiz question and a time trial challenge where the runner has to complete a given task as quickly as possible. The app debuted in Singapore in March last year and has been adopted by prominent sports brands like Adidas Singapore. It was used for the first time by the NTU Runners’ Club this February – one of two trial runs to test student feedback on the app. On 13 Mar, the club organised a race in which participants used the
app to accumulate points. Participants paired up and had one hour to rack up as many points as possible, with the checkpoints mapped out on a part of the NTU campus. The top three pairs that accumulated the most points on the race day received prizes including a wireless speaker and a fitness tracker. Finisher’s medals were given out to participants who completed both trial runs and the actual race. This tie-up with HPB came after a previous collaboration, where the NTU Runners’ Club helped to promote the step tracker for the National Steps Challenge. The running club now has 400 members and some 80 students take part in the club’s weekly runs every Wednesday. Club member Tan said he supports the use of the application every week as normal runs can get boring over time. Another member of the club, Jeff Teo, a first-year School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences student, said that the competitive element of accumulating points motivated him to continue running. “It’s not about racing to win a prize but just having another factor to keep me going,” added Teo, 24. Some 40 students turned up for each of the trial runs, and more than 50 students participated in the actual race.
Room for improvement But not all participants are in favour of using the app. “Holding my phone spoils my momentum and rhythm of running,” said Matthew Koh, a second-year student from the school of EEE, who joined the club for the first time this February. The 23-year-old, who joined as he was curious about how the District Race app works, suggested the use of armbands to latch the mobile phones in place. The app also requires a constant connection to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the internet. A loss of either of these meant that the application would not clock in the run and the distance clocked would be wasted, added Koh.
Second-year EEE student Derrick Koo, 23, accumulates points on the District Race app as he runs through checkpoints on the route.
Another participant, Ng Wei Jian, a first-year Nanyang Business School student, drained over 10 per cent of his phone battery as the application had to be switched on for the entire run. “If you leave the app running in the background, it will affect the data of the run such as the distance covered,” the 23-year-old added. The club’s president, Lee, 22, said that there are no promises on longterm plans in using the app and the decision-making process depends on how well-received the race on 13 Mar was. “We hope that using this app will help people kickstart a habit of running and slowly realise that exercising is not that hard,” said Lee.
The District Race mobile application uses augmented reality to create a more engaging running experience for participants. PHOTOS: JOEL CHAN