ISSN NO. 0218-7310
2 students create chatbot for bus timings
NTU-made products for sale online
Hall 3 wins IHG championship again
NEWS | Page 2-3
LIFESTYLE | Page 8-9
SPORTS | Page 20-21
North Hill residents want Red bus to stop at Hall 11 NEWS | Page 4
Hall dancers compete at HOCC LIFESTYLE | Page 10-11
Look like Ariana, Gaga or Taylor DAPPER | Page 15-17
2 students create chatbot service to keep track of bus arrival times tal of 600 users in the first month of its launch. Today, it receives an average of 2,500 queries every day. In fact, the service was so popular that it crashed on its third day because of a surge in queries, said Tee. The team had initially subscribed to a free service that had a limit of 10,000 queries to the chatbot per month.
“We wanted to make it fun and also showcase what a chatbot can do, that it can analyse emotions and identify objects." Yap Deep, 23 NTU Bus Arrival chatbot co-founder
NTU undergraduates Marcus Tee and Yap Deep came up with an interactive solution to the lack of reliable information source on bus arrival times.
First-of-its-kind chatbot on campus allows students to check bus arrival times on Telegram and Facebook Messenger Lim Woei Lin and Wong Jing Hui A CHATBOT that dishes out bus arrival times on campus has been making waves among NTU students ever since it was launched in January. Created by two University undergraduates, the NTU Bus Arrival chatbot allows students to check the arrival times of NTU shuttle buses, as well as SBS bus services
179 and 199. It is currently available on social media messaging services Telegram and Facebook Messenger. The chatbot is the brainchild of two final-year students — Yap Deep, 23, from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Marcus Tee, 23, from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. Simple solution The lack of a reliable and accurate campus bus app spurred the duo to come up with their own simple and interactive solution. “We find the current NTU bus arrival website not mobile-friendly. Most NTU bus arrival apps also lack familiarity and details, often just showing a map,” Yap said.
The pair then decided to create a chatbot, as it is “more interactive” than a mobile app. Previously, students could check arrival times on the official NTU bus arrival website (https:// baseride.com/maps/public/ntu/) or through mobile apps such as NTU Bus and NTU Go!, which provide the location of shuttle buses around campus. The NTU Arrival Chatbot is similar to the popular bus arrival timing chatbot Bus Uncle, which provides commuters with bus arrival times islandwide. Like the Bus Uncle Chatbot, the NTU Bus Arrival Chatbot responds to users in a humorous and friendly manner, often using Singlish. The chatbot is also able to detect the tones of replies received and re-
PHOTO: VALERIE LAY
spond with emotions. For instance, it might reply with “Please don’t scold me, I’m just a chatbot” to an angry or dissatisfied message. Special features were also added to the chatbot for different occasions, such as sending users virtual red packets for Chinese New Year and asking for Valentine’s Day presents from users. “We wanted to make it fun and also showcase what a chatbot can do, that it can analyse emotions and identify objects. We wanted to make it more humanlike,” said Yap. Surging popularity Response towards the chatbot has exceeded expectations so far, according to the duo. The chatbot saw an estimated to-
To handle the growing number of daily queries, the chatbot now uses a premium service that costs US$30 (S$42) every month. The service is sponsored by the Microsoft Student Partners Program, a global education programme by Microsoft to help students pursuing technologyrelated disciplines. The duo initially test-ran the chatbot with some of their friends. But equipped with only basic programming knowledge, the duo faced several challenges in improving the chatbot. “(Locations within) NTU have too many acronyms and names. Lee Wee Nam Library can also be called Lee Wee Nam or LWN by students,” said Tee. “We had to train the service to understand the messages that students sent.” Potential collaborations Once they added a customised database of words, the chatbot was able to recognise incomplete sentences and even acronyms for locations used by students. Its popularity has since attracted the attention of Overdrive, a technology company that provides tracking services for the official NTU bus arrival website. The company has proposed possible collaborations with the duo to further improve services. Tee and Yap have also arranged to meet with the NTU Students’ Union to discuss how to sustain the chatbot, as they are in their final semester. They are also considering plans to engage a third par-
THE CHATBOT: A REVIEW BY WONG JING HUI
I decided to give the chatbot a shot in early February after a friend introduced it to me. The official bus arrival website does not work for me as the map does not properly load on my phone. The chatbot is easy to use as I merely need to key in my location and the bus I want to take on Telegram. The bus arrival times for both internal shuttle buses or public bus services have been largely accurate every time I have checked. The chatbot also responds immediately once I enter my queries. Since I started using the chatbot, I have only encountered six incidents when the chatbot was unable to provide the arrival time. When that happens, it will display a map with the location and speed of the buses instead, which are helpful alternatives. I even occasionally send unrelated messages to the chatbot, as I find its friendly and occasionally mocking responses amusing. Chatting with it is like talking to a close friend. Overall, I find the chatbot to be both useful and entertaining.
Users hope the bot can also provide information on seat availability.
ty organisation or to upload the chatbot to internet hosting service GitHub. Student feedback Most students whom the Nanyang Chronicle spoke to said they found out about the chatbot through Facebook or their friends. Augustine Tan, 21, a first-year student from the Nanyang Business School, occasionally uses the chatbot on Telegram to check the bus whenever he travels from Tanjong Hall, where he stays, to the Innovation Centre.
He said while he has no complaints, he would like to be able to mark the bus stops he uses frequently as ‘favourites’. Students can then check bus arrival times more quickly instead of always manually keying in the location, he said. Jaime Goh, 19, a first-year student from the School of Art, Design and Media, said while she has not tried the chatbot herself, she has noticed many people waiting at the bus stops using it. Second-year School of Humanities and Social Sciences student
PHOTO: VALERIE LAY
Sung Chang Da has been regularly using the chatbot on Telegram, after finding out about it on Facebook in late January. The 21-year-old said: “The bus arrival times provided by the chatbot can be more accurate, but the chatbot is still easier to use. Finding and loading the official NTU Bus arrival website takes time and is a hassle compared to the chatbot, which can be used on Telegram.” “I hope that the chatbot can eventually provide information on the seats and space availability on the buses too,” he added.
GRAPHIC: TEO HSIN WEI
GRAPHIC: EUGENE THAM
North Hill residents petition for Red bus to stop at Hall 11 this petition will complement our previous enquiry into the matter,” the member added. North Hill JCRC members declined to reveal to the Nanyang Chronicle the names of those who began the petition. When asked what he would do if the petition did not convince the authorities, Banyan Hall resident How Jia Qi, 22, a second-year student at the School of Physical and Mathematical Science, said: “I’m willing to participate in greater calls to action if there is sufficient support from other residents.” In response to queries from the Chronicle, the NTUSU said they have been closely observing the frequency of the shuttle buses and are planning a joint meeting with the HAS soon to improve the situation for North Hill residents. Hall Cluster Representatives are also now invited to attend the monthly Union Council Meetings, said NTUSU President Gan Rui Yun.
North Hill residents started an online petition calling for the University to have the Campus Loop Red bus stop outside Hall 11.
The Students’ Union is “closely observing” shuttle bus frequencies and plans to discuss the situation with the University Eleanor Tay and Shabana Begum FRUSTRATED by shuttle buses bypassing the bus stop near their Halls of Residence, North Hill precinct residents have launched an online petition calling for the University to have the Campus Loop Red bus stop outside Hall 11. According to the petition, the Hall 11 bus stop is centrally located around Halls 10, 11 and North Hill — comprising Banyan, Binjai and Tanjong Halls —, putting it in the “best position” to serve all five halls in the area. The petition also states that if the Red shuttle bus stops at the Hall 11 bus stop, North Hill residents can shave about 10 minutes off travelling to the Lee Wee Nam Library. Only a two-minute walk away from the North Hill precinct, that bus stop is currently serviced only
by SBS Bus Service 199. North Hill residents who wish to board the Red bus can only take it from the nearby Graduate Halls 1 and 2 — an eight-minute uphill walk away. Inconvenient and crowded The petition, which was launched in January, has received 214 signatures as of 28 Feb, exceeding its initial aim of 200. Chinese exchange student Xiang Zhou, 20, from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, had signed the petition. He said it gets inconvenient especially when it rains. Students also say the Graduate Hall bus stop has become crowded, especially during peak hours. It now has to accommodate the influx of new North Hill hall residents, in addition to residents from the existing Halls 10, 11 and the graduate halls. Hall 11 resident Neo Jin, a firstyear School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student, said: “At around 9am, there are a lot of people waiting at the bus stop and when the Red Campus Loop is delayed, the crowd accumulates.”
The 21-year-old added that he has arrived late to class a few times because he is unable to board the earlier buses. Most students use the Red bus to travel to the North Spine, as the Campus Loop Blue shuttle bus only stops opposite the National Institute of Education. Refine Seah, 21, is one of those planning to sign the petition. “The Graduate Hall bus stop is too far away," the second-year Nanyang Business School student said. “I would rather take the Blue line and go one round.” Recurring issue Until two years ago, the Hall 11 bus stop was a regular stop on the Red line’s route. But this changed in 2013, when the University amended the shuttle bus routes following complaints from the student body on poor bus flow due to frequent stops. Chief Housing and Auxiliary Services (HAS) officer Jimmy Lee said: “The current bus routes were drawn up in 2013 to achieve a balance between reducing waiting time, improving frequency and ensuring students’ safety.”
PHOTOS: VALERIE LAY
The North Hill Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC) had previously raised this issue to the NTU Students’ Union (NTUSU) and NTU’s Transport Division, following feedback from residents who want the Red bus to stop at the Hall 11 bus stop. But the Transport Division was “not convinced” by their proposal, the North Hill JCRC said.
“We support and commend residents who fight for matters important to them. As residents ourselves, we hope this petition will complement our previous enquiry into the matter.” North Hill JCRC member
This spurred some residents to take matters into their own hands. “We support and commend residents who fight for matters important to them," said a North Hill JCRC member, who wished to remain anonymous. “As residents ourselves, we hope
Meeting demand To cater to the demand at the North Hill precinct, the Campus Loop Yellow bus now stops in front of the North Hill halls. The Yellow bus takes passengers to the Administration Building, but operates only for a few hours in the morning and in the afternoon. An additional Blue bus has also been deployed from 8am to 10.30am, a move welcomed by many students who alight at the Innovation Centre to go to the Hive or the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HSS). But some North Hill residents feel that the Yellow line’s extra stop makes little difference to their schedules because the bus stops at the Child Care Centre and Campus Clubhouse, which are places students usually do not visit. Full re-evaluation Others think the campus bus system should be fully re-evaluated, given the success of the petition. Besides the North Hill precinct, they said other residential halls face similar issues. “The arrangement of the buses need to be updated because the Blue line doesn’t stop at Pioneer and Crescent halls either,” said second-year HSS student Nicholas De Silver, 22, who stays at Binjai Hall. Binjai Hall resident Darren Queen, 24, a fourth-year student from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said: “Hall 15 has it worse. From Block 72, the Blue line is far, and the Red line is even further. “I feel that that’s a bigger problem than North Hill.”
Spruce Bistro @WKWSCI closed last month after almost three years of operations.
PHOTOS: VALERIE LAY
Spruce Bistro @WKWSCI relocates to North Hill
The bistro was unpopular among students mainly due to its overpriced fare Shabana Begum SPRUCE Bistro at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) is relocating to the North Hill precinct, with a new cafe set to open in its place in April. The bistro, whose tenant is unkeen to renew its lease at WKWSCI, closed early last month, almost three years after opening. Poor human traffic and manpower constraints were the main reasons for the outlet’s closure, said Mr Vincent Teo, Assistant Director of Technology and Facilities at WKWSCI. Dr Mark Cenite, the school's Associate Chair (Academic), added: “The academic calendar makes traffic cyclical. Spruce faced some struggles because its brand identity, which is strongly established outside, is not a perfect match with the student market.” Despite being conveniently located right outside the school, the bistro has not been popular among its student population. Many WKWSCI students told the
Nanyang Chronicle that they were glad to see the bistro go because of its overpriced fare. “If I can go to Koufu and get a full meal with a drink for $5, I don’t see why I should buy a $5 sandwich from Spruce. That’s not my idea of lunch,” said second-year WKWSCI student Kyle Malinda-White, 24. First-year WKWSCI student Ang Ming Wei, 21, said he wished Spruce had served fresh food, instead of refrigerated sandwiches “with measly 3-inch ham slices”. Spruce offered refrigerated or pre-made meals such as salad, lasagna, pasta and rice meals, with prices ranging from $5 to $8. Sandwiches cost between $5 and $6. Coffee, tea and desserts, such as cakes and cookies, were also available on the menu. But the bistro also had its fair share of fans. First-year WKWSCI student Bambby Cheuk said she liked Spruce for its convenient location and longer opening hours, as compared to other food places nearby which closed early. “Spruce’s ambience drew me to it," the 20-year-old said. “It was a good place to study and a great place to take my friends for a cup of coffee whenever they visited me in school.” The Office of Housing and Auxiliary Services has called for tenders
to find an operator for the new establishment located at WKWSCI, which will offer freshly brewed coffee, sandwiches, soup and a few Asian dishes. First-year WKWSCI student Celine Koh is hopeful that the new cafe will serve a wider variety of food at affordable prices. The 19-year-old said: “I expect the price range for the new cafe to be $3 to $12, depending on the quality and type of food. Friendly staff and good music would be an added bonus.” Die-hard patrons of Spruce can visit the bistro’s new premises at Block 20A of North Hill precinct. The outlet in North Hill will have a built-in kitchen exhaust to offer a wider variety of food. It will function like a restaurant and will also be serving wine, said Mr Christopher Allan Limpin, who worked as supervisor at Spruce Bistro@WKWSCI. Despite being excited about the new working environment at North Hill, Mr Limpin said he is sad to leave as WKWSCI has been his home for the past four months. The supervisor has become good friends with Spruce regulars, such as Associate Professor Christopher Khoo of WKWSCI. Likewise, the bistro’s chummy baristas have made equally lasting impressions on faculty members.
The cafe's new outlet at North Hill is scheduled to open in April.
Assoc Prof Khoo said he will fondly remember Mr Limpin, who introduced new delicacies and desserts, such as panna cotta, to the bistro. “Mr Limpin possessed a service attitude, professionalism and unfailing good humour — these are not easy to find in Singapore cafes. “Spruce@WKWSCI may not have won over the crowds with its above average pricing," Assoc Prof Khoo said. “But I, for one, will miss its passionate and personable baristas who lit up the bistro and gave it character.” Dr Cenite, who patronised Spruce
three times a day for his caffeine fix, added: “The barista Sam, who left in December for a higher-level position, was very friendly and always liked to chat about music.” But he said he is also looking forward to the speedy entrance of the new cafe. “I’ll miss the iced coffee, which was shockingly strong. I hope my lectures don’t become too low-energy without it,” he added. (Additional reporting by Wong Jing Hui)
Lini Zeitlberger, 21, an exchange student from Austria, poses in one of Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva’s winning dresses. It took her about two months to create it.
PASSION FOR FASHION From pulling all-nighters with her students, to clinching the top award at a fashion competition in Paris, Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva speaks to Photo Editor Valerie Lay about her passion.
Asst Prof Galina makes sure her model is properly dressed up before a shoot.
t is 3am at the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM). Yet it is no surprise to see Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva in the tutorial room sewing dresses. The 53-year-old is helping her students with their submission pieces for Technology in Art and Fashion, an elective she teaches. She does it with a smile. “I think I get more excited than my students,” Asst Prof Mihaleva says. “Sometimes I don’t realise it’s already so late!” A pa r t f r om te ac h i n g , t he Bulgarian also owns a couture label and works on pieces for internationally renowned competitions. Last October, she clinched the top prize at Tiffany’s Fashion Week, an annual fashion design competition in Paris featuring the industry’s best. She spent two months working on her dresses, which were all entirely handmade. “I didn’t move or react when they said it. I could not believe that I actually won,” she recalls. “The other participants were really good.” Asst Prof Mihaleva attributes her
success to NTU, pointing out that she was only able to participate through the school’s funding. When she realised that the judges at the fashion week did not know this, she felt “embarrassed” and made a point of telling them about the university personally. The heartfelt act is unsurprising for her students. As many of them can attest, Asst Prof Mihaleva makes sure that her students are not left struggling on their own, even when she is busy with competitions. “Although she wasn’t done with her dresses for a fashion competition in Paris, she still stayed up with me till 6am to help me with my work,” said second-year ADM student Ong Xin Hong, 20. Fellow second-year ADM student Gladys Loh, 20, noted that Asst Prof Mihaleva goes the extra mile to get to know her students better. This includes making Milo for students during classes and even asking them out for dinner. “She’s a professor who focuses on building a personal bond with her students,” said Loh. “And we truly appreciate that.”
Left: Rene Ng, 22, from the School of Art, Design & Media, dons a piece from Asst Prof Galinaâ€™s Avant-Garde Collection, inspired by the concept of continual transformation of the biological landscape in the world today.
Asst Prof Galina explains the concept behind her dresses to her students Rene and Lini.
The 53-year old Technology Art in Fashion tutor showcases her other award-winning couture dresses draped on mannequins.
Charlene Chua, 19, of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, poses in another of Galinaâ€™s winning dresses.
Lifestyle Art markets are thriving, and everyone wants something customised to call their own. For bespoke trinkets that won’t break the bank, Lifestyle writer Claudia Tan scopes out NTU’s own community of crafty entrepreneurs.
U T N N I E D A M
Heavenhaswifi Barnabas Chua @heavenhaswifi on Instagram Price: $14—$24
Handmadebychin Teo Chin @handmadebychin on Instagram Price $6.90—$30 Teo Chin’s online shop selling clay miniatures may be less than two months old, but it has already gained international recognition. In January, a Canadian customer had purchased her hand-sculpted miniature Niffler, a character from the 2016 movie ‘Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them’, from Teo’s Etsy account. The online platform allows people from all over the world to sell their handmade crafts. The miniature, sold for $40, including international shipping, bore striking resemblance to the actual critter, with its black fluffy fur and tiny claws sculpted down to the most minute of details. “I did not expect someone to be willing to pay so much for my work,” said the 23-yearold, who used to dabble in different crafts like painting and crocheting when she was younger. But it was sculpting miniatures that captivated her last December. She started sharing her work on her personal Instagram account. In January, Teo’s boyfriend set up a separate account “Handmadebychin”, and encouraged her to use it as a platform to sell her work. Initially, the final-year School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering student did not intend to offer customisation services, but realised there was a demand for it, especially before Valentine’s Day. “One customer asked me to make a figurine of this particular brand of cup noodles and insisted that the colour of the broth matched the one in a picture he showed me,” laughed Teo. “Apparently those cup noodles had a special meaning to him and his girlfriend.” Other Valentine’s Day requests included a figurine of a potato with a heart attached to it, and a tofu charm.
Teo sold six figurines over the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. Now, sales have returned to a steady two to three clay miniatures a week. But Teo, who works on her clay sculpting at home, admits it is challenging to juggle customised orders and schoolwork sometimes. “I had to reject someone when she asked if I could sculpt a person, because it would take up too much time,” said Teo. “I would love to customise whatever I can but it depends on the project size.” Each clay miniature can take up to five hours to complete, depending on its complexity. Teo prices her miniatures at around $8 for a simpler customisation, while more complex custom orders can go above $20. “A lot of people might think it is crazy to pay for something so tiny, but sculpting these miniatures take up a lot of time as there are a lot of details,” she said. The time consuming nature of sculpting miniatures limits Teo to only viewing it as a side job. “If I consider my profits in relation to the time I put in, it is really not a lot, but I enjoy doing it as a hobby.”
Behind the deft brush strokes of handmade quote cards on @Heavenhaswifi is a masculine hand. Hand lettering may be an art done mostly by females, but Barnabas Chua first picked up his brush while in National Service. Initially drawing inspiration from other art accounts, the first-year Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information student found a style of his own over time. Chua now adopts a style of hand lettering with bold and dynamic strokes that appears seemingly effortless. When it is not the conventional black text against a white background, hues of pastel colours and ombre effects would be present in Chua’s work. As he improved, Chua decided to start an Instagram account to sell customised hand lettered pieces. “When it started, I didn’t have any grand intention,” explained the 21-year-old. “But it has grown to a point where I get orders quite often, especially during seasonal periods like Valentine’s and Christmas.” He received 15 orders last Christmas and more than 24 orders for Valentine’s Day.
Chua decided to focus more on customised orders as he wanted each buyer to have something unique. “They can be guaranteed that each piece is one-of-a-kind,” said Chua. “It won’t be reprinted or photocopied for anyone else.” Customers can choose the colour scheme of the paper and text, and pick their own messages to be hand lettered onto the card. Pieces with a painted background may take up to four hours. A simple design without a background typically takes around an hour and a half. But remember not to make it too wordy or it might not turn out pretty, Chua warned. “The words need to be spaced out on the paper. If it’s too cluttered, it’ll look ugly.” Being his own boss has its ups and downs. Besides receiving more requests for customised orders, Chua said putting his work out there has opened many windows of opportunities, such as designing logos for local art exhibitions. But the artist also once went five months without receiving a single order. Feeling dejected, he decided to put his account on hold. “I put down the brush for quite some time, but when I came across other hand lettered work by other artists on the streets or on Instagram, I would be reminded of the beauty of it,” said Chua who gradually rediscovered his inspiration after the five-month hiatus. For aspiring hand lettering artists, Chua assured that artistic talent plays only a miniscule part. The secret to perfecting your hand lettering is to have realistic expectations when you first start out and keep practicing from there, he said.
Foptics Raynald Zhang www.Foptics.club Price: $35.90 flat for prescription glasses, $22.90 for PC glasses When Mr Raynald Zhang could barely make out the words on the projector screen in class without squinting, he knew it was time to get a pair of glasses. Not wanting to overspend on a pair that he would only use during lessons, he decided to go online in the hope of finding a suitable and affordable one. But his search yielded no results — so the 27-year-old decided he would pursue the business idea upon his graduation. After two months of sourcing for suitable suppliers and someone with the expertise to prescribe glasses, Mr Zhang finally launched Foptics last June. The online store specialises in prescription glasses, which customers can purchase at flat rates after entering their prescription values, and choosing their desired frame online. A pair costs $35.90, but Foptics also carries PC glasses (glasses that protect the eyes from blue light emitted from electronic devices) at $19.90, and non-prescription frames at $15.90. Besides offering affordable prices, Mr Zhang hopes to reach out to youths by emphasising both the form and function of the glasses Foptics carries.
“I thought that if people could own so many clothes and shoes, perhaps it could be the same for glasses too,” said Mr Zhang, who graduated from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 2015. “I wanted to give people the freedom to express themselves through glasses of different styles without the limitations of a budget.” Customers can choose between round and rectangular frames. There are 21 designs for prescription glasses and eight for PC glasses, and every design comes in multiple colour schemes, ranging from “matte black”, to “cherry” and “aqua”. One of Foptics’ bestselling frames is “Lit”, a minimalistically designed round pair that comes in five different colours, including bronze and gold. There were initial doubts among early customers about purchasing prescription glasses online, but Mr Zhang remained undeterred. “We advise our potential customers on how to order through a comprehensive guide in the FAQ section of our website to show them how simple it actually is,” he said. “With that knowledge, and the affordability of the glasses, many customers were willing to take the first step.” Today, Mr Zhang is encouraged by Foptics’ growth, which has increased by 60 per cent since its launch. While customers are becoming more receptive towards purchasing prescription glasses online, he is looking into expanding and setting up a physical store in the future.
MakerlySG Lum Xin Yi @makerlysg on Carousell Price: $10—$30 These days, when Lum Xin Yi comes across something she likes while shopping, the first thing that comes to her mind is, “Can I make it myself?” The 22-year-old runs an online business called MakerlySG, selling hand-sewn bags and pouches on Carousell. It started like any hobby — when Lum was 16, she began sewing clothes, a wallet and tote bags for herself. After recognising her passion for sewing, her mother bought her a sewing machine for Christmas two years later. She then took to Carousell to sell some of the bags and pouches she had made, including floral fabric pouches and simple black tote bags, which ended up being some of her bestsellers. “I tried my luck putting some items up for sale and people were quite interested,” said the third-year School of Art, Design and Media student. “I then tried to make items according to
what people want by allowing them to customise their desired size and fabrics, and I got a lot of positive feedback from that.” Totebags take 30 minutes to sew whereas more complex items with zippers such as a pouch takes up to an hour. A laptop sleeve takes around four hours. Some of the fabric choices Lum currently offers include florals, geometric patterns and quirky prints like eggs and pizzas. Should none of these fabrics appeal, customers can also purchase their own fabric and pass it to her for customisation. The final price depends on the item, but would generally cost 80 per cent of what she charges for her own fabrics. Lum spends $70—$100 a month on sewing materials. Once, a customer insisted on paying $40 for a customised laptop sleeve, $10 more than the original price, as she was pleased with the outcome. “It was quite awkward,” said a slightly embarrassed Lum. “I still haven’t mastered the art of reacting to things like that.” Other that sewing pouches from fabric, Lum also experimented making pouches with plastic bags earlier last year. The plastic bags are heated with an iron to get a texture similar to that of fabric, she said, before being sewn into pouches. While similar in shape, pouches made from plastic turn out stiffer than those made out of cloth. “I’ve noticed some nice prints on plastic bags before and it’s great that I can turn them into pouches,” said Lum who has sold three such pouches. “And every one turns out differently.” Despite Lum’s heavy workload in school this semester, she has no intention of quitting her business anytime soon. “I really like how I create my designs and see it actualise on my products so I would keep sewing,” said Lum. “And I think there is still a lot to learn.”
Beyond Backstage Lifestyle writer Kezia Tan takes a closer look at the thrills and spills of preparing for the HOCC, with dance powerhouses Halls 1, 8, 12, and 16.
t’s not every weekend you catch 1,700 students back in school on a Saturday night. But on the evening of 25 Feb, fans packed the Nanyang Auditorium to watch the halls finally face off in the academic year’s most anticipated dance showdown. The annual dance competition at the Hall Olympiad Closing Ceremony (HOCC) acts as a closing hurrah for the Inter-Hall Games. This year, 18 halls took part in the battle onstage, delivering everything from heart-pumping hip hop to graceful contemporary dance in their own interpretation of the theme “Odyssey”. “Odyssey” comes from a poem about the Greek hero Odysseus, who spent 10 arduous years wandering the earth. For many of the dancers, that theme was lived out long before they even took to the stage. Each of them faced sleepless nights and months of preparations, with DIY choreography, late night practices and even wardrobe malfunctions adding to the blood, sweat and tears.
Despite initial hiccups in planning their costumes, Hall 12 eventually emerged third with a passionate performance, five steps up from their 8th position in last year’s competition. PHOTOS: ZHENG JUN CEN
Creating the moves While some halls typically hire external coaches to teach and choreograph the routines, others did some or most of the choreography themselves. Hall 1 presented an original and captivating love story woven seamlessly into their choreography, leaving the audience first silent in anticipation, and then cursing during the plot twists. Three quarters of the routine were created by the senior dancers. An external instructor choreographed the last part of the dance. For the nine student choreographers, fitting the storyline into the dance was a big challenge.
“There are points where you get stuck and you don’t know how to continue,” said 20-year-old dance captain Yvonne Tang, who was also a student choreographer from Hall 1. To escape the rut, she would seek inspiration from dance videos on YouTube. Eventually, after about two to three months of choreographing and editing, everything fell into place in the final weeks. “It feels really nice when you see your moves executed properly and forming the visual you want,” said Nur Nabillah, 20, another student choreographer from Hall 1. Being a choreographer also
In the week leading up to the competition, 2017’s HOCC champions, Hall 8, went full speed ahead with training sessions every night.
meant stepping up as a leader for the second-year Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information (WKWSCI) student. Developing passion As many of the first year dancers had no dance background, Nur found herself nurturing the newcomers on how to improve and cultivate their passion for dance. Her favourite moment is when she sees new dancers develop a passion for dance. Hall 16 faced a stressful final sprint to perfect their dance moves. Three days before HOCC, the team members, who choreographed
the entire contemporary and jazzstyled routine themselves, were still working on their steps and stage arrangements. “As students, we don’t have the experience of external choreographers so we are really learning along the way,” said Tan Shi Jia,22, a final-year choreographer from WKWSCI. “So it’s basically a work in progress all the way until the second last day or the day of the competition.” The biggest bump in the road was coming to an agreement on the dance steps, as their 12 choreographers had different ideas on what the final routine should be like.
“It’s difficult because we all have good intentions but it’s just hard to agree on something,” said Tan. “It’s really hard to come up with a common vision, but when it does happen, then it’s really worth it.” Wardrobe crisis Besides an impeccable routine, a dance performance is incomplete without costumes to set the mood. But several halls faced problems with their wardrobes. When the dancers of Hall 1 ordered their costumes from online retailer Taobao, they were expecting rugged naval uniforms that would fit seamlessly with their “Pirate vs Navy” theme. So it was certainly a rude shock when they received uniforms that more closely resembled that of Japanese schoolgirls.
For Hall 1, motivational pep talks were part and parcel of late night training.
Most halls get their costumes from Chinese retailer Taobao, the go-to site for affordable items. The costume team from Hall 1 had been hesitant about ordering from the site, but had decided to proceed because it was cheaper and easier than going out to scout for costumes. “We were quite unsure because it is sometimes sketchy, especially if there are no reviews for certain sources,” said Nur. The team ended up heading to Bugis to buy a new costume the very next day, and the schoolgirl uniforms were cut up and used as scarves for their final costume. Hall 12 almost didn’t receive their Taobao costumes in time. Their package came just two days before their showcase — a full-dress rehearsal and side performance for the hall’s residents. The hall ordered their costumes, which included muscle tanks, khaki jackets, and boots, in early January. They expected it to come at the
end of the same month, according to Jesselyn Lee, 23, who is part of the costume team. What they did not expect was for their package to get caught in Taobao’s Chinese New Year hiatus, during which parcel shipments were suspended for 10 days. With only two days to complete their costumes, the team set out in a mad rush to sew gold mesh and cloth onto their outfits. “We sewed from 2am to 9am on the day of the showcase,” said Lee. Setting the stage Besides their own outfits, the dancers also had to think of how to dress the stage, and they did not hesitate to pull out all the stops. This year, Hall 16 came up with a 2.5-metre high and 8-metre wide, fully handmade structure. The backdrop, a 1930s China style structure, was made to mimic the image of a Chinese theatre, in order to bring out their “Shanghai Pang” theme.
The large frame, adorned with gold and red curtains and a 1.7-metre long LED signboard, started off as pieces of PVC pipes, bamboo poles and LED lights. It took the whole team more than two months and about 200 hours to complete. First-year College of Engineering student Vanessa Thien, 19, led the making of the structure. “We had to think of how to piece the pipes together and how it would stand, and we had to get all the tools to do it ourselves, so it was quite challenging,” said Thien. As Hall 16 were the defending champions, the pressure was on them to deliver. Thien was constantly worried about the structure being unimpressive compared to other halls. But during the actual performance, their worries were for nought, as murmurs of appreciation for the structure spread through the audience. Hall 8, on the other hand, chose
to set the stage in a different way — not with props, but with sheer numbers. The group included 53 dancers this year, making them the biggest dance crew on stage. Dance captain Edmund Aw, a second-year student at the College of Engineering, said it isn’t every year the hall gets more than 50 dancers, and that they decided to make full use of their numbers. Most halls usually have about 30 to 40 dancers. “Our dancers are all the elements we need,” the 23-year-old added confidently. Attendance issues But with such a large team, attendance was a big issue. Aw admitted that the group did not have a single practice with everyone present. “That caused a lot of problems with our formation — if you have one person missing it makes a lot of difference,” he said. “You don’t feel the dancer there, and when he comes back he’ll have missed out a lot and we have to go through the details again.” Still, they managed to work around it, and tailored the choreography to their numbers. At full strength, the dancers filled the stage to form quick-changing patterns of different shapes and
sizes on the dance floor. The team was also split into groups to fill any scene transitions, or lapses in the routine, from when there was a change of dancers. “At every point in the routine, the audience has something to see,” said Aw. “We wanted everything to flow seamlessly.” An Odyssey’s end The championship title for this year’s showdown went to Hall 8, with Halls 16 and 12 coming in second and third place. The elated screams and tears of joy, and disappointed silence from those who lost, showed that true to the nature of competition, results ultimately do matter. But the dancers agreed that what mattered more was the whole experience and the feeling of pride in giving their all. “I don’t think that it matters as long as we dance together as one onstage beside each other. The crowd really cheered for us and that’s enough,” said Tang, on Hall 1 placing only ninth this year. “It is never easy but all of the dancers support and motivate each other, and it is always worth it,” said Hall 8’s Aw. “We simply want our dancers to look their utmost best, be confident, and have the best time of their lives on show day.”
GRAPHIC: EUGENE THAM
ILLUSTRATION BY TOBY TAN XUN YI, TEXT BY TEO HSIN WEI AND EUGENE THAM
Healthy eats on a budget Contrary to popular belief, healthier food isn’t always unpalatable and overpriced. The Lite Side — a health communication campaign by four undergraduates from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information — went around Pulau NTU for cheap and good healthier eats. Here are their picks that will keep your tummy — and wallet — happy.
Kimchi, fresh vegetables, tender meat and a perfect sunny-side up atop a bowl of pearly white rice — how can anyone resist? Korean food is highly popular in Singapore since the influx of Kdramas and K-pop. But even if you aren’t a fan, Bibimbap (loosely translated to “mixed rice”) will definitely appeal to your taste buds. After a thorough mixing, the ingredients come together in perfect harmony with its layers of flavours, making it one of the best healthier meals you can have on campus. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE LITE SITE
If you’re a rice lover, give the green pepper sliced pork with steamed rice at Canteen 1 a try. As if the succulent slices of pork weren’t enough, the peppers spiced it all up, making this wholesome dish so appetising that we will definitely be back for more.
You can never go wrong with one of our national dishes — chicken rice. The classic ‘white’ steamed chicken is tender, and is served on a bed of fluffy and flavourful rice. For those who want to grab your food to go, chicken rice is one of the easiest food for a take-out.
Besides their popular xiao long bao and dumplings in chilli oil, Canteen 1’s Chinese Cuisine stall also has the healthier option of Shanghai dumpling noodles. With its bouncy noodles, generously filled dumplings and steaming hot soup, the dish is the perfect meal for a cold and rainy day.
Of the many stalls in Canteen 2, the Ayam Penyet stall is one of the most popular stalls. The star of this dish is undoubtedly, the chicken. The tender and juicy meat, along with the fragrant rice, is finished off with a generous drizzle of velvety, black sweet sauce — balanced off with slices of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.
Craving for a quick bite in between classes? Opt for a more exotic snack the next time you’re at Koufu — skip the usual Roti Prata and go for its thin, crispy counterpart Dosai. A South Indian favourite, this savoury lightweight goodness comes served with two sauces on the side! (Psst... It's only available after 4pm.)
Seasoned with aromatic spices and grilled to a smoky finish, Canteen 2’s Western store serves up the ideal pre-workout meal before a workout at the nearby SRC. Served with broccoli, baby carrots and mashed potatoes, this hearty meal ensures you get the right amount of protein, carbs and vegetables.
dapper Makeup Metamorphosis With skilled strokes and plenty of creativity, you too can look like Ariana, Gaga & Taylor
ARIANA GRANDE This look involves heavy contouring and a slightly 1960s inspired style, with a strong eyeliner and soft, glossy lips.
How to get the look in 5 key steps
Use a base makeup (liquid or cream foundation) the same shade as your skin tone and apply a sheer layer to cover the whole face.
Apply a bright concealer on your cheeks, under eyes, forehead, bridge of the nose, chin and above lips to highlight. At the same time use a darker concealer to contour your cheekbones and sides of your nose. Use a sponge or blending brush to blend it out. Set it with a colourless powder (recommended product: NYX concealer palette).
Use any shimmery shade for your eyelids, pinkish shade for the extended crease and a warm brown shade to give depth to the crease. Draw the eyeliner thick and wing it.
Use a medium shade brow pomade to fill in your eyebrows. The trick is to give the eyebrow a gradient, where it is made darker at the tail.
Finish off the look with your favourite light pastel pink shade lipstick or gloss (recommended products: NYX Toulouse Lip Cream, NYX CrĂ¨me Brulee Butter Gloss).
The challenge The challenge is to get the heavy contouring right in this look. It should be blended out well and make the highlights and shadows fall at the right place. This look is not to be too dramatic or soft. The model had a warm skin tone, and there was a need to give heavy emphasis to the highlights and contrasting shadows to achieve a similar look to Ariana.
The unconventional, smeared face paint look gives off a clownish yet mysterious aura, highlighting how the face is a work of art. How to get the look in 5 key steps
Apply white face paint all over the face evenly. Most face paints can turn out very patchy, so make sure there is enough moisture in the product for a smoother effect. Alternatively, you can use a white foundation, too.
Set the white base with colourless translucent powder instead of the usual powders to prevent discolouration.
For the eyes, using face paint will definitely get you there quicker, but if you donâ€™t have the colours to achieve this look, you can always use eyeshadow instead of face paint. Spritz some water onto your eyeshadow brush and dip it into eyeshadow for a more intense colour.
To achieve the messy yet beautiful smudged look, use either a triangle sponge or a tapered eye brush and go from heavy (starting from the eyes) to light strokes (towards the cheek).
For a cleaner and neater hairline, apply black face paint across the hairline to fill up the jagged edges. Use dark grey or black eyeshadow as contour to create greater contrast and give off a 3D effect.
The challenge The most challenging part is in creating an even white base, because beautiful makeup starts with a good base. White face paints can be very patchy so we had to keep adding water to ensure that the base was smooth and evenly spread out. It can take quite a while to reach that point, but after that, everything falls into place.
This look is all about creating a very radiant base with soft contouring. The bright red lips that Taylor likes to sport, with brows that are neither too soft nor bold, finishes the look.
How to get the look in 5 key steps
Use a base makeup (liquid or cream foundation) a shade lighter than your skin tone, as it will oxidize and look like a true match after a short period. It does not have to be too thick â€” a sheer layer would suffice. Blend out well and use concealer to cover any blemishes. Set with a translucent powder (recommended product: NYX HD liquid foundation).
Do a gentle contouring using a soft matte bronzer and pinkish blush. We want a slight flush of pink on the cheeks and a little bit of the brown to give the cheekbones a lift.
Sweep over the whole lid with a champagne eyeshadow, extending to the crease. Using a liquid eyeliner, draw your eyeliner thick and wing it a little. An eyeliner pen may be easier to use if you find it hard to control normal liquid eyeliner wands.
Use a medium shade brown eyebrow pencil or eyeshadow to fill in your eyebrows. Be careful not to go too strong on the brows.
Finish off the look with your favourite bold red lipstick (recommended products: MAC Ruby Woo, MAC Russian Red, NYX Perfect Red).
The challenge The challenge is to keep the look wearable despite having bold red lips. The control has to be with the eyebrows. If it gets too bold, then the whole look might be too overbearing. To achieve Taylorâ€™s look, we also need to make sure that we do not go too light on the base makeup, as we have to stick to shades that are suitable for our individual skin tones.
Photographer: Megan Leong Photography Assistant: Chen Zhi Lin Creative Direction & Text: Roy Tan Models: (Clockwise from top) Adeena Bajrai, Paulina van der Doe, Charmaine Low Makeup: Seow Yun Rong Vimal K
FAKE NEWS, REAL PROBLEM By now, everyone would have heard of the phenomenon of “fake news” — popularised by US President Donald Trump in his unabashed rhetoric against the mainstream media. For the uninformed, fake news refers to the use of hyperbolic articles, distorting the truth for emotional persuasion with the aim to drive action, influence thoughts or, in some cases, attract clicks. Fake news takes advantage of social media distribution and algorithms; information is disseminated with a snap of the fingers, while netizens continue to read articles partial to their viewpoint. Recently, a sensational video supposedly of the fire at Tuas plant made its rounds online. It was quickly established that this explosion did not take place in Tuas. Some claim it happened in France, some say Germany. There have even been mentions of China. In an incident last year, a fake photo story of a collapsed roof in a Housing Board block circulated online, which led to Civil Defence vehicles being activated to the scene only to find out that the photograph was bogus. This shows that fake news has the propensity to affect
even government agencies. In worst cases, online misinformation could cause confusion and chaos, particularly in situations like a possible terror attack. The borderless nature of the internet and the speed at which it disseminates information make it harder for mainstream media to fact-check. Hence students, forming the IT savvy generation, must learn how to discern the facts from the crap. With the countless number of sources available online, we must make sure that the source of information is reliable. Rather than falling for posts with headlines designed to deceive, click on the link and judge for yourself if the content you’re reading is credible. It is also worth remembering that despite claims to be objective and partial, news outlets often have an agenda. Hence, it is imperative to recognise that there are at least two sides to a story. The onus is on us to at least check multiple sources or outlets and see how each reports it differently, before making a conclusion. The proliferation of fake news has to stop — but given the sheer reach of the internet, it probably will not. The least we could do is ensure that we do not fall for the bogus stuff — whatever the creator’s intentions.
CHRONICLE CHIEF EDITOR
DAPPER EDITOR Roy Tan
Justin Kor Louisa Tang Sharanya Pillai
NEWS EDITOR Paige Lim
LIFESTYLE EDITOR Amanda Chai
OPINION EDITOR Aiswarya Devi
Valerie Lay Zheng Juncen
Febriliani Tan Ryan Tan
Yeo Kai Wen
Toby Tan Xun Yi
Joe Tok Kenny Wong
Sheena Wong Vanessa Tan
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GRAPHIC: TEO HSIN WEI
What I learned about education Hee Yu Quan “Do what you love and love what you do”. It is a maxim I attempt to live by. It is a concept my 15-year-old self internalised as I grew in the Singapore education system. My 15-year-old adolescent self would not have agreed on the decision I made as a prepubescent secondary one student to join Wushu as a co-curricular activity. Despite my willingness to explore a new sport, I had little interest in Wushu. With zero passion, I found myself stuck in a mundane routine of attending trainings that added no value to my life. Always intrigued by the accurate role creation and talented emotion display of actors, I contemplated a switch of co-curricular activity to explore this area of interest. A decision to “opt out” of Wushu and join the English Drama Club put me through cycles of negotiation and discussion with the teachers-in-charge. I succeeded. I tried acting, got the Gold Award for the Singapore Youth Festival, held a sold-out concert and took up the role of the vice-president. During a parliamentary session, Acting Education Minister Ng Chee Meng commented on the need for students to explore alternative paths of education. He quipped: “Let’s help our children make good use of their time to branch out to explore other interests and passions and to pursue what they want to do in life.” Ironically, the education system I went through, which taught me
to question the value of things and the importance of intrinsic motivation, caused me to question this very same system. Why do I sit through many hours of classroom learning just for the main purpose of scoring well for examinations? Growing up, I topped the cohort for Higher Mother Tongue and English Literature at different points of my life, and as a student of the triple science class — studying biology, chemistry and physics — I was academically inclined. I did well for the GCE “O” Level examination and went on to a reputable junior college. However, as my maturity grew with life experiences and having learned the importance of doing what you love and loving what you do, I started to question the value of education. We were made to absorb information so as to regurgitate it in the examination hall. Little emphasis was on personal growth. As I embarked on my post-secondary education in Victoria Junior College, the rigorous system in place to help me achieve the same end — mere good grades — had me jaded as a student. Amid the education rat race, personal development has sadly taken a backseat. I enjoyed the two years in junior college but I chose to “opt out” of the system in place. I focused on self-development by engaging in school activities and learning opportunities out of school instead of studying religiously. This, however, did not come without repercussion. Eventually, I graduated as one of the worst-performing students.
My grades were not up to par with even the 10th percentile of applicants to most courses. Fortunately, born a Singaporean son, I had two more years after graduation from Junior College to figure out how to keep up in this education system that is not for me to change. National Service gave me ample time to reflect. This break from the education system allowed me to ruminate about the purpose of education and figure out how best to reconcile my own views with the education system. Due to my poor A-level grades and the limited options I had, I was forced to think for my own and on my own. Throughout this self-reflexive process, I had an epiphany. I decided to accept education as a means to an end but make decisions to help realise that education is an end in itself. I stuck to the popular choice of studying in the science stream even though I did not like it. I decided to pursue social science — something that I have vast interest in but have always neglected due to the strong emphasis on science in our education system. After repeated tries and through discretionary admission to demonstrate my interest in social science, I made it into the School of Humanities and Social Sciences to pursue sociology. I now enjoy the process of learning a discipline that I am passionate about. In the process of “opting out” and thinking on my own, I learned the importance of intrinsic motivation for a meaningful life.
Hope amid division in Trump's America
PHOTO: DEWEY SIM
n the third week of school, I should have been in my apartment doing my weekly readings, but I found myself at the porch of the Columbia City Courthouse. Protestors of all ages and beliefs were braving the sub-zero Missouri cold, as they clasped tightly onto their colourful banners, while some of them held their clenched fists high in the air. A Muslim speaker, clad in her headscarf, loudly recited: “My story will not be shaken by the perception of others. I have been deemed unwanted, a nuisance, something that needs to be removed before I grow too tall. “They will try to remove me, but I will keep growing back. And we are a beginning, a precursor of something yet to come.”
The protesters erupted again with their thunderous cheers in unison against the inauguration of the country’s 45th president. I am now studying at the Missouri School of Journalism, in the city of Columbia, right smack in the middle of America. On my flight here, an air stewardess asked me if coming to America was my first choice. I said yes then. But I question myself, sometimes, if coming to the United States has been the best or worst decision of my undergraduate life. I am here in this country at a time when its people seem most divided; a time when tensions are starkly high, when protests against new policies break out every other day. Within his first week in office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that altered immigration policy to ban the entry of im-
migrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. But the Department of Homeland Security later announced that it would suspend the implementation of the immigration order after a federal judge temporarily blocked it. However, fears continue to spread across the country. I have read stories on how couples and marriages could be torn apart because of the new order, and how the many big dreams and plans immigrants had for their families may be dashed. And things only get worse. My Muslim friends in the other states have received personal emails from their professors asking them not to leave the country, lest the now-fluid laws change again. The international centre of my university also sent us three emails over the past week.
One was titled “Support for Our International Students”, with the opening paragraphs assuring international students like me that we were welcome, valued, and supported. It seems like states are now in chaos, constantly trying to guess the president’s next move, and in their best efforts, cushion the adverse effects on people. However, amid the political turmoil, I was, in fact, heartened by the many responses and observations that I saw from different groups of people around the country. As the executive order was abruptly rolled out, lawyers gathered at major airports across the country, voluntarily helping those trapped at immigration and offering support for those in legal need. An Uber driver I befriended also tried to do his part. On the ride home, he was fervently talking about how he could reach out to and help those immigrants in need. He told me that he would pick passengers up from the nearby regional airport, and if they happened to be immigrants, he would give them a free ride to their destination. In his words, these immigrants need a home most badly, and the least he could contribute was to show them that not all Americans are against them, and that America is a peace-loving and friendly country that welcomes all. These simple gestures are the little things that make the Missouri winter cold less terrifying to live in, and remind me that coming to America was probably the best decision I made, and the best experience I could get. Protests will probably continue to gain momentum. Even though protesters have been largely successful in voicing the concerns of Americans, the future remains uncertain as many feel victimised in their home country, be it the Muslim or the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
(LGBT) communities. Intensifying the conflict, Mr Trump had also just announced in a press conference last month that he will be implementing a new ban in the coming weeks. But I am also heartened by how many undergraduates are now paying greater attention to political developments and voicing their concerns for issues they hold close to. Kathryn Kidd, who majors in Environmental Studies at the University of Missouri, is worried about the confirmation of Mr Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — the government agency which enforces energy and climate change regulations. “I can’t seem to wrap my head around how picking someone who avidly denies climate change and openly supports fossil fuel companies as the head of EPA would be a good idea,” she told me. “I am very worried about how this will affect my career in the future.” The next four years will not be easy, as many of my American professors and friends agree. It is particularly so for the news media industry. As a journalist, I have learnt that this is the time when accurate and unbiased news must be disseminated to all parts of the country, for people to learn the facts, so they can make a political stand. I have four more months here in the United States. The political landscape is changing every day, but I am excited to see how things will unfold for America. I believe that things will eventually fall into place, and its people will learn to stand together stronger than ever. At the end of the university chancellor's email to us, he said: "I care and want to reassure you. I am optimistic this will work out." Things will work out. Let's be hopeful.
Triple hat-trick for Hall 3 at IHG Hall of Residence 3 emerged as the overall champion for the ninth time in a row Sean Loo Sports Editor
or the ninth time in a row, Hall of Residence 3 emerged as the overall champion of the recently concluded Inter-Hall Games (IHG). The games took place from 12 Dec last year to 22 Feb. “I’m just glad to have been able to see my players’ hardwork pay off because they truly deserved the results they achieved,” said Hall 3 sports secretary Derrick Lim, a second-year School of Civil and Environmental Engineering student. Hall 3 will be gunning for their 10th successive overall title at next year’s games, and Lim urged his teammates to continue putting in the hard work. “We have to keep training like we always have as we can’t afford to just rest on our laurels,” said the 25-year-old. Hall 3’s performance was a big improvement from last year’s performance. They finished on 81 points, a whopping 24 points ahead of runner-up, Hall 2. In contrast, they finished on 70 points last year — only 5 points ahead of Hall 16. Hall 3 emerged top in eight different events — men’s volleyball, women’s volleyball, men’s hockey, badminton, sepak takraw, track and field, swimming and touch rugby. While they also clinched victories in eight events last year, this year saw all of Hall 3’s sports teams progressing to at least the quarterfinals, with 20 out of their 21 teams finishing in the top four. Hall 16 finished in third place with 56 points, just one point shy of runner-up Hall 2’s tally of 57. Although they ended the games with a bronze in the overall rankings, Hall 16 did manage to reclaim the gold medal in football. They edged out defending champions Hall 3 in a keenly contested final on the last day of the tournament, recovering the football championship they last won two years ago. Hall 16 football captain Tan Zheng Yee told the Nanyang Chronicle that the passion of his
Hall 16’s Anders Aplin attempts to make his way pass a Hall 3 defender in the IHG football men’s final.
PHOTO: ZHENG JUNCEN
"We have to keep training like we always have as we can’t afford to just rest on our laurels." Derrick Lim, 25 Sports Secretary, Hall of Residence 3
team was the primary reason for their ability to overcome adversities and emerge as champions. “We were at a disadvantage due to unforeseen circumstances like the weather,” said the 23-year-old. The second-year student from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences explained that their quarter-final match was postponed due to inclement weather, giving them less time to rest before their subsequent matches. Tan added: “We have quite a number of senior players graduating this semester. We really wanted to give our seniors a proper send off and we showed it on the field.” Next year’s IHG competition will likely see the newly opened North Hill Halls — Binjal, Tanjong and Banyan — make their Games debut.
The point scoring system is as follows: Winner - 5 pts, Runner-up - 4 pts, Semi-finalist - 3 pts, Quarter-finalist - 2 pts, Participation - 1pt
Athletes of IHG
The recently concluded Inter-Hall Games (IHG) saw 18 Halls of Residence compete in 21 different events in their quest for IHG glory. Three IHG captains speak to sports editor Sean Loo about their teams’ IHG journey. Joshua Chan, 22 Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information/ Year 2 IHG sport and Hall of Residence: Hockey/ Hall 2 Eventual Result: Semi-finals What were your aims for this year’s IHG? Having made it to the semi-finals for two years in a row, this year we were hoping to go one step further this year and reach the finals. We had a very strong team as almost all our outfield players had previous playing experience. What were the difficulties your team faced throughout the IHG season? We did not manage to arrange as many trainings as we’d like to due to our busy schedules. Also, the squatter scheme (that allows squatters to represent their halls during IHG) was amended and we were not allowed to field a key player. That changed our entire game plan. To make matters worse, several players from last year’s team were injured, so we had to work with a smaller squad. That being said, I felt that we still played to the best of our abilities, playing respectably in the semi-finals against the eventual champions from Hall 3.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KESTER TAN
Mohammed Naufal, 24 School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering/ Year 2 IHG sport and Hall of Residence: Football/ Hall 3 Eventual Result: Runner-up What were the difficulties your team face throughout the IHG season? The season was quite short and we were given a very tight schedule. We started training in December during the holiday period, thus it was difficult for many players to train. How did you feel about your team’s performance? I’m very proud of the effort put up by the team. I do not want to look at our performance as one game (the final against Hall 16) but over the whole season. Although we couldn’t translate it to victory in the final, we forged a strong camaraderie. I am very proud of everyone and the effort that they put in.
PHOTO: ZHENG JUNCEN
Tan Kai Ling, 21 Nanyang Business School/ Year 2 IHG sport and Hall of Residence: Netball/ Hall 16 Eventual Result: Champion How did your team train for this year’s IHG? We trained weekly and prepared for the competition by playing friendly matches against other halls including Hall 2 (Hall 16’s opponents in the IHG finals). What were your aims for this year’s IHG? As Hall 16 has traditionally been among the top four teams (in netball), we anticipated being in the top four. However, we did not expect to emerge as champions. I would like to thank everyone in the team and our supporters. We showed a lot of fighting spirit. For instance, we were trailing in the quarter-final against the defending champions, Hall 6, but we managed to press on for the victory.
PHOTO: VALERIE LAY
NTU students give handicap signs a ‘sporting’ makeover A group of students redesigned access signs to encourage participation in disability sports Sean Loo Sports Editor
ee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information final-year student Joey Chua saw her cousin give up his passion for power lifting because of dwarfism, a medical condition that limits his growth. The 23-year-old felt she had to do something to encourage her cousin and other persons with disability (PWDs) to pursue their passion, no matter what. So for her final-year project (FYP), Chua, along with three of her course mates, launched a campaign to encourage PWDs to participate in sports. Chua and her team started the the campaign titled “Project This Ability” by launching a series of initiatives that included redesigning access signs to promote participation in disability sports. In the redesigned signs, the white figure on the handicap sign was depicted as playing either a game of basketball, tennis or table tennis. These signs can be found in NTU and other partner institutions, such as the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Technology. The signs can also be found in 21 MRT stations and 26 sports complexes, among other places. Creating awareness Paralympic table tennis player Mr Harrison Gan called the redesigns as “very creative” and “really helpful” in encouraging PWDs to pick up sports. “I feel that (the redesigned signs) really does help when it comes to creating sports awareness among the general public, especially leading up to the ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur later this year,” said the 25-year-old. Mr Gan, who represented Singapore in the 2015 ASEAN Para Games, expressed his wish for the signs to remain up in public areas in the long run. But the signs are likely to be taken down when the FYP campaign ends in April. The team is also creating a centralised platform with a consolidated timetable of all para-sports activities in Singapore.
The group's redesigned signs can be found in 21 MRT stations, including Outram Park, Raffles Place and Serangoon.
"It [the redesigned signs] really does helps when it comes to creating sports awareness among the general public" Mr Harrison Gan, 25 2015 ASEAN Para Games Athlete, Table Tennis
Team member Jeremy Hau told the Nanyang Chronicle he was “surprised” when he previously could not find any such timetables. “PWDs would not know where to go even if they wanted to play sports,” Hau pointed out. Some issues Despite their progress, the team’s journey was not all smooth sailing. On 21 Feb, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) up-
loaded the group’s design on its Facebook page, leaving out the necessary credits and cropping out the Project This Ability logo. When the group emailed ITTF for proper attribution, the organisation replied by saying: “The photo had a reach of 35,000, which is already a credit to you and your work.” The reply, shared on Facebook by a member of the FYP group, drew the ire of netizens and other students. The ITTF has since described the
incident as a “big miscommunication” and reposted the group’s designs with the appropriate credits. When asked to explain the meaning of the email, ITTF head of communications Matt Pound explained that the reply did not intend to discredit the students’ work. “What was intended for it to be meant is it’s good for everyone in general,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t want to credit (the group).” Mr Pound added that he hopes the students “continue to keep on the good work” in promoting disability sports. Moving on Hau said the team has already moved on from the incident, adding that they hope to collaborate with the ITTF in the future to “fur-
PHOTO COURTESY OF PROJECT THIS ABILITY
ther the disability sports scene”. “We will also be contacting the ITTF to see if they can help us share our videos and other resources,” Hau added. Sports day The team also held a “Project This Ability Sports Day” on 4 Mar at the UOB auditorium in Lengkok Bahru from morning till early afternoon. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu attended the event as its Guest of Honour. The event gave PWDs and their caretakers the opportunity to try out six types of disability sports: Boccia, goalball, para badminton, para table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. “I hope to see many PWDs signing up for sports classes during the sports day,” Hau said.
Suspension training at North Hill gym After two months without exercise, sports writer Febriliani Tan jumped straight into suspension training with Devrath Vijay, a master fitness trainer from India. The session answered her (fat) burning questions about exercising at the new North Hill Gym.
WHAT IS SUSPENSION TRAINING? Suspension training allows users to build strength using their body weight and gravity. Utilising a system of ropes and poles as support, users stay suspended by engaging their core muscles. Instead of focusing on specific muscle groups as with weight machine training, suspension training helps users develop their overall core strength. Improving balance and core strength are persistent themes in the goals of suspension training.
Is the training difficult, especially if you have not exercised for a long time? There were some routines that I could not follow because my core was not strong enough. I had to adjust the height of the pole to reduce body weight and gravity to keep up. As most of the routines in suspension training mimic your usual static exercises — like squats and push-ups — you can also train at home without any equipment. Mr Vijay’s advice is to build strength gradually. The key is to slowly increase the difficulty of the exercises to build your strength. For example, when I could not execute a chest-to-floor push-up, I was asked to do a push-up against the wall starting at a gentle angle. I was able to do my push-up with a proper posture, with my back, buttocks and legs moving as a straight line. I also learned the importance of having a stable base during a static exercise, such as by positioning my hands shoulder-width apart during push-ups. It is also important to rest your body weight on your ankle area instead of the base of your feet. This will allow you to maintain your balance and will also protect your feet from overstraining while doing exercise.
3 1. Sports writer Febriliani Tan (left) stretches her joints before her workout to avoid injuries. 2. Master fitness trainer Devrath Vijay ensures his students go through the full range of motion while executing squats. 3. Mr Vijay leads the class through some dynamic exercises, emphasising balance and core strength.
Will my muscles get extremely sore post workout?
What's the key benefit of exercising with suspension training?
Mr Vijay’s approach to reduce sore muscles is to warm up with the same movements as the actual workout. He emphasised the importance of warming up the joints to avoid injuries. He recommends starting with a less intensive warm-up such as simple head and arm rotations before gradually increasing the intensity. My workout was pretty intense but I reaped the benefits of following Mr Vijay’s warmup regime. The next day, I experienced only mild soreness around my shoulder despite the exhausting workout.
The need to maintain your balance not only activates your core but also engages your mind. I loved how my mind did not wander during the exercise because I had to stay focused to keep my balance. This kept me from getting bored during the training, a welcome change from the repetition of exercising with weight machines or running on a treadmill.
Does suspension training only focus on strength? The beauty of suspension training is that you can have a good mix of cardiovascular (cardio) and strength exercises. Mr Vijay incorporated speed and movements into the static exercises. I started with my arms stretching to hold on to a high pole, and knees bent in a squat position. Gripping on to the pole for support, I jumped high enough such that my chin was above the pole, and then back to the squat position. I then repeated this movement to get a good cardio workout. It was much more fun and dynamic compared to simply running on a treadmill.
How do I get started? You can walk over to the Queenax station on the left side of the gym and ask the staff to install the Superfunctional suspension training system. Remember to ask for a demonstration before working out. It was pretty easy to pick up even for a beginner like me, as most of the movements are similar to traditional static exercises. The difficult part is maintaining your balance when you are suspended on the pole, which you can improve gradually through consistent training.
The verdict: I will definitely go back to the North Hill gym for this. No more long runs on the treadmill for me.