ISSN NO. 0218-7310
Tales of an unconventional exchange LIFESTYLE | 6--7
PHOTO COURTESY OF ANNABEL TAN
Up close with your coffee makers LIFESTYLE | 04
Model bares it all for the sake of learning SPOTLIGHT | 16-17
Returning students prepare for IVP SPORTS | 22
PHOTO COURTESY OF MUN YONG JIAN
Lending ears to NTU’s deaf students
Gracia Lee IT TAKES 20 gestures to fingerspell “sodium hypochlorite”. And it is just one of the many scientific terms, definitions and explanations that Jessica Lim gestures steadily throughout the Scientific Communications tutorial to her deaf classmate, who wants to be known only as Dave. Lim, 20, a second-year School of Biological Sciences student, is the chairperson and one of 10 main committee members in the Regular Service Project for the Deaf Community (RSPDC) under NTU’s Welfare Services Club. The RSPDC has been organising a note-taking service for deaf students since last year. Their 60 student-volunteers write notes, transcribe and – if they can – interpret lectures and tutorials in sign language to help their deaf classmates keep up in class. There are no records for the number of deaf students in NTU, but those that approach the University for help with classes are directed to the RSPDC, Lim said.
“It gives the deaf students confidence that there are people rooting for them and the comfort of knowing they’re not alone.” Jessica Lim, 20 Second-year student School of Biological Sciences
Dave said he used to do poorly on tests because he was unable to fully understand the lecture content from the slides provided. He tried borrowing his classmates’ notes, but found them not comprehensive enough. Dave was also unable to ask friends or teachers questions to clarify his doubts, as they did not know sign language. “It was troublesome,” Dave said. “When I wanted to ask questions, I had to write them out, and I can’t express myself well with words.” But with Lim present, Dave now understands lectures better and can ask questions via her translations. His grades have also improved. “I really appreciate how she is willing to spend more time explaining concepts to me in sign language even though she doesn’t have to,” Dave said. “She even
GRAPHIC: FIONA LIM
matched her timetable to mine.” “If not for her help, I would probably give up on university.”
The RSPDC served only one student when it first began in September 2015, but the number of students using the service has since increased to nine. Most are from the engineering and science faculties as their lectures have more technical content, Lim said.
“I really appreciate how she is willing to spend more time explaining concepts to me in sign language even though she doesn’t have to... If not for her help, I would probably give up on university. ” Dave NTU student
Though not many student transcribers know sign language like Lim does, all of them do live transcribing of unrecorded lectures and tutorials, and write lecture notes. To avoid overtaxing the volunteers, each of them is assigned a maximum of one module to tran-
scribe. But if the organising team is unable to find any transcribers for a module, they will have to take up the role, even if they do not take the module in question. Former RSPDC chairperson and third-year School of Computer Science and Engineering student Ong Chao Jian had to transcribe lectures for two modules he was not enrolled in last semester, on top of his own nine. This meant spending an extra 10 hours a week watching and summarising recorded lectures, and attending tutorials with the two deaf students he was transcribing for. Ong said it was tough to juggle the workload but was motivated by compassion for his peers. “Imagine if you can’t figure out what the lecturer is saying during lessons – how insecure and unprepared will you feel for tests?” said the 23-year-old, who is also majoring in business. “I’m just trying to help them as much as I can.” Other transcribers the Nanyang Chronicle spoke to added that transcribing and making notes help them prepare for their own exams. Final-year School of Physical and Mathematical Science (SPMS) student Felicia Goh, 23, said that she watches lectures online twice in order to make her notes clear for the deaf classmate she helps. This also allows her to pick up on content that she previously missed
out in class. “I see it as part of my own studying, and a form of constant revision,” she added.
“Imagine if you can’t figure out what the lecturer is saying during lessons – how insecure and unprepared will you feel for tests? I’m just trying to help them as much as I can.” Ong Chao Jian, 23 Third-year student School of Computer Science and Engineering
While it is fulfilling, sustaining the service is difficult. The RSPDC struggles to recruit new transcribers each semester. Only a few students are aware of the project, said Lim. She added that the organising team plans to publicise the RSPDC’s services through other student clubs in the coming semester to recruit more transcribers. But students the Nanyang Chronicle spoke to said they were reluctant to join as transcribers for fear of writing poor quality notes for the deaf students, or falling be-
hind in classes themselves. “I don’t always understand what is being taught in class and I wouldn’t want to hinder the deaf student’s learning by passing on my incoherent notes to him or her,” said second-year SPMS student Daryl Poh, 23. Another student, Elissa Chan, 21, said she was afraid that transcribing for someone else would hinder her from understanding the content explained in lessons. “I can’t multitask very well, so if I’m preoccupied with typing out what the tutor is saying, I may not be able to absorb the information,” said the final-year Nanyang Business School student. But whether or not the RSPDC manages to recruit more transcribers, it plans to take in every deaf student who requests its services in the coming semester, Lim said. Despite the additional effort they may have to put in, RSPDC’s transcribers feel it is important to support their deaf peers. “Small things like this go a long way,” Lim said. “It gives the deaf students confidence that there are people rooting for them, and the comfort of knowing that they’re not alone.” Students interested in volunteering can find more information about the RSPDC and its activities at the club’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ntuwscrspdc.
Fighting stereotypes with magic
Ms Adeline Ng (SBS '10) is currently Singapore's only solo professional female magician and has performed in countries such as France, Hungary, Kuwait and India.
From practising tricks at home to performing for the King of Oman, NTU alumna Adeline Ng has outdone herself by setting up a magic company of her own. Cheryl Tee SINCE Ms Adeline Ng's debut a decade ago, she has gone from rookie magician to CEO of her own company, breaking down every stereotype about females in the field of magic. The NTU alumna is, to her knowledge, Singapore’s only professional solo female magician, after best friend and illusionist Ning Cai – better known by her stage name Magic Babe Ning – retired two years ago. But despite her success today, Ms Ng found it challenging as a female magician to break into the maledominated magic industry. In an interview with the Nanyang Chronicle, the 29-year-old recalled her conversations with show organisers when she was just starting out. Many of them assumed that she was a magician’s assistant because of her gender. “They would ask me, ‘So when is your magician coming?’ I was like, ‘Wait, what? You’ve been talking to her for the past half an hour.’” While she was starring on local web series M For Magic in 2012, her male magician co-stars would tell her she was “pretty good at sleight of hand,” a common technique where magicians perform tricks so quickly that the audience is unable to tell how they are done. “It’s more upsetting when people in the industry say things like,
‘Wow, you can do this trick?’ They hold female magicians to a different standard,” she said. In the past, Ms Ng also had to do backstage work for other more established magicians. She soon came across other male crew members who belittled her ability to operate the lights and sound system. So she decided to take classes on stage, sound and lighting management.
“They would ask me, 'So when is your magician coming?' I was like, 'Wait, what? You've been talking to her for the past half an hour." Adeline Ng, 29 CEO, Artful Deceptions
“When you do know what you’re doing, it’s more difficult for other people to ignore your opinions. We (female magicians) just have to work much harder than an average guy to prove ourselves.”
The first time Ms Ng dabbled with magic was in Secondary 3, after reading a book titled The Practical Encyclopedia of Magic written by Nicholas Einhorn. She played around with it for two years, trying out magic tricks in the confines of her bedroom. After befriending Ms Ning on a now-defunct online magic forum, the duo met for the first time at a magic performance for the Children’s Cancer Society’s “Hair For Hope” event in 2006. Ms Ning then got her an audition as a magic juggler in local illu-
sionist J C Sum’s company, Mighty Magic Factory, when she was a first-year student at NTU’s School of Biological Sciences. Ms Ng landed the job. Soon, she found herself doing 10 to 15 shows per month while studying, raking in an average of $4,000 per month. “When you’re in university, that’s a lot of money, even when compared to peers with a second upper degree, who usually start out with around $3,000,” she said. By her third year in NTU, Ms Ng considered herself a professional magician, and was spending more time touring and performing at events than attending lectures. In her final year, Ms Ng was in Oman for a performance for the king, despite it falling between the dates of her Final Year Project submission and her last paper. She said: “I was a full-time student in name, but a part-time student in real life.”
Winning over herself
Ms Ng's civil servant parents were reluctant to let her pusue a career in magic at first, but came around after several months. She said: "There’s a certain shelf life as an entertainer. I had to do it then.” But when she turned 25, Ms Ng found herself going through a quarter-life crisis. “When you reach that age, you no longer just think about wanting to do something. You start wondering how you can provide more for your family, your parents.” She also found it difficult not to compare her own career prospects with her younger brother’s, who is an accountant at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. He is also an NTU alumnus.
“There’s no public holidays, CPF, or work increment in my line of work," Ms Ng said. “There was a point in time where I kept asking myself: ‘Should I continue doing this? Maybe it’s better to keep magic as a side thing.' “I felt like there was not enough upward mobility in terms of what I wanted to do.” But she realised that quitting wasn’t the right call, because the thought of leaving magic behind upset her. Instead, she decided to start up her own magic company. To her surprise, her parents were very much supportive. “My mom said: ‘(Your family members have their) own income and can support (themselves) financially, and you have no spouse or kids to take care of. Just do it.’”
Her own boss
In July last year, Ms Ng started up Artful Deceptions, a company that specialises in magic and illusion shows for corporate events. Right now, it has eight male magicians on its roster and is one of the largest teams in Singapore. “Most magicians prefer to work solo, or only with a few people. But I wanted to provide an avenue for young magicians to be introduced to the industry. Let them go out and perform to the crowd and experience what it’s like. “My previous company did that for me, so in a way, I wanted to give back.” Despite being the CEO, Ms Ng still does regular magic performances, sometimes as many as three shows per day during weekends. Compared to her NTU days when she charged $300 to $400 per show, Ms Ng’s rates are now in the fourfigure range.
PHOTO: ADELINE NG
Ms Ng’s friends admire her courage to pursue magic as a career, something seen by many as a “frivolous activity”, but she admitted that it was naivety that pushed her to take that leap of faith. “I didn’t consider all the consequences before delving into it. But I believe that everyone should have a certain level of silly optimism and adventure,” she said. If she had known exactly what being a full-time magician entailed, she would have been a lot more reluctant to go pro. But she does not regret her unconventional career choice.
“I believe that everyone should have a certain level of silly optimism and adventure." “Never in my life would I have dreamt of touring so many countries – France, Hungary, Kuwait, India. Without being a magician, I wouldn't have been able to visit these places. It’s just something that’s out of my reach,” she said. Ms Ng believes that her gender did help in setting her apart. “Being a girl – that differentiates me. It’s precisely because there are so few female magicians around that it’s easier to be noticed. So I guess it’s a double-edged sword.” But this magician may yet again transform into something different in the future. In recent years, Ms Ng found herself embarking on more side projects, from joining some Mediacorp productions to taking up directing classes. She said: “I do like trying out different things though, so we’ll see.
Meet your campus baristas Grabbing a cuppa is a frequent routine for many, but few of us notice the person and processes behind our daily morning fix. Lifestyle writer Syed Ebrahim Al-idrus speaks to two baristas who work in two different NTU coffee joints to learn about their passion for serving quality brews.
Sam Selan, Spruce Bistro
r Sam Selan’s positive attitude has made him a favourite on campus with students and staff alike. Known to everyone as Sam, Mr Selan has been a barista at Spruce Bistro at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information since the bistro opened in 2013. For three years, he has been serving patrons his coffee and latte creations, such as the signature iced coffee latte and the hot matcha latte. While Mr Selan might seem like a happygo-lucky barista who never fails to smile at his customers, it has not been all smooth sailing for him. In August, Mr Selan donated his kidney to his sister, who was suffering from kidney disease. In doing so, he also had to forgo one of his lifelong passions — coffee. Mr Selan’s doctor had told him that he will not be able to consume any caffeine for the next two years because of the surgery. For the barista, having to quit coffee was a hard blow. He has been working as a barista for 20 years and it has become a habit for him to drink coffee at least thrice daily. It also took away the joy of serving a cup of joe to his regular customers as he took leave for three months to recuperate, returning only in late October. Despite enthusiasm for serving coffee to
his customers, Mr Selan did not start his career in the service industry. He had a degree in engineering, but did not feel satisfied with his first job as a factory worker. It was then that he made the brave switch to becoming a barista. “I was bored at my manufacturing job where I had to work shifts. I was there for eight long years,” Mr Selan said. “My family was pushing me to do some part-time work instead of sitting at home and doing nothing when I wasn’t working.” His first foray into the industry was when he worked part-time at the first-ever Starbucks that opened in Singapore in December 1996 at Liat Towers. This sparked his passion for coffee. But things weren’t easy at the start. “Back then, you needed to sit for 60 hours worth of classes to be familiar enough to work the Starbucks machines,” he recalled. “I never made any coffee drinks and mostly cleaned tables those first few weeks.” However, it was those long hours spent cleaning tables that gave him the opportunity to interact with the stream of customers around him. “I found it very fun and I realised after a while that this is the job I like to be in,” said Mr Selan. “I love connecting with people.” The job, he said, was a “people business”. The camaraderie he developed with his colleagues made working behind the coffee
ALL SMILES: School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences freshman Anas Rahamat works as a part-time barista at the school’s Coffee Bean outlet. PHOTO: ZHENG JUNCEN
Anas Bin Rahamat, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
or three days a week, Anas Rahamat puts on a friendly smile as he greets The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s morning
regulars as they trickle in during the early hours of the day. If you visit the outlet opposite the Nanyang Auditorium, you may meet this freshman hailing from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, who is also a
COFFEE TALK: Mr Sam Selan finds joy in serving his regular customers their daily dosage of caffeine. PHOTO: SYED EBRAHIM AL-IDRUS
counter joyful. Taking his job as a barista seriously, Mr Selan also changed his dressing to a slick, modern look to fit in with the predominantly corporate clientele. On top of that, he makes every cup with utmost care. “I pride myself on making a quality brew,” Mr Selan said. And because of his passion for coffee, his regular list of customers then included local
actor and comedian Gurmit Singh, MTV host Utt Panichkul, and Channel NewsAsia newscaster Sharon Goh. Looking forward, Mr Selan hopes to run his own small cafe in the next five years. He wishes to bring his customers joy with every brew he concocts. “Coffee calms us down and makes people happy,” he said. “Nobody feels sad when they drink coffee. It’s a good kind of addiction.”
part-time barista. The 22-year-old began working at Junction 8 Shopping Centre’s Coffee Bean in 2014. He had graduated from Singapore Polytechnic and was looking for part-time work while waiting for his National Service enlistment. Coffee Bean was a way for Anas to further his coffee hobby. “I started drinking coffee since secondary school. My mother would make me the 3-in1 coffee in the morning or late at night and I’d really enjoy the taste of it,” said Anas. “But I wanted to learn how to make even better coffee.” He started his first year in NTU last year and waited for two months to get his bearings on school life before continuing his barista life in the campus’s very own outlet. According to Anas, it’s not all about making drinks, sometimes it’s also about having fun working behind the counter. “The most memorable times I have working are when my manager, Syaiful, makes jokes and all of us laugh along,” Anas said. When it’s time to get serious, however, everyone becomes very focused in their tasks and does their work properly, he added. This is especially so during the peak period from 10am to 2pm.
Working on campus means that Anas is able to clock in shifts between his classes since they are on the same campus. “It’s very convenient to work here as there is no time wasted travelling from workplace to class,” he said. “Usually I just have to walk and don’t even take the shuttle bus. I love having everything under one roof.” Just like Mr Selan, Anas loves to connect with each customer in a unique way. Making customers their drinks allows Anas to discover interesting facts about their lives. “One of the most interesting things in my job is talking to the regulars and finding out about how their day was,” said Anas. Anas once had a customer who was a pregnant lady, and she would tell him about the pains of carrying a baby everytime she sees him. “Since I see these regulars so often, it’s important to get to know them so it won’t feel so awkward to keep repeating my cashier lines all the time.” So do not hesitate to strike up a conversation with the baristas on your next coffee run. You might just make their day more colourful by doing so. “It makes my life more vibrant making connections with customers,” he said.
GRAPHIC: BRENDA LEE
Escape the beaten path
Lifestyle writer Gabriela Lim brings you around the world with four NTU students who have visited unconventional exchange destinations with refreshing stories to share, from driving through torrential rivers to taking a dip in a smelly, murky river. Gabriel Goh Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information Stuttgart, Germany
hroughout my exchange at Stuttgart Media University in Germany, I found myself travelling to remote and untouched spots across Europe. Iceland was a four-hour flight away from Stuttgart, but I really wanted to take on the Laugarvegur Trek, a 55km raw Icelandic mountainous terrain. It had been a goal since I started planning for my exchange – one of the reasons why I chose Stuttgart. The journey was a treacherous yet fulfilling one. Each uphill step was a battle against gravity, but the view at the top was worth the fight — until I had to go down the ravine and start the process all over again. One highlight of the trek was when my luck ran out and the skies opened and it started to rain. At this point, my eyes were tempted to pour out some as well. Pulling into the final valley fatigued and stretched to the brim, I witnessed a true moment of magic. A rainbow extending the entire breadth of the valley appeared. And with that, I pushed through the final lap — crossing three rivers, one of which was an intensely strong glacial river. The rest of the six months was also filled with expeditions into the
wild, travelling to parts surrounding Stuttgart with friends and occasionally, alone. With two friends, I rented a car, maxed out our insurance and grabbed a Lonely Planet guidebook found at a Reykjavik campsite. We were determined to see another side of Iceland instead of packing in with the usual tourist crowds, so we drove our car into a nice spot on the camp grounds, pulled on the hand brakes, reclined our seats and made it our home for nine days. Living together in such a small space meant late night talks till the wee hours of the morning, where the three of us bonded over situations that we wouldn’t have been in had we chosen the comfort of a regular room with a proper roof over our heads. These experiences included trying to cook a meal while braving a 100 km per hour glacial wind, and watching movies in the blackened out hull of the car. The toughest challenge on the road was taking an F-road deep into a remote part of the central highlands to get to the Askja crater. It’s not as easy as you might think. F-roads are not just ordinary levelled roads — they are trails of dirt, gravel and volcanic ash that require full concentration and skill to navigate. Safe to say, we spent a good six hours traversing that route, with
half of it in pitch-black darkness, and with parts of the journey spent driving through four rivers with turbulent undercurrents. That’s the thing about Iceland — the further you go into the wilderness, the harder it’s going to be. If you want to see more of Iceland in its raw beauty, then you have to prepare to get down and dirty to rough it all out and have your patience and stamina tested at an all-time high. Sim Pin Yi Nanyang Business School Zagreb, Croatia
roatia is not a country widely visited by Singaporeans, and before I embarked on my exchange, I too, did not have much knowledge about this huge country. All I knew was that the country had a rich history. The small city of Zagreb’s efficient transport system brought me to the coast, and gave me a chance to visit museums and memorials that detailed its struggle as a relatively small nation among the surrounding empires. This meant that the rich culture was echoed in the infrastructure all over the city, almost as if stories were built into the walls. Being in the midst of this culture was interesting to me, as Singapore is a vastly different city.
But as a guest to the country, I eventually learnt to recognise and adapt to the dynamics of the culture and appreciate its intricacies. This exchange experience also gave me the chance to visit different places, such as Romania, Serbia and Bosnia — a total of 23 cities and 11 countries over four months, travelling through different parts of Eastern Europe. Romania gave me my first experience with snow, which was a ridiculously chilly yet majestic one, while Bosnia offered a more scenic view of cobalt blue water, and Serbia showed me a raw glimpse into the lives of Serbians with the morning market buzz. On one occasion, I visited the small town of Lublin — often mistaken as Dublin — in Ireland, on the invitation of a couple whom I met in Poland. I stayed in their apartment for two nights and explored their city with them. They showed me what living in a small town of just 348,000 people with a strong community bond is like. This exchange in Zagreb School of Economics and Management has broadened my horizon not just through the extensive travelling, but also the interaction with the different people and their cultures. I was the only one that embarked on this exchange to Zagreb from NTU this year, and being alone definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.
CHRONICLE 05 Annabel Tan Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information Bangkok, Thailand
4 1. EYE-OPENER: The lake along the Laugarvegur Trek in Iceland was among the solo expeditions that Gabriel embarked on. 2. CAPTURING THE MOMENT: Pin Yi takes a selfie before entering a cave in Mostar, Bosnia, after an eight-hour bus ride from Zagreb. 3. DECORATIVE LANDSCAPE: The Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia was the longest single arch bridge in the world for centuries. 4. IN THE WOODS: Annabel soaks herself in the beauty of nature in Ratchaburi Province, Thailand. 5. ROWDY STREETS: Families flock the streets of Ujjain, India during the Pitcher festival, known as Kumbh Mela. 6. WARM ENCOUNTERS: Tze How stops by a shop in Ujjain, India where a family requests for a photograph to be taken. PHOTOS: GABRIEL GOH, SIM PIN YI, ANNABEL TAN, EIAP TZE HOW
Eiap Tze How School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Mumbai, India
was told a few times that I was crazy for choosing India as my exchange destination, with my friends telling me that it is not a safe country. It didn’t come as a surprise that many of my friends discouraged my decision, reiterating these stereotypical views of India based on high profile crime cases covered in the media. But my experiences backpacking across India from Mumbai to Kolkata during my semester at the India Institute of Technology in Bombay proved that these generalisations do not do the country justice. One of my highlights backpacking in India was in Ujjain. I was attending the Pitcher festival, which is held once every four years, and known to be the largest peaceful gathering in the world. I took a 16-hour train ride up north from Mumbai to visit the festival in May, with a German friend. Pilgrims from all parts of India flock towards this small city of about 150 square kilometres for the festival, which lasts a month. It is said that during this month, bathing in the sacred Shipra River, located along the west of the city, will cleanse the body of all sins. To really immerse in the lives of the pilgrims, we took the chance to follow a huge group of them walking towards the river. We walked for about 10km to see the river and the temples along it. Even though the river did not look clean, we decided to take a dip for
the experience. While I am not a religious person and I may never understand their faith, it was quite an experience to be able to witness this festival. The locals were also more than welcoming. On Holi festival night in March, there were only a few shops open, as it was a holiday. My friend and I were roaming the streets in search of authentic Indian food when we came across a man and his daughter sitting by the steps of their house. In an attempt to get directions to a convenient place with good food, we asked his 6-year-old daughter, who could understand English, where we could go. But instead of directing us elsewhere, they invited us to their home with the most heartwarming smile. We could not say no. Climbing up the flight of stairs, I wondered what they might have been planning to do to us. Perhaps we would be robbed for money. Still, my curiosity led me into their humble house, which housed the family of six, but was the size of a typical small hostel room. But their hospitality was topnotch, bringing us food and treating us more than mere strangers. These were the humble ones in India that won my heart. They were not rich but they offered us a portion of their food. As technology becomes more advanced, we tend to forget about finding joy in the smaller things in life. The more we own, the less we give. Despite covering almost 4500km by land, I cannot say that I have seen much of India; yet the experiences have made me more appreciative of what I have in my life.
angkok is littered with popular tourist spots such as Chatuchak and Artbox. But during my semester-long exchange, I realised that there is more to the city than its glitzy street shops and cheap bargains. Instead, what I love most about the city is its grimy, raw side that is often overlooked. The rough, old and dirty set of streets behind Chulalongkorn University’s dormitory was where I frequented the most. It was a rundown area where the paint on the walls had faded and the metal gates had rusted. These streets were lined with old houses, laundromats and roadside food stalls. It was my favourite part of the capital. After school, I would often stroll down the poorly and dimly lit streets, letting my nose take the lead as I searched for new places to dine at. Some nights, they would guide me to smoky grilled meats, and on other nights, I would find myself feasting on fragrant gingerlaced chicken rice. It was also these solitary walks that brought me to local cockfights, where some villagers would put
two roosters to fight and place bets on them, while the other villagers cheered and drank in jubilation. There was a sense of community, much like what I imagined the kampung days of Singapore to be, and I felt at home. The Thais like to say “ja yen yen’’, which means to take things easy. My Thai classmates and other locals I met lived by that mantra, and I started to follow their way of living as well. Unlike in Singapore where the school’s common areas are filled with students’ heads bowed over their notes or laptops after class, the common areas in my Thai university were filled with students playing with the resident golden retriever, ironically named Cat, chatting over ice cream or painting banners for one of their many school events. Very quickly, I saw myself becoming so much happier with these relaxing activities. Before I left for Bangkok, I was afraid I would get homesick and never be able to settle in. But these worries turned out to be unfounded because everyone I met was welcoming and did more for me than I ever expected. The toughest part was not missing home, but having to eventually leave my second home and my newfound friends.
Students from Superfly Monkey Dragons explore Singapore's cityscape through a series of bold parkour movements.
PHOTO: SUPERFLY MONKEY DRAGONS Common Man Coffee Roasters teaches students to create unique coffee art. PHOTO: COMMON MAN COFFEE ROASTERS
The joy of learning Take learning out of the classroom with Lifestyle writer Megan Koh’s recommendations on workshops to spice up your semester.
he daunting add-drop weeks are back to haunt us again. But before we go into a frenzy and panic over the academic units to clear this semester, let us step back and pursue our passions, not just inside the classroom. From climbing walls to making photo albums curated with special memories, the city’s myriad of workshops promises something of interest for everyone. Take your learning to wherever your interest lies. Parkour Superfly Monkey Dragons www.superfly.sg/ Tel: 8381 8710 Prices start from $25 Staying fit can be a whole lot easier when you have a sport that you look forward to. Parkour, a sport that involves running, jumping, and climbing to move from one place to another, is a fun and effective option. The sport originated from the French military’s combative obstacle course training in the early 1900s and is now a sport typically practiced in an urban landscape. With Superfly Monkey Dragons, a parkour academy boasting training locations island-wide, the sport has become even more accessible.
While the action-packed stunts in movies may have led many to think parkour is a dangerous sport, it is in fact quite the opposite. All sports carry risks. But out of the 1,500 classes the academy conducted since 2012, the worst injuries participants faced were scratches and cuts. “The reality is that parkour is just like any workout that you do, whether you do yoga, train in martial arts or go to the gym," said Mr Derrick Siu, 43, founder of Superfly Monkey Dragons. “Parkour is just a workout and it is very safe.” Classes typically run for an hour and start with physical exercises to condition the body before engaging in the movements of parkour. In addition to the varied sets of jumps to rolls taught, students negotiate the different obstacles set by the environment in their own creative way. Mr Siu also believes that parkour can be practiced anywhere. “Every place you go to, the walls are different, the rails are different, and the obstacles are different. So there’s always something new that you can experience in parkour wherever you go," he said. Mr Siu also likens parkour to his childhood days where he playfully roamed around. “We are all familiar with parkour because we used to walk and
jump around when we were kids," he said. “That is parkour — a sport about exploring our limits and pushing ourselves." Coffee-making Common Man Coffee Roasters 22 Martin Road #01-00, S239058 Tel: 6836 4695 Prices start from $150 The trying weeks of school often result in some caffeine reliance but not many of us know about the skills needed to make a good brew. Reputed for its aromatic brew, Common Man Coffee Roasters serves up more than just your daily caffeine. The cafe also has a slew of workshops for coffee enthusiasts to try their hand at making speciality coffee or drawing latte art patterns. The Latte Art Techniques workshop is the most popular class and equips you with the skills to draw hearts, rosettas and tulips during the three-hour session. Alternatively, if you already have an espresso machine, the Home Barista workshop makes for a good introductory course to making first-rate coffee at home. But if these workshops seem like too much work, kick back and let your taste buds do most of the job in the Sensory Skill and Coffee
Knowledge workshop, where you get to try different high quality coffees to expand your taste palette. While future baristas may flock to the workshops because of its practicality, the lessons are designed for everyone regardless of their skill level. “When you participate in these workshops, you’ll get to see an indepth view on what goes inside each cup of coffee you buy,” said Head Barista Mark Chan, 27. “Only then will you appreciate how much effort and love goes inside each cup of coffee.”
Scrapbooking PaperMarket Raffles City Shopping Centre 252 North Bridge Road #B1-27, S179103 Tel: 6333 9007 Prices start from $25 Get in touch with your creative side and show your sincerity by personally making a gift the next time you give a present. Arts and crafts store PaperMarket offers a variety of scrapbooking lessons that are classified into beginner and advanced classes. Ranging from mini-albums to sketchbooks, the string of workshops allows you to put your fa-
vourite photos to good use. “Youths like to take lots of pictures, and with these workshops, you can have a complete album with all the memories printed out and journaled in,” said Ms Merdrey Chew, 35, designer and instructor at PaperMarket. “And if somebody were to give you something like that, it’s a different feeling from receiving a store-bought gift.” The basic classes include lessons on how to make your own albums from scratch in the tie-bound album class or how to create displayworthy mementos with 12 by 12 inch layouts. All the materials are provided, and you even get to take your pick from aisles of embellishments, lettering, pattern papers and cardstock the shop has to offer. Alternatively, you can skip the introductory basic workshops and head straight for the advanced or intermediate classes. While you are allowed to participate without prior background, be prepared for a more intensive session of crafting techniques. From a modern calligraphy workshop that will impart you the ways of elegant lettering, to a travel pocketbook workshop that will make a timely gift for a friend going for exchange, there are many different handmade gift ideas you can choose from.
Last semester, the designs of 16 NTU students were presented in a school lobby turned runway. Inspired by nature, environmental issues and personal topics, the students were challenged to combine technology with fashion in their designs. Here's a peek at what took place on the Techsense Fashion Show runway.
BEHIND THE SCENES: One class, three months, and 16 different explorations of what wearable technology can be. The Nanyang Chronicle went behind the scenes before the School of Art, Design and Media’s Techsense Fashion Show to find out more about the students’ concepts and experience designing their own fashion pieces.
Title: Monochroma Futura Hee Zhi Xiang (Kenny), MAE/4 Model: Adonis Toh
The vest is striking upon first glance, as it embodies polar opposites — the use of black and white, 1s and 0s from the binary code, as well as a mix of traditional methods like hand-sewing and modern techniques such as laser-cut and heat fusing. “I designed this vest for blind people, using infrared distance sensors to alert them of incoming dangers, which will vibrate when activated,” said Hee. “As an engineering student, it was challenging to design due to the different nature of the work, as it required me to draw. My classmates helped me out with areas I’m more unfamiliar with, but I could use my knowledge in coding to help me in my work.”
Title: The Peacock Dress Hanna McLachlan, Exchange student Model: Ezgi Saracogln
Title: The Inflatable Suit Loh Xiu Ming, ADM/4 (left) Model: Toh Wei Xin
Title: True Happiness Ivy Lee, ADM/4 (left) Model: Mabel Koh
Inspired by the puffer fish’s natural defence of morphing into an unpalatable ball to fend off its predators, the Inflatable Suit, when inflated, acts as a cushion to protect its user against direct impact. “When I looked up visuals of disaster zones, I thought about how a garment can keep someone safe,” Loh explained. The suit, made from used plastic bags and organza, uses an accelerator to inflate upon an increase in speed, for example, when running or falling. Loh said: “It was difficult trying to get the right look and texture from the fused plastics, but using plastic bags kept the material cost close to zero.”
To Lee, one of the most special dresses a person can make is a wedding dress, and she thought of this in relation to the aesthetic of glowing jellyfish. “I wanted to express the bride’s happiness through the use of technology by making her dress light up,” she said. A pulse sensor is placed behind the bride’s ear, which senses the heartbeat of the bride, lighting up the dress in different colours when the heartbeat reaches beyond a specific rate. “It was definitely challenging to work with the technology and coding, and also a lot to figure out in terms of how to wear the dress,” added Lee.
Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva teaches the Technology, Art and Fashion Module.
In line with the theme ‘Conceal and Reveal’ set by Asst Prof Galina, McLachlan was inspired by the peacock’s courting ritual of fanning its tail to create the Peacock Dress. It incorporates interactivity with the use of a proximity sensor, as the dress reveals its magnificent ‘tail’ only when the audience gets close. Installed at the belt, the opening of the fan of iridescent peacock feathers is surprising to an unsuspecting audience and is designed to delight and to command attention, just as a peacock does.
Title: Savest Nur Farzana Bte Mohammad Arsad, ADM/4 (above, left) Model: Hor Ke Yan Farzana’s interest in shipwrecks became the inspiration for her two-piece design. To her, it was important to create something both fashionable and functional. “I like to read about shipwrecks, and I learnt that there are usually only sufficient life vests on ships for its crew. Passengers are expected to use lifeboats,” said Farzana. In the vest, there are plastics sewn on the inside to keep it waterproof, a valve that inflates the vest, red lights that serve as SOS signals, and heat pads sewn into the upper piece that are activated by pressure. “I wanted to build something that is practical so that people can relate to it,” said Farzana.
Title: Fireflies Teh Xia Yin, ADM/4 (above, left) Model: Kimberlyn Lee
Fitted with motion sensors and 30 LED lights, and then wrapped around by a thin piece of dead wood called wood veneer, this dress lights up when the person wearing it interacts with others. It is an artful representation of the possibility of a peaceful co-existence between man and nature, with the veneer and lights representing forests and fireflies respectively, whose survivals are threatened by human activities. “One of the challenges I faced was to having to work with whatever materials I could get. For example, the sensors also have to be exposed to work, and so I tried minimising its appearance when embedding it to work around the problem,” said Teh.
hat happens when you mesh technology and fashion together? You get wearable technology — gadgets seamlessly embedded in what we wear. In this one of a kind course — DA9004 Technology, Art and Fashion — offered by the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM), students get to research and experiment with dressmaking and circuitry to design wearable technology. “We always wear clothes so we’ll never forget our gadgets if they are embedded. Now in 2016, we’re even thinking of using our skin as the interface. So textile is a medium to carry the electronics, which is why fashion is one of the most innovative fields. It is the future,” said ADM Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva (above), who teaches the course. Asst Prof Galina also currently helms her own label, Galina Couture, as a designer in couture and fashionable technology. In November, along with her students’ works, she had three of her creations showcased at the end of semester Techsense Fashion Show, which took place at the main lobby of ADM. The students’ efforts were recognised when they were given an opportunity to display their works at the ArtScience Museum, under the museum’s Sunday Showcase series in October. The exhibition lasted a weekend and was opened to the public, attracting more than one
Models closing the Techsense Fashion Show held at the main ADM lobby last Nov.
thousand visitors. In the course, students learnt the basics of electronics and coding, the process of designing wearable technology, and its development. Final-year ADM student Peng Cheng said: “There was a lot of programming involved in the designing. We had to figure out how to amplify the effect of a simple movement, such as waving at a sensor to light up the entire dress. It was definitely difficult to figure out, and required teamwork.” Asst Prof Galina’s emphasis on experimentation and collaboration was evident in the variety of concepts by the students, as well as what went on behind the curtains. In preparing for the show, the students’ friends volunteered to help with make-up, agreed to model the clothes that the students painstakingly sewn together, and even provided input with their technological expertise. Feliciana Natali, a second-year ADM student, said: “It took me five to six prototypes to figure out (my design), because I was working with electromagnetic circuits and it was challenging. I had to collaborate with two of my friends, who are engineers, to work out the problem.” Asst Prof Galina added: “It’s a synergy between different fields. It’s engineering, bioscience and medical science — everyone’s efforts are incorporated into wearable technology. So it’s no longer one designer to a particular fashion piece; it’s a collaborative effort.”
Layout & Photography on Pg 11: Gary Khoo Studio Photography on Pg 12-13: Lu Shijia Text: Desiree Ng Special thanks to Assistant Professor Galina
Front Page Models: From top: Tan Li Xuan, wearing her own design; Hor Ke Yan, wearing a design by Nur Farzana Bte; Ezgi Saracogln, wearing a design by Hanna McLachlan; Melissa Low Jia Min, wearing her own design; Yue Simin, wearing her own design; Daphne Cheng, wearing a design by Tong Qian Ling; Kimberlyn Lee, wearing a design by Teh Xia Yin; Adonis Toh, wearing a design by Hee Zhi Xiang; Feliciana Natali, wearing her own design; Kimberlee Ang, wearing a design by Ang Hwee Chieh; Toh Wei Xin, wearing a design by Loh Xiu Ming; Peng Cheng, wearing her own design; Mabel Koh Yi Wen, wearing a design by Ivy Lee; Ong Xin Hong, wearing her own design; Beverly Goh, wearing her own design; Teh Xia Yin, wearing a design by Tho Shi Yee.
Nude model Sharmeen poses in front of first-year students from NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media (ADM) for a core module that teaches figure drawing.
The Naked Truth While most steer away from displaying nudity in front of strangers, 35-year-old model Sharmeen shares with photojournalist Valerie Lay how baring it all plays an important role in her learning process as an artist. Encircled by drawing benches in the centre of a chilly room, Sharmeen (not her real name) — having disrobed to stark nakedness — adopts a pose, her face devoid of expression as more than 20 students meticulously sketched her form on newsprint paper. It has been six years since the 35-year-old started modelling nude at NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media (ADM). Every student enrolled in ADM is required to take core modules Foundation Drawing I and II for the first and second semester respectively. Basic skill sets on observational drawing — such as figure drawing, which require nude models as a study of human form — are taught in these courses. Sharmeen had taken up nude
modelling as a sideline to supplement her income from being a freelance videographer. Apart from Sharmeen, there are also other male and female models who take part in the course. Each would pose for 20 to 30 minutes in the four-hour tutorial, changing poses every five to 10 minutes. During these sessions, Sharmeen would take the time to focus on her breathing and mentally work on her videography assignments. She finds that this side gig as a nude model complements her main profession as a videographer. “Modelling sessions across various art schools in Singapore have helped me to learn better on design aspects such as form, composition, structure and more, which helps me in my videography works. It’s like
a free art education I can’t afford,” said Sharmeen. “Being part of these sessions has given me a kind of education any art student in Singapore would not have gotten, but in my opinion, should,” she added. To Sharmeen, drawing a nude model helps an artist to learn about anatomy, contours and proportion through the way light is cast on the body. It serves as a learning tool, yet it is commonly misintepreted or categorised with erotica, she added. “There’s a distinctive difference between nude art and erotica. Nude modelling comes from (a position) of strength, where it serves as a tool to educate. Whereas for erotica, the subject is seen as vulnerable hence there’s a strong division between both.”
In her six years of nude modelling, Sharmeen has received her fair share of unpleasant memories.
“There’s a distinctive difference between nude art and erotica. Nude modelling comes from (a position) of strength, where it serves as a tool to educate. Whereas for erotica, the subject is seen as vulnerable hence there’s a strong division between both.” Sharmeen, 35 Model To her, one of the toughest aspects of being a nude model is get-
ting paid late. “Because we’re not seen as professionals or as people with bills to pay. It’s not funny,” said Sharmeen. Furthermore, as nude models are required to bare all, they also have to deal with insults and criticisms about their bodies. “There was once I was modelling nude and this man started insulting my body in Mandarin, calling me skinny and disgusting to draw. He was clueless that I understood everything,” she said. “As a woman, one has to be in control and accepting of her body, which, I find, many don’t.” She is also careful of the people she tells about her side job, only choosing to share this with her close friends. “My close friends who know
Top: Sketches done by a first-year year student as part of the foundation drawing class. Live drawing also takes place in various art modules under ADM. Bottom left: Foundation Drawing lecturer Mr Don Low, who has been teaching the class for six years, giving advice to his student during an in-class consultation for final submission. Every foundation year batch has roughly eight classes that hold 15 to 20 students each. Bottom right: Students make sketches of Sharmeen, who switches her pose every five to 10 minutes as part of a half-hour session.
tend to get very curious and ask me questions like, ‘What do you do when (you are) itchy? Or when you need to fart?’ I tell them I just do,” she said. Despite it being a secondary source of income, Sharmeen has taken a lot more from the job. “A cool thing is also that I end up being close friends with the people I meet in this sideline,” she added. Recalling a particularly memorable episode, she said: “(Once,) I was totally nude with just Lady Gaga makeup, wig and shoes. The session was three hours long, and her songs were playing on loop. “After the session ended, students were running to me and saying, ‘Oh my God! You really look like Lady Gaga!’, and that was really unforgettable.”
Sharmeen fully clothed before the next class. The models usually change into clothing that can be removed easily and only strip just before the 20-minute session starts.
Self-improvement critical in new year Given the tumultuous nature of 2016, one could be forgiven for hoping things move at a slower pace this time. Yet it appears the only thing set to proceed at a snail’s pace is our economy. In 2016, the economy grew by between 1 percent and 1.5 percent, based on early estimates, and this year the Government expects growth to remain between 1 per cent and 3 per cent, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his New Year speech. Singapore is small in size but of far greater economic stature and has been consequently affected by global events. Slow economic growth is hardly surprising, given the magnitude of events like Brexit and the US election results last year. What we must not do, however, is ignore what is happening in the world around us. As Mr Lee also stated, “our best choice is to stay open, to continually reinvent ourselves”. There has always been talk of how self-improvement should be a constant and life-long process, but the reality could not be truer this year — especially for university students preparing to enter the workforce. As of September last year, 0.8 per cent of Singaporeans and
permanent residents in the labour force were jobless for at least 25 weeks, up from 0.6 per cent in 2015. The unemployment rate for degree-holders rose to 4.3 per cent last June, from 3.5 per cent in 2015 – the highest since the 2009 global financial crisis. We can ill afford to rest on our laurels. We have to adapt to the circumstances and changes surrounding us, instead of staying in our comfort zones. A major problem cited by youth career development portal Glints last year was a growing skill gap between graduates and the jobs they apply for. For instance, a huge demand for technology workers is not matched by the supply of candidates, said Glints co-founder and chief executive Oswald Yeo. It is, however, never too late to upgrade ourselves, especially with the bounty of opportunities available in university. Try an internship or even parttime opportunities that might seem unrelated to your major. Treat those electives you take in school as something more than academic units to clear. It is good to be an ace at one thing. But being a jack of other trades could boost your chances at nailing a fulfilling job.
CHRONICLE CHIEF EDITOR
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Unsigned editorials represent the majority view of the editorial board of The Chronicle and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of Nanyang Technological University, its employees, the students or the Council of the University. Signed opinion columns, letters and editorial cartoons represent the opinion of the writer or artist and are not necessarily those of The Chronicle. Printed by KHL Printing Co. Pte Ltd, 57 Loyang Drive, Singapore 508968
GRAPHIC: FIONA LIM
Travelling forges family bond Jasmine Koh
hree years ago, I realised how terrified my mum is of flying. At 51, she still has irrational fears — of terrorists blowing up planes and terrible mid-air turbulence — that send her into a frenzy. During our first trip to Hong Kong in 2013, I noticed how she never chooses to sit by the window. Despite the stares, she takes time to pray before take-off. Her only coping mechanism is to snooze while we are in the air. I did not know how to react, so I simply observed. In 2014, I discovered my paternal aunt’s penchant for snoring when I bunked with her in our hotel room; the only way to resolve this was to change her sleeping position. It was a new — and awkward — experience for me, having to cradle my sleeping aunt in my arms in order to ease her long-drawn, persistent snoring. It dawned on me, then, that age is catching up on her. In 2015, I discovered how awkward guys can be when told to smile for photographs. As we began to document our trips through photography in South Korea, I concluded that my brother just doesn’t like or want to take pictures. More importantly, I realised only then that I had not even been taking close-up photos with him over the past years. Last year, all seven members of my immediate family headed to Taiwan. These trips abroad together in the past three consecutive years have made me understand that
while we cannot control the passing of time, we can create opportunities to spend that time meaningfully with one another. Travelling, in general, means a lot to me. It provides moments that my family capture, store and laugh about in retrospect. I still vaguely remember the excitement and buzz that filled the dining table when my paternal aunties first raised the idea of travelling together. The older folks realised that the three of us — my older brother, 21, younger sister, 16, and myself, 20 — were no longer young children, which makes going for overseas trips more feasible. But independence comes with somewhat of a price. There are times when I am struck by how infrequently my siblings and I gather for our weekly family meals, often kept away by a friend’s birthday party, a church meeting or a training session. There are weeks that go by when I do not see my aunt, since we do not live together. It is painful knowing you are unable to make time for them because of other commitments, rather than choice. Over the years, my siblings and I have grown complacent to the fact that our loved ones are growing older, just as we are. We can no longer enjoy the meals we have missed with them. Whenever I pass Japanese restaurant Ichiban Boshi at Plaza Singapura, I am reminded of a time when my aunt would take leave out of her busy work schedule to accompany us to the cinema before heading for a meal there. But these
days, we only meet once a week, and even then, it is hard for everyone to be present. As such, we make opportunities to spend time together by travelling abroad. Travelling has become our shared milestone, our common denominator; something that we intentionally make time for to enjoy one another’s company. I often forget that time with my family is like a tree. Give it sunshine and you will see the fruits of your labour, but ignore it and you will see the consequences of fruitless branches and withering leaves — that is, relationships growing stale. Travelling is, thus, my milestone every year. Being abroad forces my siblings and me — all of us tech-savvy and social-hungry youths — to abandon our frequently-updated social media feeds and chat groups. Travelling has the magic ability of bringing the family to the dining table together time and time again. “(Travel) is for all who believe that ‘want’ means ‘can’,” wrote The Family Without Borders, a blogger family of four with two young daughters who completed a sixmonth-long, 20,000 km road trip across 11 countries. They aim to inspire families with children to travel without worrying about the hassle, and focus on achieving travelling milestones. Travel is never about the destination; rather, it is all about time spent together. After all, what good is a beautiful journey if we have nobody to share it with?
What anger can turn you into
Do you believe in making New Year’s resolutions? If so, what do you hope to achieve in the year ahead?
I don't do New Year's resolutions. I would rather make small goals instead. One of which is to study more consistently this year. Janessa Woon, 19 NBS, Year 1
I want to be more consistent in my studies and manage my time better. I also hope to spend more time with family and friends. Khairuddin Rosly, 22 MAE, Year 2
When I return to Sweden this year, I hope to run another marathon. My ankle is injured at the moment, and I have to create a training regime and train harder to be well enough to run. Sara Stegare, 22 Swedish Exchange Student, CoE, Year 3
I hope to graduate with a Second Upper Honours degree and get a good job, hopefully immediately after graduation. I’m interested in working in the business sector. Lydia Ong, 22 MSE, Year 4
GRAPHIC: ALFRED YEO
fter an argument with my brother, my living room reeked of talcum powder for an entire week. I had, in a fit of ire, smashed a small bottle of said powder against the wall. Sadly, these incidents sometimes happen as a result of pure instinct. This was just one of the more recent incidents where my anger reared its ugly head. Now, I am not justifying it. But while many may only see the moment of anger, the aftermath for the person dealing with it is more excruciating than some might think. For the next few hours, I remember crying and feeling regretful, guilty and embarrassed. Of course, my family often discuss anger management with me. While bringing up the topic would ironically make me angry all over again, my perception of handling it has changed in the past few years. I had started to observe the irreversible impact of anger on my relationships when I was in my first year in junior college. Looking back at a lost friendship in secondary school, I realised how short-sighted I had been over a passing comment on an unfavourable habit of mine. I had been unnecessarily defensive, even launching into a personal attack on the friend who had made the comment. I brought up past grievances, and it quickly devolved into an irreconcilable mess. A moment of rage was all it took to put an end to a three-year-long strong friendship. The concept of rage is expressed by Thomas J. Harbin in his book ‘Beyond anger: A guide for men: How to free yourself from the grip of anger and get more out of life’.
He said that rage is the “tendency to react with instant anger”, something that is not a response to any specific event. “When you react to more and more situations with anger, it becomes your habitual response. You may often find yourself furiously yelling or seething inside without even knowing what it was that made you angry,” he further wrote. These words resonated with me because this described my behaviour every time I got angry. The turning point came when I met the friend I had fallen out with during an event at my junior college. It was then that I realised the impact my anger had made. I decided it was time to change. I tried a couple of different tactics; the most popular advice on anger management you can find on the Internet is to walk away from the situation, calm down and then come back only when your anger has dissipated. I have taken refuge in movie theatres to avoid interaction with anyone for a few hours. While it does feel good at the time, it did not help to release my anger. In my opinion, avoidance is by far the worst tactic to use when a person is raging. Anger does not vanish when you focus on something else. It just continues simmering underneath your skin until it is resolved. Instead, my best strategy to date has been to identify possible sources of conflict and tackle them before an argument starts. Confronting a conflict before it actually happens can and has backfired on me multiple times, especially when the intent is not communicated properly. Hence, the success of this strategy, I would say, lies in how one manoeuvres through the conversation.
But the one thing that I realised was that it got easier every time. It got simpler to identify sources of conflict because I was able to control myself and my emotions better. It got easier to talk to people around me. And it was better to reach a compromise without lashing out. If a particular habit of someone you know irritates you every single time, do not wait for the moment when they do it again or when you are in an already foul mood. Address it when the thought pops in your head and the mood is lighter. It makes a huge difference in the way the conversation goes and there is a higher chance of achieving a win-win situation. They say words are the most destructible weapon one can unleash in times of anger. And I am no exception to it. You cannot take back what you say in the heat of the moment, and I am guilty of causing serious hurt because of that. There are so many words I would like to take back and countless instances that I would like to relive. However, when simple actions can make a difference, it is definitely worth the try. In trying to win the argument, my anger has made me lose over and over again. It has proven time and again to be a personal weakness. The thing about anger that not many realise is that while others may get hurt from an outburst, the damage to the person holding on to it can be even more severe. As such, this quote by American writer Mark Twain is one that I keep in mind whenever I try to hold back my anger. “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." I could not agree more.
‘Sports halls’ seize advantage Some players secure their hall stays in “sports halls” via recommendations from seniors, while others are scouted before they enter the University Khairul Anwar
ere hours after being accepted into NTU in March 2015, Kwek Muhammad Danial already knew which Hall of Residence he would be staying in during his first year of study. The 23-year-old national hockey player had been offered a place in Hall 16, one of four “sports halls” in the University. “Sports halls” are halls that have consistently performed well in the annual Inter-Hall Games (IHG). According to the sports secretaries from these halls, their captains use connections made during junior college or polytechnic days to pull in freshmen before hall applications take place. By pulling in these freshmen who can already play well in their respective sports, the sports halls continue to have a good showing at the IHG Halls 2, 3, and 6 have dominated the IHG standings for the past decade by consistently finishing in the top three, with reigning champion Hall 3 retaining the top spot for the last eight years.
Hall 16 entered the fray in 2014, breaking into the top three when they finished in second place overall, a feat that was repeated in the 2015/2016 season. “Before I received the letter of acceptance, my senior in Hall 16 already knew I was applying for NTU and told me to inform him when I received the letter, so that he can pull me into the hall,” said Danial, a first-year School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student. “So when I got the letter, I told my senior and he contacted his hall’s sports secretary, and by the end of the day I had secured my spot in Hall 16,” he added. “It was my natural choice, since Hall 16 had been champions for hockey in IHG for the past four years.” Hall 16’s sports secretary, Lynette Lua, 19, said this method of pulling freshmen in is not uncommon among sports halls and has been done for years.
National hockey player Kwek Muhammad Danial (left) was sought out by his senior to play for Hall 16 once he was accepted into NTU.
The first-year student from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences said: “After IHG ends in February, the sports secretaries will ask all their captains if they have any juniors that will be coming to NTU and are interested in staying in hall. In turn, they wouldplay for that hall during IHG.
“Before I received the letter of acceptance, my senior in Hall 16 already knew I was applying for NTU and told me to inform him when I received the letter, so that he can pull me into the hall.” Kwek Muhammad Danial, 23, Hall 16 hockey player “There are even cases where these freshmen who were pulled in continue to stay in hall for their
second year and carry on to pull in their own juniors,” Lua added. For example, Hall 3’s men’s football team comprises three generations of players from Meridian Junior College (MJC). MJC has won seven championship titles in the last 10 years in the A Division Football Championships. With the ex-MJC players, Hall 3 has consistently finished in the top four in the IHG for football and clinched the championship last year. According to Derrick Lim, 23, the sports secretary for Hall 3, the captains help ensure the continued success of the sports hall. “I let my captains and team managers run the show when it comes to pulling in freshmen. They know their juniors best and I trust their judgment,” said the second-year student from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
More than just recruitment
But winning titles is not all about pulling in freshmen, said Janna Lim, 23, captain of Hall 3’s women’s hockey team in 2013 and 2014. Hall 3 has been champions of women’s hockey in the IHG for five
years in a row, despite pulling in only about three freshmen a year. “Our hockey players usually stay on in hall throughout their university education, so we can afford to pull in only a couple of players every year,” said Lim, who has been playing for the national hockey team since 2012. On top of the team’s usual training sessions, the players also watch videos to analyse gameplay situations to improve. “Watching these videos will expose us to new scenarios on the pitch and how to deal with them. This especially helps to develop our newer players,” said the postgraduate student at the National Institute of Education.
Training integral to success
For Hall 6’s men’s football team, training is the key to their success. They begin their training earlier than most halls — starting the first week of school — and have training sessions at least twice a week. Last semester, they held a two-day football training camp during recess week. “We won’t have full attendance
PHOTO: KERH POH CHONG
for every training session but everyone has the desire to train hard and win games. The atmosphere in training is very intense,” said 23-year-old Logaraj Arumugam, a second-year student from School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and member of Hall 6’s men’s football team. This dedication and discipline helped the team place second in last year’s IHG, after being semifinalists for years. Amos Tan, 22, a Hall 14 resident, believes that it is up to the other halls to train even harder to “topple the halls that have good influx of players every year”. “Yes, there is a disadvantage, but it really depends on how you want to view it. If you want (to win) hard enough, the thirst to win the sports hall would be a strong enough motivation to get things going,” said Tan, a second-year student from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. If this practice of pulling in players continues, it could take a while before a non-sports hall finally breaks the monopoly of titles from the “sports halls”.
Returning students gear up for IVP The annual Institute-Varsity-Polytechnic (IVP) Games see students from 12 local tertiary institutions compete in various sports. While NTU’s teams have been training throughout the previous semester, some student athletes had less than ideal preparations before the Games, which started on 7 Jan and will end on 26 Jan. Sports writer Fiona Mei Robinson speaks to two athletes who only had less than a month to prepare after returning from their overseas exchange programmes
SHAKING OFF THE RUST
PHOTO: ZHENG JUNCEN
The IVP Games will be a major shift in gear for table tennis player Caselyn Wong, who was on exchange at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, last semester. Wong, 23, did not join the school table tennis team in UNSW as members were required to pay for trainings and to join competitions. As she could not commit herself fully to the team there, she decided to stick to noncompetitive games. “Even though I was able to play table tennis (in Sydney), I played more for leisure, or to coach my friends who had no table tennis background,” said the final-year student from the Nanyang Business School. “Training for competition and playing leisurely is totally different, as I get to be more laid back when playing with friends.” Wong is no stranger to the Games, having competed in them since her first year of study. She is also currently the vice-captain of the IVP team. The NTU women’s table tennis team has consistently performed well in the IVP Games, clinching the championship two years ago, and finishing as runner-up behind National University of Singapore (NUS) last year. While her NTU teammates were training thrice a week since the start of December, Wong only managed to play a total of about seven times since July, when she visited her friend’s hall of residence in Australia, which has table tennis facilities that are free to use. “I would say that one of the biggest hurdles was regaining my physical fitness and mental strength,” said Wong. “My table tennis experience in Sydney alone was definitely insufficient preparation for IVP, because I didn’t have a coach there and thus didn’t have proper trainings.” Wong added that table tennis, being one of the fastest ball games, requires players to have quick reactions and undivided concentration when receiving the ball — a skill that she did not practise during her exchange. In a bid to regain her previous form, Wong attended the NTU team’s rigorous training sessions as soon as she returned, less than a month before the start of the new table tennis season. “I would say my standard definitely dropped as compared to my teammates who trained consistently and my body is still not used to training competitively after taking a hiatus from table tennis for close to 11 months,” said Wong. To prepare the team for the season, trainings often included friendly matches among the players or with external clubs and schools such as Jinan University from China. As the IVP Games draw closer, Wong will take up extra training sessions offered by her coach to hit the ground running when the competition starts.
BACK TO FIGHTING FIT
PHOTO: MUN YONG JIAN
National basketball player Jabez Su has been racing against time to recover from an injury and reach full fitness before the start of the IVP Games. The third-year student from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering sustained a depression fracture and a full cartilage tear in his left shoulder during a match against Thailand in the ASEAN University Games in July. He then had an operation on his shoulder just three days before he left for his overseas exchange programme in August at the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway. “Initially, I wanted to experience the new basketball culture (in Norway), represent the school and play their version of IVP,” said Su, who plays as a small forward. “But because of my injury, I had no choice but to take a fivemonth-long break.” The 23-year-old only resumed playing in November, when he began training with OSI Basketball, an Oslo-based basketball club for students. Trainings were held two to three times a week, with each session lasting for about three hours. Although he had just returned from a serious injury, Su was eager to rejoin the high-intensity and competitive training sessions. “This is the right approach towards trainings — being hungry to get better each session. This was the best takeaway for me, as the competitive environment was a healthy place to nurture players like myself,” said Su. Su, who also participated in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games, returned to Singapore late last month, less than three weeks from the start of the basketball IVP season on 11 Jan. Despite being unable to compete in Norway as the team’s players had already been registered in the amateur league, Su trained with OSI’s A and B teams — the top two of the club’s four teams — during his stay there. Su’s experience with the OSI Basketball team helped him regain some of his stamina and ball sense as he trained with larger and more physical players. But above all, he was anxious to return and train with his NTU teammates once again. “Although I didn’t get to meet our opponents during SUniG (Singapore University Games), I’ve had the chance to play against them in outside clubs and competitions such as the National Basketball League, held annually for the best local clubs,” said Su. “My main worry is how to gel with the current team, who just won the SUniG Championship.” After consecutive fourth-place finishes in the last two IVP Games, Su hopes to make a substantial contribution to the team and win them the championship this year.
Crew behind the scenes The sports industry is fronted by globally recognised athletes. But they only make up a part of the population, with many non-athletes needed to keep the industry going. Sports writer Natalie Choy speaks to two NTU graduates to find out what they do to bring out the best in these sportsmen.
Ms Janice Lim enjoys going the extra mile as a sports massage therapist to help patients with their treatment.
s a sports massage therapist, Ms Janice Lim’s duty extends beyond the four walls of her clinic, bringing her to places like the National Stadium and Marina Bay. The 40-year-old was assigned to the Canadian rugby team during the 2016 Singapore Sevens — the Singapore leg of the 2015–16 World Rugby Sevens Series hosted at the National Stadium in April. Ms Lim worked tirelessly to give the 14 players on-site massages to keep them in their best shape throughout the tournament. “It was interesting to meet and work with international sporting athletes and get to know how they take care of their bodies with rehabilitation and other preventive measures,” said Ms Lim, who graduated from NTU with a Bachelor of Arts with Diploma in Education in 2001. “(As athletes), they put their bodies in greater physical stress compared to the rest of us.” Sports massages are crucial as they can speed up muscle recovery, she added. As a canoeist and dragon boater with the Singapore Paddle Club, Ms Lim also doubles as an unofficial sports massage therapist for her teammates, who competed at the DBS Marina Regatta and the Singapore Ocean Cup in May and October respectively this year. When she is not doing on-site massages at sporting events, Ms Lim can be found at City Oste-
opathy & Physiotherapy located at Robinson Road, where she works alongside osteopaths, physiotherapists and naturopaths, who are general practitioners specialising in natural medicine, to get her patients into “as pain-free a state as can be”. This includes working out tense muscles and assisting them with stretching, she said. Ms Lim also advises her patients on proper self-rehabilitation. “I believe in educating my patients in daily self-care to help with their muscular well-being and posture and pain management,” she said. Ms Lim had been a spa therapist since 2007 but made the career switch three years ago. She felt that being a spa therapist did not provide “enough job satisfaction” and believed that she could use her skill set and experience to help injured athletes instead. Said Ms Lim: “I was getting bored working in the spa environment. Guests mainly come in for relaxation and sleep. They expect a full body massage in about an hour and if there were areas that were more problematic, I (would be) frustrated that I didn't have the time to fully address it.” But being a sports massage therapist now gives Ms Lim the opportunity to meet patients with varying problems. “Every patient I see presents different problems or different responses to treatments,” she said. “I
PHOTO: JANICE LIM
derive a lot more satisfaction and joy giving a more remedial and therapeutic treatment (compared to a spa massage).” “I feel there's so much more about the human body I can learn and be of more use to help.” Nuturing the next generation For Mr Gavin Lee, even 12-hour work days do not dull his greatest passion — coaching. A typical day begins at 9am for Mr Lee, who is currently a football coach and the general manager of Junior Soccer School & League (JSSL) Singapore — a private football school affiliated to English Premier League giants Arsenal. The 26-year-old, who graduated from NTU with a degree in Sports Science and Management in 2015, usually leaves the office at 9.30pm. As general manager, Mr Lee oversees the administrative work within various departments. This includes the coaching programmes, training schedules, players’ development as well as local and international football events. On the coaching front, he facilitates daily training sessions in accordance to the Elite programme, a curriculum tailored to meet the needs of players in the top teams. He also prepares weekly handouts, filled with technical and tactical information, for the players. These handouts are further supplemented with video examples to help players better understand the
various skills involved. The JSSL Elite Academy — pioneered by Lee in 2014 — constitutes the top teams in each age category — from Under-8 to U-16 for boys, and from U-9 to U-13 for girls. “I started the JSSL Elite Academy to provide a more conducive environment where players can grow and develop more quickly, basically taking football to another level,” said Mr Lee. He is currently the coach of three boys teams in the Elite Academy — U-10s, U-12s and U-14s. “(Coaching) takes up a lot of time, but it is totally necessary to ensure that the players are receiving the best coaching and continue learning and developing under the (Elite) programme,” said Mr Lee. Mr Lee discovered his passion for coaching eight years ago, sparked by his interest in football. “I really love football and thoroughly enjoy watching and analysing a match,” said Mr Lee, who was part of the NTU football team throughout his four years in University. “The intricacies of tactics have always intrigued me.” He kick-started his coaching career as a junior assistant coach with JSSL in 2009 and was tasked to spearhead the girls’ soccer programme three years later. “We started with 10 girls in my first class and I am very proud to say that we have over 200 girls playing the sport here now,” said Mr Lee.
He added: “I have always enjoyed working with players, in an attempt to make them better and to go through each season (with them) — it is a journey that is never straightforward.” In 2014, Mr Lee secured an internship with Warriors Football Club — a professional football club in Singapore. He assumed the role of assistant coach of the first team shortly after his internship. “The experience that I got from that couple of seasons was priceless, as I was working with senior players on a daily basis and was really out of my comfort zone,” he explained. Despite the long working hours, Mr Lee remains unfazed by the demands of his job. He feels most satisfied when he sees progress in his players — in both football skills and character. One of Mr Lee’s U-14 players has been signed by Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon — Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo’s former club, while others under his charge were also invited to train with English clubs Arsenal, Fulham, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Mr Lee expressed his delight at the opportunities that his players have gotten. “This news is the best recognition of my work from the last few years and that is the nature of my role — preparing for success that might only arrive years later,” Mr Lee added.
Mr Gavin Lee has coached players who have gone on to join or train with some of Europe's top football clubs. PHOTO: GAVIN LEE