Issuu on Google+

LUMEN TH E ST. J O S E P H ’ S I N STI TUTI O N MAGA Z I N E

www.sji.edu.sg

June 2014 • Issue 7


LUMEN | THE ST. J OS E P H’ S I NS TI TU TI ON M AG A Z I N E

Contents Lumen is Latin for light or lamp. It also means clearness and understanding. We hope this magazine will throw light on the people, programmes, and philosophy of SJI. Whether you are a student, a teacher, a parent, an old boy, or just someone who supports the school, may what we have to say help you understand the school and what it stands for and perhaps shed a little more light onto your path on the journey that is life.

1 2-5 6 8

| | | |

9 | 10 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 20 | 21 |

From the Editors SJI Through the Lens A School of the De La Salle Brothers En garde! Our first ever A Division Team of Fencers Did SJI Proud The Triumphant Overcomers The Gymnasts Produced a Sterling Performance Making Reading Fashionable The Inaugural SJI Book Week The Momentous Diamond Anniversary Come, walk the Stations of the Cross In Conversation with Prof Tan Chorh Chuan and Mr R. Rajaram Julian Tan: Troublemaker Turned Humanitarian Advocate Learning Support Officers (LSOs): The Important People Behind The Scenes Glen Paul Lee: Passing on ACTS Moses Law: Junior Josephian 2013 Reflections of a Sec 1 Parent

On the cover: The exuberance of the senior school students at SJI’s new home in Bishan captured by Carina Lim, was part of the publicity efforts for the SJI Carnival 2014 'Home'.

The LUMEN Team Advisor

Dr Koh Thiam Seng Editors

Daisy Chia and Eliza Lim Design & Production

Jerry Tan (Paschal East Design) We welcome your input/feedback. Write to us at contact@sji.edu.sg subject: LUMEN Lumen is a publication of St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore. © 2014 SJI. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission of the copyright owner.

CONTRIBUTORS: Staff: Brother Paul Ho, Chew Sung Luan and Eliza Lim Students: Ng Zhi Wei Eugene, Tan Jia Xin, Kwok Jun Wei Joel, Oh Wei Jin, Claire Chong, Micaela Leong, Gillian Chai, Shaun Koo, Olivia Chew, Esther Kim, Marc Koh, Marc Elliot Lim, Timothy Hue, Gabriel Lim, Koh Hun Yi, Gareth Huang. Alumni: Patrick Mowe and Flo Yeow Jian Hao Parents: Nazir Keshvani, Valerie Lim and the Parents Support Group (PSG)


M E SSAG E | LUMEN

From the

Editors 014 marked another new year for all but it

took place at the amphitheatre - a common area

was also a year of adjustments, perhaps

which many of us have grown to love.

2

apprehension and uncertainty for some,

if not, many in the SJI community. Beginning the academic year on a new site,

Lasallian values of Faith, Service and Community cannot be taken away regardless of where the

albeit temporary, did not necessarily put people at

location of the school campus is. They remain

ease. Thankfully, as the year progressed, we, as a

strong as conveyed by a number of articles

community, learnt not only to adapt but also

featured in this issue of Lumen.

appreciate and enjoy our new space. This

This page: The four fraternity captains and their corresponding colours representing "HOME" - theme of the SJI Carnival 2014, by Ng Zhi Wei Eugene

SJI is not made of sheer bricks; the

Whether you are an alumnus, a parent of a

increasing fondness for our new environment is

child in SJI or merely a friend of SJI, we hope

captured by the cover photo as well as the scenes

you have caught on to the distinct spirit of our

(morning assembly, Hair for Hope, etc) and

school, if not, we hope you will do so after

programmes (SJI Book Week and Carnival) that

reading this issue of Lumen. Ora et Labora.

1


2

LUMEN | EVENTS

SJI Through

The Lens

captured by SJI students and staff

Welcome to SJI!

Community Morning assembly at the amphitheatre a favourite spot of for many at the Bishan holding campus

Tranquility The grotto by the calming koi pond


E V E N T S | LUMEN

Action Exercising and having fun at the expansive playing field

Cheer The Blue Fintans and Red Michaels getting ready to march into the 106th Track and Field Meet act as a morale booster for the athletes in their fraternities on 7 March

3


4

LUMEN | EVENTS

Courage Being baldsy for the children stricken with cancer on 21 May

Before

After

Harmony A bird's eye view of the the SJI Military band harmonising to melodies tunes together during Renaissance XIX on 6 April

Talent Putting their creative genius together, the senior school wowed the audience with their version of Midsummer Night's Dream at SJI Short Shakes on 20 March


E V E N T S | LUMEN

Building Bonds Cheerful parent volunteers at the SJI carnival Home on 5 April

Support Getting a lift during the Sec 1 Orientation camp on 15 January

Introspection Reflecting on Jesus being laid in the tomb at one of the Stations of the Cross on 11 April

For more news on what’s happening at SJI and our alumni, log on to www.sji.edu.sg (News)

5


6

LUMEN | PRO GRA MME S

A

School De La Salle of the

Brothers

By Brother Paul Ho

When Saint John Baptist de La Salle was invited to help run the charity schools started by Adrian Nyel, it was clear to him that the key to success of these schools was to create three “locks� that would function simultaneously. They were a theology of the teaching profession; a religious rule to bind the teachers together as brothers; and teaching methods tested by the teachers.


PRO G R A M M E S | LUMEN

n his lifetime, the Founder wrote meditations

functions … Study extends and increases

St. John Baptist de La Salle that we are invited

and letters instructing and supporting his

personal ideas through a broad-based and

daily to be open to pedagogical innovation

Brothers in the teaching profession, each time

intelligent understanding of other people’s ideas

balanced with the pragmatism of common sense.

reminding them that God has called them to be

… it teaches a teacher intellectual modesty and

This means for us in the present that all of us in a

“guardian angels” to the “children entrusted to

leads him to question his own professional

Lasallian school are called to be positive in their

their care.” The Founder reiterated strongly the

competence; it inspires him to make changes in

undertaking for personal and professional

theology of the teaching profession particularly in

himself, so that he can progress from being

advancement.

his meditations for the time of retreat. Apart from

adequate to become better, and then to be good

his meditations, there was a document called

… Education is progressive.” This document

citizens, prophets and professionals, who bring

“The Conduct of Schools.” This was a day-to-day

supports the founding vision and mission of

the transforming power of the Gospel to bear on

I

“Lasallian education forms disciples and

guide for the Brothers on how to conduct

every human endeavor in order to realize God’s

themselves in the classroom, especially relating

kingdom of truth, justice, love and peace.”

to their students. After the Founder’s death, this

(Principles of Lasallian Education)

document had several revisions made to it so as to meet new challenges in education. As such, the Brothers should not allow themselves to lag behind in their professional duties. The need for constant personal and professional growth was always in the forefront for the Founder and his successors. The Educational Bulletin of the Christian Schools (August 1914) states: "The student of education brings with it the advantage of making one avoid routine, of freeing one’s mind of preconceived opinions, and of renewing in the teacher a taste for very noble but monotonous

Lasallian education forms

Our mission is to give a human and Christian education to the young especially in

disciples and citizens, prophets and professionals, who bring the transforming

schools, with the service of the poor. We now see

to bear on every human endeavor in order to realize God’s kingdom of

is ready to serve his/her fellow brothers and

power of the Gospel truth, justice, love and peace.

that our schools have a “broader” meaning, they have become a place for programmes with activities to help young people to make a difference in society. To be a servant leader who sisters in society promoting peace and justice. A school of the De La Salle Brothers can be summed up as “opportunity,” “challenge,” “trust,” “vocation” and “community”.

7


8

LUMEN | PRO GRA MME S

En garde!

By Oh Wei Jin

Four formidable fencers fought for SJI, and fought hard, they did.

014 was the inaugural year when

“I felt great. All the effort I’d put in

SJI sent a team of four young men

2

had paid off,” said Oscar, on his win. He

from the SJI Senior School to

also mentioned that he felt a great sense

participate in the A Division National Inter-

of achievement and purpose as he had

Schools Fencing Championships. Two of

worked hard leading up to the

them achieved podium positions in their

competition.

respective events. Oscar Loh (TG 04), Gha Joon Su (TG

When asked to comment on his victory, the other medal winner,

01) and Oh Wei Jin (TG 06) participated in

Christian, intoned, “I was happy about it

the Boys’ Épeé event, with Oscar Loh

because the previous two years I hadn’t

emerging champion, while Gha Joon Su and Oh

done well.” His smile certainly spoke volumes

Wei Jin were placed 7th and 16th respectively.

regarding his performance this year.

Christian James Lim Wei Rong (TG 07)

Having only four members in the team was

participated in the Boys’ Foil event and attained

not daunting to the SJI Senior School Fencing

2nd runner-up. The fencers' impressive

team, after all they managed a creditable finish,

performance earned SJI the 4th place ranking in

beating other schools with bigger established

the overall A Division Boys championship.

teams. Clearly, size doesn’t matter. But skills do.

It was perseverance that earned Oscar his 1st place medal, as in the early part of the final match, Oscar suffered a leg cramp right after scoring a point against his opponent. However, he tenaciously overcame the pain (thankfully the timely 10-minute break afforded him a chance to recover) and quickly went back into battle to end

I felt great.

All the effort I’d put in had paid off. Oscar Loh

the match with a score of 15-13.

This page (top): Oscar (second from left) standing tall and proud This page (centre): Christian (third from left) delighted with his third placing This page (bottom left): Our fine fencers Wei Jin, Oscar and Joon Su This page (right): Oscar sharing about his win


PRO G R A M M E S | LUMEN

The

Triumphant Overcomers

From 1st - 4th of April, the SJI Artistic Gymnastics team participated in the National Inter-School Artistic Gymnastics Championships 2014. Our boys went in with high hopes and an indefatigable spirit, after putting in immeasurable amount of effort and energy into training sessions.

By Marc Koh

The B Division boys produced the most outstanding results of all, winning all 8 possible Gold medals, including the Division Title, along with 4 Silvers and 2 Bronzes. Individually, Han Guang, Marc and Jotham brought home the overall 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, with scores of 57.084, 56.201 and 55.817. “It’s the first time that SJI has ever won the B Division title,” Han Guang commented. “It has really been an honour to be part of this team and to have done SJI proud.”

he C Division Novice Team comprises:

T

Zon Liew (Lawrence 103), Zac Liew (Lawrence 102), Iain Lim (Lawrence 102)

and Wesley Lim (Marcian 101), and another two members taking part in the C Division Optional Event: Toh Pei Qi (Lawrence 202) and Ethan Low (Marcian 201), while the B Division Optional Team: Keefe Cheong (Michael 402), Marcus Teo

SJI had beaten HCI by a distinct margin of

It’s the first time that SJI has ever won the B Division title, it has really been an honour

to be part of this team and to have done SJI proud.

(Michael 203), Jotham Tan (Fintan 303), Ryan

Han Guang

against formidable opponents such as defending giant, Hwa Chong Institution. The odds were stacked against the SJI team. Having faced the lack of a proper training venue a year ago when the gymnasium at the Malcolm Road campus was converted to house the Senior School students, Captain Keefe said, “We were worried that we weren’t prepared enough as the current training ground was lacking some of the essential equipment.” However, SJI like the proverbial dark horse, emerged victorious, upsetting the odds and the sceptics. The C Division Novice Team won a total of 9 medals: 6 Bronzes, 2 Silvers and 1 Gold. The C Division Optional boys clinched 2 Bronzes, 4 Silvers, and 1 Gold.

we tried our best to get minimal deductions for our routines to make sure we stayed ahead in the competition,” quipped Jotham. Such a victory was not just a historical moment for the gymnasts but a testament of their sheer determination and tenacity to overcome the unfavourable circumstances that they faced and their impeccable teamwork.

Lee (Lawrence 302), Han Guang (Fintan 404) and Marc Koh (Fintan 401), the gymnasts fought

19 points. “Things worked out perfectly for us, as

This page (bottom): Our jubilant gymnasts

9


10

LUMEN | EVENTS

Making

Reading Fashionable

By Marc Elliot Lim

There was a constant buzz of activities at the amphitheatre: teachers and students reading, interesting characters tempting passers-by to delicious reads. All these signalled the launch of SJI Book Week. he inaugural SJI Book Week came to an

T

end, albeit too quickly. Though it was the first week of term two and everyone was

still in the holiday mood, all the students and staff were very excited about participating in the Book Week activities from 24 - 28 March 2014. From a small seemingly casual discussion in the English Talent Development classroom, ideas

This amazing opportunity has helped me to realise that people

still care for books

and there are many young people out there still reading.

opined, “This amazing opportunity has helped me to realise that people still care for books and there are many young people out there still reading.”

were shared, excitement and enthusiasm ignited leading to the actualisation of an official event

by people. Even, Marc Lim (Lawrence 303)

Marc Elliot Lim

One of the most loved activities voted by the

which became a resounding success. One of the

Talent English boys was the Readathon. Classes

Talent English students, Brian Loh (Fintan 302)

came from the four corners of the school to

commented: “The idea of having a Book Week

This opportunity for both the students and

compete in the very first ever Readathon

stemmed from the teachers in conversation,

the teachers who participated in the Book Week

Competition. Champions were born as the

which in turn was caught on by the students and

was amazing. Many who read over the two days

competition just kept getting more intense and

eventually materialised into a real and

had an enjoyable time while helping to remind the

exciting. Jonathan Soong (Lawrence 304) who

challenging project.”

audience that books are still loved and appreciated

was in charge of the event concluded, “I think it was the most effective activity that the school has had to make - students pick a book and read. The fact that the English teachers supported it and brought their classes down for the event really helped.” Besides the Readathon, there were also other activities. Besides Mr Josh Chin, a Wall Street journalist based in Beijing, giving a talk about writing newspaper articles, there was also Book Election Speed Booking. The last event evolved from the idea of Speed Dating through which the Talent English boys decided to have a little fun and dressed up as their favorite book


E V E N T S | LUMEN

characters, who went on a date with students and teachers who were passing by the amphitheatre. Speed Booking certainly brought the characters within the books to life and perhaps even sparked off a genuine interest in or even love for these characters. Mohammad Shafiq Anshad (Michael 303) added: “I enjoyed Speed Booking the most as it involved the whole TDP (Talent Development Programme) English class. Not only did it offer excitement to the participants, it was an important bonding session for the class too.” Fatigue set in after a week-long of activities

This page (top): Secondary One students came fully prepared for the Readathon

and planning, but the Talent English boys came

This page (left): Duo Mrs Mishaelle Chua and Mrs Elizabeth Scott (teachers in charge of the Talent English students) reading an extract from Of Mice and Men

back from a mission, a mission that was successfully completed with results that went beyond expectations. Many teachers were very impressed with the event, given the little time the boys had to prepare it. Our very own principal Dr Koh Thiam Seng had this to say: “Such studentinitiated projects are indeed what 21st century learning is all about. I certainly hope that amphitheatre is used not only by the language

Facing page (top): Mr Lim Meng Chye enthralling his students as he read in Mandarin

and mother tongue teachers but also by the other

Facing page (bottom): Book Election: Voting for their favourite book

subject areas as well.”

This page (above right): Dracula ‘nailed’ a victim in Speed Booking This page (left): The attentive audience during the Readathon at the amphitheatre This page (bottom): Captivating his audience during Speed Booking

Such student-

initiated projects are

indeed what 21st century learning is all about. Dr Koh Thiam Seng

11


12

LUMEN | EVENTS

Class of 1954

The Momentous

Diamond Anniversary By Partick Mowe

Ten years ago the the Class of 1954 met to celebrate their 50th anniversary. This was followed by the Diamond (60th) Anniversary celebration on 17 May, 2014. ost of the 1954 cohort joined SJI in 1946

M

We took the first steps towards independence

as the school reopened after the Second

as part of Malaysia, then riots broke out, followed by

World War. SJI admitted students much

the withdrawal of the British forces. Eventually there

older than normal into classes according to their

was a political separation from Malaysia that still

level for the English language and arithmetic. Rapid

lingers.

promotions of the students were common for those who were home schooled. Some emigrated to Australia or Canada. Many found their first jobs as teachers in the 50s. The Class of 1954 had a fair share of educators who built up the ‘pioneer Nation’ because they came from good quality mission schools. This generation saw the setting sun of the British Empire. Then came the Rising Sun of Japan,

Finally this generation took the reins of independence and bore all the worries of Nationhood. But we took it in our stride fearing no one and conceding to no one. We made our luck. At this function, we recognised that we have to take care of our classmates who are no longer as strong physically as they were once. It was with lumps in our throats that we extended a hand to our

flexing its muscles in the Pacific and causing the

disabled classmates who did not make excuses for

Russian Navy in 1905 to lose its dominance.

their circumstances. Helping them gave the Spirit of

We endured the scarcities and cruelties of the Japanese occupation for two and a half years when

SJI true meaning.

Seated L - R Wong Loke Jame (Teacher,Author, Counsulor, SIA Airline Stn. Mgr) Low Yong Kee (Teacher), Ernest Wickramasinghe (Teacher, Naval Commander) Pang Boon Seng (Rotarian, Businessman) Raymond Ambrose (Teacher Australia 25 yrs +Singapore 20 yrs), James Tseng (Latin Teacher 1954 & Scout Master), Bro. Paul Ho (Sector Leader, All La Salle Brothers Singapore Guest of Honor) Lester Tan (Teacher), Moses Tay (Teacher), Fr. Paul Pang (Redemptorist), Peter Thong How Soon (Teacher, Philosopher), William Chee (Civil Servant, SPH) Standing L - R: Patrick Mowe (Head Prefect ’54, Best All round Teacher TTC ’57, CEO MPH Group) Daniel Choong (guest La Salle Org.), Anthony Tang, James Rodrigo, Peter Colaco (Teacher, Humourist), Denis Distant (Banker, Voice of Small Investors), WST, Ng Fook Lam (Doctor, sings cantonese opera, golfer) Anthony Mak, Low Siew Thiam (Head Prefect 1955, Chairman Global Leadership Forum, Journalist, Adjunct Prof. Turiba Univ. Latvia) John Yip (Head Prefect ’55, Teacher RI, Director of Education), Granville Gross (SJI Soccer First XI)

... everyone thinks of money, works and toils to earn money. But

money is not the most important thing in life. Have enough

money to sustain life, one’s basic needs, maintain a decent life.

Helping those in need will make one a happy person. One

should never measure anything in terms of money.”

The Class of 1954 produced many educators

our fathers had to bow before the heads of beheaded

and leaders who have gone on into commerce. Now

Singaporeans along Anderson Bridge.

we need the vocations to give back to SJI their sons.

Peter Thong How Soon


E V E N T S | LUMEN

Come, walk the

Stations Cross of the

By Valerie Lim

Over the Lenten Season, 14 crosses were installed around the school, each with its own message and perspective on the passion of Jesus Christ. he installation project was an exercise of

On Friday 11th April, the Catholic

love and hope. Candles were also left at the foot

reflection and prayer, put together by

T

community came together to walk the Stations of

of crosses as a symbol of prayer and dedication.

students, teachers and parents. Each

the Cross around the school campus. “Holy

Friar Michael intoned, “If you remember someone

installation was creative and thought-provoking,

darkness…blessed night …” echoed through the

who has helped you, as Simon did, you may wish

sited in various corners of the school: by the

corridors and through the garden, warming hearts

to leave your candle in prayer for the person…”

walkways, under staircases and around the

and welcoming the Holy Spirit. More than 100

Cross after cross, the candles were left, dedicated

garden corridors.

people came; teachers, Josephians, their families,

to people who have touched our lives, people

friends, students from other schools, each taking

less fortunate than us, people whom we wish to

turns to read or carry the cross, remembering the

pray for.

final walk Jesus made to Calvary. At each cross,

The evening closed with the final hymn’s

Friar Michael D’Cruz read some of the reflections

refrain, “His sacrifice on Calvary … has made the

written by Josephians. Some nailed their “sins”

Mighty Cross a Tree of life for me.” It was an

to the cross; others expressed the despair of the

evening shared in love and hope as we entered

fallen, still others chose to highlight gratitude,

into Holy Week, with renewed excitement yet quiet anticipation of the Lord’s resurrection.

This page (top left): Reflecting at the cross This page (top right): Singing while walking to each station This page (bottom left): A reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us at the cross This page (bottom right): In quiet reflection

13


14

LUMEN | JOSEPHIA NS

In

Conversation with

Professor Tan Chorh Chuan and Mr R. Rajaram By Claire Chong and Micaela Leong

With the first batch of International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) students about to graduate at the end of 2014, we capitalised on an opportune moment to ask Prof Tan and Mr Rajaram some pertinent questions regarding university application for IBDP students.

n 30th April, we were fortunate enough to

O

have the opportunity to interview SJI alumnus Professor Tan Chorh Chuan,

President of National University of Singapore (NUS) and Professor of Medicine, as well as Mr R. Rajaram, Director, Office of Admissions, NUS. We took this opportunity to ask them questions about their opinion of the IBDP, as well as mollify some of our students’ concerns, such as how GCE ‘A’ Levels compare to the IBDP, and how the standard of teaching is maintained across NUS faculties.


J O SE PH I A N S | LUMEN

When asked about their overall impression

We prioritise teaching very highly:

every professor is expected to teach and to teach well.

Professor Tan Chorh Chuan

... they adapt well, they’re managing the rigours of NUS, and coping very well, facing

the challenges - as good as any other student. So, if anything,

we notice they’ve been prepared very well Mr R. Rajaram

responded that NUS “[doesn’t] see [them] as IB

of an IB student, Mr Rajaram responded

and ‘A’ Levels”. He observed however, the

positively, saying that IBDP students go above

acceptance rate of IBDP students has been

and beyond school work, are critical thinkers, as

inching upwards as of late due to more schools

well as ready to face challenges. Requirements of

offering the IBDP, but there is no quota set yet for

the IBDP curriculum, an example being the

IBDP students. His advice to IBDP students who

Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) hours,

are keen to apply for the more competitive

propagate the importance of proactiveness in an

faculties is to ensure they score more than 40

IBDP student. Mr Rajaram also mentioned the

points although he qualified this is still not a

possibility of the Extended Essay teaching

guarantee they will be accepted.

students to read beyond their curriculum. IBDP

When the issue of university ranking - based

students possess important attributes that are

on teacher quality - was raised, Professor Tan

needed in university, such as the willingness to

Chorh Chuan responded, “We prioritise teaching

learn independently, and a positive attitude. From

very highly: every professor is expected to teach

what his observations of the IBDP students

and to teach well.” At the point of recruitment,

currently studying in NUS, he noted “they adapt

NUS looks at teaching records, and teachers give

well, they’re managing the rigours of NUS, and

a seminar or two, where feedback on the quality

coping very well, facing the challenges - as good

of teaching will be given based on that seminar.

as any other student. So, if anything, we notice

There are also teaching programmes in the NUS

they’ve been prepared very well.”

Centre for Development of Teaching and

The burning question perhaps on many

Learning, to orientate foreign teachers to the

IBDP students’ mind - Is there a separate queue

teaching context in Singapore. Student feedback

for ‘A’ Level and IBDP applicants? Mr Rajaram

after tutorials and lectures are also taken into

clarified NUS indeed had different application

consideration. Majority of teachers have positive

criteria for various curriculums, especially since

feedback; only a handful are the exception. “NUS

NUS accept students from around the region,

pays a lot of attention to that.” He continues,

who come from diverse education systems. The

“And teaching is given a very high priority.”

spectrum of criteria for local applicants includes

Finally, Professor Tan ended the interview

‘A’ Levels and IBDP, as well as other NUS-

with a few words about NUS. NUS is a university

recognised curriculums, such as polytechnic

that has a flexible set of academic programmes,

diplomas, and the NUS High School diploma.

as well as connections with many global

Admission officers consider applicants along

organisations. Partners who can give students a

with peers from the same curriculum. At the same

very strong academic experience are chosen by

time, admission officers do not necessarily look

NUS. Moreover, the university is well-linked to

at academic preparedness alone - they also

many top universities around the world,

attempt to evaluate whether the applicant has the

preparing its students to be ready to engage with

ability to learn and adapt. In some faculties, such

the rest of the world. He cited that 70% of their

as medicine and law, blind interviews are

students go overseas for exchange programmes.

conducted to assess applicants for such personal

With its connections and prestige, NUS is

qualities. When asked if there is a specific quota

extremely well-acknowledged around the world.

on the number of students with IBDP

“Anywhere in the world,” he concluded, “you’ll be

qualifications being admitted, Mr Rajaram

held in high regard with an NUS degree.”

15


16

LUMEN | JOSEPHIA NS

Troublemaker Turned

Humanitarian Advocate

By Gillian Chai and Shaun Koo

An SJI alumnus of the Class of 1989, Mr Julian Tan was a self-proclaimed troublemaker in school. The former Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) commando has made multiple trips to the Philippines over the last year, to bring aid to the Filipinos whose homes were ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan that destroyed many parts of central Philippines when it struck in early November 2013.   is time in the SAF Special Forces led him to

H

aircrafts and vessels, his contributions have proven

not just do it for the sake of doing it.” He believes

high-risk locations in the Asia-Pacific region

him an invaluable asset to the Haiyan relief efforts.

that when you show people compassion, they will

his eyes to the plight of the many people who suffer

volunteering in the Philippines. He had been on

innately resonate with them, such that they will start

every day in the countries around us. Children who

numerous evacuation missions, yet he claimed that

treating other people the same way. Thus this

were filthy, homeless and starving roamed the

no other disaster he has encountered has come

creates a multiplier effect, spreading the kindness.

streets instead of attending school. Having seen the

close to the destruction that Haiyan had caused. The

You and I are that one person, who has the power to

deprivation that the less fortunate undergo regularly,

sight of people reduced to setting their homes in

create a chain effect that will spread far and wide.

he was spurred to action. His compassion made him

zinc sheds and even cardboard boxes in the

So what advice would Julian give to the youth

the philanthropic “man for others” that he is today.

Philippines is one that he is no stranger to.

in SJI? His “personal mantra” is, “We make a living

where he carried out evacuations, opening

This, however, is not Julian’s first time

understand what it is that you do and that it will

by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” To

In the Philippines, although the wealthy have

Although experienced in this field of volunteer

the financial ability to leave the country and escape

work, Julian’s efforts were not without struggles. In

Julian, it is definitely more important to live a life

the destruction that Typhoon Haiyan left in its wake,

his opinion, the hardest challenge was the fund-

which we are remembered for being a person who

the rest of the locals, many of whom live in squalid

raising, especially with the increasing suspicion and

gave generously and selflessly, than to be one who

conditions, have to endure the terrible predicament

cynicism that people view monetary donations.

ended up lost in a paper chase, and forgot about the

with which fate dealt them. The knowledge that there

However, Julian does not allow such issues to deter

people around. Taking time to slow down and reflect

were so many people who were desperately in need

him from doing his part to rebuild homes in the

about why we do what we do, and in the midst of all

of aid was what prompted Julian to visit the

Philippines. By approaching his friends and family

the praise and accolades, we must remember the

Philippines and begin the slow process of

first, then his acquaintances and business partners,

“last, the lost and the least,” even as we surge to

rebuilding people’s homes and lives. His project

he slowly but surely built up the trust necessary to

greater heights.

“Homes for Hope”, aims to help all the 11 000

secure enough funds to begin his work.

people whose homes were destroyed by the typhoon. Julian is convinced “without proper shelter,

Another obstacle that Julian encountered was striking a balance between his work and the volunteer project. In order to fully commit to the

there is no way that people are able to cope or

project, he sacrificed much of his valued time at

provide for themselves.” Realising the need for the

work. Though it was another massive burden placed

people in the Philippines to receive immediate

on his shoulders, he has no regrets and considers

shelter, he took full advantage of his connections

the sacrifice “well worth it”.

with security networks which enabled him to

He feels strongly that compassion is

transport relief goods further and deeper than most

something that comes from within, from purely

other relief organisations have managed to. With the

altruistic intentions. “Be compassionate, do

This page (top): The best part of the job - seeing smiles on the children's faces

aid of the local military, which provided him with

(everything you do) because you want to do it and

This page (bottom): Julian (second from left) packing supplies along with other helpers


J O SE PH I A N S | LUMEN

The

Important People Behind the Scenes by Timothy Hue and Gabriel Lim

Commonly known as the LSOs (Learning Support Officers), they do more than support the students in their learning endeavours but also play a crucial part in ensuring the new campus at Bishan was habitable for both students and staff as they study, work and play on the campus.

hey played a significant role in preparing the

T

Bishan holding campus as the school moved from the Malcolm Road campus in

December 2013 – ensuring classrooms were equipped and safe for use, rearranging the layout of the canteen tables so that the dining experience can be more comfortable for all, and even painting some of the corridors. The LSOs have been an integral part of SJI administration, working closely alongside with the school staff, so that everyone could have a more conducive learning and working environment when the new school term begins. So, who are these behind the scene warriors, and what exactly do they do? LSOs are old boys of SJI, who are primarily deployed to run the Learning Support Programme established to provide academic support to weaker students and supervise or assist their learning. Last year, the LSOs solely planned and led the Orientation Week for the inaugural batch of Junior College (JC) students in SJI. Like big brothers to

This page (top): Aik Seng, Roy and Peter This page (left): Peter coaching some of the secondary school boys

the younger Josephians, they also play the role of

for their GCE ‘O’ Level examinations and the LSOs

safety and activity facilitators for the Secondary

have been present to render their assistance, to

One Orientation Camps and Secondary Three

ensure that the students are provided additional

Camp TABA (Together and By Association). We

resources to learn even better. Whether it is their

had the opportunity to interview the LSOs – Tan

contributions to curriculum or Student

Aik Seng (Class of 2008), Roy Quek and Peter Ooi

Development Programmes, it is undeniable that

(Class of 2009) to understand in greater detail

over the years, LSOs have become valuable assets

about their motivations. More importantly, why

to SJI.

would these young adults who have so many more

As Aik Seng, currently a Political Science

interesting things to pursue return to a school they

undergraduate at NUS, aptly opined: “LSOs are the

have since graduated from?

recipients of much charity from the school senior

Unsurprisingly, their answers were unanimous – love for their alma mater. They all

good for the institution and her students alike. To

wish to give back to SJI which had showed them

share this charity is what we aspire to do. To us,

much kindness and educated them to become men

being an LSO was much more than a job – it was a

of integrity, humility and responsibility. “SJI

call to service, and this opportunity to contribute

nurtured me,” volunteered Roy during the

was our response.”

interview. Peter ascertained it was important to Peter is reading liberal arts in Yale-NUS and Roy will be studying medicine in Ireland.

leaders, who have trusted and enabled us to do

kindle this fire – the fire of service and leadership. The Secondary Four students are preparing

So let us always bear in mind the impact our LSOs have made on the school, and draw inspiration from their passion and zeal to serve.

17


18

LUMEN | JOSEPHIA NS

Passing By Esther Kim and Olivia Chew

ACTS

on

What started out as an involuntary trip turned into a passion for serving the needy in society that would motivate him to return year after year. As a result, Glen Paul Lee of Lawrence 401 ended up serving with ACTS for the past seven years, but he is not complaining. In doing so, he has been inspiring his peers to take up this cause as well.

CTS began in 2006 when a small group of

A

will head to Cambodia and visit the same school

after which he does an assigned task with the 3 Don

parishioners from the Church of Our Lady

located in a village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh

Bosco schools and The Missionaries of Charity

Queen of Peace in Singapore went to share

called Phum Chreh. The main mission trip itself

Home for HIV children. The task can include various

the joy of Christmas with the students of Don Bosco

usually lasts for about a week. As a mission

activities like running medical and dental clinics,

Phum Chreh School in Cambodia. Since then, this

participant, Glen attends early daily morning mass

educational programmes, dancing classes, cooking

small parish-based initiative has grown into a year-

classes and packing love parcels for the children

round multi-parish programme that culminates in

and poor families. At the end of the day, all the

the annual advent missions where several hundreds participated in 2013. ACTS has a holistic programme that involves not only the mission participants but also tries to involve locals from all strata of society and religious persuasions to empower them so that they can eventually take over the running of the multiple projects which includes medical, clean water, providing food for thousands of children and poor families. Glen first joined ACTS in 2007 when he was nine years old, so last year would have been his seventh year. The then reluctant participant joined ACTS because his parents volunteered him. He dreaded the trip. However, it turned out to be such an amazing first experience that his interest for

People are always

constantly searching for happiness, and many think that happiness is brought about by wealth, fame, etc... I believe that it is

only in giving that we receive true happiness, joy and satisfaction, because

we know that we’ve made this world a better place.

Thla School. What challenges does Glen face during such trips, if any? There are a few. A main problem is the language barrier he encounters with the Cambodians. Whenever he tries to communicate, it is very difficult because most of them do not understand English, much less speak English. This becomes frustrating at times but he usually overcomes the difficulty by using hand gestures and having volunteer translators to help him. It is also physically tiring as he feels his energy being drained by the end of every day. Despite the difficulties, there are many factors that make Glen look forward to the trip every year. One major lure is the Cambodians. Although they

mission work was ignited. Now every advent period, before Christmas, he

participants gather for reflection and dinner at Teuk

Glen Paul Lee

have so little, they are able to enjoy life as it is. They


J O SE PH I A N S | LUMEN

I also strongly

believe that the virtues extolled by our founder De La Salle is perfectly exemplified by ACTS mission trips. These trips are about selflessness, sacrifice and putting others’ needs before yours.

show gratitude for every little gift they receive, no

His friends had always wondered why Glen

matter how small it may be. Moreover, when he is

talked so much about ACTS like how a girl cannot

serving them, he feels a sense of joy. He also gets

stop describing how handsome Zac Efron is, or a

very attached to the children in the school and know

boy discussing how skilful football player Wayne

many of them by name. Whenever it is time for him

Rooney is. When that happened, he would grab the

to leave the children and the school, he admits he

opportunity to tell them more about ACTS. He

will start tearing. He misses them dearly.

underscored, “I didn’t even have to persuade them

Evaluating the impact of these mission trips on

why not use whatever talents you have to bring joy to others?

to come, they just decided on coming themselves.”

his life, Glen said, “I feel that it was only after the

There are already a number of Josephians who

past few trips that I have gained a deeper sense of

have participated in ACTS. He added, “I also

maturity; only then did I start to reflect on my life."

strongly believe that the virtues extolled by our

These mission trips caused him to form a different

founder De La Salle is perfectly exemplified by

perspective of life. He reflected, “All my life, I’ve

ACTS mission trips. These trips are about

been taking and taking but not giving enough to this

selflessness, sacrifice and putting others’ needs

world. People are always constantly searching for

before yours. God gave us talents to make this

happiness, and many think that happiness is

world a beautiful place, so why not use whatever

brought about by wealth, fame, etc. However after

talents you have to bring joy to others?”

having achieved all these, many end up feeling

God gave us talents to make this world a beautiful place, so

ACTS is a great opportunity to experience

Muslims. Those interested to participate, can check out the website (http://www.acts-singapore.com).

empty and dissatisfied. I believe that it is only in

overseas mission work, and it is open to anyone of

Glen aptly summarises how he feels about his

giving that we receive true happiness, joy and

any religion. Even though it is a multi-parish based

involvement with ACTS, “I feel that I am benefitting

satisfaction, because we know that we’ve made this

mission program, there are a significant number of

from it more than the Cambodians are.” –

world a better place.”

non-Catholic participants, including the occasional

encapsulating a verse from the bible: “It is more

Another indelible impression these trips have made on him is: “How little it

blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

took to make these kids happy. They are always laughing and giggling, posing for pictures or just running up to me and tickling me; this is a stark contrast to the sullen faces of many Singaporeans who have all the imaginable creature comforts.

Facing page: All the ACTS participants

The happiness that I derived from reaching

This page (top): ACTS participants enjoying the Cambodian children's company

out to them or what I call ‘The Joy of Service’ can only be experienced and not narrated.”

This page (centre): Thumbs up for our hearty meal This page (bottom): Glen, third from right, in a group shot with other ACTS participants

19


20

LUMEN | JOSEPHIA NS

Junior Josephian 2013 By Koh Hun Yi and Gareth Wang

Junior Josephian: smart, polite, charismatic, exemplary, Lasallian and... Who wouldn’t have such a mental picture of the recipient attaining the most prestigious award in lower secondary? pon interviewing the Junior Josephian of

Now, he views computing as an interest of his past,

2013, that impression changed. Somehow, it

while his “passion for music is growing.”

U

became one that was more human.

Junior Josephian Moses Law, from the class of

As the interview progressed, it became evident Moses will live up to his biblical namesake. Like his

Michael 201, did not provide the usual cliched

predecessor, a firm believer in God, who tried his

speech about himself being so honoured to receive

best to live up to His teachings and developed an

the award. He was also frank, sociable and jovial.

intimate relationship with his Maker, the only thing

A gamer who counts the League of Legends as

this Junior Josephian cherishes more than his pals,

an avenue for relaxation, Moses enjoys physical

is his relationship with God. He attributes his being

activities too such as frisbee or soccer with his

chosen as Junior Josephian to the fact that he is

friends, and relishes the opportunity to bond with

“committed to God and the Lasallian values”. Now,

them. During holidays, he will go on class or CoCurricular Activity (CCA) outings with his mates. It can be a movie, sports or even a simple meal to catch up with ex-classmates. Even though he admits with a laugh, his organizing skills may not be perfect while underscoring, “I still try my best to develop this invaluable relationship with my wonderful friends!” When quizzed about how he views friendships, he opines, “I try my best not to offend [my friends] and I just try to build bridges and not burn them. Some people just end their relationship with [their] friends after they separate, for example, after primary school. I try my best to catch up with them.” Another common misconception of a Junior

he has a new goal for 2014, he stated unequivocally: “Strengthen my relationship with God and be ready to help my friends.” He adds added, “If I see my friends in need, I will go the extra mile to help them.” Moses certainly has an intent to live the Lasallian values of Faith, Service and Community. Recalling the moment when he received the award onstage in front of the whole school community, the feelings of nervousness and stress not the only things that were quite overwhelming. The indelible image - “many eyeballs staring at” him - and a sense of “all the expectations getting higher” were also intimidating. But he quickly stated that stress is good as it would help him develop his

Josephian awardee, is that he is very physically

potential and improve his performance. With that, he

active, and is most probably a sportsman, or has

appealed to the SJI communityv, “I hope that they

strong interests in sports. Contrary to that popular

will treat me as an equal - a fellow Josephian and

belief, Moses has a keen interest in the cyber world.

friend.”

In fact, Moses joined Robotics in primary school,

It is apparent Moses does not want to be

and actually aspired to join the Micromouse CCA in

placed on a pedestal but wants to remain

Secondary One. However, he was allocated a spot in

approachable to his juniors, peers and seniors; after

the SJI Military Band (SJIMB) - his fifth choice.

all his philosophy of “being a leader is not just

Though he was not enthusiastic about the placement

about leading. It is also about following and you

then, his feelings towards SJIMB have since

have to learn to do both. If you want to be a leader,

changed in the two years he has been a bandsman.

be a servant leader.”


J O SE PH I A N S | LUMEN

Reflections Secondary One Parent of a

By Nazir Keshvani

world (once national service is out of the way).

irst of all, I have to confess;

F

orientation and he was nervous

I missed most of the

about making new friends. His

activities that my son Kiran

fears were unfounded. The

not know what to expect of the orientation camp.

Keshvani (Fintan 102) was

camp he attended as part of the

However, he made friends easily with his peers as

involved in during the orientation

orientation made him feel at

well as with the peer support leaders (PSL). He

camp as I had my hands full with

home and helped inspire a

learned to recite cheers and participated in games

work. You see, Kiran graduated

sense of belonging. He made

that emphasised co-operation such as one where

from St Joseph’s Institution

new friends easily. I was glad

they were required to transport plastic bags filled

Junior last year (2013) and is

he adapted well.

with water by balancing them between their bodies

Dillon went on to be a

now part of the 2014 Secondary

Like his brother, Kiran told me initially he did

without using their hands.

One cohort of St Joseph’s

member of the school fencing

Friar Michael D’Cruz’s talk on living as a

Institution (SJI) at Bishan.

team and has a few National

community in SJI left an impression on him. Friar

Inter-School Competition medals under his belt. In

Michael also used a song with different tones and

Orientation Programme on 17 January 2014, when

addition, he plays the guitar and is part of The

got the boys to dance along as an analogy. In the

the badge pinning ceremony was held. One of the

Roses, a rock band formed with a few of his school

end, Kiran enjoyed the camp and made some

highlights was a short video that depicted a

mates. The band was often

compendium of images and highlights of the

called upon to perform

Kiran has a lot

orientation camp experience, with the song “Good

during school events,

going for him. Following

Time” by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen playing in

notably the Teachers’ Day

in his brother’s footsteps,

the background.

concert, and represented

he has signed up for

SJI at the 2010 Performing

fencing as a Co-

joyful bonding experience that Kiran must have

Arts Festival organized by

Curricular Activity. Kiran

undergone at the camp. I even caught glimpses of

the Co-Curricular Activities

is an aspiring writer and

Kiran in the photo montage. The camaraderie and

Branch of MOE.

thespian, a magician-in-

However, I did make it to tail end of the Parent

Watching that video, I got a sense of the

joie de vivre were palpable.

lasting friendships.

training and a proficient

I recalled feeling a

My thoughts went back eleven years ago

sense of pride during the 158th Speech and

drummer. It remains to be seen if he will win some

when my elder son, Dillon, was going through the

Graduation Day ceremony on 2 October 2010

fencing medals or form a band, but already he is

same process. It was the year 2007; Dillon was

when Dillon and his schoolmates commemorated

on track to match, if not outdo his older brother.

making the transition from St Michael’s School

the end of their secondary school journey. He has

(SJI Junior as it was known then) to SJI.

grown up to be a well-adjusted individual, a

You see, as an old boy of the Christian Brothers School (CBS) and the De La Salle

confident young man ready to take on the

I look forward to the day when Kiran, like Dillon, graduates in his fourth year from an esteemed institution of learning at the redeveloped Malcolm Road campus. One thing for sure -

fraternity, I wanted my sons to undergo the same

regardless of the physical location of the campus,

educational journey. My wife, Rukmani and I

the SJI spirit of brotherhood and comradeship will

wanted them to benefit from a holistic

always prevail.

education system that gave equal emphasis to academic excellence and character development. Dillon told me he had feelings of apprehension and anxiety before the

This page (top): Kiran (front) thoroughly enjoying adding colour to his Sec 1 classroom This page (centre): Dillon receiving his graduation certificate from Guest of Honour Mr Gerard Ee This page (bottom): Kiran (left) and his dad, Nazir

21


St. Joseph’s Institution A School of the De La Salle Brothers Holding Campus (2014 - 2016): 21 Bishan Street 14, Singapore 579781 Telephone: (65) 6250 0022 Facsimile: 6253 3640 Electronic Mail: contact@sji.edu.sg Website: www.sji.edu.sg


Lumen 1 2014