5 a.m. on the beachfront. Perching precariously on the edge of a jagged rock, I look out across the deep, humming waters and marvel at my own swelling wonderment as it rises and ebbs with the tides.
What is it that allows the iridescent turquoise waters to evoke such reverential devotion in us? What is it that makes the sea lie so incorrigibly resonant with our emotional senses? What is it that lets the shimmering mass of polar compounds stir up such nostalgic sentiments in our hearts?
One could attribute the strange affinity to the sheer majesty of the oceans – a body that is all at once stagnant, yet vibrant; constant, yet mercurial; ubiquitous, yet elusive. The appreciation for its beauty could be somewhat innate – but whatever it is – it is this outwardly display of grandeur that causes us to reflect inwardly on the comparatively minute thoughts that ricochet off the inconsequential walls of our minds.
Perhaps it was the early hours of the morning that was conducive to reflective thought, or the blessed escape from the blistering heat and petty struggle of Singapore, or the company and the situation (it was all rather surreal- hard to imagine that we were all spending time in Batam together as part of a new council!)- but it certainly gave me a lot to think about.
A mere two days assuredly altered my perception of myself, my peers, and most of all – our council.
I never quite believed in leadership camps or retreats – the only purpose they served was that of boosting a C.V and handing students a fabricated ‘opportunity to lead others’ (a.k.a. push them around and feel like you’re in charge). This council retreat, however, was wildly different. It gave us a chance to realize our potentials as student leaders and to recognize the unique talents and witness the stunning capabilities of our peers. Through the myriad of activities that prodded us into challenging ourselves (even without realizing it, perhaps), it elucidated – to a certain extent – the vast untapped potential of our own capacities. Prior to the retreat, I never knew that I had the mental ability to conjure up an impromptu speech on the spot – and abashedly enough, nor did I realize that the other nine could do so. But we all did without hesitation, as with all the other challenges. A certain confidence and self-assuredness had arisen in each and every one of us – a confidence that found its source in the wordless support and assurance that held our council together.
The wide array of talents and the strength of the team made it all the more harder to decide on our President and Vice after what seemed like a very long (yet incredibly short) day. After well over 20 rounds of voting, I think it is suffice to say that we were incredibly thorough in our decision process. Nothing was obscured that night – what we thought of each other was thrown out on the table and considered with maturity and detachment. What propelled us forward, perhaps, was the humility to look critically upon oneself and upon each other without taking things personally. And so when we arrived at a result – regardless of what we said or discussed – we knew that we all supported each other and we believed in our council.
I think, at the end of it all, the most paramount realization was that of how well our council worked together.
The fluidity of our discussions and the efficiency of our conversations were absolutely seamless. There was a purpose and a cause – and we set out to do it together. Together. Clearly and heartwarmingly exemplified by our cohesiveness outside of activities – our trip was dotted with little pockets of free time, and in that time our council was virtually inseparable. The friendly rapport and the hilarious memories that were forged (I’m sure there will come a day where our council choir and karaoke talents will come to fruition!) will stay with us for a lifetime.
I went on the retreat with hopeful excitement, and I came out of it feeling entirely confident in our council and infinitely blessed to be part of this family.
They often say that leaders are made, rather than born.
And we were made.
Founder’s Day on May 15th was another affair; after being drawn in to MC for the morning’s assembly with barely a week’s notice to draw up the script and rehearse and reeled in to bake for Spirit Week, the entire week prior to it was a flurried affair and one that lent no time for rest. On Tuesday I made chocolate chip cookies for the bake sale, on Wednesday Basil Pesto pasta for the International Food Fair. Receiving my acceptance into PROMYS the day before Founder’s Day was another sleep-shunning, attention-seeking matter that kept me awake half the night.
The entire council went out for some delicious 小笼包 after cultural carnival (I think we could call ourselves the culinary appreciation council!) and then returned back to school for our Founder’s Day dinner and Investiture (a small cozy affair with parents, teachers, and student delegates from other councils).
The symbolic passing on of the blazers and the badge-pinning were touching gestures – one could almost touch the evidently tangible nostalgia that clung to the tearful smiles on the old council’s faces.
I think perhaps the most rewarding part of the night was interacting with the other delegates. The girl from Hwa Chong International was from Qingdao, China – and I was basically conversing in Chinese for half the night (quite an achievement considering the downward spiral my Chinese has embarked on recently).
That’s the word of the week.
But busy can be good.
Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime, and too sleepy to worry at night.