THE HCI ADVANTAGE
My Hwa Chong Experience
In early 2011, my Dad told me that we would be spending half a year in Singapore due to his sabbatical at Singapore Management University. Faced with half a year of studying in Singapore, I came to the decision to apply for leading local schools rather than going with the easy choice of international schools. Hwa Chong was my first choice and the first contact was impressive. The principal, Dr. Hon, was very responsive. He invited me and my family for an application talk, at which end he agreed upon having me on an immersion program. I can still recall his advice: “Make the best out of it and share your views and experiences with my students.” Guess what, I did. Here are some impressions!
I will always remember my first day at Hwa Chong. It was 8 August 2011, just a few days after my family and I touched down in Singapore. My first induction into Hwa Chong was witnessing the National Day Celebration gathering – what a way to start my four months of experiences at Hwa Chong! Everything seemed to have been well-prepared, down to the finest detail. At the school gate I was personally welcomed by my form teacher Mr. Rong and my buddy Wiseley. At the school terrace, I watched the National Day ceremony, including the performances of the school band and the uniformed groups' contingents. You have to know that this kind of ceremony is not possible in my home country Germany as a consequence of our recent history. My new classmates made me feel very welcome as a member of the Hwa Chong ‘family’ from the very beginning. After moving with them to the hall, we watched the second part of the celebration. Next, I got a tour around the campus, which is very large and well-equipped compared to the campus of my boarding school in Germany (approx. 300 students from grade 7 to 12). I also got to have a glimpse of the boarding school facilities of Hwa Chong – starkly different compared to the ones I have seen in Germany and Europe before. Integration into the iSpark consortium meant playing soccer that day. We had a lot of fun and everyone made me feel very welcome. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people who made my start in Hwa Chong so easy and nice; it really helped me a lot to get adapted to Singapore and Hwa Chong.
Of course, there is a school life beyond festivities and soccer. I attended various courses that gave me an insight into the Singaporean school system and what school is about in Hwa Chong. Through my observations, I can say that I now have a better understanding of the many ways to teach and to learn. Whatever school system we are in, we have to understand that we will be the leaders of tomorrow, that only we can actively decide what we want to achieve and accomplish, and that there are plenty of opportunities for us. I would like to thank all teachers for actively involving me into their lessons even if it was hard, because of the different curricula and for helping me to solve problems. Beyond just facts in history or in biology, or solving math problems, I have learned a lot regarding the different values, culture and respectful behavior. Bowing at the beginning and at the end of the lessons, consortium assembly, greeting the teachers by bowing in front of them, flag raising or proper haircuts are just some examples that impressed me and I will miss this observation of decorum to some extent.
After one week in school, I got the chance to join water polo training sessions. Although I was a competitive swimmer until 7th grade, I never played water polo before so it was a great experience to try something new. I thought it would be quite easy for me, but it turned out to be very exhausting. After three hours of exercise, everything hurt. The saying "no pain, no gain" really applied here. Apart from the actual training, I also made new friends. Being invited to the birthday party of one of the teammates after training with the team for just one week also came as a pleasant surprise. I want to thank the whole water polo team –coaches, high school players, as well as junior college players– for letting me be a guest member in your team.
Furthermore, I want to thank my class, 3I3, and the whole iSpark consortium for a great time from August to November. You helped me to better understand your culture and to feel at home at Hwa Chong. On the other hand, I hope that I was able to show and explain one aspect of a Western culture, particularly of my home country Germany. Playing soccer seems to be a universal activity – playing with you guys was always great fun and I really enjoyed it.
Although I had the status of an exchange student, there has been no formal exchange so far and building up the relations between my German boarding school and Hwa Chong is not something I decide on by myself. However, in order to return a bit of the hospitality I experienced at Hwa Chong, my family and I have decided to offer an individual programme. We are thinking of hosting an interested student during the second term holidays each year. Immersing yourself into the German culture, being part of the family, living in the countryside, and being exposed to courses at nearby universities (with a particular focus on topics such as natural resources, energy systems, and sustainability) may be worth flying to Europe. After finalizing details with the management of Hwa Chong we hope to announce this “Nippa”-award later this year.
Finally, I want to thank all of you for making my time in Singapore and Hwa Chong so great! Hope to see many of you again soon (maybe in Germany, maybe in Singapore, maybe elsewhere)! Take care!
Your German “exchange” student and ‘virtual’ Hwa Chong alumni.
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Earth Hour 2012
By Tin Shu Min (12S70) and Wee Lin (12S7F)
Mrs Tham encouraging students to take ownership in
caring for the environment
To commemorate Earth Hour, Hwa Chong Institution joined millions of others in doing our part to save the Earth. On Friday, 30th March 2012, students and teachers switched off all lights in classrooms for an hour, from 10.30am to 11.30am.
Jeremy Koo, from 12S7F, said: “I believe that even though this initiative may seem insignificant in terms of reducing our carbon footprint, it is still an important symbolism to show that we can get together as one world, to make a statement of commitment towards conserving the environment.”
Some students from the High School section even turned off all the lights and fans in their classroom for the whole day. Some teachers even creatively came up with a way to turn the event into a win-win situation by simulating the tropical rainforest heat and humidity to teach geography.
Wang Weihan, from 1A1, said: “We switched off all the lights and fans, making it feel as if we are in a rainforest. Save electricity! Save the world!”
This is the sixth year that Earth Hour, organised by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) has been celebrated. The event, which usually takes place on the last Saturday of March, commenced in Sydney in 2007.
Last year, Earth Hour saw hundreds of millions of people in 5251 cities across 135 countries switching off their lights for an hour. Celeste Ng, from 12S7J, said: “I feel heartened by the connection that we have to our world.”
Tay Jia Shin, from 4B1, intends to take Earth Hour further by pledging to use environmentally-friendly bags, turn off lights that are not in use and take public transport more often.
He added: “An hour without light is just a small step, it does make a difference, but going beyond the hour is a big stride. At Hwa Chong, we are just students, but that does not mean we cannot commit ourselves to do our part for a sustainable Earth, and that is how we all move towards a better planet.”