June 17, 2016

Riddles Unravelled

That was a fourteen hour day. Took the grade 8s to Pasir Park for some play time. Then a moving on ceremony. And finally, an Oscar themed semi-formal. Needless to say I am exhausted.

Here is my speech for my group this year:

How do you measure a year of schooling in three to five minutes? Especially a year as important as grade 8?
How do you sum up the experiences of 23 people?
Well, according to a famous Broadway musical you count our lives...

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

I guess I measure in snippets, in images, in groggy morning conversations. We spent a lot of time together, as most mentor classes do, and during that time we learned a lot about each other through morning meetings, planning events, rafting down rivers, conferring about writing, discussing books and movies and current events. We learned about each other in hallway chats, in between classes and laying around waiting for class to start.

We learned that we are an eclectic bunch. I like to compare ourselves to Indonesia. We are 17,000 different islands, with our own cultures and languages and customs, but somehow we come together when needed. We are dancers and musicians and equestrians. We love lego and dinosaurs, comic books and philosophy. We talk about animal rights and the start of the universe. We are swimmers and footballers and black belt champions. We are unique. We are enigmas. We are riddles waiting to be unraveled. Each and every one of us.

We aren’t the most outspoken group. There are a few of us in class who are like vaults. Involved. Engaged and Listening, but you wouldn’t call us chatty. I mean like we rarely spoke, but that didn’t stop us from forming a cohesive group that to put it simply: gets a long.

On any given day, if you walk into our mentor class, you would find different groups chatting, socializing and being kind to one another.

We joke. We laugh. We work hard. When push comes to shove we get things done. We plan Dragon Cup events and produce creative letters home. We prepare service events for people with disabilities, but we also take the time to play with them, talk to them dance with them. We are not embarrassed by much because we are brave and relish our eccentricities. We don’t care much what other think about us.

We might need an extra push, but I have learned to try and temper my yelling, because this group has never let me down when I needed them. I joke that they do everything super slowly…we even have a song for it, well I have a song for it- Do you guys want to sing it as a group?

SLOW MOTION JRA…..then I clap a few times, yell Come on! Come on! Let’s do this! Which is when they roll up their sleeves and get to the task at hand. We are a relaxed group, often unconcerned about winning or over exerting ourselves. We seldom let things get us down. We work We play. We go with the flow.

It’s always difficult to say goodbye. I feel like I could use another year with this group. But as a famous poet once said, like “the sands in an hour glass so pass the days of our lives.”

So often when 8th grades don the blue shirt and leave our hallowed halls, they forget about us or worse ignore us when we say hello in the canteen or tent plaza. Please don’t be strangers. This is true for all of the students out there. These communities that we build, these relationships that we foster, these bonds that we form are meant to last for much longer than one academic school year. Your mentors want to see who you become. We want to see touches of ourselves in your dreams and your successes.

I look forward to hearing about each and everyone one of them. Have a well earned rest, read lots of books and have a great time in High School. I am proud of the fact that together we can say- You are ready for the next stage in your life. Get out there and grab it.

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