Pre-U Seminar participants had a roaring good time.
What dreams and aspirations do students have when they’re 17? To be a renowned physician who helps to save or change the lives of many? How about a politician who can affect the lives of others, a social activist who lobbies for rights or a world-class drummer who entertains?
These were some of the aspirations shared by young participants at this year’s Pre-University Seminar, organised by Meridian JC. The million-dollar question: how can Singapore be a place that will make their dreams come alive, while remaining a home for everyone?
From 26 to 30 May 2008, about 600 students from the JCs, polytechnics, centralised institute and Integrated Programme schools participated in this annual residential seminar at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU). Things got off to a lively start at the opening ceremony, where instead of the traditional keynote address, guest of honour Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, shared the stage with twelve participants.
The interactive "keynote" with Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
Together, they engaged in an open conversation on the theme of the seminar, “Global City, Home for All”. At the same time, participants in the audience could SMS their comments and queries, to which Dr Balakrishnan and the other students on stage could respond.
As at previous Pre-U Seminars, students also had the chance to take part in panel discussions with industry and community leaders, where exchanging views allowed them to gain first-hand insights into pressing social and national issues. Separately, teams of students presented research-based case studies, helping each other to acquire a greater appreciation of their role as young Singaporeans who can build a better society.
Learning through “play”
Solving a murder-mystery during the Digital Chase.
Students also took part in team-building activities such as the Digital Chase, which tested their powers of observation, teamwork, resourcefulness, creativity and knowledge of Singapore and the world around them. Mobile wifi technology, provided by an industry partner, brought a new dimension of real-time complexity to this murder-mystery game. Participants had to solve clues embedded in 2D barcodes located around the NTU campus, while receiving information on their mobile devices about the various sites they were exploring.
Other interpersonal skills were tested in the Sandcastle Challenge, where students explored their cultural roots and identity while they collaborated in building their ideal hometown of the near future around one of the Seminar’s four sub-themes (Singapore: Home of Choice; Creating Opportunities, Transforming Lives; Rejuvenating Our Cities and Homes; Expanding Horizons, Connecting to the World). Held at the beach at East Coast Park, this activity involved participants’ townships being integrated into a cohesive piece to represent Future Singapore.
The Sandcastle Challenge called on students to re-imagine Singapore for the future.
There was also time for reflection on issues of broader regional significance through the Asian FilmFest. Students watched The Blossoming of Maximos Oliveros (the Philippines), Sepet (Malaysia) or Joni’s Promise (Indonesia), each of which highlights cultural and socio-economic issues peculiar to these countries. Participants could then critique the films with experts and explore various issues from an Asian perspective.
The Pre-U Seminar might be 30 years old now, but with its emphasis on contemporary issues and use of the latest technologies to promote interactivity, it continues to bring a relevant and refreshing perspective to 17-year-olds who want to think a little deeper about where they belong in the national and global context. They may not have answers to all the big questions - but it’s in the exploration and exchange of ideas that they’re working their way there.
Ms Sathya Bama