Being in the pioneer batch of the National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC) unit in his school, Goh Jun Xian was new to all the things he had to pick up from scratch – and so was his teacher-officer Sarah Kiew. But her attitude and progress, and the lengths she went to ensure they had a meaningful CCA experience, both surprised and inspired him.
As students, we take it as a given that our teachers know best. While we grappled with understanding concepts and formulae, they were always ready with the solution, and could readily pick out our every mistake. They make everything look so easy that it’s hard to imagine they ever struggled to learn something new.
My National Civil Defence Cadet Corps (NCDCC) teacher in Yishun Secondary School was the one who made me realise how hard our teachers worked to get where they are.
In Secondary 2, my school set up NCDCC as a new CCA with Ms Sarah Kiew as our teacher in charge. It was definitely a challenge at the start as the NCDCC curriculum encompassed many skills that were new to us, including First Aid, Fire Safety, Urban Search and Rescue.
It was Ms Kiew’s determination that kept us going.
She acknowledged that NCDCC was new for her as well, and requested for support from NCDCC volunteers and instructors from HQ to assist in our training. Despite her busy schedule, she would always set aside time to learn together with us. I remember I was astounded whenever Ms Kiew shared her inputs during the lessons. It got me thinking, we joined NCDCC at the same time. How is it that she progressed so much quicker than all of us?
I later found out that Ms Kiew took the effort to read up and check on any points she was unclear of with the instructors before training, so that she could contribute and facilitate our learning. She demonstrated that learning was all about being proactive and sheer hard work – and I became more motivated than ever to do my best in CCA.
Together with Ms Kiew, my batch enjoyed many new experiences, including participating in the Precision Drill Competition, going for an overseas exchange and serving the community during Emergency Preparedness days. The most memorable activity for me was the Unit Drill Instructor course, which comprised four days of intensive training in foot drills. I found great satisfaction in mastering the different drills and methods of instructing my juniors.
As we stepped up to lead the unit, I also came to appreciate Ms Kiew’s support for our initiatives. I have always liked parades and requested to organise them, including the combined Uniformed Groups National Day Parade. Although such events are extra work, Ms Kiew would never shoot down our ideas, but instead provide inputs for our plans. Although some of our proposals could not be carried out in the end, she would always explain the reasons. At the same time, she would encourage me to persevere and suggest modifications so that our plans would not go to waste. I realised that there were always many considerations in planning a large-scale activity and became better at pre-empting problems in planning for subsequent events and activities.
Ms Kiew has gone above and beyond in guiding us through our years in NCDCC. From accompanying us for camp recces, treating us to a meal, and even coming down to our graduation ceremony for courses – her heartfelt actions constantly spur me on to do better. Today, I am a Cadet Lieutenant with NCDCC, and I strive to serve and enrich my junior cadets’ lives just like how she did for mine.
This article is part of our six-part series on Uniformed Group Teacher-officers who inspired us. Check out the other stories here: