As I was on the MRT returning home from the Fountain of Wealth, I began to reflect over the events that had just happened; not only from that night or the last few days, but over the last few months. The anguish and despair over the last year had built up for a long time, and I felt that I had finally emptied the last recesses of the heavy burden into the fountain that very night.
AEON 2015 was a personal failure. I was from the IP programme, meaning that I had an additional 3 weeks of familiarizing myself with the school culture and facilities even before the actual orientation started. Hence, when it really did begin, I found myself in no mood for more fun and games. The fact that my application for many JC scholarships had been rejected only exacerbated my desire for lessons to begin so the disappointment might vanish.
2015 passed by in a flash, an emotionless one at that, and I found myself staring at the holidays with no plans ahead. When the option to become an OGL/GM arose, I never even considered it for a moment and deleted the email sent to me. Since the promotional examinations had ended by then, I was given much time to think over the year and consider what I wanted to do from then on. Placing much of my effort in academics had paid off, but at a huge cost of extra-curricular activities and my relationships with others; I had come to VJC but made no close friends since.
I swiftly came to a decision, and cliched as it sounded, I knew that I could not sit around and let my VJC experience go to waste just because I would not release my bitterness and chagrin. I needed to be more open, experience more by talking to people and understand their problems and lifestyles. Hence, with an hour to go before the application for OGL/GM closed, I signed up to be a GM. I chose to become a GM as I felt that the role appealed more to me; I was involved in planning and facilitating events in my secondary school CCA before, and was keen to perform this task once more. Moreover, given word that the GMs would be attached to sub-OGs over the course of orientation, I felt that this was too good an opportunity to miss.
The first round of teacher approvals and interviews passed by in a blur, and before I knew it, I was sitting with a bunch of other GMs in an E-block classroom for our first meeting during the holidays. We settled planning matters for the station games and mass games along with the ICs for each game type. We were also attached to OGs, and I was pleased to discover that my OG mates were extremely amiable. While I was originally distant from the OG in general, as I had to forgo work and bonding sessions with them for my research attachment at NUS, I gradually grew closer to them as time passed.
Much too soon, school began once more amid a flurry of activities. CCA Open House, preparation of science fairs and lessons culminated in a rather hectic schedule before JCO even started; more work had to be done too on the part of the GMs’, reading up on game instructions and rules prior to JCO, as well as helping the OGs to put up decorations. When the night before orientation finally came, it was truly a sight to behold despite the unfinished work; OGs were practising cheers and dances till late at night, many were still frantically trying to contact their freshies to provide them information for the next day, while the rest cleaned up whatever mess there was and put finishing touches to the decorations.
For us GMs, the following day was to be spent as subject day since the freshies would not be involved in any games on day 1. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed myself clicking away at pictures of museum exhibits, I felt a tinge of apprehension and dejavu. Would this turn out to be yet another AEON 2015, where I felt so disconnected from everyone and the fun they were having? The ensuing weekend paid no dividends in soothing my anxiety, as I badgered myself with worries of not striking the right balance between my GM duties and expending bonding time with my sub-OG. I could only console myself by diving into my books and notes so as to lose my perhaps needless concern.
It appeared that my fears were not totally unfounded, as the first day of orientation swept past in a blur. Taking sub-OG photos and dropping by before my GM duties had commenced felt awkward, as I was already lagging behind a day in familiarizing myself with the freshies. However, there’s always time to catch up during meals and after orientation itself, if one is willing to put in the effort to bond, as I soon learnt. Time spent over dinner and badminton before the FOW made the heart grow fonder as I understood my freshies even better. I felt it my redemption to advise them, as a senior, not to forsake the power of friendship and companionship in JC, for it was a blessing that would guide them through their darkest moments.
Thereafter, it was party time at the FOW. I distinctly remember writing in my application to become a GM that the FOW event was the most significant memory in AEON 2015, not because I enjoyed it so, but because it was the one defining moment where I realized just how very sequestered I was from my cohort. That night, I made no regrets as we had a whale of a time, singing and dancing late into the night, sweat mixed with tears and water from the fountain itself.
NEXUS 2016 might have ended, and back to the mundanity of lessons it is, but the memories left from the night will always stay with me as I begin a ‘fresh’ start once more. As the doors of the train opened and I disembarked with a grin, I knew that these are the nights that never die.
The above article was contributed anonymously.