You know what we all have in common? Time. Everyone has only 24 hours a day to do whatever we want, and it’s how we spend the time we have on our hands that differentiates us from the people around us. For students, often a large amount of time is spent in schools. Although a large portion of that time is spent studying and attending lessons, some people may stay in school past 9pm, revelling (or languishing) in the co-curricular activity of their choice. From Band to Debate to Volleyball, VJC offers a myriad of CCAs ranging from performing arts to clubs to sports. When we meet new people, the first question we often ask is, “What’s your CCA?” Whether a person is a dancer or a runner, knowing someone’s CCA is the easiest way to get to know their interests.
Despite the fact that VJC boasts an extensive list of CCAs, some individuals choose to dive into something different and opt to attend an external CCA. Have you ever wondered what its like to be part of an external CCA?
One of my favourite memories in secondary school was the National Day Celebration. I remember how the atmosphere would be at a standstill as quiet gasps and hushed murmurs filled the morning air. We would all watch intensely as the marching contingents move in, with steps synchronized to that of the music and their arms swinging like unified pendulums. There was something about the way they marched so effortlessly that radiated a sense of discipline and sheer determination. As a former member of a uniform group myself, it was hard to find a new CCA in junior college as nothing beats the camaraderie one feels in a uniform group. Despite the fact that I personally did not take on an external CCA, I managed to speak to a few people who did go on to take up senior positions in their UGs. I’m sure a lot of us are familiar with the National Cadet Corps or NCC; the ones who are often seen in their green or white uniforms, the seniors shouting commands and the juniors sweating it out at full attention. The Victorian Press approached Ong Wei Siong from 15S38 for an interview to find out more about what it is like to have an external CCA. Wei Siong is a cadet officer in NCC (Sea)
Q: So most of us have the impression back from secondary school that NCC is like a CCA where the juniors do drills and PT [Physical Training] and where the seniors scream, shout and ‘tekan’ them. Is that still true for you as a senior in JC?
A: Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that most of the time spent as a senior [back in secondary school] is “tekan-ing” them, it’s just regimentation. Now that I’m in JC my job-scope sort of changed, there’s much more responsibility, as now I’m involved in the planning and running of HQ events such as Camps, Competitions and the Affirmation ceremony. In that aspect it’s a step up from what i was doing back in secondary school, previously it was just within my own school unit , but now I have to handle not only the cadets from other school units in my district but also their teachers as well. So I guess what’s really different is the magnitude of what I’m doing in NCC now compared to before. Oh and also for the shouting at juniors part, that doesn’t happen as often as compared to in secondary school. I’m not sure about the other officers, but my old school unit believes in allowing the current batch of leaders to develop by themselves. As such, Anmol [a fellow cadet officer] and I, don’t really step in as much and only do so openly in front of the juniors when something is wrong and we feel that the current batch cannot handle it. So it can be said that shouting at juniors is not something we do a lot compared to our secondary school days, instead what we do now would be trying to identify those who have potential as well as helping the current batch to identify their areas of improvement and their strengths during debrief, which may or may not involve raised voices. Lastly for the PT and drills, well…. for the drills portion I just supervise the session and point out anything that the current batch may have missed. As for PT, generally I let the current batch lead those sessions and i join in with the rest of the cadets. You know, lead by example and all that stuff.
Q: How do you feel about having an external CCA as opposed to participating in a CCA that your other schoolmates or classmates are in?
A: Well, I guess [it] lessens the opportunities that i have to interact with my schoolmates and classmates outside of lectures and tutorials. Which makes me feel kind of weird when I’m like the only one from my class leaving after school when everyone else is staying back for cca. But it’s not really that bad since i also have other CCAs in VJC also so it wouldn’t be as bad as it would be if I just had NCC.
Q: How do you cope with the problems you face?
A: There are days that I have to leave school early to run these events and stuff , so what do is I either study whatever I’m going to miss before hand and clarify any doubts I have before I leave. If not I’ll find my friends and ask them for help if I can’t get it by myself after I get back from my event.
Q: Why did you choose to continue with NCC?
A: I chose to continue with NCC because I wanted to give back to my school unit for what it has given me, like leadership opportunities [and] fun with my brothers in the unit. Continuing in NCC as a cadet officer gave me that opportunity so I chose to grab it, and hopefully by doing so, my school unit will finally get the Gold award that has been so elusive previously, and also in hopes that I would be able to pass down the legacy that my batch has created and ensure that the NCC (Sea) experience of my juniors would be just as fulfilling as mine.
Q: If you had to define your CCA experience in one word, what would it be?
A: Fulfilling, being in NCC(Sea) offered me fulfilment in many ways. It gave me the camaraderie between my part-mates that i wanted , it gave me something i could be passionate about – kayaking – it gave me juniors that i could be proud of and it gave me many experiences and memories that changed me as a leader and as a person.
With all that has been said, I believe what sets individuals like Wei Siong apart from the rest of us is the sheer dedication they have to what they are passionate about. Evidently, a uniform group provides an individual with the opportunity to take on an authoritative leadership position. Whether it is developing the ability to communicate ideas clearly and confidently or simply being equipped with the ability to spot potential leaders, I am certain that taking on an external CCA and having a senior position comes with a plethora of benefits.
After all, we are all on individual journeys; VJC is a pit stop in our life long journey and as these people have exemplified, we should never confine ourselves to the opportunities that present themselves before us, but instead make our own opportunities and pursue things that resonate our beliefs and rejoice in activities we are passionate about. We all have 24 hours a day. How we spend the time we have defines who we are. So even as we open ourselves to opportunities that come knocking at our door, it is important to open closed doors, take risks and do things that you enjoy. Spend your time wisely and never limit your dreams – That is how you grow.
Ong Wei Siong
Nur Hazirah Bte Ridzwan
Photo Source: Wei Siong (15S38)