Youths with their heads bent over A4 papers and arms that formed curves to cover what they were writing was the exact situation when our facilitator, Auntie Eng Eng, told us to write down what causes hassle in us.

We, the members of the Young Leaders International, were at Life College on the 30th of May and June 2nd , attending a workshop on how to dare to face up and handle stress.
We were first given a task to express our problems. Then, folding up our "secret" neatly, we placed them into a tin and Auntie Eng Eng picked one paper from the lot and read the contents out to us. I was shocked at first. I never knew that we were going to discuss someone else's problem so openly. I was sure that everyone else in the room would want to keep their problems private. But Auntie Eng Eng obviously did not think that way. Instead, she asked us to imagine what it would be like if we were in that person's shoes. In a way, that created empathy in us and we realize that everybody has their own worries and that we should help others even when we have problems of our own. We then started to brainstorm possible solutions that hopefully will be helpful to that person.

The following activity that I loved the most was the one where we were divided into groups and given one or two problems that people have from newspaper cuttings. We were asked to whip up a cross that had four components of Excellence: namely in Academic, Emotional, Social and Spiritual. What about these components? Well, they form a well-balanced person and our task was to identify what quality was lacking in that person and where that quality should be categorized. From this activity, we learnt how to determine our problem. We were highly stressed with exams and yet at the same time, we are disturbed by friendship problems. Based on the Stress Survey where 70 of us responded, it was revealed that “Exams & Homework” drew an overwhelming 56 out of 70 votes as the #1 stressor while “Friendship Problems” came in second. Hence, we learn how to ensure exams are worth the stress, how to be socially adjusted, to be emotionally strong to accept disappointments and to live by principles. In other words, learn to be a well-balanced being.

The second day was a tearful day. Three teenagers, from Rumah Impian, were asked to come on stage to tell about their lives. They were really courageous by opening up about their past, how their parents left them because they could not afford to bring them up and how long their parents had not come to visit them. Despite all that, these youths were able to leave their unpleasant history behind, be happy and move on. Only one of them was still resentful towards some of her family members for putting her in a Home. As she told her story, she was on the verge of breaking down. But Auntie Eng Eng gave her a golden piece of advice-God has a purpose for everything he does. This means that under whatever circumstances, especially bad ones, there is still something good hidden beneath, waiting for us to discover it. In other words, do not complain about what you don't have. Instead, cherish what you have and see some good in it.

Artistic souls came to life in our next activity. We were asked to make cards with motivational quotes for ourselves, our parents and the rest of the Rumah Impian children who did not get to come. Coloured paper, colour pencils, magic pens, marker pens and chops were strewn all over the table as the enthusiastic youths rummaged through the plastic containers to find the perfect blend of colours to decorate their cards. As a result, lovely masterpieces were formed under the hands of the creative beings.

On this day, three members were also asked to present their opinions on academic learning, emotional learning and social learning. Articles were picked out from these three booklets and they had to identify the character traits that helped these people excel or the qualities that they lacked. From this presentation, I learnt many morals of life that I will bear in mind forever.

The day ended with a talk by Auntie Eng Eng on time management. She taught us how to use the weekly and daily planners and emphasized the importance of it by saying that she couldn't live without it. At 5.00 p.m., we all left the building with precious knowledge jingling in our pockets.

Reported by Voon Su Huei

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