MY FIRST ADVENTURE WITH YLI (YOUNG LEADERS INTERNATIONAL)
I trotted down the well designed hallway of the prestigious LIFE College sulking over the thought of having to spend two days of my luxurious holidays in some self development course. Despite being greeted by many of the friendly officiators of LIFE College politely ushering my brother and I to the respected training area, dark stormy clouds still loomed over me. My mind was made up. Everything that was going to occur today was going to be a disaster.
As my dad was a big fan of punctuality, my brother and I reached the training hall early. Only a handful of the participants had arrived. Being a first timer in any YLI programs I stood out like a thorn amongst the many unfamiliar faces to me whereas my brother easily fitted in easily with his clique of friends. I proceeded to an empty seat by the corner of the room and waited for the course to begin.
Before I had warmed up the seat, an unfamiliar voice addressed me by my close name, Yuan. ‘Oh hi! You must be Yuan! Delighted to finally meet you!’. Before I could even make a wild guess who that person was, an outstretched hand was placed right in front of me. I raised my head and was greeted with a warm smile which depicted a person’s genuine sincerity in wishing you. That smile belonged to the one and only Aunty Eng Eng, facilitator of today’s course.
With that simple greeting from Aunty Eng Eng I thought, ‘Maybe this program isn’t the usual boring lectures which I can easily get at home’. So I began to open up and mix with the other people there. After all, I am new to the environment but the environment is also new to me, so we are even. Make sense?
Throughout this 2 day course, many exciting, heart-moving and fun activities were carried out to teach us on how to handle daily stress issues. Surprisingly, despite being a first timer in the YLI programs, Aunty Eng Eng delegated me with a few responsibilities including conducting the icebreaking session and even directing 3 sketches! Would you entrust someone that you have known only for 10 minutes with such responsibilities? I guess the only person in this world would probably do that would be the one and only Aunty Eng Eng. Thank you so much for those given opportunities.
A particular activity that was conducted during the course had deeply left an impact on me inspiring me to further do good and help others who are in need. It was an activity specially designed for the orphans that were invited for the program. These orphans were asked voluntarily to relay to the participants about their life. How they lost their parents, how are they doing now, how are they able to cope with life.
3 brave young girls answered to that call. One by one, they stood there on the stage, right in front of us, pouring out bitter memories that were intended to be hidden and forgotten over the millstones of time. On the outside, they look like perfectly normal youthful, high spirited young ladies. But it was after they related their stories, I realized they were much more then that. Below that fragile shell, essence of courage, inner-strength and beauty could be easily embraced the moment they opened up their hearts.
I had always thought I was pretty good at expressing my ideas in public thus making me very fluent in impromptu speeches and public speaking. But after seeing those 3 course mates of mine telling their stories, they would have easily dwarf me when it came to pouring my feelings out. One of them even shed tears in front of us. Those very rare tears are nothing to be ashamed of but those tears were filled with mixed emotions of love, hatred, anger and hope. Many would be ashamed of themselves for shedding even a drop of tear, but it was through these very tears that one is acknowledged as a courageous person filled with bravery and not the opposite.
Having settled that matter aside, my favorite event were the sketches which I was asked to direct. Basically, my role was to depict the social problems encountered by our everyday society such as gangsterism, snatch theft, rape and many more. So I got myself busy the following morning, doing some research on the current social issues sprouting all over the nation, typing out the scripts, recruiting actors and actresses for the sketch. After all, what’s a movie without the handsome actors and gorgeous actresses?
On the ‘big’ day of the launch of my Oscar winning sketches, I began to feel the anxiety as none of my actors and actresses had read the script except my brother. Without any choice as time was towering over us, Wooi Lee, Swea Ping, Swea Ching, Yan Seng and my brother Min Chern braved against the odds and were sporting enough to try their acting skills. It was to my great relief and surprise that I discovered that my cast of actors and actresses were as capable as any Oscar award winning artistes.
By just glancing at the script for a few moments, they were able to act out the sketches like they had been memorizing it for life. The performance went on fluently only having to stop once in a while as the audience couldn’t help laughing at the hilarious actions staged by the actors. Who would have thought Swea Ching the sweet, tender looking 13 year old young lady would be able to display such a sensational portrayal of a rough, tough gangster and transform to a romantic guy 5 minutes later! An addition to that, Wooi Lee, the buffed-up macho man of the course succeeded in portraying a naïve yet loving girlfriend!
Overall, the sketches, I believe were a huge success. Important lessons and moral values such as patience, compassion and honesty were highlighted by Aunty Eng Eng. She me a big credit on making the whole event a success but I do not think it is entirely true. All my efforts would have gone to waste if it weren’t for everyone’s contribution. If it weren’t for my diligent and sporting actors and actresses, of what use were my scripts? If it weren’t for the participation of the audience, of what use were the “movies”? And finally, if it wasn’t for Aunty Eng Eng’s marvelous idea, there wouldn’t even be a show to begin with!
As all good things have to come to an end, I must say these two days flew by like an overnight nightingale. Within a blink of an eye, we all have graduated from the course and become masters in coping with stress. We have learnt the secret recipe in tackling our stress ie to work towards being a well-balanced person, spiritually, emotionally, academically and socially (the 4 SEAS of EXCELLENCE in life). The day ended with a slight tingling sensation of sorrow as we will not be able to see each other for the next couple of months until the next program crops up. But I guess absence does make the heart fonder.
Presented with joy by,
Quah Min Yuan