Post Overseas Trip Reflection
1) Do you think the aims and objectives of the trip have been accomplished?
I feel that most of the aims and objectives of the project have been accomplished. We exchanged information with KCC, we did our research for the website, took relevant photographs…now we just have to wait for the team assigned to build the website to finish their task and I’m sure they’re working hard at it.
2) Did you or your group achieve what you set out to do? If so, list what you have done.
Where SAC is concerned, we managed to carry out all our plans, except for the cultural dance. We organised games and activities for the school children. I taught the children to make bracelets with beads and am very happy that it was a huge success. We put up a simple yet commendable exhibition for the culture carnival. We also played simple games with them and the children love the henna painting. I was actually disappointed that we couldn’t carry out the dance because the villagers were expecting a performance from us. But for the sake of our health, we had to forgo it.
As for the green group, we shared with KCC members what we learnt about the Singapore Environment Council and provided brochures for them. As Dr Vilma wanted us to include lots of pictures, I tried my best to search for as many pictures as possible. We also shared with the teachers about MOE. Hwee Ling and I did the PowerPoint slides. I was supposed to present part of our slides but was so overwhelmed by the turnout that in the end, Hwee Ling had to do most of the presentation. Thanks Hwee Ling!
I also helped out in the kitchen but found out that I’m not much of a ‘survivor cook’, felt so handicapped without the proper ingredients and utensils. So I am quite disappointed with myself because I couldn’t cook as much as I wanted to.
3) What problems and difficulties did you or your group face during the trip?
I think that the most transparent problem that the group faces is the fact that many members fell sick. This somehow causes tension and worry among the other members but I am proud to say that our ‘first-aid man’, Sulaiman, took very good care of the ‘patients’ and the other team members also took care of one another.
Also, the fact that I came at a later date, posed slight difficulties at first. I don’t know how the rest of the team members who came at a later date felt, but I felt left out or lost at first, not knowing what to do, where to go, etc. This is because the rest of the team members had an early start, they had adjusted to the surroundings, had been introduced to the KCC members, had been briefed about KCC’s role, had been on several field trips, etc. I felt that the later batch were not properly introduced or briefed. So I had to piece small bits of information on my own but managed to adjust after a few days and see the whole picture.
4) Were there problems or difficulties in getting along with your team members? What were the problems? How were they solved?
No, I don’t have any problems getting along with my team members. I felt that discussing our general displeasures openly was a good way of resolving certain matters but I also feel that certain private matters would be better resolved if it was handled privately, in another words, having a ‘one-to-one’ talk. It would spare those involved the embarrassment.
5) How do you feel about Indonesia after this trip? You may discuss about the culture, the people, the food, the environment etc
I must say that the things that touched me most are the people, the culture and the environment. The people are very friendly and hospitable; they tried their best to make us feel comfortable. I admire the bond between the villagers; they help each other and look out for one another. I also admire the trust they have for each other, will always remember what one of the villagers told us…. “We may be poor, but we have dignity…”
The Sikkimese is also very proud of their culture. I can see that from the way they dress, talk, dance… I love the Bhutia dance, it is simple yet meaningful. And also, I love the peaceful, quiet environment. The view is breathtaking; we can see beautiful mountains during the day and millions of stars at night. To sum up all these, I love Sikkim!
6) How do you think the project could have been improved? You may give suggestions and recommendations.
As the main objective of the project is to set up a website for KCC, I feel that we should have spent more time with them so that we can better understand their feelings, visions and dreams. We should also have more field trips so that we can learn more about the village and the villagers and get to know them better. I think all these will actually help us in setting up a more comprehensive and effective website.
7) What were your learning points/moments of the project? Please list at least three and elaborate your points.
Respect other people’s culture – Whenever we visit another country or place, we tend to compare the place to our country and we also tend to behave the way we did in our own country. I have learnt that wherever you go, you have to respect the culture of that place. Yuksam is a sacred place so we have to make sure that our actions are not overboard.
Appreciate what you have – In the extreme weather in Yuksam and the uncomfortable sleeping conditions, I begin to appreciate my cosy bed more. My heart also went out to the children wearing over-sized school uniforms and slippers. So now, I am more thankful of what I have.
Life is not about shopping and eating! – Singaporeans’ favourite pastime! After witnessing the dedication and sacrifices of the KCC members and villagers I feel that we can all do our part to make this world a better place to live in, be it in nature, in helping children, anything… We should all do our part for our society.
Singaporeans are becoming more self-centred – I really admire the bond between the villagers. Everybody knew each other, they help each other out. But here in Singapore, we don’t even know our neighbours! Where’s our old ‘kampong’ spirit?
8) Was the facilitation and debriefing processes beneficial? Please elaborate.
Yes, it helps us to understand our team members better. A good example is the ‘My Life Journey’ session… through this session, we learn more about our members and we also learn that everybody have their share of sorrows and joys in life. Few even shed their tears, and I was one of them! Didn’t know why though, I am usually not the emotional type! (Was really embarrassed…) So I guess that it must be the solemn atmosphere that affected me. In the end, I actually was not able to complete what I wanted to say. But I must really thank Angie and MJ who hugged me when I cried! Thanks guys! So I feel the session really bonded us together…
9) How did the project benefit you/changed your perspective on life?
When I came back from India, I see Singapore and Singaporeans in a different light. I feel that we take a lot of things for granted and complain and grumble even at the slightest adversity. We are also a really pampered lot! So for me, I begin to appreciate the simple things in life, like a simple meal, a walk down the park…
Apart from that, I also feel that we are too busy with our lives that we don’t take the time to reflect on our life, about what we have done, if we touch anybody’s life that day… Now I feel that reflection is an important part of life and now, I reflect whenever I can….
10) Choose one or two highlights/memorable events of the trip to share.
Trekking – Even though I didn’t continue the trek up to Dzongri, it was still an unforgettable experience. The beautiful sights, the feeling of being so close to nature, the wonderful fresh air, the frail bridges, the fear of falling off, the fear of being trampled by dzos at night…… priceless.
Wedding – Even though I was disappointed that I couldn’t continue with the trek, the wedding made up for it. We witnessed and learnt more about their culture and tradition, watched the religious ceremony, ate cow’s internal parts (Fear Factor style), had free flow of chaang , and of course the highlight is the Bhutia traditional dance which we joined in at night. It was a day where all the villagers get together and helped the host in any way they can and I felt really lucky that I was there because a wedding in Yuksam is something that not all outsiders had the privilege to witness and experience.