June 9, 2017

I Went to a Camp! Part 1

Hey, guys! I'm back from the camp I mentioned a few days ago. To make up for the lack of activity the past 6 months, I'm going to spend some minutes (or hours) to tell you what happened, in detail I guess, during the 3 days at camp. It's going to be pretty long, so bear with me.

Update (while editing): Yep, this is going to be hella long so I'm going to split this into three posts. Hopefully, I can post all on the same day.


Before I get started, I just wanna let you guys know that since the beginning of this year, I was involved in a program focused on helping teens with low income but great potential to prepare for life after SPM and working our way to our dream career while also covering up our people skills. The program is called Closing the Gap, which is organized by Teach for Malaysia.

Anyway, in June, they had organized a camp at Sunway University for us to experience life in university, titled Residential Camp, from the 5th to the 8th, which is during my semester break. First impression: Hey, I get to live in a university for a few days; would be pretty good to get the gist of how living on campus feels like. So, I agreed to join the camp. Then, we were told that we were going to live in a condominium at the Sunway-Monash Residence and that we're going to be living in single rooms. Cool. (Actually, the word "camp" here is a bit metaphorical, so let's just call it a type of campus stayover.)

A week before, the agenda for those 4 days 3 nights came and I took a look at it. It was filled with a lot of workshops and even a session of a personality test, an interview simulation, and even some hours with people from a business company. Wow.

Day One
Then comes the date. I've already packed my things on the day before. I also packed my laptop to blog about each day at night after the activities are done. I woke up at seven in the morning to have breakfast before traveling to the university. Actually, the registration starters at nine—and the first activity of the day starts at ten. But I liked being early, so I chose to wake up at seven. Yippee me.

So we reached our destination at around eight (I think) and took my things, which is in a duffel bag full of clothes and a toiletry bag, and my trusty laptop backpack. I reached where the Closing the Gap team was having their workshops, put down my things, and registered. Honestly, I felt excited but also nervous. I didn't know what to expect living alone since it was my first time, but definitely excited to be with CtG again.

I waited until everyone else arrived. We ended up having 22 students, including yours truly, in Lecture Hall 5, which is the rendezvous point. I was supposed to have a schoolmate coming along with me for the camp, but I found out he was accepted for the ASEAN scholarship and had to sit for an examination—but that exam conflicted with the camp's dates. Too bad, huh? But good for him, though.

So, we had our opening ceremony and an opening speech by a Harvard alumna named Jacintha. She told us of her father's struggle back in the days. How he lived in a village with a poor background and how he had to walk for a whopping 5 days just to get to school!  If I were at that situation, I'd be whining to my parents that I'd stop schooling or I'd just live at school for the rest of my education years. And at school, he had trouble communicating in English, but his American teacher did not give up on him. So, he did not give up on himself. Learned English he did, every day. Never give up he did. Truly an inspiring story of determination. Cassie could learn from that.

After the speech, we had a little briefing on the camp then we got out things to prepare for a walk to our residence. What I expected was a tiring walk because of the weight of my things but I'd only have to go through this twice. What I didn't expect was that the tiring walk was more tiring than I thought and that the walk from the university to the condominium took a hell amount of time. I nearly ran out of breath upon reaching there. But we managed to get a keycard to our rooms and the Wi-Fi password and went to our rooms to discover them. My unit had 6 people. 3 other boys were in the opposite unity. I walked around the room, looking at stuff. But looking at the time, I realized there won't be enough time to take out everything, so I called my roommates out back to the university for the next activity on the agenda.

Back after another tiring walk just 30 minutes after resting, we went back to the university and met with Sunway's Student Ambassadors. But I'm kinda already acquainted with them since I've been to Sunway for a couple of times (lost count, by the way) this year. Soon enough, we were brought by them for an orientation around the campus and some destinations in the Sunway College as well. I thought this was going to be boring since I had an orientation of the campus just last Thursday, but they did show some places I've never been told about before. (Still boring though).

Then, we had our lunch at the university's cafeteria, where the orientation conveniently ended too. The food was pretty fair but it was spicy. I hate spicy. :(

I finished my lunch pretty quickly and went back to the lecture hall for the next activity—again with the Student Ambassadors. We were led to the Gallery just outside and were told to sit in a huge circle. Then, we had a game. Not just any game, but a game of making an adjective to go with the first letter of your name. Sounds easy? Nope. We had to memorize and say out the 10 names before us just to be able to introduce ourselves. I went with Creative Chan. Heh. Suffice to say, I did have some trouble, but it did help me memorize almost everyone's names. (Shame on me not to know everyone yet.)

Then came the best part(s) of the day. We were divided into two teams. Ours was named Dauntless. First game: we returned to the big circle and had to write a unique fact about ourselves. Then, we had to fold the paper and randomly pass ours to the next until they said stop. We repeated that until we had 3 facts about ourselves. Then we had to crumple the paper and threw it at the center of the circle at the guy telling us to do things who was at the center of the circle, then pick up a random paper. Next, we were tasked to ask everyone about their facts and linked them to the said person, finishing our paper, to yield points for our group. Only the top five could get points. Unfortunately, I only matched one. Strangely though, nobody got my facts. Did I make them a bit too... unique?

Just in case you guys are curious what I wrote, mine were:

  1. Likes to read up about religions, but is an atheist.
  2. Can play piano, but only online.
  3. Has an unconventional love for onion rings.
After that game, we were then tasked to find the landmark somewhere on campus to take a group photo and come back first to get points. But we were only given a clue and had to ask the people around to find the place. Yep, we had to ask the students or lecturers for a clue. The first clue was talking about a "Garden in the Sky". I thought of the place upstairs, but that wasn't right. Whoopsies. So after my crazy bout of "I think I know!", we asked around for the location. Eventually, the people we asked pointed to the Sunway College 4th floor, opposite of the hall. We got there and took a photo quickly and rushed back. Apparently, we were first and scored points. :D

But I came to realize something. I had forgotten to bring my bottled water and I'm dying of thirst. Worse, I didn't know where I could buy drinks in between the games. Though I still tried to continue on, with a Student Ambassador promising to bring water. For the next game, named the "Human Snake", we had to align ourselves in a straight line and link ourselves by holding hands. I was second in line, so the guy to the left of me was the "head". The game was simple: we had to cross over each other based on the sequence of the links' number, then untangle ourselves. However, because it was too simple, they twist it up a bit by getting the tail to do the same thing. There were three rounds. We won the first and second but lost the third. The third was mega crazy so we pretty much got ourselves to look like we were playing Twister with 10 people instead of playing Human Snake.

So after that game too, we had to go for another photo hunt. This time, the clue was a question. "What are the facilitators wearing?" This one was pretty obvious and both teams figured out in less than a second. We rushed to the I <3 SU statue-slash-arch thingy and took a picture of it. Quickly than ever (since they were close behind), we rushed back to the gallery. Turns out, we managed to reach first with the picture again! But turns out too, I'd never been more thirsty in my life than now. Thankfully, one of the ambassadors led me to a water fountain for me to drink up. Whew, I thought I was gonna collapse from exhaustion.

I came back to the Gallery, refreshed, and with the other team back. I reunited with my team just in time for the third game. This one had us reuse our embarrassing adjective names. We were given time to ask and remember the names of the opposing team before the game starts. For this one, one of each team had to go up front and face a blanket. When the blanket lowered, both rival team members had to call out the other's name as fast as possible to earn points. One thing I knew: I was probably going to screw up. I went up second and was face to face with a person I kinda knew. But I went blank for a few seconds (both of us did), then we called out each other's names. But what came out both of our mouths was a butchered version of the other. We both ended up as a tie and scored zero. Haha. The rest of the game flowed pretty well, but I couldn't tell which side was winning. According to the scorekeeper, both sides ended up with an equal amount of score. No tiebreaker, however.

Like the previous two games, we were tasked once more with another photo hunt. For this one, we were given a picture of Beethoven and the question: "Where does this person practice?" or something like that. All of us thought of the art room, but they clarified the instrument, not the location. So we asked the students the location of a piano. It was also in the Sunway College, but on the second floor in the study area behind the Financial Department. We found it way at the back and took yet another group photo. There was a sign near the piano that stated we could play only after 5:30 pm, which made me scream internally. There was a piano here? I could play the piano? Cool! We dashed back to the Gallery, and again, we were first. I went to get another drink before returning.

When the other team returned, with all of our tired as hell faces, we were asked if we would want to continue. But we all said "No", and so the scores are tallied. It ended up with us winning. Best team ever! Each of our members won a mascot pin badge, then we posted for a group photo. With the games finally done and the high possibility then I was going to get cramps and aches, we returned to the hall for the next session after a short break.

According to Ms. Connie, one of the hosts of the CtG program, this would be the only time in the whole camp we would be active since we were going to spend the rest of the days in the lecture hall. Not that I minded, though. The next session was a talk on scholarships by the Manager of Scholarship, Ms. Soo Ee Sarn. One thing I could glean from that: I didn't know that there were 30 different kinds of scholarships that cover almost every single aspect. She also conducted a short interview listing out the common interview questions and the ability on how to "make a good impression". I tried answering some of those interview questions and I learned how pushy the interviewer may get. Seriously, a question that leads to another question. So I locked these in my mind: be extra specific and I definitely needed to practice ahead of time. Anyway, she concluded the talk by saying the key importance was to "make a good impression", not whether one was right or wrong.

After the talk, we had our free time. I chose to hang out with a new friend, the guy sitting next to me, Ming Lok. He was a real sports junkie. He invited me to play ping pong, which I was terrible at, but I agreed anyway because why not? So I led him to the Student Life Center in the college to play. We played for a good 45 minutes of hitting the ball into the ceiling several times and swatting the air until I suggested we played darts. I love darts, by the way, even though I never played it in real life at all. I remembered there was a dartboard in the Life Center too. But for who-knows-why, there was the dartboard, but no freaking darts. I was tempted to ask where the darts were, but Ming Lok suggested we resume playing ping pong. But I said I had enough since I was already tired. He then said he was going to return to the residence, but I chose to stay. I didn't want to walk all the way back just to come back again here for dinner, then walk back again to sleep.

So, I went back to the lecture hall where I conversed with CtG team and relaxed until dinner came. Dinner was definitely more delicious than lunch. After dinner, we all returned to the lecture hall. Everyone but me went home to change before coming back. I shrugged. For the last activity of the day (whew, am I writing long), we were asked to go into a group of five, dubbed the reflection group. I chose to join a random group and sat together. I tried recalling the names of the others: Kurniati, Chow, Yuen Yen, and Imran, which I could. Celebrated a little bit inside. Ms. Connie was our group's "instructor". We were told to reflect on the day: 3 things we learned, 2 questions we still have after today, 1 thing that inspired us, and what do we want to learn or achieve after the day. I enjoyed the time with my group and I had the urge of getting to know them a little bit more.

Soon enough, even the final activity of the day ended. We all took another long, long walk back to the residence. I bathed, told my good nights to my housemates, then went in my room. I turned on my laptop so I could write a blog on the first day. But guess what? The Wi-Fi couldn't work so I couldn't access my blog. I could use my phone's data to write, but I suck at typing on the phone and it'd take almost the entire night to type out what I want. I hoped the Wi-Fi could work soon, but I resolved to type it all once the camp ended if it still couldn't work. (Spoiler: it still couldn't work.) I finally went to sleep for the day.


Wow, that was pretty long for the first day. The second and third day might just as well be as long, but I will post them up pretty soon. On the same day, if possible. But thanks for reading and hope to see you guys soon. 

Dammit, the holidays are ending.

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