A friend of mine wrote this piece that I thought I should share with everyone. Like him, I too have been skeptical about this whole YOG business. His piece gives me a fresh perspective and also a reminder of what the spirit of this event is about…
Please take some time to read it…
I guess we have seen lots of complaints about the YOG everywhere. Be it on blogs, newspapers, ST forum, etc. What’s the big deal about YOG? Why is Singapore spending so much on it? Do we really care about it? Is it just another big wayang? Why must we give way to the YOG buses? And what’s with the Olympic lane? Aren’t our roads not congested enough?
Frankly, from the day Singapore showed it’s bid for the YOG, I was a cynic. What’s the big deal? It is something for us to feel good about, since we can never be an Olympic host city? Hype? What hype?
Over the past month, I was proven wrong slowly.
For the past month, I’ve been attached to a secondary school. And it was then I begin to realise what YOG is doing to our youths. Many of them, I wish you could be there to see it for yourself.
I wish you could be there to see how sports seem to have a greater relevance to the students now. Each school is twinned with a country for a few years already, and they have been having exchanges. My school, for example, hosted students from their twin country last year, and had a friendly match. Without this exchange, I doubt many of them will even know this country existed, and thought that the country is just “African”.
I wish you could be there to see the pride the students have, when it is made known that 2 of the students are selected to be torch bearers of the Olympic flame. I do not know the torch bearers, nor have I met them. But when this news was announced to my students, I can’t describe the amount of pride they felt that their peers are holding such a responsibility, even though many of them don’t know the torch bearers personally.
I wish you could be there when the students were told that there are free tickets to the YOG games. Even though it is held on weekends, even though it wouldn’t be an excuse to miss school, I wish you could be there to see the excitement they have and how much they want to go for the event when given the opportunity to watch this events. This was even before they were told that they will receive a free commemorative EZ-link card to cover the transport cost for the day. How I wish there could be more tickets for them, as a total of around 100 tickets is given over 4-5 events for a school of 1400.
Now you might think that YOG may have hyped up the sports, but what about the other students who are not interested or involved in sports? What about them, other than the cultural exchanges?
I wish you could be there to see my students who are part of the Military Band. They have been selected to perform for the YOG opening ceremony. They pride the hold, the commitment they give to the long hours of practices and commute to the floating platform, the weekends burnt – you have to see it for yourself to know what I mean.
I wish you could be there to see some of the FB exchanges, of my ex-students and kids, who are involved in the performances for the opening ceremony or YOG related events. Some of the things they love, such as cosplay, break-dancing, have been demonised and marginalised by their parents and other adults. Finally, they have a platform to show them that there is nothing wrong with it, and hopefully, let them have a better understanding of what their passion is about.
I wish I could tell you more, and I’m sure you’ve heard of such non-sports exposure related to the YOG.
But if it aren’t clear to you, YOG is a platform and a catalyst for many aspects of development for our youths. It gives them not just a platform to display, but a platform to learn, to show, to benchmark, and a platform to be proud of. And as I’ve shown, it’s not just for the sports people or the sports super-stars.
I may be exaggerating, but this can very well be a monumental event for many of our youths in Singapore, regardless if they are involved directly, indirectly, or not at all. It could very well be the common memory of their generation.
I guess sometimes, we adults use the acronym in YOG so much that we forgot what it stands for. YOG starts with the word YOUTH. How come we’ve forgotten that it is all about the YOUTH. If we adults don’t feel it, or feel the relevance of it, why should it be a surprise, since that it is mainly for our youths? And I’m not even talking about the cliché benefits, such as the Olympic values or those who are competing for from our youth volunteers interacting with different cultures around the world etc.
And since it is for our youths, is it still asking for too much, to give way for the 2 weeks, in exchange of a catalyst, a platform, and a lifetime memory for our future generation?
I know, cause my year-end holidays has been cut short by 2 weeks, and my school term has been pushed back by 1 month to host the YOG. As much as I grumble sometimes, I’m heartened by what I’m exchanging these for.
EDIT( 4/8/10 6.43pm): I kept it anonymous because my friend being a civil servant had concerns that the piece may be misunderstood as him representing the service(which they’re not supposed to do) and hence kept it in closed circulation on Facebook. He has since changed his mind and made it publicly accessible. The original piece can be found here