Learning to care, share and compromise

The boarding programme taught Nanyang Girls' High students (left to right) Huimei, Elizabeth, Bin Bin and Yang Shixuanto be more independent and responsible.
The boarding programme taught Nanyang Girls' High students (left to right) Huimei, Elizabeth, Bin Bin and Yang Shixuanto be more independent and responsible.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Things went slightly awry earlier this year for some Nanyang Girls' High School students on their way to Little India on a school excursion that they had helped to plan.

"There was a group that used the money allocated to them to buy too many snacks like potato chips at the start, and in the end they didn't have enough left over for dinner," Secondary 2 student Yan Bin Bin recalled laughingly.

But the students have fond memories of that excursion, which, in line with their boarding experience, has taught them more about being independent and responsible.

During the four-week programme for Sec 2, students can choose another student to live with, and they would be paired with another duo to share a room.

"The programme has made us realise that you can't be selfish and assume that everyone will definitely give in to you or share the same views as you. You have to understand that they are different from you and learn how to compromise," said Elizabeth Chee, 14.

For example, she used to constantly press the snooze button on her alarm clock when she had trouble waking up in the morning but became more conscious of how it affects her roommates when she was living in the boarding school.

"When you live with three other people, you have to take into consideration how they feel," she said.

As students had to clean their own room, Bin Bin said she and her roommates had to accommodate each other in planning a cleaning roster. "There may be days when someone is unable to do her duty and no one is willing to take over. But we realised if you don't clean, there will be cockroaches and lizards, so we managed to sort it out and help each other, and make sure the work is equally distributed."

The students tell their juniors to go into it with an "open heart", and cherish the experience. "You will have a lot more fun that way," said Bin Bin and Zhao Huimei, 14.

"Don't be pampered and behave like the 'strawberry generation'," quipped Elizabeth, referring to a label for soft and entitled youth. "Eventually you wouldn't be living with your parents any more. When we graduate and go to work next time, we also have to learn how to get along with people."

Yuen Sin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2016, with the headline 'Learning to care, share and compromise'. Print Edition | Subscribe