The Smile Challenge – 3 Weeks On

Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Zara Nicole Toh (13A01B) and Cara Leong (13A01B)

So you’re walking down the hallway to your next class, just minding your own business… when out of the blue a brilliant flash of white catches your attention. Is it a reflective surface on which you can check your hair? Or a Sec 1 boy in his clean new uniform?

These days, it could very well be a perfect stranger baring his pearly whites at you. How do you react? Do you wave? Do you smile back? What if a person who looks vaguely familiar smiles at you? If you smile back, she might feel obliged to strike up a conversation, which you obviously do not welcome, since you cannot remember her name.

Three weeks on, we wonder if anyone is still actively smiling at strangers (or if anyone even remembers the challenge issued by our dear Council President Ashlynna) – but if you’re one of the few people still embracing the challenge wholeheartedly, we applaud you! To put a more realistic spin on this article, we decided to undertake the Smile Challenge ourselves. Here are some of the strange, silly and sometimes surprisingly smiley responses we got!

We undertook the Smile Challenge, smiling at strangers from 21st to 25th January 2013. Here’s a compilation of how our test subjects reacted to scenarios when they found themselves being smiled at! What would you do if someone smiled at you?

Scenario 1
A person who may be in your Math lecture – or was it your Bio lecture? – smiles at you. You’re unsure of how to respond, as you’ve never even spoken to him before!

Response: You give a confused and awkward half-smile as you don’t want to appear unfriendly, but you’re also unsure of whether to smile back or not.

Smile Challenge: Fail

Scenario 2
A stranger smiles at you, and you smile back just because you’re feeling happy, the sky is blue, the birds are singing, you ate prata for lunch…or maybe because you’re generally a happy and friendly person.

Response: A wide smile spreads across your face as you bear those pearly whites. A wave of the hand is optional.

Smile Challenge: Success

Scenario 3
A person whom you find really annoying or you do not even know smiles at you. You are immediately suspicious and question his/her motives behind smiling. You also do not feel like smiling back.

Response: A questioning look appears on your face as you notice the person, but you quickly avert your gaze and pretend to be captivated by something in the opposite direction. In other words, you complete “dao” the person smiling at you.

Smile Challenge: Fail

Scenario 4
It’s 7am in the morning and you’ve just gotten to school. On the way to the canteen, someone smiles at you. Your facial muscles are still cramped up from lack of sleep, so you have entirely no control over them.

Response: A blank look. Probably followed by a yawn.

Smile Challenge: Fail

Our mini social experiment has confirmed the hard truth: you are highly unlikely to get a smile in return if you smile at a complete stranger. Most people simply don’t go out of their way to smile, preferring to continue talking with their friends while walking in between lectures. The rare times that we got a smile in return while conducting this social experiment were boosts of confidence for us, as we were reminded that people in this school remember the nicety of smiling.

Ashlynna, our Council President, hopes that this article will be a timely reminder for everyone to continue smiling and spreading cheer especially at a time when work is piling up and CCA training is intensifying. On a day when you are feeling down and blue, it’s amazing what wonders a friendly smile can do to perk you up.

“When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you”
– Smile by Nat King Cole

24200cookie-checkThe Smile Challenge – 3 Weeks On


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