By Rachel Tan (13S06D)
In this installment of Please Mind the Platform Gap, we guide you through the buffet of enrichment programmes that will last you through Year 5.
If you enjoy seeing your labour bear fruit, service enrichment programmes might be your thing. Whether your ideal type of service is meeting the needs of the environment or that of people, both the International Service Learning Experience (ISLE) and EcoLit are excellent platforms for you to reach out to the community. But Y5s considering ISLE, take heed. Overseas volunteer work often involves exiting your comfort zone in order to step into the living spaces of people who survive below the poverty line. That includes fetching water from wells, sleeping in cramped quarters, cooking all your meals and subsisting on a few scoops of water for your daily bath, just to mention a few inconveniences. Those eager to serve the community should also be eager to expand their comfort zone at the same time.
“Give me liberty or give me death!” Rings a bell, anyone? The Raffles Public Policy Programme (RPPP) and the Governance and Civics Engagement Programme (GCEP) are the only 2 enrichment programmes that deal with politics and policy-making. Sessions often involve discussions that examine the thinking behind formulation of policies and factors that influence a nation’s political course, such as history and demographics. Although both programmes may sound similar, there are slight differences – while RPPP tends to focus on local issues, GCEP often involves extensions into other contexts. Moreover, both programmes offer divergent activities during the December holidays. Students in RPPP will experience an internship in a government ministry of choice, whereas GCEP pupils stand a chance to go overseas to observe different political structures in real life.
Not a councillor or an EXCO member? Well, leadership doesn’t have to be limited to your CCA. Adventure Leadership Programme (ALPS), Leaders for a Better Age (LBA) and Leadership Through The Ages (LTTA) are programmes whereby different dimensions of leadership are thoroughly discussed and explored. For example, in ALPs, theory is put into practice and members have to endure a gruelling 2 week hike overseas. As Varun Moorthy (13S06D) puts it, “team building, taking initiative, being a role model…are all put to the test” as members live alongside each other.
Culture and Philosophy
If learning about the lives of people outside Singapore is your thing, you might want to consider Raffles Reflects, the Bicultural China Programme (BCP), Bicultural India Programme (BIP) or the Raffles Middle East Programme (RMEP). Raffles Reflects is the successor of the previous Raffles Renaissance Programme, and will cover the main areas of philosophy through articles and discussions. The latter two focus more on studying the political, economic and social factors that carve the lives of people, and offer trips to their respective countries. Be not mistaken, culture is definitely not all about history. Overseas trips promise an immersion into the current culture of the country in question as well as opportunities to interact with local governmental organisations and expatriate Singaporeans.
Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics may simply be subjects. But if they arouse passion in you, preparing for Olympiads may be how you want to spend your Monday mornings – that is, assuming that lectures within the normal curriculum aren’t sleep-inducing to begin with, and you are truly fascinated with how to classify cysteine residue reactions or the mating systems of Humboldt penguins. On a side note, Olympiad medals do add a whole lot of bling in that curriculum vitae you’re intending to send to Harvard.
Not too interested in the above options? Specialised programmes are available to cater to interests, such as technology at Raffles INVENT, which partners with IDA Singapore to allow students to design and build their own technology product. Those interested in sports science can also do research with the E.W.Barker Institute of Sports Science Research Programme. Aspiring entrepreneurs can join the Business Leaders Programme (BLP), where they will be gain from workshops, visits to corporate offices, and an internship in a start-up during the June holidays.
Of course, there will always be those of us who feel that spending less time with your bed after a late night’s worth of hard partying is far too great a sacrifice. If so, perhaps more hours allotted to self-discovery while deciphering the meaning of your dreams would work best.