By Noor Adilah (17S06B)
This article is a preview of Raffles Community Advocates’ upcoming event Advofeste which will take place at Yusof Ishak Block from 2.00pm–6.00pm. Interested participants may read up about the event at tinyurl.com/advofesteactivities, and sign up here.
While subjects like General Paper may discuss the complexities of social issues in depth, there is no denying that what we learn about in class often seems disconnected from our realities as students. Poverty, migration and mental illness seem like mere topics in an exam paper instead of actual situations that real people have to face.
The classroom insulates us comfortably from the harsh truth of such issues. And given RI’s student demographic, it’s very unlikely to find students who have contact with such issues.
A combination of the social stigma we may have internalised, and the challenge of finding an opportunity to engage in real-life interaction with the people affected by these issues can further insulate us from the realities of the people that we see every day, but do not understand fully.
This is the basis upon which Community Advocates organised Advofeste – to introduce and engage students about these issues by facilitating interaction between students and the stakeholders of three different causes – Migrant Worker Welfare, Mental Health Advocacy and Equalising Income Inequality.
Advofeste is a showcase of the different perspectives gained through service in their first year as Advocates, and a channel for them to introduce fellow Rafflesians to the people and social causes that they have become familiar with.
Promising a fun, engaging and thought-provoking lineup of activities, the event is composed of a Human Library, a set of three workshops, and a booth viewing. Performances from various school groups – the popular Acoustic Beat, an exciting, new up-and-coming band Club Sandwiches, and the duo Gillian and Joelle – will also add a dash of charisma and energy to the entire event.
The Human Library
The Human Library, which borrows its name and activity from the original Human Library SG, utilises the concept of “browsing stories” within a library filled with books, but adds a twist – by switching the books to humans! This event involves different stakeholders from the 3 causes that we have chosen and operates on a story sharing basis, where participants can listen to and interact with the different speakers within 15 minute slots.
The Advocates have arranged for an extra-special list of 7 speakers, including a migrant gardener working in our very own school, Mr Kalam; a mental health advocate, Mr Raymond Anthony Fernando; a social work associate from REACH Family Services Ms June Wong; a volunteer at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH); and an Outreach Volunteer from Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2).
The Workshops are aimed at engaging participants with fun activities so that they may interact directly with the people at the root of these causes. Participants can choose one of three workshops – Migrant Friends, Mental Chat or Artstronomy.
Migrant Friends is a two-pronged workshop where participants will either learn to sew under Communal Sewing with Migrant Friends or Board Games with Migrant Friends. Participants and domestic workers get to sew various crafts with Ms Pixin, owner and creator of the adorable art collective Pix-made Objects. Participants could also play board games such as carrom or ludo with domestic workers.
Mental Chat is a sharing and simulation session with the Advocates from Lifeline. Participants will be brought through a detailed presentation on the challenges of living with a mental illness, as well as a live simulation of how it feels like to have schizophrenia.
Last but not least, Artstronomy is an educational arts workshop that introduces the children from REACH Family Services to the wonders of Astronomy and the different living conditions on different planets in space. It also features a fun arts session where participants can assist these children with building their own planet.
To end off the whole event with a bang, participants may view the booths that our advocates have prepared from the days leading up to Advofeste. There will also be a photo booth and photo exhibition.
Advofeste aims to bring the actualities of these social issues to the forefront of Rafflesian thought, and to create a safe space for conversation about these issues and the ways we interact with them as Singaporean students. We here at Press highly recommend that our readers attend Advofeste to have a meaningful time learning more about the causes that shape our society while having a fun time surrounded by people from all walks of life, gathered in a single, unifying purpose – to understand each other.