Behind the (CCA) Scenes: Of Motivations and Regrets

By Sara Chia (21S03G)

At some point in our lives, all of us have to make choices, regardless of how big or how small they are. Most of the time, it lies in the small things, like picking which canteen stall to buy from every time break rolls around. Other times, it’s the much bigger things, like deciding what course you’re going to take in university or your future job. 

In JC, one of the fundamental choices we have to make shortly after stepping foot into the school would be our CCA. Everyone has something that motivated them, in one way or another, to join the CCA that they’re currently in. Whether it’s something trivial or profound, every person’s story behind joining their CCA is unique. 

So, what exactly are they? In this article, various students share their motivations to become part of the CCA that they’re currently in, and I probe a little deeper at the reasons that brought them to where they are now. From unexpected to bittersweet to hilarious, here’s a compilation of the stories shared by some students about joining their CCA, and how their journey has been so far.

Some of them had simpler (and funnier) reasons. “In all honesty? I wanted to learn how to flip people, and thought being flipped was fun whenever I did it in Taekwondo [outside of school],” Yeo Shan Lyn (21A01D) shared with a sheepish grin. “That’s why I joined Judo.”

Aside from wanting to, in her words, “flip people”, she also mentioned that her main motivation behind joining a more physical CCA was so that she could use it as an escape from studying and worrying about her grades. “I wanted it to be a counterpoint to all the academic stuff, and I liked martial arts. But since I already do Taekwondo, I wanted to try something new, but not totally different,” she said with regards to her choice.

She had joined Judo in hopes of enjoying a CCA similar to a sport she is already fond of, but she admitted that she did regret it a little. “But only because of Covid!” she added hastily. “It diminished the fun a lot and we couldn’t really participate that much. And there’s still no contact allowed, so we can’t, you know, flip people. But I think it still fulfils my motivations in a way, because it does help me to relieve academic stress.”

On the other hand, some had motivations more linked to their aspirations. Andrianna Pang (21S03G) revealed that she once dreamt of a career related to astrology. But after taking biology instead of physics in Secondary Three, she came to the realisation that her dream would remain just that—a dream. To her, joining Astronomy is her means of pursuing her interest in the subject, and one of her only ways to do something related to the dream she once had.

With a rueful laugh, she shared, “I guess joining this CCA meant I could regret my past decisions a little less. Honestly, it’s not exactly as I expected, but I like it here—everyone is really awkward and kind of insane.”

The “really awkward and kind of insane” batch of 2021.

When asked about her thoughts on her CCA at present, she had mixed feelings, albeit with a positive slant. “I think it’s quite regretful that we didn’t get to have a lot of sessions this year,” she said with a bittersweet smile. “So maybe I would’ve joined a second CCA too, if I had known. But if I went back in time and could pick again, I’d still join Astro[nomy].” 

Others have used their CCA as a means to develop their talents further. James Cheung (21S06B), the current President of Raffles Photographic Society (RPS) joined Photography as a Year 1 and carried on until Year 4, so he claimed it was “only natural” for him to join RPS in JC too. 

One of the photos from James’ photo essay.

So, what has it been like being in the same CCA from secondary school all the way up through to JC? “The CCA sessions themselves have been different because of Covid,” he concurred. “There was a shift of focus—for example, from event coverage to exhibitions—but other than that, it’s pretty much the same in terms of learning new things and picking up photography skills.”

This is the main reason why James is grateful to be a part of the CCA, and doesn’t regret his decision to continue on in Photography, regardless of the unexpected challenges he faced this year. He cited many ways that RPS has helped him to develop his talent, ranging from classes on photography and Photoshop to guidance from their mentors. “It’s very fulfilling and it helps me improve on what I’m interested in, which is more or less why I joined.”

He’s not the only one who joined a CCA to develop his talents. However, while James had joined RPS after already gaining an abundance of experience in earlier years, some had joined in hopes of gaining experience instead. Take Linus Nguyen (21S06D), for example. Having joined Raffles Street Dance (RSD) without much prior dance experience, he confessed, “I regret that a little, since most of my CCA mates are really well-versed with different types of dances.” 

But that didn’t deter him from applying to join. “I performed last year, and that made me interested in dance,” he said, explaining what spurred him to join RSD. “I decided to give it a try as it seemed like something I would be happy doing.” 

He also cited support from his family as one of his motivations behind joining RSD. “I guess it reignited a passion in me to do so, and in [the midst of] all the excitement and everything, I ended up applying for Street Dance so I could dance again.”

RSD also gave Linus a chance to try something different. “I wanted to do some sports at first, but then I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone instead and do something newer, and so I auditioned for Street Dance,” he revealed.

The question remains: does he regret it? 

“The journey has actually been very welcoming and fun! All the members of RSD are enthusiastic to dance and learn with one another. The CCA seems to be built around friendships and trust instead of [competition], which is really nice,” he shared, chipping in with a slight grin. “Though, there were only two guys in the CCA, which was really surprising,” he added as an afterthought.

Last but not least, I interviewed someone from Students’ Council—a CCA that garners a lot of interest every year. Queena Lim (21S03E), Moor Tarbet’s house captain, shared, “I was always interested in joining Council in JC since I heard from seniors that the experience is very different from that in secondary school. I heard we could have more autonomy in organising initiatives and I thought it would be meaningful to serve my peers and contribute to my school this way.”

Queena with some of the other Council members.

Further touching on her motivations to join Council, she added, “Aside from wanting to be able to contribute my expertise to making school a little better for everyone, I also looked forward to learning more about leadership and management, and [to] grow my capacity in these ways.”

Despite how motivated we may be in our CCAs, there’s always times when we would inevitably feel overwhelmed, and this feeling is only exacerbated in high-commitment CCAs like the Students’ Council. 

“The journey has been a myriad of ups and downs! Once circuit breaker was over, the workload became quite intensive and time-consuming,” Queena said in agreement. “But I think it was mostly due to us having multiple online meetings which made us very autopilot. Currently, though, it’s been super fun and rewarding since we get to interact more with one another and can see the fruits of our labour! Also, apart from Council, I have my 2nd CCA which helps me to relieve stress.”

When asked about whether or not Council aligned to her motivations and was how she imagined it would be, she stated that while she didn’t regret it, it admittedly was not exactly how she imagined it to be. “During campaigning, seniors portrayed Council in a very strict and serious manner. But surprisingly, it’s less serious than I expected it to be. Our batch decided to have a greater balance of work hard and play hard, since we are still a CCA after all.”

This year has proven to be a challenge with its unexpected hurdles, she conceded, but she still managed to achieve her goal of contributing to the school community. “We were forced to organise much smaller scale initiatives, so we had to think way out of the box. We still managed to organise events for everyone, [even though] we got less reception from students,” she shared.

She refuses to be brought down by these setbacks, however, declaring, “I think the 40th SC did a really good job in working around these hurdles and tried their best to change the structure of SC, which could be better for the future!”

And there we have it: the various motivations that drove students in RI to join the CCAs that they’re currently in, ranging from wanting to uncover a buried dream to giving back to the school community. No two reasons are quite the same; but they do share one thing in common, and that’s their passion. It’s a short two years here in JC, and what better way to enjoy it than joining a CCA that you’re truly interested in, and going through these two years without regretting the choice that you’ve made?

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