By Afeef Ikhwan (21A13B) and Sara Chia (21S03G)
Once upon a time, the Mary Mountains were kept peaceful by the power of the Sun and the Moon, the kingdom’s Ruler, as well as the five Houses. However, with the weakening of house spirit in the kingdom, the five Houses must restore the balance between the Sun and the Moon to ensure that the sacred state of twilight is not lost forever.
Crepúsculo, literally translating to “twilight” in Spanish, is the theme of this year’s orientation programme! Crepúsculo interlinks a multitude of metaphors. The time spent in junior college is beautiful yet momentary, and as such, should be appreciated while it lasts, much like how twilight is a transitionary period between day and night. Additionally, activities planned for the orientation programme are both safe and adventurous, taking safe management measures (SMMs) into account.
Crepúsculo kicked off on the 1st of February and spanned 4 days. But how different was orientation this year compared to those organised in previous years? For starters, Crepúsculo alternated between online and offline segments throughout the programme. OGlings had staggered timetables: they were only expected to be in school for half of each day, with the other half spent attending a virtual meeting. Minimising interactions between different orientation groups (OGs) was also a key consideration. As such, each OG’s activities were restricted to an assigned classroom. Participants were expected to sanitize their hands regularly and maintain a 1 metre distance from one another, especially when playing games.
The very first moments of Crepúsculo were very subdued. OGLings reported to their respective venues and, as soon as they set foot in the classroom, were instructed by their OGLs to take their temperatures, as per COVID-19 protocol. Then came their first taste of school life in RI: getting their hands on their house and orientation T-shirts, as well as document files with the Crepúsculo logo imprinted on them. Expect to see a sea of students carrying Crepúsculo files in the weeks to come!
After handling all the administrative technicalities, the OGLs initiated ice breakers for the OGLings to get to know one another. The planned activities for this segment, Blow Wind Blow and Double Whacko, received much fanfare from the OGLings. Blow Wind Blow is relatively straightforward: a person stands in the middle of a circle and calls out a characteristic, players with the aforementioned characteristic stand up and exchange seats, and the last player standing has to stand in the middle of the circle, ultimately repeating the process.
However, the difficulty level of Double Whacko was a far cry from the simplicity of Blow Wind Blow. It required OGLings to know one another by name, an incredibly difficult feat given that most of them were seeing each other for the first time. Nevertheless, the OGLings braved it out and thoroughly enjoyed the game. In fact, fits of laughter were heard each time an OGLing failed to call out another OGLing’s name before his partner was whacked on the head with a rolled newspaper!
Next up was Crepúsculo’s official opening ceremony! In line with restrictions on mass gatherings, the ceremony took place in the form of a YouTube livestream. OGLings and OGLs alike beheld the proceedings from the comfort of their own classrooms, following which, a pre-recorded narrative video was played, depicting the entirely fictional story of Crepúsculo.
At the end of the narrative video, Speedy Gonzales started playing. OGLings looked visibly confused; little did they know that their OGLs were going to be performing the Sun Dance for them! A tradition passed down from one batch of OGLs to the next, the Sun Dance (reportedly) makes sure that the sun always shines and keeps the rain at bay. OGLings spectated as the OGLs did movements such as the Hawaiian and the Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Following all the hullabaloo and buzz from the Sun Dance performance, House Hour was the last segment of Day 1. The newly inaugurated OGLings from each house learnt their respective house cheers for the first half hour. But there was a catch: due to SMMs, OGLings were not allowed to shout and could only recite the cheers
The activities for the rest of House Hour were entirely dependent on what each house wanted its members to do. For example, Bayley-Waddle OGLs had the option of dedicating the last minutes of Day 1 to initiating small talk with their OGLings. Morrison-Richardson, however, had something very interesting up its sleeve: The Superlative Game! The two OGs assigned to each classroom competed against each other to perform a task related to a given superlative. These included most OGmates’ names recited, longest breath and highest note!
For OGs in Moor-Tarbet, blindfolded OGLings had to draw an image with a marker tied together by strings based on the verbal cues given by their OGLs!
With that, the end of House Hour concluded Day 1 of Crepúsculo. Admittedly, Crepúsculo was off to a rather slow start. Some OGLings, like Megan Sierra Chan (22A13B), had a “jumble of feelings such as excitement and nervous anticipation”. And there were some, like Ray Lim (22S06M), who commented that Day 1 was “a little awkward”, with “new people in a new environment.”. Let’s see how their emotions evolved over the next few days!
The second day of Crepúsculo rolled around with considerably more energy than the first. After sorting through the usual admin matters (and the Sun Dance, of course), OGLings delved into one of the most anticipated—albeit dreaded by some—parts of Orientation: the batch dance.
This year’s batch dance featured two songs. The first on the list for the OGLings to learn was Someone To You by Banners; despite having to watch a tutorial video instead of being physically coached by the Dance committee, they had a surprisingly quick uptake and wasted no time in learning the different dance moves.
The hype didn’t end there—if anything, even more excitement awaited the OGLings in the form of the long list of games prepared for them. In the second day alone, OGLings cycled through a grand total of five games that stretched on for close to two and a half hours. The games in question were Balloon Volleyball, Pong Connect 4, Trivia Buzzer, Towel Catch, and Obstacle Course, with each game pitting the OGs in each class against each other.
Of course, there were limitations as a result of safe distancing measures; in Balloon Volleyball, whereby a game of volleyball is conducted with a balloon instead of a ball, players had to use plastic spoons in place of their hands. This did little to dampen their spirits and the overall fun of the games, however, and they completed all of their games with just as much competitive spirit and laughter as when they first began.
When asked about the flurry of activity that went on in a single day alone, Gillian Choy (21A01B, OGL of MR0304) laughed, “Having to keep up with the constant flow of things was the hardest part. It was also a good and rewarding challenge, though, since we had to always be on our feet!”
Kicking off Day 3 was the routine Sun Dance, but with a twist! OGLings were left dazed as their OGLs ran out of their classrooms to stand along the corridors of Blocks A and B. The dance committee of Crepúsculo (or Dance Comm for short) could be seen standing along the link bridge on Level 3. OGLings then realised that the OGLs were going to perform a “mass” Sun Dance of sorts, although not in close proximity with one another like OGLs did in the previous years of Orientation. The sight was truly one to behold: multiple floors awash with .the black T-shirts of the OGLs performing, Dance Comm on the link bridge being the centre of attention, and OGLings getting a glimpse of the action from their classrooms.
OGLings learned their second batch dance, All Night by The Vamps, after the Sun Dance performance. This was handled in a similar fashion to the dance segment on Day 2, with OGLings watching a tutorial video and imitating the dance movements on screen. OGLs had the option of replaying certain sections of the video if anyone was unclear of the movements, thus ensuring everyone felt included in the process. Towards the end of this segment, OGLs singled out the best pair of OGLings to participate in a dance-off, and this was typically achieved through OGLings voting for the best pair.
Afterwards, Team Raffles Hour served as a respite from the high energy levels of the dance segment, providing OGLings with the opportunity to familiarize themselves with some Rafflesian cheers (Rafblood, Unite) as well as the Institution Anthem. Following the screening of cheer introduction videos, OGLings were tested on their cheer knowledge in a game. The two OGs assigned to each classroom competed to answer questions flashed on the classroom screen, and just as expected, they gave their all when doing so!
Remember when we said that the best pair of OGLing dancers were selected from each classroom? The Dance Off is where this came in: each house selected the best pair out of all its OGs, and the final five pairs made their way to the Multi-Purpose Hall (MPH) for the real competition. The OGs of the selected pairs also came down to the hall to support them; the rest remained in their classrooms and enjoyed the dancing from a livestream. The five pairs performed Someone to You and All Night with much fervour and zeal. Ultimately, Buckle-Buckley emerged victorious, but each pair on stage won gift hampers for their respective OGs as a participation prize.
As three quarters of Crepúsculo were now done and dusted, OGLings had noticeably become so comfortable with each other that sometimes, they took the organization of orientation activities into their own hands! “We would start playing random games while waiting for the OGLs, and everyone would just join in,” Ray Lim (22S06M) shared, before laughing shortly after.
Time flies when you’re having fun—the final day of Orientation ‘21 dawned with a strange mix of anticipation and bittersweetness. As always, the day kicked off with the Sun Dance, followed by the conclusion of the narratives that the OGLings had been viewing over the last three days.
Of course, the last day couldn’t possibly go out without a bang; a multitude of games awaited the OGLings. There were two competitive games—Sling-Off and Human Foosball. In Sling-Off, players utilised paper balls as their weapons and hurled them at their opponents, with a set of arranged tables acting as handy shields to prevent them from getting hit. On the other hand, Human Foosball was exactly what it sounds like—a game of foosball, only that the ball was rolled by hand by the OGLings in teams of six. With certain rules having been set in place, such as no tossing of the ball, it certainly proved a challenge to get the ball past the goalkeeper to score points!
There was also a bonding game, Orientation in the Dark, whereby pairs of OGLings would alternate between drawing their House Mascots or the Crepúsculo logo while blindfolded by listening to their partner’s instructions. Although the game did give rise to some less-than-convincing drawings, it was all in good fun, and the games concluded with high spirits and laughter all around.
After three consecutive days of pre-planned programmes and activities, the day rolled to a close with OG Time: an hour dedicated to OG bonding in whichever form the OGs preferred. Some decided to go down the more bittersweet route with heart-to-heart talks and farewells to OGLs; others wanted to maintain the hype and spent the time playing game after game. Nadya Perera (21S03G) shared that there were many fun moments during orientation, but that her favourite moment was when her OG played Just Dance during House Hour. She recounted with a fond smile: “It was really heart-warming to see everyone laughing and dancing together and just, you know, enjoying each other’s presence and living in the moment.”
Ultimately, the last day of Crepúsculo drew to a close after many photos, exchanged notes, and forged bonds. Some OGLings confessed laughingly to being glad to finally get a break from the flurry of activity, while others (OGLs included) seemed to almost be on the verge of tears at the prospect of having to say goodbye.
Conclusion: Looking back at Crepúsculo
However, the end of Orientation certainly didn’t mark the end of all the friendships formed during the four days—while departing from their shared classroom at the end of the programme, promises rang out all around to keep in touch and meet up again. We asked a number of students for their thoughts on Orientation, and regardless of differing sentiments, there was definitely one opinion they shared in common: Crepúsculo was an experience that would stay fondly in everyone’s memories, whether OGLing, OGL, or even the organising committees.
Tiffany Liu (21S03G) admitted that she had a lot of reservations prior to Orientation itself, worrying that orientation would be overly restricted due to social distancing guidelines and the OGLings wouldn’t be able to have fun, but her doubts were washed away during the event. “It went a lot better than expected,” she admitted. “It was really fun to conduct the sessions and to watch the OGLings having fun and getting to know each other.” Overall, Crepúsculo turned out to be a rewarding experience to her, and when asked if she had any messages for her orientation group, she said, “Thank you for shaping the best 4 days I’ve had in JC so far! I hope you all will continue to have the best time here.”
Let’s not cast aside the council members who painstakingly brought Crepúsculo to fruition! Li Jiaxin (21SO6P) was one of them, in addition to being an OGL for BW1920. She admitted that her journey in the Orientation Committee (or O’Comm for short) was a “tedious but important process”, as COVID-19 restrictions required its members to come up with innovative solutions to new problems. Nevertheless, she thoroughly enjoyed her time as an O’Comm member. She believes that orientation itself was “quite tough” exactly because no one had ever conducted it with SMMs in mind, but that was also what made it so unforgettable. Also, she expressed special gratitude towards her Highlights team.
“[The Highlights team] were the most hardworking and dedicated bunch, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity [to push] the limits with them! Since August 2020, our team has worked tirelessly on the narrative, from scriptwriting to video filming and editing. We were also in charge of publicity, in particular, planning and editing posts on the Team Raffles Instagram page. The decorations [put up] during orientation, like the light pillar link bridge and Crepúsculo banners, were also our work!” she shared.
Speaking from an OGL’s perspective instead, Jiaxin initially worried about doing things right for her OGLings and helping her fellow OGLings in organizing Crepúsculo’s various activities. As such, there was pressure to give them her best and make sure that “everyone was enjoying themselves”. Her biggest takeaway from being an OGL? Communication is key; it builds deeper and more meaningful connections with one another, stranger or not.
Finally, who can possibly forget about the OGLings, the stars of Crepúsculo? It’s safe to say that without their active and zealous participation, orientation would not have fostered such close bonds (and Mary Mountains would not have been saved from utter ruin). Shavinne Tsai (22S06C) initially expected orientation to be “awkward and boring” because she had the preconception that “everything would be online due to COVID”. Clearly, these assumptions were proven wrong; Shavinne attributed the success of Crepúsculo to the “very, very, very nice and welcoming OGLs” who facilitated OG bonding, thus allowing her to get the best out of her orientation experience.
Tessa Koh (220S3N) shares the same sentiments as Shavinne, as the OGLs helped her overcome the “feeling of intimidation” she felt talking to her newfound OGmates.
“My greatest takeaway from [orientation] is to just be open and not be judgmental,” she added. “Because only then, [will you] truly understand the other party. At the same time, you will not be afraid to make new friends. This way, you can truly enjoy your [orientation] experience.”
And even beyond Crepúsculo, many OGLings took home some lessons for the rest of the school year. “[Orientation] helped me get into a ‘put yourself out there’ mindset, so I was more ready to make friends in my new class,” Megan quipped.
As expected, Crepúsculo started off with as much awkwardness as it did excitement. But through days of games, dances, and other OG-bonding activities, it’s safe to say that quite a number of OGLings managed to find themselves a new tightly-knit circle of friends, and that through the duration of Orientation, however short, they have managed to bring forth a much longer-lasting set of bonds.