By Mirella Ang (22A01C)
RI offers a very extensive list of CCAs, but have you ever wondered if there were… more? Well, that’s external CCAs for you.
External CCAs are essentially that—CCAs that aren’t school-based. In other words, training takes place outside of official school hours, and often runs on a completely different schedule from school.
Unlike internal CCAs, which can be found on RI’s website, external CCAs are run by external training organisations and cannot be found on the school website. In other words, external CCAs are any sport, art, club, or uniformed group (UG) that you choose to pursue outside RI!
Sports acknowledged by the Singapore Schools Sports Council (SSSC) like gymnastics, golf, and archery are all considered external; so are arts like the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO) or the Singapore National Youth Chinese Orchestra (SNYCO); clubs like the Singapore Youth Flying Club (SYFC); and UGs like National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) or Scouts. The possibilities are literally endless!
Of course, because there are so many external organisations which offer training for different activities, it’s important to ensure that RI recognises the CCA and the centre you wish to train at by registering it (under “External CCA”) when indicating your choice of CCA. Otherwise, you might just end up missing a whole year’s worth of work in your CCA records.
But with such a wide range of CCAs that RI has to offer, why choose going for an external one over an internal one? For one, joining activities outside school gives you the chance to meet new people with similar interests. Claudia Toh (22S03K), who is in SNYO, said “[joining SNYO], you can find a similar community and make many friends!” Likewise, Emily Chen (22A01A) said SNYCO gave her the chance to meet “a lot of like-minded passionate musicians”.
Friends aside, external communities also tend to increase the amount of exposure you get to specific industries and professionals. SYFC, for example, provides their students with access to exclusive aircraft for relevant training.
More importantly, joining these external CCAs gives you the chance to grow your passion in ways the school might not be able to. Teng Jiaxin (22S06U) chose to continue being in NPCC (Sea) after 4 years in secondary school for exactly this reason: “[NPCC] has become a pretty permanent part of my identity… It was definitely more out of passion than sense of responsibility”. Emily also felt that SNYCO was “a training ground to nurture [her] passion”.
Not everything about external CCAs is bright and beautiful though; with great passion comes great responsibility. External CCAs tend to be more commitment-heavy because they run on a different schedule to RI’s, and many of them have strict expectations for their students. Claudia said that her experience thus far with SNYO has also been daunting to some extent, because the “standard [of playing] is quite high so I often have insecure feelings”.
Rehearsals also often take place either late at night or over the weekends, meaning sacrificing more recreational time for relaxation. For Jiaxin, though she thinks the workload is “pretty manageable”, she still has to “fork out additional time to serve at unit, area, or [headquarters] levels”.
All that simply means a lot of responsibility is required if you want to join an external CCA and keep up with your school work—juggling both is a challenge that not everyone is up to.
If external CCAs don’t seem to be quite your thing, don’t worry! RI has plenty of other CCAs and Enrichment Programmes (EPs) you can take up. You even have the choice to take up two and not just one. But if you are interested in taking an external CCA, don’t be afraid to dive in and go for it. The experience won’t quite be like anything else in school.