By Raphael Niu (23A01A)
When I attended RI’s last physical Y1-4 Open House in 2019, I was only a Y2 student. As I ushered visitors around the campus, shuttling between the academic booths in the Albert Hong Hall and the CCA displays at the Raja Foyer, I distinctly remember being filled with a sense of wonder. It struck me then that there was so much to experience in RI, and that in my one-and-a-half years there, I had only scratched the surface.
Then the pandemic hit, and everything shut down. As classes moved onto MS Teams and programmes like Boarding and OBS were cancelled, the annual Open House went online for three years. I didn’t attend those; they reminded me too much of how much COVID had taken away from us all.
After a long hiatus, RI’s Open House will finally be held face-to-face on 29 April in all its former glory. Instead of gathering information from website tabs and Zoom webinars, prospective students and their parents will be able to step foot into RI’s 19-hectare Y1-4 campus to see the school for themselves.
Of course, this means visitors will be able to try student favourites like the waffles from Chill@RIB (our very own convenience store) or the rolling chairs in the Raffles Discovery Studios. But more importantly, the in-person format means visitors will have the opportunity to have honest, genuine conversations with RI students and staff about what RI is really like, to get a better sense as to whether it is the right school for them.
This is, however, no ordinary Open House. In celebration of RI200, RI’s Open House this year incorporates a carnival: the Raffles Square will be transformed into a bazaar with food stalls, game booths and merchandise stands. 100 Special Olympics swimmers will also take part in a swimming festival at our pool. The vibrancy of RI life, therefore, will be on full display.
I will attend the Open House again this year, even though as a Y6 student now, there will probably be less wonder at what could be and more nostalgia at what could have been. After all, I will be graduating soon and a single day couldn’t possibly replace three years’ worth of experiences. I am attending, however, to show myself that RI has fully emerged from the pandemic the same school it has always been for 200 years: one where anything and everything is possible.
For all the Primary 6 students out there who will be joining the school as fresh-faced juniors in 2024, a world of possibility awaits them. My wish for them is to have that same wonder and joyous anticipation that I had four years ago. And as we count down the last 50 days towards RI200, I am reminded that no matter the differences in the types of school experiences we had, the past, present and future generations of Rafflesians are all ultimately still bound together by our shared legacy and our collective hopes for a better age.