Photo by Pareen Chaudhari
When Hillary Loh ’18 returned from a lecture, she found a slip of paper at her door. “Good morning sunshine! Thank you for making this school an even better place by participating in the Angels game,” it read, before announcing the name of her Mortal.
The past month or so has seen the mushrooming of a number of student-initiated community building efforts. Conceptualised, facilitated and executed entirely by students, these organic initiatives have further enriched the community at Yale-NUS College and added to the flurry of activity on campus.
“I felt that perhaps the community spirit was a bit lacking this semester, [which is why] I thought to revive [the Angels game],” said Anna Evtushenko ’17, who facilitates the game with Amanda Lee ’17. In the game, a ‘Mortal’ is randomly assigned an ‘Angel’, and the ‘Angel’ is to send the ‘Mortal’ letters or gifts over the course of the semester. Both classes participate in the game on an opt out basis.
On student initiatives, Loh thinks they fill niches that larger and more generic schoolwide events may not fully satisfy. What’s Going On is another student initiative started by four students on Sept. 15. According to Willie Khoo ’17, one of the organisers, the four of them saw a need for a regular safe space where students could be vulnerable with each other and gather to discuss community issues. “In our intro session … [some participants said that until then] we’ve not had a space like this… [and they thought] having a space like this is very important,” shared Khoo. Their dialogue sessions so far have discussed topics like the use of spaces on campus and expectations in college. One of these sessions inspired Kavya Gopal ’18 and Hannah Yeo ’18 with the idea for Lunch Lottery, a social dining project and adaptation of Lunch Tag.
The students interviewed for this article all agreed on the importance of student-led initiatives. “One of the special things about Yale-NUS is the close knit community we have … [and initiatives like these] reflect school spirit,” said Andrew Lai ’18, who is organising a college-wide music mixtape exchange with fellow classmate Yonatan Gazit ’18. “Also if you know the person organising [the event], it seems more likely that people will participate,” said Lai.
Others think student ownership of ideas is important. “The gulf between idea and action is really huge. People don’t usually realise this until they take ownership of an idea themselves. It’s easy to throw an idea out there and expect the DoS, ESC or someone else to take it up … [Bridging the gulf through seeing an idea through] is a very satisfying [process] and very important,” said Khoo.
At the end of the day, while not every student may participate in, or be as involved as others in activities on campus, student-initiated or otherwise, it is comforting to know that Yale-NUS is a growing, self-aware community.
On a final note, Evtushenko added, “I really hope all the Angels reach out to their mortals soon, because Angels is all about giving.”