Same scene, new eyes – in light of Press’s Undercover project, we got our hands deep in preparation before we began.
To set myself up for the mission, I created a concrete backstory – suddenly, I was a Singaporean who used to be from a school in Singapore in lower secondary, but transferred to a school in Shanghai to study because my Dad had been deployed to work there. After 2 years, I come back to Singapore to study in a JC, my sister’s JC to be specific (my “sister” was a J2 in the school last year). This, would be my story.
And for a personality? Contrary to my usual persona, I would be playing an introvert and a bookworm, who enjoyed reading Romance books
And that was it; with that, I was good to go. What more could I have prepared?
Stepping into school at 7.15am in blurry-eyed confusion, my first thought was honestly, “I’ve never been this early before.” Feeling the book in my bag pressed against my spine, I met up with my fellow Press members for a quick meeting before heading to the hall to officially start my Undercover Duty.
I sat down in what I thought was the OG I was supposed to join. I listened in to others conversations, took a look around… Almost 15 minutes into the awkward silence and spacing out, an OGL comes up to me and asks, “What OG are you in?”
He replied, “Oh they are sitting at the back.”
A wave of panic flowed through me. I got awkward stares from the people around me, I got up and moved towards the back, where I found my actual OG and received even more questioning looks.
One task that I have set myself was to record down the time it took for someone to spontaneously talk to me, without me having to start a conversation.
15 minutes in, no luck. The national anthem was sung, the pledge was taken and the college anthem was belted, which to the J1s, apparently, sounded like a National Day song.
Another hour in, no luck. Mrs Wong has just finished her speech, in which she kindly requested for everyone to take a seat as she was, “not known for making short speeches”, which garnered some sniggers from the J1s at this light hearted humour.
2 hours in, and I had my closest shave of getting noticed. I did not inform one of my OGLs that I was going Undercover, and when she recognised me, she came over, yelling, “Hey, Ashley!” and proceeded to try and confirm her suspicions that I was one of her classmates. I acted confused and told her that I was not, then watched her go into panic mode and was deeply apologetic for her blunder. I felt so guilty! Fortunately, the J1s around me started asking about what just happened, which managed to spark a conversation.
To me, it was very stressful not talking and being the new-kid-on-the-block, with no cliques and no friends to converse with. Being an extrovert by nature, I could not stand being silent for 2 hours, there were quite a few times where I was so close to breaking silence and asking someone about what “Matriculation Day” was. I felt helpless, having a question and not having it addressed there and then, not being able to high-five someone spontaneously but watching others from the same school do it. Although I was just going Undercover, it felt pretty real, like I was being ostracised just because I wasn’t wearing the same uniform as the rest, or just because of my personality.
After the traditional Icebreakers and getting-to-know one another, we had clan time, which included learning the clan cheers and the initiation ceremony. I was in the clan, Zulus (which honestly sounded a lot like I’ll lose, but I do hope, out of the irony of the name, that Zulus would emerge best clan!). While all of us took a shot of the “blood of our enemies” (which was very sweet Ribena essentially), I couldn’t help but feel a sense of brotherhood, comradery, like we were now united as one clan. I know, its trivial and silly, that drinking the same beverage can tie people together, but it was so much more than that, it was the way this beverage was presented, portrayed, and painted, that meant so much personally.
Moving on to the Scavenger Hunt portion of the day, my OG was fazed with a tough question, “What is the Eder house mascot?”. Personally I had no clue either, I thought it was a horse, as did the rest of the OG, but there were other funny (but wrong) answers that included Pegasus, Unicorn and the very unfortunate elephant (sorry eder), but one OGling was smart enough to google it online and we all learnt that ultimately it was a Stallion. There were other tasks to complete, which included taking an OG picture with a teacher, a senior, a jump shot etc. In which I so shamelessly volunteered to take the picture as I knew my cover was about to be blown and I didn’t want to spoil their harmonious OG photo. Eventually, when the OG wanted to take a photo with a senior, one OGL pointed at me and went, “There a senior”. Finally, my cover was blown after 4 hours. I came clean, took a picture, apologised for lying, and left, along with a pocket of sadness and a sack full of guilt.
But strangely, I found myself heaving a sigh of relief as I joined some of my friends in Media on their duties. Due to our choice of uniform (a bad one obviously), I couldn’t help but feel like all the attention was on me. During the whole experience, I tried avoiding friends I knew in school, but much to my dismay and horror, there were game masters that said hi to me, in which I responded with hanging my head low, pretending that I did not hear them. Throughout the day, I felt like my confidence dropped to a zero, but I must admit, talking to the J1s, getting to know them and what they were looking forward to in JC really made me feel more comfortable and more at ease. Making friends with a SN girl and knowing that she used to study in China as well, but knowing that this common identity isn’t true, left a bitter taste in my mouth. As well as getting to know a CHS boy whom I was supposed to buddy up with for the next week, but feeling very bad that I would not be back the next day (but don’t worry, he got paired up with a girl from SN, so all’s good)
After we had all found ourselves with our covers blown and hence confessed, we proceeded to give impromptu interviews with different people from different OGs, asking them how their days has been. The general sensing we got was that Day 1 of Eunite has been entertaining and fun, from the unexpected technical difficulties, to “outscreaming” the other clans, to the very dedicated and caring OGLs.
Needless to say, I brought my book back home, untouched. Going Undercover during Eunite was possibly the most awkward and embarrassing thing I’ve done so far in the year, but at the same time it was an enlightening experience, from the unexpected twists and underprepared plan we had, I would say that going Undercover did allow me to relive my Eunite experience and also allowed me to gain more insights as to what the J1s are looking forward to in JC as well as what are some aspects of schools life that they are generally confused about. (which will be addressed in a separate article so stay tuned!)
Even though I was only there for a day (okay 4 hours), being part of the clan Zulus was an awkward, difficult, evasive, and yet somehow utterly enjoyable, fun-filled experience – thank you not only to the OGLs of Eunite 2019, but also to OG15 for helping me to be slightly less awkward with all the small talk and funny conversations we had. (On a side note, to all my friends who bumped into me and whom I ignored, I’m deeply apologetic!) I hope that all of you will have fun this Eunite and see all of you at Orientation!
A picture with a “senior”:
ZULUS I EE HOO HA RA