Written by: Martha Henrietta Soetedjo (20-U2), Soh Iwin (20-E5), Zenov Liu Fan (20-U1)
Designed by: Kothandam Anusha (20-I1)
As I read Dillon’s article, the first thing that piqued my interest was this notion: “It did take me a much longer time to get closer to my JAE classmates as I could not find many common topics between us. That’s not saying the school isn’t welcoming to JAE students.”
This statement resonated with me indeed.
“Who is this person that they are talking about?” was a question that I would recurrently ask myself in the first few weeks of school, whenever I tried to join my classmates for lunch. As I was a JAE student, I did not know a large fraction of the cohort unlike my JIP friends. Coupled with the fact that I grew up in a different school environment as compared to them, this caused us to have a dearth of common topics to talk about. Although I was an extrovert who used to buzz around with each and every classmate in secondary school, I had to admit that it was initially difficult for me to establish rapport with my classmates.
However, the road to understanding my JIP classmates was not a dead end filled with hopelessness. Perhaps it was the stressful nature of JC, perhaps it was the fact that we were all in the same boat of doom where we would be stretched thinly by our studies, commitments and co-curricular activities in the months to come. These tribulations helped my classmates and me to better connect with each other as we slowly developed support systems to spur each other on in this arduous journey of JC life.
Looking at my experience, I would agree with Dillon that the initial state of divide between the JAE and JIP students does not equate to the school’s lack of warmth towards the JAE students. This is because when strangers first meet, it is inevitable for them to stick with the people whom they are more comfortable with before opening up.
I would also attribute the initial divide between the JAE and JIP students to the different cultures and environments of our secondary schools. For instance, for the three JIP schools, being from a single gender school may mean that students had different experiences compared to their JAE counterparts who come from co-ed schools. Another example would be the differences in the academic curricula that the JAE and JIP students had in secondary school. For one, the JIP students did not have to take social studies, nor do they have national examinations such as the O Levels. These differences in our secondary school experiences engendered the initial dearth of common topics, and thus the divide. Thus, the cohort would require some time to rub out these differences as we formed a new common identity as Eunoians.
However, this does not mean that the school is not welcoming to the JAE students; conversely, the school played a vital role in helping the whole cohort to bond. I vividly remember the times where the college established a sense of warmth between the JAE and JIP students during orientation by reminding the JIP students to be inclusive, while getting them to bring the JAE students around for a school tour. Needless to say, the school has never discriminated against JAE students before in limiting our participation in special programmes such as the Humanities Scholarship Programme and GLIDE. Although it may be deemed a common struggle for JAE students to clinch leadership positions, I feel otherwise, and would vouch that there are ample leadership positions and opportunities to develop one’s potential, as long as you are willing to grab them. *winks*
During orientation, I used to don my red skirt in fear as I eyed the sea of blue skirts and green shorts that the majority of the cohort were in. Timid as I initially was, I used to be afraid of not being able to fit in. The truth is, however, that the differences between the JIP and JAE created diversity and such diversity brought the cohort closer together, to forge better memories as one Eunoia.
Looking at our experiences, it seems that most, if not all, of these fears of a JIP/JAE divide are amplified by the awkwardness of a new environment. We at EJ Press hope you’ve had a great read and found comfort in the knowledge that these initial doubts and fears are part of a phase that will soon pass.
All the best for the O-Level Examination Results Release, and see you soon in Eunoia, potential JAE juniors!