FROM ME TO EU: THE JAE EXPERIENCE [PART 3]

Check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Erica (2019)

(i) Why did you choose Eunoia?

Prior to making my decision, I was initially extremely drawn to Eunoia’s online presence. I was also drawn to the idea of being part of a new JC that would hopefully offer many new and exciting opportunities that would go beyond the traditional, establishment-type JC experience. For me, the Open House really sold me on joining EJ because it was one of the only open houses I attended where the teachers seemed truly passionate, involved and concerned about not just what they taught but who they taught, and that meant a lot to me. There has always been this long-standing notion that JC teachers don’t care for you and won’t care for you, and that JC is a fully independent, lone-wolf experience. However, the EJ open house assured me that this wouldn’t be the case and that I would have teachers who believed in me and supported me all the way.

(ii) What was your EJ experience like? When did you feel like you identified as a Eunoian? Did you feel there was a difference between the JAE and JIP students?

I think my EJ experience was an extremely wholesome, enjoyable and fulfilling experience. Above all, I was always supported by teachers who believed in me, guided me, and classmates who saw me through every step of the JC experience. We had teachers like Mr Marc Kenji Lim who really went above and beyond to make his lectures truly artful in their performance and execution, and who took the time to recognise everyone’s good work and improvement. His patience in motivating every student individually makes me truly grateful to have been his student. Frankly, I think what made the EJ experience unique across the board beyond the friendships and unity was having such caring, passionate and devoted teachers! They really went out of their way to make lessons accessible, enjoyable and themselves approachable. 

I think I began identifying firmly as a Eunoian after joining my class in J1. Ending the year of stress and academic anxiety with Euphoria was one of my most heartwarming experiences. The school has put in place so many opportunities to grow and learn outside the confines of the curriculum, which was something I really appreciated.

I think from the outset of JC, being able to fit in and make friends is a worthy consideration and I was genuinely concerned about whether I would be able to fit in with all my JIP peers, especially since I was the only student from my secondary school in EJ at the time. However, from day one, my Orientation group mates were really welcoming and sweet, and my class never really experienced a JIP-JAE divide. Friends form your foundational support group in JC so I think taking the effort to reconcile or overcome differences and forming deep friendships with those around you is definitely worth the while!

(iii) What was one highlight of your 2 years in Eunoia?

I think making it through the A-Level Examinations with all my friends and having supported each other every step of the way really epitomised my EJ experience. We shared notes and conversely the burdens of exam stress and anxiety with each other as well as constantly supporting each other and eventually pulling through together. Regardless of the outcome of the examinations, I believe that our last stretch exemplified the EJ experience— wholesome, supportive and fulfilling.

(iv) What are you doing now? How did your 2 years in Eunoia shape you to get there?

I’m currently doing a double-major degree in firstly, environmental earth systems science and secondly, public policy and global affairs. Under my first major, I currently specialise in the relationship between environments and societies, where I’ve been studying agriculture, civilisation development and history! Under my second major, I’ve chosen to specialise more in political philosophy and international relations. I think many of my interests and passions were born out of the openness of EJ’s learning culture where my Geography, Economics and GP teachers really gave me so much latitude to explore and learn beyond the scope of the classroom; this also helped me to develop a range of unique and growing interests. My teachers were always extremely encouraging and supportive and this really pushed me towards pursuing something I love to the fullest, for which I’m infinitely grateful.

Ellard (2019)

i) Why did you choose EJ?

When I first considered EJ, I thought it would be fun considering the school culture which would be relatively different to other junior colleges since EJ was a new school! In addition, my sister joined the college the year before and strongly encouraged me to apply as well on the basis of the excellent teaching staff in the school! It was honestly a very spontaneous experience but I think it worked out in the end.

iia) What was your EJ experience like?

Wacky! Becoming involved in many initiatives that I didn’t initially expect myself to be involved in was a truly serendipitous experience. Council-wise, I didn’t expect myself to try for the position let alone pass the election phase but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try and it ended up working out! Similarly, joining choir was unexpected due to my lack of prior experience but I made in on the retrial after practising with guidance from my sister. In hindsight, joining Choir and Council were very defining parts of my EJ experience, since I managed to make a number of good friends from both of these CCAs, and I learnt a lot from them. Subject-combination wise, taking Knowledge & Inquiry was another unexpected decision, especially with it having a reputation of having a demanding workload (and it is), but I just rolled with it and since then it has played a huge part in shaping me into who I am now.

However, my EJ experience was still challenging in the aspect that it forced me to adapt socially. Even as a self-identified introvert, I had to try to make new friends since I knew almost nobody. Being in Council and Choir also pushed me to interact with more people through working together and it eventually got better over time! Within my CG, we spent most of our time sticking to our cliques so any other conversations were a bit awkward but the situation eventually improved over time!

Lastly, my EJ experience was fun! As it turned out, it was by experimenting with new things and stepping out of my comfort zone did I manage to forge many great memories. From interacting with other students and teachers, to being a part of organising some truly incredible events. (Euphoria 2019, Prom 2019, Ori 2020, etc.), seeing others truly enjoy themselves was always deeply fulfilling, and made all the effort we put in worth it. As part of choir, training was difficult but being able to sing with my friends as one choir was really incredible. In the moments when we come together and execute a piece perfectly, the visceral feeling of goosebumps combined with the sublime quality of the music we made were always unforgettable.

iib) When did you feel that you identified as a Eunoian?

To rephrase the question, I think it would be better to share about the moment when I felt I belonged to EJ. As strange as it may sound, I felt such emotions more than once! With Choir, practising our SYF pieces and going out for meals after practices really gave me the feeling of being part of a bigger group. As part of Council, we were able to create unforgettable moments such as Euphoria for the student population. From the electric atmosphere that consumed people at our annual rave, to the farewells at Prom, there are many magical moments that helped me feel like part of the EJ community. Even in my Knowledge & Inquiry class, discussing epistemological issues or just non-academic things really helped us bond and made me feel that I belonged.

iic) Did you feel there was a difference between the JAE and JIP students?

At the beginning, if I was talking to a singular person, the JAE-JIP difference didn’t really matter since we were more or less strangers. However, when the breaks came and groups started congregating to carry out activities such as playing Ultimate Frisbee, the differences became slightly clearer.

However, the lines started to blur as the year progressed and there was definitely more inclusivity in every aspect of our community. While the one-third majority of Catholic High guys in my class made the JAE-JIP divide slightly more obvious at the beginning, this became better eventually! Similarly, my CCAs were really bonded since we were mostly united by our drive to serve our CCA rather than our backgrounds. Over the two years, I guess I just stopped thinking of it as a JAE-JIP divide and rather just differences in social circles, because I made quite a lot of JIP friends!

iii) What was 1 highlight of your 2 years in EJ?

Definitely Orientation 2020! The overall hype atmosphere such as learning new dances and painting banners, as well as making new friends really stood out to me. Being an OGL also let me interact with the J1s within my OG, and it was fun getting to know them as well as helping them assimilate into the school. As an OGL team, it was also fun discussing with the other OGLs on how we could make Orientation even more enjoyable for them. By the end of Orientation, our OG was quite close and I made some really great memories with them. Despite the CG part of Orientation being more restricted due to COVID-19, we all endeavoured to make the experience enjoyable, so actually seeing the juniors enjoy themselves was very satisfying. The end of Orientation also marked a shift in our focuses towards our academics, so in a way it was the last time I felt least tied down by my academics and would also be why I remember it so vividly!

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