June 25, 2017

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Photo By Shawn Danker. Shared Copyright.
Jalan Besar complex.

by Bertha Henson

I have been off blogging for a while because I have been thinking about how to do a new news/views website. I miss Breakfast Network – that pro bono passion project which almost became a business until bureaucracy got in the way.

I like blogging, I do. I like the ability to say anything about anything with no one standing over my shoulder. I like breaking out of the usual news report/column/long form styles that restrict journalists’ ability to play with the language. Content is king, but story-telling can take different forms.

Plus, as a blogger, I don’t always have to draw a line between news and views. I can get self-righteous and indignant and emo. It’s just my take. It’s personal! You can tell that I’ve never really cared about getting eyeballs. I use a free WordPress platform. I don’t ask for ads. I don’t even care about putting up a visual which I have been told time and again would increase the number of eyeballs to my blog.

I just want to write.

If blogging was more “professional’’, I would add links to sites so that you will have more information. I would even spell-check (!) and re-write my pieces.  Instead, I am sorry to say that most of what you read are first drafts – and I do wish sometimes that I had someone who can cast a second eye over my work. Every writer needs an editor.

But it isn’t journalism. It isn’t original content. It isn’t pure reportage. It isn’t neutral. Of course, you can argue that professional journalism isn’t “neutral’’ or “pure’’ either, as it is grounded in editorial directions, government policy, corporate interests and the narrative of the day as dictated by ….someone else?

So can blogging and journalism be combined? Can aspects of social media be “professionalised’’?

I think so. Some of the rules of journalism can and should be imported, especially attribution and verification. There is one other principle that online journalism should apply: putting things in context and giving perspective. Very few things are really “new’’ or “astounding’’, yet a rape case or an administrative blunder takes on the proportions of a Titanic disaster (even in MSM) when the truth is, not all women are rape victims and the administrative wheels do run very well most times.

But I think that sticking to pure reporting and pure commentary might be going the way of the dodo. Why? Because most people don’t want to read TWICE – and you’d be lucky that if people read one piece from start to end. So news and views (of others and even the writer) have to be married and the baby would have to be presented in the way that best catches the eye of the beholder.

Social media leads the reading pattern with its click-baits as “headlines’’….such as….I didn’t think I would go crazy until I read this…This is the most amazing thing you’ll ever see in your life…etcetera. Buzzfeed et al think that listicles are the way to go. Then there are sites which believe extremism works best – always get angry and make people angrier. There are also sites which think making a mountain out of a molehill is the way to go – as well as  repeating old news because they worked the last time …so why not again?

How does one even begin to conceptualise a news site then? The easiest way is to set it up as a foil. Just put it against MSM and make sure most of the angles and types of stories are different. Then tout the site as “alternative’’. Better still, as anti-establishment. Or as a useful addition to the parched MSM landscape.

Nothing wrong with it.

But then a person who wants to be fully-informed would have to read both mediums – and make up his or her own mind about what he or she feels about what they have read. Yes, feel. Most times, reading/watching is more about “feeling’’ than about being “enlightened’’. (Tip: Always make sure you end the piece well, rather than let it taper off….)

The other way is to curate or edit effectively, selecting topics of interest to the readership or alerting them to news that they will make them lead better lives. The trouble today is that we have too much news and too many facts – and we don’t know what to do with them. In fact, sometimes we’re so numbed by the news that we become indifferent to happenings elsewhere. A news organization should make sense of the news – especially what they mean.

So what is this new website going to offer? More Breakfast Network stuff? Actually, I have been describing it as Breakfast Network plus plus. The people behind it, which includes me, have decided to name it The Middle Ground. We start on Monday.

To be continued tomorrow…

 

This article was first published at berthahenson.wordpress.com.

If you like this article, Like the Middle Ground‘s Facebook Page as well!
For breaking news, you can talk to us via email.

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Photo by Shawn Danker
The facade of the State Courts

by Bertha Henson

A blockbuster set in the tropical isle of Stingapore, a hub of intrigue and centre of iniquity. Sean Rodd, a young American expatriate seeking adventure finds himself immersed in a different culture when he lands a job in a prestigious technological institute there. But just a year into his job, he finds that things are not what he thought it would be. His work had involved him dealing with shady Chinese networks. Aided by his supportive girlfriend whom he met at a party, he battles depression and homesickness before finally deciding to uproot for home. Instead, his body was found hanging in his Chinatown apartment. Was it suicide as the Stingapore police claimed? Or murder as his distraught family believed? Who was the last person to see him alive?

Starring: Rayne Sodd as Sean Rodd

Handsome and strapping,the electrical engineer took up a job in the Institute of Mickey Engineering in Stingapore in 2010.  His work  included a project with Heywah Technology, a Chinese network , involving a device powered by sodium chloride, which could also have military implications. Was he being snared into some form of cyber espionage? Was he betraying his country? He spirals into a depression, decides to quit his job and head for home sweet home. On June 22, 2012, he was found hanging from his bathroom door in his Chinatown apartment.

Dick and Sally Maud as Nick and Nellie Rodd, Sean’s parents

Unable to believe that their son took his own life, they accuse the Stingapore police of botching the investigation and allege a cover-up. They maintain that their son had been set upon by unknown assailants and his death made to look like suicide. Sympathetic American senators had a showdown with Stingapore’s diplomats. Finally persuaded to join a court inquiry in the city-state, the family, shadowed by FBI agents, enters the lion’s den… And walked out.

The actors, a married Montana couple in real life, said they decided to take on the roles as they had never been to Stingapore and wanted to visit Sentosa.

Tailor Connor as Con Bonner, intrepid investigative reporter

The man who came across the Rodds and their story – and hero of investigative journalism. He faces down the Stingapore justice system, refusing to testify in the inquiry, citing his commitments to a movie deal.

Wai Yu Say as Tay Ho Say, Stingapore’s Chief Counsel

Charged with defending the honour of Stingapore, he lines up witnesses to face Justice Bao, the man who has to come to a verdict on the case. He produces suicide notes written by Rodd and quizzes police on how they handle crime scenes. He threatens to arrest Rodd’s semi-blind doctor who failed twice to come to court and warns Mickey Engineering against trying to influence the case, producing a secretly-taped recording. A performance hailed by many.

See Song Boh, as Dr Wee Wat De, Stingapore’s chief coroner

The man who conducted the autopsy, he showed off his vast experience of strangulation cases to show that Rodd had hanged himself, not garrotted. He mesmerises the court with his details on what sort bruises, marks, discolourations would show up in different causes of death. The actor said he has watched several episodes of CSI to prepare himself for the role.

Eddie Braddlester as American expert Eric Addledstern

Forced to recant his earlier finding that Rodd was forcibly strangled, he bravely maintains murder-by-assassins theory. The trained vet, testifying via video-link from the safety of his home, cited Rodd’s physique which would require him to be over-powered by several people. Or tasered. Or arm-locked. He was dead before he was hanged on the door-frame.  The 76-year-old actor said it was a difficult role to play as he had to contradict four other expert witnesses in the movie.

PLUS: A cast of thousands. Including Stingapore starlet Shirlee Silvia as Rodd’s girlfriend, Shirley Shimmering. Film location: Washington DC, Montana in the USA, and Stingapore.

DISCLAIMER: The characters are fictional. Any similarity is purely coincidental.

Our thanks to the Stingapore courts for the use of their premises.

No animals were injured in this movie.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SEQUEL: Stingapore Sting – After The Walkout

Over buah keluak in a Tanah Merah flat, a bunch of ex-journalists met to discuss, what else, the news. What a waste, they thought, if their hard-earned journalistic skills did not go to the aid of the profession they had left – but still loved.

So a concept paper was cooked up, its recipe defined and re-fined over and over again as they figured out what ingredients should be added and left out.

A pure news site was no good, given that all of them held other jobs. Best to leave that to the paid professionals. But what about acting as a filter to help those too busy to sieve through the words from so many traditional sources? So many news articles but really, which are important and which, at best, space-filters? What about news from online sources? (In other words, could they help people start their mornings with a well-brewed cup of coffee instead of a pre-mix instant blend?)

Buoyed by the good reception to her online blog, Bertha Harian, Bertha Henson thought a similar concept could be applied to what could be a viewspaper. The most important aspect was the tone; it should not veer to the extremes. Neither strident nor sycophantic to any segment; it should definitely be easy to read. The Network decided that members would look at news sources everyday, decide on a few items and give a ‘take’ on them. It would be a moderate viewpoint that was critical and questioning of both the media and the people who make the news.

Over kueh pie tee at a second gathering of the Network, expanded with the inclusion of interested undergraduates and technical experts roped in to design a website, finishing touches were put to the concept. The Network’s core team recognised that this would be a pro bono effort, depending on the passion and commitment of volunteers, although they did not preclude revenue options to recoup costs in the future.

A two-week trial run started. A launch date set.

On Feb 19, the Breakfast Network was born, with Ms Henson at the helm and two former journalists, Mr Alvin Pang and Mr Yen Feng, playing both editing and writing roles. Not that the launch was smooth. Too many people logged in at the same time; the system crashed. Mr Benson Ong, whose team at WooWorld was running the backend operations, scrambled to rectify the confusion.

Then the Network had tried to be too clever with some of the tags. To keep to the breakfast theme, some tags such as Bites, Coffeeshop Talk, and Freshly Baked did no connect immediately with the reading audience. One month later, more changes were made. Better to be clear than clever. So Bites became Bites from MSM – short comments on some news items in MSM – while Coffeeshop Talk became What’s Eating Online. As for Freshly Baked, they changed this to Junior Chefs, to reflect the contributions from young people who had been tasked to comment on news that affected their community.

There was some disquiet in the MSM community, which viewed the site as anti-MSM because some items punctured holes in their reports. In the blogosphere, there was some suspicion that the site was a ploy by the establishment to infiltrate the medium and quell dissenting voices.

Nevertheless, the site gained some plaudits among those who thought it filled a gap in the online sphere. They appreciated the short, snappy comments accompanied by longer pieces. They also liked that various sources, including what was reported in the Chinese newspapers, was included in the morning diet.

Some of our readers left positive comments. One reader said: “Excellent website – essential reading for anybody who has mountains of other stuff to plough through but needs to keep abreast of important Singapore issues. Congratulations to Bertha and her team. Keep up the good work!” – Rick Clements.

Some wanted more feedback mechanisms noting that comments were closed on the site. A Twitter account and a Facebook page were created. In time, the network would open the site for comments, trusting that its readers would add to the discussion of current affairs.

In the meantime, the Network recruited more members, including noted photographer Chia Aik Beng. Photo essays were added to the site. Videos were the most recent addition as the Network offered its site as a platform for those who want to show unique facets of what it is like to live in Singapore.

As the site got more populated and with the addition of more members, the question of sustainability became urgent. On May 15, the Network decided to go one step further – to announce the Breakfast Network as a product of Artemis, a new company devoted to media training and based in Ayer Rajah.

Said Ms Henson: “Yes, we need to become a business because passion alone cannot sustain professionalism. But you can be sure that we will maintain our editorial independence and integrity. That’s non-negotiable.”

On May 15, the Breakfast Network is officially launched!

Hence, our Slice for today is dedicated to providing picture snippets of the happenings of our launch event. In fact, today’s breakfast menu is specially prepared for this milestone event: Our Bread & Butter for today is about the launch (and there we also reveal our BN video!) and the Chef’s Special gives you a taste of how this labour of love of ours came to be conceptualised.

Enjoy!

Looks just like our Breakfast Network slice - only in real life! Can you spot The Flying Dutchman? (Photo by Shawn Danker)
Looks just like our Breakfast Network slice – only in real life! Can you spot The Flying Dutchman? (Photo by Shawn Danker)

 

Guests at the Breakfast Network launch (Photo by Shawn Danker)
Guests at the Artemis Communications-Breakfast Network launch (Photo by Shawn Danker)

 

Brochure for Mr Mark van Cuylenburg, aka The Flying Dutchman, on the emcee academy he founded (Photo copyrighted by Artemis)
Brochure for Mr Mark van Cuylenburg, aka The Flying Dutchman, on the emcee academy he founded, and which he is the master trainer (Photo copyrighted by Artemis)

 

Brochure for Ms Henson's masterclasses for journalism (Copyrighted Artemis)
Brochure for Ms Henson’s masterclasses for journalism (Copyrighted Artemis)More

 

More pictures will soon be updated later in the day!

 

 

 

 

With a cone in hand, the guests made their way through cold crab pasta, fresh onion rings and Korean mochi balls. Breakfast was being served in Ayer Rajah. On the seventh floor of Block 71 in the industrial estate, people started streaming into the Artemis office, which houses Breakfast Network, from 10:30am.

The online site, just three months old, was opening itself up for scrutiny, inviting partners and media people to take a look at what’s going on in its kitchen.

Head chef Bertha Henson was there, and so were other writers who have volunteered their time and energy to bring content to the site. Time now to put the site on a firmer footing, giving it a professional cast and crew, and hopefully, meet expenses.

What was – and still is – a labour of love is now a brand of Artemis Communications, a joint venture between Newsmakers and Grid_ Synergy. Other offerings include Masterclasses in journalism by Ms Henson as well as an emcee training programme conducted by Mr Mark Van Cuylenburg, also known as The Flying Dutchman.

Said Artemis CEO, Ms Evelyn Lau: “We are pleased to launch Artemis Communications after months of preparation. Our signature training programmes conducted by celebrity trainers are designed to groom aspiring individuals to play a strategic role in the media industry.”

Breakfast Network now has an average traffic of 5,000 views per day and 130,000 views per month, figures that are going up by the day. Not bad for something that was conceived over a lunch of buah keluak.

Mr Chris Henson, whose first article on launch day Feb 19 still maintains the record of more than 20,000 views said: “When this idea was mooted and with the passion displayed by all involved, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. This is a very much needed product .”

The guest list included representatives of mainstream media as well as members of the blogging community.

Undergraduates who had their first ever bylines in public were wowed at the size of the premises, which included a studio and a recording room. They now have an office space to work in, a few bus stops away from the National University of Singapore.

Mr Philip Wu, CEO of Grid_Synergy, wants to see how new media technology can power journalism. His company deals with transmedia work, which develops content over multiple platforms.

It was a simple two-hour affair with a signing ceremony that included the Grid_Synergy chairman, Mr San Wee.

Artemis’ creative head Hanafi had put together the “eye-catching” viral video. He said: “We wanted to go with a concept that truly encapsulates the product. The video has to reflect what Breakfast Network represents; fresh, eyebrow-raising and clever. The visual cue we chose was an orange magnifying glass. I think we met the brief and created something viral-worthy.”

The Breakfast network put together a Page 1 poster, for guests to take home with them as a momento as well as an assortment of thumbdrives in the form of, what else, breakfast items…

What will the kitchen be serving from now? More original content. A wider menu.

Continue to partake!

by Bertha Henson

An exchange between two foreign workers in Singapore:

FW1: These Singaporeans really love us! They held some candlelight vigil for Malaysians last night. Even though there was a police warning and all.

FW2: Don’t be silly. Not many people turned up. Scared off. Only a few hundred versus 4,000 or so at that Population White Paper rally. Don’t forget some Malaysians got arrested too earlier.

FW1: But that they even turned up at all was quite something no? People say Singaporeans very, what they call it? kiasi. Seems some of them aren’t that afraid. They were even taunting the plainclothes policemen!

FW2: Hey, don’t you read what some people on the Internet said? They think Singaporeans shouldn’t be protesting on the Malaysians’ behalf. Frankly, Singaporeans should mind their own business. What can the people in this small country do anyway? They’re just asking for trouble.

FW1: But some Singaporeans have always done so. For the Indian gang rape victim, displaced Sri Lankans and I don’t know who else. There’s actually some support for those of us who work here. A good sign.

FW2: You’re being too optimistic. Have you counted how many of us have been sent home because our passes haven’t been renewed? I tell you, we’re not welcomed here. They say we are taking away their jobs.

FW1: Hah! As though Singaporeans want to do the work we do. They need us to build those flats they live in.

FW2: That’s easy for you to say. You’re in the construction business. I’m in F&B and my boss says there’s a quota on hiring foreigners. My pass is up for renewal. I think I might have to go home.

FW1: Can’t you go to those migrant centres? They are very good to people like us. They pay legal fees, fight for our salaries and let us stay in their quarters. Even in their homes. Ask them to petition or make a case for you.

FW2: Are you mad? What if my employer finds out? What if police found out? You want me to be roughed up like those Chinese SMRT bus drivers?

FW1: But police said that didn’t happen. You can’t believe everything on the internet!

FW2: Well, you can’t believe everything the police say! In fact, I am going online to tell the Singaporeans what I think of them! These lazy fellows who don’t want to do the dirty jobs and then complain when people like us do. We’re doing it for so little money!

FW1: But more than what we’ll make at home, I think. My family is very pleased that there’s money. Except I’m getting worried. My boss hasn’t paid me in two months. You think I should complain to someone? To mother?

FW2: You mean that place in Havelock road? Useless, I hear they will ask you for so many different documents and you have to keep returning. You think your boss won’t find out where you’ve been? He’ll probably put you on the next plane home. By the way, how’s that girlfriend of yours? The one working in that big house?

FW1: Terrible! She wants me to marry her. She keeps forgetting I’m already married. I am just afraid she will kill herself, or worse, kill me! I’ve been reading so many such stories in the newspapers.

FW2: Well, the good thing is that the police don’t care how many women we run around with. They only care if it’s a big name civil servant. Anyway, I’m off for a beer. Thank goodness for 7/11.

FW1: Okay, I have to run and meet my woman now. Her employer is out of town. Big house! I think I built it!

This short video, titled ‘Through Their Eyes’, is an excerpt from the documentary ‘Growing Up with Less’. For the full interactive multi-media documentary, visit www.growingupwithless.sg.

Four undergraduates of the Nanyang Technological University did not want to do the usual “soft’’ stuff for their final-year mass communications project.  No focus on heritage sites or dying trades. They wanted to do something grittier. Something that would provoke comment. Something like the people who form the underbelly of Singapore. Journalism students Candice Neo and Trinh Hoang Ly had collaborated on a similar project two years before.

This time, they wanted to do a bigger, better job. They could, because they were teamed up with coursemates Benny Lim, a videographer and Xu Yuanduan, a photographer.

The result: an interactive multi-media documentary that takes viewers into the homes of poor families. Each family had its own story to tell, about their circumstances and their aspirations, and this is presented through short videos or picture stills under different themes on their website. For the four young people, the eight weeks of trudging through common corridors of rental blocks opened their eyes to a world they only read or hear about.

Breakfast Network asked each to reflect on their experience. Here’s what they said:

Neo Jia Ying Candice

I had never expected to see this in Singapore: 15 people squeezed into a two-room flat. Living in such claustrophobic conditions is something I have heard or read about – in less developed countries.

I was not born into a well-off home, and what I saw made me realise how fortunate I was to have escaped the fate of children whose households fall into the bottom 20 per cent of society.

The family of nine children, two parents, two grandparents, an aunt and an uncle aren’t even able to sit on the floor at the same time for dinner. There was just no room. Every bit of space was taken up by the clutter of furniture pieces. Biscuit crumbs were liberally scattered on the oil-stained floor. A lingering body odour. The yells of nine children stampeding through the flat…

Just being there made me feel squeamish.

After spending eight months on this project, I think I have come to understand better what these residents are up against. No, not just lack of money although that is undoubtedly the case. It’s what the children lack – supervision.

Sure, there are volunteers giving free tuition and before-and-after-school care to the children. Voluntary welfare organisations and Members of Parliament extend financial aid. But these initiatives take care of a large number of children at once. What of the child? The individual?

Clearly, the parents do not have time and for some, not even the inclination, to pay attention to a child’s needs, such as giving him moral guidance and disciplining him if he goes astray. If parents are not up for the job, who else can do this? Taking over the role of the parent requires a great deal of time and commitment.

MP Lily Neo has suggested time and again that children from low income families be given firmer and closer handling. VWOs aside, can the State do this as a matter of policy?

The State now dispenses more childcare subsidies for this group of children, but it has always maintained that families need to be self-reliant to prevent the development of a crutch mentality. Children, however, are inevitably dependent on the guidance of adults. Some way should be found to pair them with tutors or mentors, at the State’s expense if need be.

Giving up time and money is not enough to help people break out of poverty. Something bigger and deeper must be done for the children, so that they know for example, the value of hard work.

How will the nine children in the two-room flat, for example, turn out as adults – if the adults surrounding them now don’t have the time for them?

Benny Lim Quah Chiang

For me, the most striking moment was the way a mother looked at her little girl who was attempting to put a pacifier in her younger sibling’s mouth. It was a look so tender that it took me by surprise, especially since just minutes before, she had stated nonchalantly that she would have done her duty as a mother if the children grow up without landing in jail!

As for the children’s education, a prime concern of middle class parents, the mother even declared that this was not her responsibility. The children should learn to cope with school on their own, she maintained.

I was shocked by her blasé attitude which I had at first interpreted as a lack of concern for their welfare. Then that scene took place. One look showed me how much she loves her children.

In fact, I had expected the families we encountered to be rather sadder and more worried about their circumstances. But, no. Many are in fact not open to receiving aid because they feel that they can get by reasonably on their own.

It made me ask myself if  it was appropriate for anyone to try to improve their conditions and change their lifestyles to fit what we considered “acceptable’’. Perhaps if the families are content to live with what they have, we shouldn’t judge them as “pitiful’’. On the contrary, they may live lives as satisfactory and as rich as ours.

Trinh Hoang Ly

I was struck when I met Thila, a single mother raising her daughter in a Jalan Kukoh rental flat. It was not because her story was too strange but because it was too familiar.

I grew up in a poor and crime-ridden neighbourhood in Vietnam. Like Thila, my father kept me indoors, away from the complications of my environment. For the past eight years, however, I have been studying in Singapore. This is because my father taught me that it is possible to dream of and attain a better life, very much like how Thila keeps telling her daughter she can become a doctor if she works hard enough.

I remember being both bewildered and hopeful when he and a teacher in my school told me I should aim for an education abroad. I was 12 then, working on my homework that night with the rain leaking through our flimsy roof.  I was still incredulous but a sense of purpose was forming.

In Tharani, I saw that same purpose fueled by encouragement and support from her mother.

Poverty stifles dreams. Without dreams, there is little motivation to get out of poverty. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. If parents are unable to do so, then they should aspire to help their children live a better life. They should inspire their children and make clear that dreams can be fulfilled no matter how bad the family’s circumstances. Schools should inspire them too, and make them believe that they can become something more than what their surroundings portend.

This is, of course, contingent on the maintenance of an eco-system to give these children a push up the ladder. Social mobility, the reward for enterprise and acknowledgment of talent by society are some requirements. But the first push must come from within the family. This takes some doing. Because a sense of inertia and even hopelessness sets in easily when all around is poverty.

Xu YuanDuan

After days of trying to document the family unobtrusively, the photographic essay started to form before my eyes. A picture of the child lying on an urine stained mattress, another of a dirt-encrusted fan circulating air around a small room, and so on.

I felt that I had managed to collect enough images for a good story. But when I moved into the editing and caption-writing stage, doubts started to set in. Wouldn’t publishing these images cause these children to be branded ‘poor’ and stigmatised  by others? Was I just using a medium that allowed public voyeurism into the family’s private life?

I have struggled with these doubts since, and still do now.

I felt pressured to complete the project, and re-edited my images multiple times, trying to be as fair as I could to the family, especially the adults. I asked the parents directly about the state of their home  to give them an avenue to defend themselves. I tried to write the captions in an even tone.

After our project was published online, individual offers of help came in and organisations rallied to lend a hand to the families we featured. Discussion threads on online forums were created around our content and videos. Our stories were shared on Facebook.

We had succeeded in raising awareness of the plight of these families. Our project was justified. But I still wasn’t convinced.

I wanted to do this project because it was exciting and possibly thought-provoking.

But now, I am unsure if I would ever want to raise my camera and capture stories of this nature anymore. Would the amount and type of help generated for the family outweigh the intrusion of their privacy? I don’t know. Maybe in time, I will.

A school girl from China studying in a local junior college shares a heartfelt note on facebook, reminding us about the importance of school and CCA in building a sense of belonging.

Zhu He with her soccer team mates. (Photo by Zhu He)

by Zhu He (变化)

记得那年曾经,之身一人漂洋过海
抱怨着所有的改变
曾经的我,无数次幻想如果我没有…
不熟悉的面孔,不流利的语言
让原本枯燥的生活更加艰难
我曾要放弃过,我曾经颓废过

初中读了共7年,
我懂这是我必须付出的代价
2012,又要再一次进入陌生环境
我害怕过,彷徨过,不知所措过
开始时候,很困难,很憋屈
再一次失去了能够倾诉的对象

直到单纯的选了足球
初院的生活彻底颠覆

我们从陌生到熟悉
从熟悉到了解
从了解又到了追求共同的目标

我们一起哭过,笑过,赢过,输过
这一切无法用金钱衡量
只有亲身体验过,
才终能了解其中滋味

而如今,我们要离开这个队伍
不久得将来,我们将各奔前程
我不敢保证未来我会在哪里
也许我会消失在人海之中
当我们偶尔回忆曾经的努力
那精神的财富将永远把你我紧紧系在一起

这些人,丰富了我的留学生活
这些人,参与了我的短暂人生
这些人,改变了我去留的选择
这些人,完整了我对足球的热情

这篇文章,不是因一时的感性,而是因感慨而萌生
我只想留作纪念,纪念我们之间的曾经!

致2012-2013 FOOTBALL GIRL TEAM

Translation: I remember the year I travelled on my own overseas, complaining about all the changes that were happening. The person I was then was always wondering and imagining what if I hadn’t left China. Unfamiliar faces, and a language I wasn’t fluent in.. These made the already burdensome situation even worse. I was discouraged, and had once considered giving up altogether.

Having studied for 7 years, I understood this was the price I needed to pay. 2012, it was once again a trip into a unfamiliar environment. At the time I experienced fear, panic and was at a loss at what I should do. At the start, it was very difficult and hard to surpress these feelings of once again losing people I could talk and confide in.

Until I coincidentally chose soccer. Then, life in JC began to utterly change. We developed from being strangers to becoming acquainted, from being acquainted to an understanding, and then from understanding each other to pursuing a common goal.

We cried together, laughed together, won and lost together. The value of these experiences is something that cannot be measured in monetary terms. Only having personally been through these experiences, would anyone understand the emotions therein.

And today we are leaving this team. In the near future, we’ll all be going on to separate pathways. I dare not predict or guarantee where I’ll be in the future, perhaps I’ll simply disappear in the masses of people. But when we occasionally think back to the experiences we had been through, the richness of that spirit will forever keep us close.

These people enriched my student life overseas.
These people participated in my transient human life.
These people changed the choice that I made to study overseas.
These people completely transformed the passion I had for football.

This article is not the product of a fleeting notion, but the outcome of a passion. I only wanted to leave a memory, and commemorate what we had once together.

(Translation by Sarah Lim)

This post, first published on the writer’s Facebook page 20 April 2013, is re-printed here with the writer’s permission. Zhu He is a second-year student at Serangoon Junior College.