STRONGER – Pre-University Seminar 2021

PUS2021_Banner

Pre-U Sem 2021 is a four-day non-residential programme that brings together students from thirty pre-university institutions who are keen to make a difference to Singapore.

Participants will examine how Singapore can emerge stronger together as one through panel discussions, human library and brown bag sessions, blended learning and a special exhibition of their work.

DATE

1 - 4 June

THEME

Stronger

SUB-THEMES

Tougher, Bolder, Kinder

OBJECTIVES

Deepen participants’ understanding of the Singapore identity and values in the evolving social, economic and political context;

Raise participants’ awareness of the opportunities and challenges for Singapore amid this period of disruption and transformation;

Empower participants to generate possibilities, ideas and solutions in charting Singapore’s future as one united people; and

Nurture teamwork and camaraderie among participants across institutions.

PARTICIPANTS

535 participants
30 schools

Split into 24 school teams across 6 cohorts
No mixing of schools across cohorts

Seminar Design

STUDENT VOICE

Participants indicate and scope their preferred Area of Focus (AoF), and exercise choice in the deliverables

DEEP ENGAGEMENT

Participants learn from the Speakers Protocol, the Fishbowl Protocol and Human Library

AUTHENTIC LEARNING AND PARTNERSHIPS

Participants partner with relevant professionals and show their work at an exhibition.

Framework

Voices

Encourages participants to embrace a diversity of voices in Singapore

Journeys

Invites participants to celebrate different journeys undertaken by Singaporeans, and appreciate the process through which outcomes emerge

Dreams

Empowers the aspirations of ordinary Singaporeans, because it is the collective dreams of all Singaporeans that give meaning and shape to the Singapore Dream

Pre-Seminar Workshop

PUS2021_PreSemCollage

Student participants from 30 schools kick-started their Pre-University Seminar journey with the Pre-Seminar Workshop held online on 13 March. Grouped according to their respective areas of focus, the participants met their group mates from different schools for the first time.

Guided by their enthusiastic Teacher Facilitators and Student Facilitators, the participants learnt more about each other through games and engaged in robust discussions about the Seminar theme, the relevant sub-theme, as well as their specific area of focus.

The discussions were further enriched by the diverse backgrounds and learning experiences of the participants as they exchanged ideas and collaborated to deepen their understanding of issues in Singapore.

Following the Workshop, the groups will continue to engage in meaningful conversations on their areas of focus and draw on insights from resource persons from the community with the support of their Teacher Facilitators and Student Facilitators.

Reflections

“Although having the programme online made it slightly difficult to get to know each other and to interact, most of us were able to get a much clearer understanding of our theme, sub-theme and area of focus. I was able to gain insight on how my group mates viewed Singapore and what they believed would make a kinder community. In addition, the short bonding sessions allowed us to get to know one another better and I have learnt many new things from the participants from the variety of schools. I am so excited to see what we have planned ahead of us as we continue to plan our deliverables!”

Seraphina Low

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Kinder
Area of Focus: Community

“At first, I was a bit skeptical about how the programme would be properly carried out online as it would severely limit the face-to-face interactions between the participants. However, I was really surprised by how well the online sessions went! The initial meeting was extremely engaging, considering its online setting. I’m really looking forward to the Seminar in June!"

Wong Jeun Ming

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Bolder
Area of Focus: Engagement

"Through the application of the ‘See, Recall, Mean’ framework, I gained a deeper understanding of my area of focus, which is Security. With participants coming from different backgrounds and holding different experiences, I had the opportunity to explore the different aspects of security more deeply. In addition to cybersecurity, which is a widely discussed topic in recent years, I also learned more about food and energy security, as well as a less often debated and more intangible topic – security of our identities. Touching on the topic of cybersecurity, one of the participants shared an experience of an internet breach and having personal information stolen. This helped us appreciate that our personal cybersecurity is facing greater risks as compared to the past, and added a more personal touch to the discussion."

Sim Jia Hui

STUDENT FACILITATOR
Sub-theme: Tougher
Area of Focus: Security

Timeline

PUS2021_Timeline

Seminar Programme

DAY 1
1 JUN 2021

Learning Journeys

Opening Ceremony

DAY 2
2 JUN 2021

Concurrent Panel Discussions

Work on Deliverable

DAY 3
3 JUN 2021

Human Library Sessions

Work on Deliverable

DAY 4
4 JUN 2021

Festival: 'Yours, Truly'

Closing Ceremony

Seminar Highlights

Opening Ceremony

Learning Journeys

The Opening Ceremony kick-started this year’s unique experience of a fully online seminar where our participants joined us in this virtual seminar from their own homes. Focussing on envisioning possibilities for Singapore to emerge stronger amid this period of disruption and transformation, the Opening Ceremony marks the start of our 4-day programme where we embark on this journey of reflection, reinvention, and re-imagination in co-creating a vision of a STRONGER Singapore. Dr Maliki Osman, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Education and Foreign Affairs, graced the seminar as the Guest of Honour at the Opening Ceremony. In his speech to the participants, Dr Maliki stressed the timeliness of the seminar’s theme, “Stronger”, amidst the challenges faced in the Covid-19 pandemic and how this pandemic would be a clarion call for the youth of Singapore to co-create a vision for a stronger Singapore as we venture into the post-COVID world.  We are excited for our participants to be stewards of this vision.

 

The Pre-University Seminar opened with our 24 groups of participants embarking on 24 different learning journeys. The learning journeys are a celebration of the Journeys undertaken by Singaporeans from all walks of life. Through a diversity of Voices, our seminar participants engaged in authentic and meaningful conversations with fellow Singaporeans. Drawing strength from the aspirations of these Singaporeans, our students are inspired to dream, reimagine, and reinvent for our collective Singapore Dream. 

REFLECTIONS

“After the fruitful virtual learning journey we had this morning with the Institute of Mental Health, my greatest takeaway is that Singapore does have the resource capacity (in the form of medical amenities and facilities to care and support mental health), but the obstacle that hinders us from truly being able to maximise these resources is deeply entrenched stigma and negative perceptions of mental illness that prevent patients from seeking help early.”

Lu Yi

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Tougher
Area of Focus: Capacity

"At first, I was actually very sceptical of this online learning journey, I wasn't too sure of how much I'll be able to take away. But the talks were really very inspirational. As of now, my aspiration is to become a journalist. This dream of mine came about because I wanted to share untold stories. So the film and the speaker’s words really broadened my perspective as to how storytelling should be like. Storytelling must not sensationalise but instead, be authentic. In the future, it will definitely be a struggle to find a balance, especially as a new writer. However, this just spurred me to continue working hard towards what I believe in."

Kyleen

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Kinder
Area of Focus: Empathy

Panel Discussions

Day 2 PD collage

On day two of the seminar programme, our participants engaged in a panel discussion with invited panellists. Three concurrent panel discussions, aligned to the sub-themes Tougher, Bolder and “Kinder, took place and our participants were enriched by the knowledge and experiences shared by our distinguished panellists. The robust and authentic exchange of ideas with the panellists has inspired in our participants a vision of a STRONGER Singapore.

REFLECTIONS

“I think the biggest insight that I gained from the panel discussions is that kindness should not be forced, but instead should truly come from the heart to mean something. Since young, we've always been told that we have to be kind to others around us, but turning that thought into action also requires a significant deal of courage to be able to go out of our way to approach someone. The government has also been incentivising people to be kind. I think that it may work to make Singapore a much more beautiful place to live in. However, in my opinion, I think that kindness that has been shown through this manner is less meaningful than when it comes from the heart. Kindness should come from understanding, and subsequently wanting to make a difference and help someone.”

Chescia

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Kinder
Area of Focus: Inclusivity

“I think what stuck with me the most, and was touched upon quite a few times during the discussion, was the duality of boldness; in certain situations being bold means speaking out and challenging what has been normalised or routinised in society to engage with issues that have been buried and carve new paths for society to embark on, whereas other situations require a more analytical and critical approach to understanding the mechanisms that define society and how we can make changes to this system through our actions even without being forthright or contesting the entire system. But while there is a duality to boldness, it is not a binary; there is a  spectrum of boldness that different individuals fall on where we take different actions to pursue our ambitions and hopes for society, but through it all, we must stress the importance of acceptance and support. And lastly, the concept of balance, in that any act of our boldness will expect pushback or retaliation, and that this is merely indicative of the fact that our acts are being seen and should encourage us to continue whilst being open and receptive to other viewpoints.”

Aayush

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Bolder
Area of Focus: Engagement

“It has been an insightful sharing from both the panelists and the participants. It was interesting to understand the different perspectives that people had towards what being "tougher" means in Singapore. I think that it is important for us to recognize that there are many differing viewpoints in Singapore as to what being "tough" (or resilient) would actually mean, and I gained a deeper understanding of some of the issues that our country might still be facing currently. Through today's session, I think what struck me the most is multilateralism and inclusivity: we need to be empathetic towards others to ensure minimal conflict; I believe that this will ultimately be the fuel for maintaining Singapore's success in the future.”

Erica

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Tougher
Area of Focus: Sustainability

Human Library

 

Following Day 2’s Panel Discussions, our participants had the opportunity to interact with Human Books as part of the Human Library session. Individuals from different walks of life generously contributed their time to be Human Books, and shared their unique personal experiences in intimate online spaces. Through the heartfelt exchange of authentic voices, our participants uncovered fresh stories and perspectives and were inspired to build a STRONGER Singapore. 

REFLECTIONS

“I am touched by the stories shared and I am genuinely happy that so many of the Singaporeans are willing to help others at this time of crisis. This phrase was shared by Mr. David Hoe, it is "We become tougher by choosing to care" this is the mindset that all of us should carry. It is about being innovative and being willing to care. We are tougher when we are together.”

Jia Wen

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Bolder
Area of Focus: Engagement

“From the Human Library session today, I have learnt a lot regarding Singapore's biodiversity. As an enthusiast myself, I feel motivated to pursue a long-suppressed passion. I liked how Mr N Sivasothi shared about his background and how it was not forced on him to pursue a particular field. He was given his freedom to choose and explore. He interacted with nature and had direct touch with insects and animals before his love for nature grew and became his main career. This emphasises the importance of doing something that we feel strongly about so that we can involve ourselves actively in the field. With that too, changes can be made. Now, Singapore is working towards being a green city and so much goes into conserving our marine biodiversity, forests, and even our native fauna. This can be tied back to becoming a stronger Singapore as we can be bolder in our steps to step up for positive changes”

Istinarah

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Tougher
Area of Focus: Security

"I find that the discussion on how we can better educate Singaporeans on culture and how we can better represent the history that we have was very insightful. It gave me a new perspective in terms of the way people see and think of history, and how it is being expressed by institutions and people alike. I wonder how we can use the information that is being taught to us by institutions and experts in their respective fields, and use that to gain enough understanding and insight to create positive change. I also wonder how we can use this information to change the way we as a society see the diversity of communities around us, how we can empathise with and integrate marginalised or minority communities. I have been interested in history for as long as I can remember, and I want to be a part of a national discussion that is always revolving in the public eye."

Raeann

STUDENT PARTICIPANT
Sub-theme: Kinder
Area of Focus: Empathy

Presentation of Deliverables

Following intense days of exploration, research and discussion, our participants generated possibilities, ideas, and solutions, and charted Singapore's future as one united people. Drawing on their collective creativity, they used various forms of expression to showcase their ideas for a STRONGER Singapore. These were presented ahead of the Closing Ceremony on 4 June. In addition, 3 groups had the opportunity to present their projects to the Guest of Honour, Minister for Education Mr. Chan Chun Sing. Here are some of our participants’ deliverables.

LAPIS TIDES
1 Tougher - Security

LAPIS TIDES features a physical sculpture that consists of 14 wire humanoids on a landscape of foam waves and a wooden base. The fishermen and the waves remind us of the “Orang Laut” (the sea people of Singapore) who made a living from fishing and collecting sea products. Hence, they represent food security. The bodies of the statues are made of wires, and the flexibility of the wires represents the human capacity for change. There is also a sense of dynamism as reflected in the poses of the statues. The use of hardy wood for the base of the physical sculpture represents the firm foundation that Singapore has. Our physical sculpture aims to reflect how far Singapore has come.

Sub-theme: Tougher
Area of Focus: Security
SEMPUR FORTIS: ALWAYS BRAVE
1 Bolder - Passion

SEMPUR FORTIS: ALWAYS BRAVE features a short slide story featuring three passionate and brave individuals from different walks of life who stepped out of their comfort zones to make a difference through volunteering at the place we call home. These three volunteer stories show us what it means to be brave for a bolder Singapore.

Sub-theme: Bolder
Area of Focus: Passion
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL?
1 Kinder - Inclusion

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL? features a video that uses digitally drawn pictures to showcase the journey of Thomas, who was incarcerated for 7 years. Due to a series of bad choices in his formative years which led to him taking part in illegal activities that landed him in his arrest and imprisonment. During and after his sentence, Thomas received guidance from organisations such as Yellow Ribbon and Singapore After-Care Association that allowed him to successfully reintegrate into society despite the discrimination and challenges he faced. Through this video, the group aims to emphasise the importance of acceptance, inclusion, as well as the importance of being humane for a kinder Singapore.

Sub-theme: Kinder
Area of Focus: Inclusion

Special Programme

The Special Programme (“From Me to SG”) is a key feature of the Pre-U Seminar Closing Ceremony. Prior to the seminar this year, all participants were asked to design a postcard based on their area of focus and to pen down their hopes and aspirations of Singapore based on their area of focus. 24 postcards from the seminar's three sub-themes (Tougher, Bolder, and Kinder) were eventually selected to be featured - showcasing the creativity of the student participants and their hopes and aspirations for Singapore. Out of them, six postcards were presented in an acrylic frame as tokens of appreciation of the Guests of Honour. As part of this Special Programme, Eunoia Junior College’s Rock Band also penned and performed the song “Stronger” to convey the collective vision of a Tougher, Bolder, and Kinder Singapore.

Screenshot 2021-06-04 at 20.51.59

Closing Ceremony

The virtual closing ceremony marks the end of 2021’s Pre-University Seminar. Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing, was the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony. During the ceremony, participants presented their thoughtful and exciting ideas for a Kinder, Tougher, and Bolder Singapore. Minister Chan and distinguished guests also engaged participants in a robust exchange of ideas in the Question & Answer session. 

In his closing remarks, Minister Chan encouraged our participants to not let circumstances define them and to focus on the actions in responding to these challenges faced instead; to have the collective will and action to keep Singapore going ahead in being Tougher, Bolder, and Kinder.

With the end of the Pre-University Seminar journey, we hope that the seminar provided an enriching space for our participants to reflect on their priorities as a community and inspire them to redefine the paths they can take individually and collectively, especially against the current backdrop of the pandemic. With the collective vision they co-created, we hope our participants will continue to be inspired in their desire to build a STRONGER Singapore.

PUS2021_Organisers