Pre-U students zoom in on power of stories

Pre-U students zoom in on power of stories

Instead of putting government policies under the spotlight, the pre-university seminar this year focuses on the stories of Singaporeans.

The annual event usually centres on student discussions about government policies.

But this year's theme, "Many Stories, One Future", will see them collecting stories from people and organisations related to five topics: opportunities, assurance, trust, purpose and spirit.

They will then take part in a forum discussion and come up with a way to present the stories they have gathered creatively, say through a video or art installation.

About 550 students from junior colleges, the centralised institute and polytechnics are taking part in the seminar, which is organised by Raffles Institution and the Ministry of Education this year.

At the opening ceremony yesterday, the guest of honour, Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, gave a speech highlighting some key events in Singapore's history, peppered with his personal accounts.

He talked about incidents such as the 1965 MacDonald House bombing - where his father who worked in the building had a narrow escape; and the 2004 tsunami relief efforts he had led when he was in the Singapore Armed Forces.

"Stories are powerful and emotive, they remind us of our path, roots and history," he said.

Stories are the foundation upon which we build our future, he noted.

And he stressed that it is important not to sugar-coat the impact of stories.

There are also stories that inspire hate and anger.

"I think all of us need to decide for ourselves how we view stories like these. The question really is... what are the stories that people will say of us?"

Mr Tan's speech left an impression on National University of Singapore High School student Keefe Wayne Teo, 17.

He said: "I think stories are very important. How many of us will be willing to stay in Singapore during a crisis?

"It will be the identity and memories that we have of Singapore that will make us stay and suffer together."

During the question and answer session, students raised issues ranging from minimum wage here to the Singapore identity and group work in schools.

This article was first published on June 3, 2014.
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