My wish for 2016

Six who turn 16 share their dreams with tabla!

Same dream: All-round improvement

EACH year I dream the same dream, to better myself in every aspect - social, academic and in my extra-curricular activity. Challenging myself to improve my talents and skills is as important to me as gaining an "A star" in my exams.

My special interests comprise arts and crafts and creative writing.

Singapore has really helped me enhance and refine my abilities by giving me numerous opportunities to showcase my gifts.

One such opportunity was an event organised by Civica, where 50 students from around Singapore were chosen to publish their works in a book titled Tales Of S, featuring short stories on Singapore's past.

I was ecstatic when I got to know I would be a published author! (Right, Trishan receiving a print edition of his book and his Young Writer's Certificate at the award ceremony.)

To pursue my artistic endeavours, I had joined the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society when I first moved here in 2010. Since then I have been producing countless art works and attending many art galleries featuring them.

Next year I wish to take part in many more competitions and events that will help me nurture my talents.

As an immigrant from Sri Lanka, one would suppose I would get used to living in a place like Singapore. However, this country felt larger than any other island. Throughout the time I've been in Singapore I have witnessed the exponential growth of this island nation.

Many attractions, destinations and natural spaces have sprung up since I arrived here. In 2015, I was greatly enthused by the spirit of SG50 and I have no doubts that this new year will be a positive step towards laying the foundation for the next 50 years of peace and prosperity.

My wish for this little red dot is that 2016 brings another year of bountiful progress.

The world we currently live in has gone through unforeseen upheaval and advancements. With each new challenge, we have also witnessed the human desire to join hands, forge ties and overcome adversities.

Despite tragedies such as the MH370 incident and the Paris bombings, I have faith that the human spirit will triumph against all odds. In 2016, I wish that there will be fewer international problems and greater harmony among people of all nations.

- Trishan Fernandopulle, Grade 10 student at DPS International School

A world without discrimination

MY DREAMS for 2016 run beyond myself and extend to the world. There are many environmental, political and social world issues yet to be solved, but in developed countries one of the most prevalent issues is discrimination.

Discrimination in gender, age, religion, race, disability, social status and physicalities.

Discrimination has a harsh effect on people, communities and societies.

It makes people feel distanced from others around them and has a severe effect on their self-confidence. So, there are a couple of dreams I have for the upcoming year.

I want to live in a world where people are appreciated for their confidence, integrity, kindness, talent, creativity and work ethic.

I want people to be valued for what they have to say, and what they have to contribute to this world.

I want all human beings to be given equal opportunities.

I want young children to be able to decide what they want to be when they grow up.

I want people with disabilities to be able to live a normal, happy life.

I want everyone to feel safe, comfortable and confident in their skin.

I want creativity to be rewarded.

I want dreams to be encouraged.

I want people to feel strong, independent and empowered by who they are.

In the new year, I hope that we will be able to make strides in closing this gap between what is perceived to be conventional and create a new, unconventional way of thinking for the next generation.

I want unconventional to be the "norm", because the uniqueness of each and every individual is what makes the world so special.

By encouraging this mentality, we can spread happiness and acceptance, making the world a better place for everyone to live in.

Overall, I want 2016 to be a year full of inspiration, positive change and possibilities for everyone.

- Malaika Kapil, Grade 10 student at Overseas Family School

Giving his all to become canoeing champs

BEING part of my school's canoeing team, winning the National Championships is a goal that the team shares and doing so would probably deem 2016 a success.

However, it is also worth reminding ourselves of the hard work needed to achieve such a goal. As great as it would be to emerge as champions, results aren't always everything.

Above medals and trophies, my dream for the team is that we give it our all.

I hope that we will be willing to sacrifice, grow and improve when we train together. I also hope that everyone can contribute in his own way and help each other.

Most importantly, I hope that the friendships and team spirit we build will endure even after the races are over.

On a much larger scale are my dreams for the world. As ambitious or idealistic as it seems, my global aspiration is peace.

Of course, making conflict or terrorism disappear cannot happen overnight but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to achieve peace, or even stop dreaming about it.

More than something we only fantasise about in our free time, a dream should be an ideal to strive towards. Likewise, realising the dream of world peace should start with myself.

Small acts of kindness and love may only impact those close to me, but positivity can only bring happiness. I hope to be there for others when they need me as supporting my friends could spur them on to do the same for others.

Instead of holding grudges, I aspire to make friends with those I meet wherever I go. There is a common pattern in my little resolutions - to inspire others with my actions.

As Gandhi famously said: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Dealing with widespread violence and unjust discrimination around the world are huge issues to tackle, but spreading joy in my own life would be my first step.

- Neil Bhargava, Secondary 4 student at St Joseph's Institution

Peace, equality, liberty and brotherhood

AS I turn 16, I'm struck more than ever by the serious nature of current world events; of the conditions that people suffer under, with respite seeming a long way away.

Despite how unrealistic it may sound given the sheer degree of brutality that the world indulges in as of today, my wish for 2016 is to see peace.

Liberty, equality, brotherhood. That is what I yearn to see.

The lines that divide society today have turned shadowy as the decades have gone by, but are still present.

None of us are oblivious to these divisions, but since it is infinitely easier to live in our sphere of bliss, we've developed a penchant to ignore these things, branding them as events that the Western world is immune to.

But in the light of recent attacks, it remains an obvious revelation that this immunity in fact is temporary, if it even exists.

I know eradicating strife is nearly impossible, so my wish for the year is unity.

A unified world is a power like no other and the mere knowledge of the presence and support of billions of people can ease the pain of those suffering.

Today, the world is home to diverse people and diverse ideas.

Despite this, the need for unity is critical, now more than ever. Our world is far from Utopia, but unity is a step in the right direction. It is a step that comprises compassion, reassurance and aid.

Unconditional support in times of crises is possibly the most important way to overcome them.

We must not let division prevail as it paves the way to a downfall that nobody wants to witness.

It will take time but I harbour the hope that 2016 will be the year when each of us will take a step forward and the initiative to create a sense of belonging because that is what unity is about.

- Ihina Ganguly, Grade 11 student at NPS International School

He wants to break boundaries, stay happy

I ENJOYED 2015, for the most part. I learnt many new things and made new friends. I also got to rekindle my passion for literature, and began to write many stories and poems.

Most importantly, I also took part in the Model United Nations, which helped me realise my potential in the field of diplomacy.

Moving into 2016, I realise that my last year in secondary school will be extremely pivotal.

I have to make several important decisions that hinge on my aspirations for the future.

Since young, I have always dreamed of becoming a doctor because I saw how noble it is to help others who are disadvantaged because of their ailments.

However, over the years, my view of doctors and their work has widened.

I now have a dream to work with Doctors Without Borders and aid those in foreign nations who are in terrible predicaments.

It is often the people we have never heard of who need the most help, and that is my main motivation for wanting to join the Ministry of Social and Family Development as a volunteer.

I have seen first-hand the effects of poverty and catastrophe when I travelled to the Philippines in 2014 with the Red Cross for a relief operation after Typhoon Haiyan.

That experience taught me that it's a huge world with diverse people, many of whom have it tougher than us.

I will make it my life goal to help them, and work hard this year to fulfil that goal.

I want to stay happy with the life I've been leading so far.

I'd like to make more friends, study harder, break my own boundaries, and do the best in every possible aspect. I also want to continue writing stories and drafting poems.

I hope that in 2016, the world will start healing the wounds of war and dislocation of vulnerable people involved in these conflicts.

In retrospect, even though I could have done more to make myself proud, I believe that the true beauty of progression lies in the ability to bounce back.

I believe in this quote by Bruce Wayne from Batman Begins - "Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up again."

- Surya Verma Selvakumar, Year 4 student at Raffles Institution

Developing love for music and cooking

A NEW year is a door to new beginnings - new resolutions, hopes, aspirations or even acquiring a new hobby. In 2016, I hope to develop my skills and myself and am looking forward to spending more time with family and friends.

The only things on my mind these days are projects, homework and enrichment classes. But, there is something very important that I am learning from all this tension - how to manage my hobbies, relaxation and, most importantly, time.

One of the few things that really occupy me besides schoolwork is music. Music has always been a sort of detox for me, be it the thrilling guitar riffs of my favourite rock bands or the soothing sounds of the tanpura (a long-necked plucked string instrument).

Cooking is another hobby. The best part about food is that you can get creative with it. The possibilities are infinite.

There are so many other things that I find immensely satisfying. Reading, writing, travelling, the list just goes on and on. But, cooking and singing are the two closest to my heart and I want to develop these hobbies this new year.

Singapore has been the place I call home, after I left India with my family almost a decade ago.

And I want to do my part to sustain a healthy living environment for myself and my community.

The Willing Hearts Soup kitchen is where I can do this. Several volunteers take time out of their busy schedules to help in cooking simple homemade meals for the old and needy.

From cutting baskets of vegetables to packing the cooked food in "ta pau" boxes, I get immense satisfaction knowing that I have done something to help others, even in the smallest way possible.

Although I was not able to help out regularly in 2015, I'm planning to make this a part of my weekend activities.

I hope more people will put aside time to volunteer for a good cause. It not only keeps you occupied but also transforms one's personality, as you'll learn something new every time.

These are my plans for the year. What are yours? You may not be able to fulfil all your resolutions, but they will keep you on the right track.

And there is always a next year. I hope that I have given you an insight into a teenager's thoughts, and maybe inspired you to do your part.

- Janhavi Hemant Kadam, Grade 11 student at Global Indian International School

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