Principal of new JC says many liked meaning of Eunoia after her explanation

PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao

Singapore's newest junior college (JC) has been in the news and was much discussed on the Internet for its unusual name.

In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, Eunoia JC principal Cheang Mei Heng explains why the name was chosen.

What do you think of the school name?

A name carries our hopes, dreams and aspirations for our future generation.

When naming the college, we were deliberate in asking for suggestions from as many stakeholders as possible and in addition to the actual names suggested, we were more interested in their thinking, beliefs and vision behind the names.

Through the engagement sessions held, it became apparent to us that our stakeholders wanted a name that was inherently meaningful.

From a list of names, we narrowed it down and after testing some names out with various stakeholders, we chose Eunoia as it best expresses the collective aspirations for the college and the students.

The name itself may be rather new to many of us even though it is an English word. It has Greek origins, but the concepts contained within it are universal and timeless.

I've tested the name personally with many people, and while many gave me a blank look initially, these turned into appreciative nods after I was given the opportunity to share the meaning behind the word with them.

My team and I have pledged to become ambassadors of the name and we hope that there will be many opportunities ahead for us to share our story with each and every Singaporean we meet.

How do you feel about netizens mocking or making fun of Eunoia JC? Does it seem like a bad start for the school?

We anticipated some creative expressions of the name, though we must say that we are intrigued by the level of interest that has been generated since the announcement.

Many have jokingly thanked me for the entertainment - I told them that there were some really creative and interesting puns that were sure to provide lighthearted moments for many, even for those of us within the college team.

But I am very clear about one thing - in entertainment, we laugh, but in education, we learn.

I would say, most of the netizens have no negative intentions, just like we never had any ulterior intentions in naming our school - why would we want to do that? Why would we want to be pretentious, or why would we deliberately want to cause confusion to taxi uncles?

We had only one single intention and that is to have a name with a good meaning behind it.

Why not follow the traditional naming convention like most of our JCs?

Eunoia means beautiful thinking and goodwill to others. Its meaning points towards one of the key tenets of the college's vision - of how a "Thinker with Heart" is essentially someone with a beautiful mind and a deep reservoir of goodwill towards others around him.

The name represents the college's commitment towards nurturing every graduate of the college in exemplifying a strong sense of eunoia, which would act as a solid anchor for his pursuit of excellence as a "Youth with Purpose" and a "Leader with Courage".

One interesting detail about the word eunoia is that it is the shortest English word containing all five vowels, signifying the completeness and well-roundedness that will characterise the graduates of the college.

The interview was edited for length.

This article was first published on Jan 2, 2016. Get The New Paper for more stories.