Bendemeer Secondary School’s graduating students learned lessons on resilience and perseverance in an unlikely way.
Contributed By Melvin Lim
It was a dry run for life, as a total of 460 participants, comprising staff and Secondary 4 and 5 students from Bendemeer Secondary School, embarked on a 12km walk from their school compound at Boon Keng to the Marina Barrage on Jan. 28. Co-organized with the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, the walk aimed to inspire and motivate the students in their graduating year to strive to excel in their GCE N-Levels and GCE O-Levels exams, and to instill a sense of mental and psychological resilience among youth, among others.
Throughout the walk, which was flagged off at 8:30 a.m., the participants were also presented with different challenges which had to be completed in order to advance to the next segment of the walk. An activity at Waterloo Street, for example, taught students the importance of religious harmony as a part of Social Defence, one of the five aspects of the nation’s Total Defence education. Indeed, it demonstrated resilience in the face of change, as Singapore becomes an increasingly cosmopolitan country.
The participants reached their destination at Marina Barrage at approximately 1 p.m. “Twelve kilometers is a long distance to walk for many students and staff. It was challenging and a test of our personal endurance and resilience. During the pre-walk preparation sessions, we asked every graduating student to make this their personal challenge. We wanted each of them to know that if they set their hearts and mind on a task, no matter how challenging, they would be able to achieve it,” said Mdm. Goh Mee Mee, the school principal.
The finale of the day’s event, a kite-flying session, was a symbolic gesture to encourage the students to set to flight their dreams and aspirations, but it was unfortunately curtailed due to a torrential downpour. Still, the students were not dampened in their enthusiasm in penning down their aspirations on their kites and trying to get them off the ground, albeit in a sheltered compound. The staff members also took part in this exercise as they wrote their own aspirations on their kites.
One of the students, Kevin Foo Shi Xun, 16, admitted that although the day’s activities were not exactly a walk in the park, he has learned a few important lessons. “Success comes with a lot of hard work and it is not an easy thing to achieve. Also, Singaporeans should live together in harmony regardless of race, religion, ethic or cultural background.” Lallita Karamjeet, also 16, quipped cheerfully that she had fun. “I love adventurous stuff so I enjoyed today’s activities a lot. I learned that in order to have a smooth journey in life, one often has to go through a rough path to train one’s endurance.”
History and Social Studies teacher, Winston Tham Wei Yang, 31, shared that the school has a culture of bringing students out for walks, to bring learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. “The aim of today’s walk was to cultivate in the students a sense of responsibility so that in times of emergency, they will not be people who back out. It also aimed to teach them the spirit of resilience so that they can become people who will reach great heights and achieve great things.”