From the first day of the summit, we knew that this was going to be nothing like what we were used to. Living in the bubble we often choose not to step out of, we were actually surprised at what was to unravel in the next few days.
HC-APYLS revolved around ten intensive days of debates, discussions and a lot of bus rides. The event, which was run entirely by facilitators (students), had a balance of long lectures as well as enough free time for us to get to know the 81 delegates from China, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, US, UK, Oman, South Africa and France. A strange feeling of anticipation filled us all on the first day. What was this going to be like? A question all of us asked each other in our first interaction and the answer to which we can now write paragraphs about.
However, the summit wasn’t all discussions and debates. Although we learnt a lot from our tours and lectures, I think we learnt more from our interactions with the other delegates and the informal activities we did. We got a chance to play ‘Bloop Soccer’ and ‘Laser Tag’ as teambuilding activities, got to dress each other up in the most ridiculous fashion, visit the S.E.A aquarium, sing for the elderly and play bingo with them, learn Bhangra, Hip Hop, Malay Dancing, Chinese paper cutting and Manga drawing, explore the city together, sing with a street musician and witness a performance of different types of Asian music (and dance to it).
Through our interactions with a diverse set of delegates one of our biggest learnings was that nothing is certain. Our standards of perceptions are relative and can vary, which is why a level of judgment as being acceptable by one culture may not be acceptable by another. However, we also learnt that although we are all so different due to our cultural variations, there was some commonality between all 81 of us that bound us together and allowed us to become so close, in such a short span of time.
On the whole, the Hwa Chong Asia Pacific Young Leaders Summit was an unforgettable experience. It gave us a view of how the world is outside of the little bubbles we live in, forced us to step out of our comfort zones, and thus, managed to give us one of the best, most unforgettable experiences ever.
– Anya Bharadwaj, Jahanvi Srinivasan and Akshita Jain (Class 12)