Interviewed by Adrian Chia
As the JCRC President, almost everyone in Hall knows Eddie. But how many of us truly know him in person? In this interview, Eddie shares with us some of his insights and experiences, both as the President and as a KEVIIan.
Q: You have been staying in A2 (Block A level 2) for 4 years. What is so magical about that place?
It has the right balance of everything – it is near the bus stop; I only need to climb one floor to reach my room from the dining hall; it is at the top of the slope so I get a lot of wind.
Q: Before you became the President, you have been one of the most active members of this Hall. What have you joined since Year 1?
I was in AB Block Committee for 3 years, for which I was AB Block Head when I was in Year 2. For HallPlay I first joined as a Tech member, then I became the Tech Head in Year 2. I have been in the Merit Awards Board twice, being the co-head during one of the years. I joined KEWOC (KE Welcoming and Orientation Committee) 3 times – once as a programmer, once as logistics and flag member, and once more as counsellor. In Year 1, I was in Hall Marketing as the bazaar in-charge, as well as KEVision…
Q: Wow! Those were just the committees right? How about sports?
In Year 3, I took up 6 sports – softball, touch rugby, road relay, volleyball, floorball and squash. I have been joining softball and touch rugby every year.
Q: Gosh, how did you cope with so many sports??
Haha towards the end I realised it was a bit hard to go for all the trainings.
Q: As a final year student, you have heavy academic workload and the make-or-break final year project (FYP) to handle. How have you been coping with your studies?
Haha not very good lah, only 2A+s for the last semester. In Hall, between grades, Hall activities and sleep, you can only choose 2 at a time. I chose to sacrifice sleep. For my FYP, I am not putting in as much time as the rest of my coursemate! *Exasperated look*
Q: What about other commitments?
Trust me, I have no more other commitments in life at this point in time.
Q: Haha okay then. What motivated you to take up this heavy responsibility in the first place?
I am doing this because I know there is something special in this Hall that we need to uphold. When I think back about my friends and experiences in Hall, they don’t just happen like that. Somebody must make sure they happen. So this is my way of giving back to Hall.
Q: Any regrets thus far?
To be honest, there were times when I wished I had more time for myself – FYP, recreation, sports. A lot of sacrifices had to be made. There were episodes when I thought, ‘What if I did not become President? Would I be happier otherwise?’
I guess at the end of the day, it would turn out to be like the NS kind of feeling – you finished it then you feel proud of yourself that you actually went through that much sh*t.
I hope in the remaining time we can make some changes that will benefit KEVIIans, that will make a difference to this Hall. So that there will be a meaningful memory, because you have made a difference and given back to this community. I think it will be a rewarding experience.
Q: One semester into your job as the JCRC President. How do you feel now?
[The semester] has passed faster than expected. [The JCRC was] kept very busy all the time with very urgent issues.
Currently I am starting to settle in. But the challenge for me is still as big as before. After the semester ended, I had a lot of opportunities to meet with JCRC members from other Halls during the leadership camp. We talked a lot during the camp, especially on the topic of how we go about doing things in Halls. I feel that we have a lot to learn from other Halls, but there are also things which we are doing very well.
For example, our Hall Master is one of the most supportive ones around. His vision for Hall as a place for learning, exploration and self-development is really great.
Q: Looking back into the past semester, how much do you think you have achieved?
I think in terms of tangible, visible changes, not much. But we have started to lay the foundations. The start was very rocky for us, because we started late and there were so many things to be done. That period was not good for us.
One of the biggest breakthroughs for my team was the December holiday subsidy. Our Hall is the only Hall to offer up to 100% subsidy. The SCRC has been very supportive about it.
Q: If you were to start again, would you have done anything differently?
Hell yeah! I think at the start I was being too nice to certain people. When they said they would do something, I trusted them. But in the end things were not done properly. If I were to start again, I would have kept a more watchful eye to ensure things are carried out properly. I realised there are times when I should be little more heavy-handed, because everyone knows that I am a very nice person!
Ultimately, you need to find the balance between trust and control, and there were times when I got the balance a bit wrong.
Q: What are your future plans for KE? What would you try to achieve in your remaining term?
Our Hall is really weak in terms of marketing and sponsorship when compared to other Halls, because we don’t have the framework to attract sponsors. For example, we have very little cash sponsors. We are trying to improve on this by branding our Hall, such as through our productions.
In terms of sports, I hope team KE can make it into all the semis. Any gold medal will be great. We have pumped in the money, hired the coaches and provided ample support. We have pulled in a record number of new residents in Semester 2 under the sports category. Many of our teams have been training hard. I hope all will do well.
KE has never had a pre-IHG supper. IHG has always started quietly and before you know it it is over. This year in Week 1, we will try to organise one to mark the start of the season and to rally support for our sportsmen. We are also putting up an encouragement board in the dining hall. We hope to receive support from all KEVIIans for these initiatives. We want to create the atmosphere of mutual encouragement, to make all our sportsmen feel like they are playing for this Hall, and they have the whole Hall behind them as their supporters.
As for KEIPS, we are devising a way to track the contributions of KEVIIans across the years, so that by the time KEVIIans graduate from Hall their contributions can be recognised. We are hoping that this would eventually be recognised by NUS as well.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most unique feature of KE Hall?
Hmm… *deep in thought* we have been thinking about this for a very long time, especially when we think about branding. I wouldn’t say this is a unique feature, but it is a special thing – among all the Halls, we have the most accommodating and homely community. I think everybody can find a friend here. The culture against foreigners is not so bad – they can join almost any CCA they like. I think we are nice people.
Q: What is your leadership style?
I don’t like to take an authoritative or domineering style. I try to influence or ‘infect’ others with my actions.
Q: So you lead by example?
Hmmm, that’s not exactly correct either because there are times when I’m not such a good example. *Chuckles* I want to win other people’s trust by showing an honest and sincere side of me.
Q: Finally here is the last but toughest question: between popularity and practicality, which is more important to you? Why?
I think it is more about doing things at the right time. It is about doing practical things while trying to maintain a certain level of popularity. Sometimes managing your popularity is the means to carry out practicality. If you think long term, you cannot keep doing things at the expense of your popularity. But if I die die have to choose one, it would be practicality, because no matter how people will dislike me, there will always be God to support me.