8 months

by mandaceehb

It seems like a tall order to compress the enormity of the past 8 months into a single post, but I believe it’s possible. I’m certain that these past 8 months have contained some of the best moments of my life, even though my indecisive nature hinders me from directly pinpointing a frozen frame in time. There have been so many mixed emotions: the most apparent and long-lasting freedom- joyful freedom of doing whatever you want and being uninhibited, painful freedom of having nothing to do as the hours stretch ahead of you, the heavy feeling of impending adulthood and commitments intensifying, how fast we’re growing up. With every friend I meet we mention how old we feel now (in a relative sense), lay out our confusion and fear about the completely different life that lies ahead of us- it is terrifying for many to step into unknown territory. But under every layer of fear there is a small spark of excitement or longing for adventure; the idea of possibility is endless but something I don’t quite dare to entertain.

Travelling: I travelled widely enough to satiate a wandering heart/ mind, and I’m so thankful. Winter in Japan and Korea and seeing a short-lived 5 min snow for the first time in my life, parasailing and spending New Year’s Day in Langkawi, making it back to the hotel just before the clock struck twelve and clinking our bottles of apple cider together in a resounding “Happy New Year!”. An adventure in India, a place I never thought I’d go in my life, staying in the desert, stargazing, sunrise camel rides and vibrance epitomised in the Holi festival, colour on skin and cameras and dancing with strangers, shedding all self-consciousness in good fun and the sharing of culture. My first trip with friends to Hoi An, strange feelings of freedom in simple acts of walking in the streets, peaceful motorcycle rides through rural landscapes, boat rides on the water illuminated by floating lamps, taking in the charming old town in its night-time magic.

Superhero Me, Planet of Possibility: I discovered the joy of working with special needs children, or special kids as we like to call them. To set the context, Planet of Possibility is an experiential, interactive art show that makes a stand for inclusion in Singapore. This year, we reached out to over 60 children from 4 special education schools and worked with them to create their very own artworks- for children, by children. These children may be different from us but we believe that differences are good, differences are what make us diverse and create a stronger whole. I learnt the importance of patience, of trying, understood how much joy a smile, laugh or the completion of a simple task can bring. Pride stems from seeing that the children have given their best; contentment comes from engaging them rather than the huge successes we are so accustomed to in our material world. Thankful for the small moments I’ve derived joy from during the exhibition: of a genuinely interested adult, marvelling and in awe of what children’s minds and hands can create, being involved, wanting to know more during which I am just so happy to share. Seeing a familiar face of a child who has returned so often I’ve lost count but whose names I clearly remember- Matthew and Akash, when parents explain to their children about differences in such a kind light- that God made each of us differently but that doesn’t mean we are any less than another, when children themselves are interested and ask me more about the superpowers, when they remember what I’ve shared, when you feel like you’ve potentially made a small ripple of change in the lives and beliefs of these impressionable beings. Of speaking about what I’ve grown to believe in wholeheartedly, becoming the mouths of these children who may not be able to articulate themselves as eloquently as their art deserves to be expressed, speaking for Grace and her unbelievable patience which I am only more in awe of each time; it is like a spark of conviction that is renewed inside me each time the words bounce off my lips. Affirmations come more easily to me now, empathy and understanding.

Logue internship: Very much intermingled with Superhero Me but developed me more for the school and professional aspect, taught me to approach situations with heart. Had the privilege of meeting people so passionate about their art and their lives, people who compelled me to want to write about them and express their story with every ounce of sincerity I could muster. Successful people not tied down by pride, opening themselves up and sharing their stories which can touch many. Having to return to the same location 6 times to shoot and learning that you do get better with time and practice; become more sensitive and patient with photography. Whenever I was tired and disheartened I would meet a kind soul who shared their story with me and rejuvenate me, remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. In everything you do fatigue is going to be definite at some point, but every now and then these little encounters/ reminders keep you going. In the end it was all worth it, and I’m proud.

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