Author: Andrej Jovanchevski
You seek a venue that sums up the cultures of the major Asian civilizations? You wonder if there is a place on Earth where the contemporary complements the traditional in an admiring way? You want to get to know what it takes to turn a dot on the world map into an economic giant in just one generation? You want to witness the harmony of social diversity and equality first-hand? You are fond of spicy dishes? How about a trip to Singapore then?
Having participated in the Young Reporters Training Camp 2009, a project initiated and organized by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) in Singapore, I now look upon a number of aspects of my life from another perspective. A perspective of an open-minded teenager that is rather aware of his role in the community. Apart from nicely framing my journalism skills, the 10 days I spent in Singapore directed my ambitions towards the pure Olympic values. It is a milestone that will remain cherished for years to come and a saga that is still to reach its climax. The following is a summary of my thrilling adventure as a representative of my school and country at the YRTC.
Over 60 youths from different cultural backgrounds and diverse life paths were selected to attend the camp and I was about to take part in its third run. As the Turkish Airlines Airbus began landing and the stewardess announced that all the passengers should fasten their belts I caught myself gazing outside the window. What I could see from about 4 miles above land was a view over a city set among small dots filled with greenery, jungle-like, as well as the tranquilising waters surrounding them. Since I had never travelled abroad on my own and it was my first time to visit such a distant country, I had a few butterflies in my stomach. I was wondering if some prejudices might occur and whether I would be confident enough to freely communicate with my hosts. However, as soon as I stepped off the plane and was taken to the campsite, the ice was broken. I could feel that a saga was about to begin, unity to be brought on a new stage, friendship to be redefined. I could smell it in the air. And so it was…
Becoming a young reporter
Along with the 17 participants of my group, I had the unique opportunity to attend numerous inspiring workshops conducted by some of the leading educational and journalism institutions in the Southeast Asian region. During our stay we were given a lecture by the vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings; we questioned and shared opinions with photographers who have covered many remarkable events worldwide; we got an insight into the work of Channel News Asia`s recruits; we were taught how to compose a good report and edit videos; we got to know what photo essay and piece to camera are. Above all, we obtained experts` tips that are of key importance when it comes to putting the creativity and journalism skills into use. It is true that one does not become a reporter overnight, but being given a solid base is utterly rewarding.
A whole hour @ the Singaporean White House
On 15 October, we had a tea session with the President of Singapore at Istana, commonly regarded as the Singaporean White House. Considering that it was covered by the media, this was something more significant than just an ordinary visit. One of the highest privileges an aspiring young person can have is the chance to share its own ideas and states directly, face to face, with the President of a country. We talked to the head of the city sate which has been a role model for many Western developed countries, one of the world`s busiest ports and home of the best educational and infrastructural systems. Personally speaking, I felt elated to enter the room where global leaders gather to discuss economic and political issues. The fact that I had never met any official of such rank before added to my delight and excitement. It was the peak of the whole adventure and surely opened many new paths for me and my fellow reporters as young activists.
A cup of work and two barrels of fun
This being the motto of the YRTC, I guess you can tell that we had tons of leisure in between all the workshops. Frankly, my thoughts still linger on the pulse-quickening trips to the local attractions and landmarks: island Sentosa, the entertainment hub housing plentiful iconic sights, such as the Merlion, the most recognizable symbol of Singapore with its breathtaking height of 37 meters; the fast and furious Forest Adventure zip ride; the stunning view from the world`s biggest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer; the fruit bat and other weird animal species at the Night Safari and many more. Finally, eating being the most popular pastime among Singaporeans, the extremely spicy, but mouth-watering food is inevitable – a hot experience for the throat, though a yummy one for the tummy. One cannot afford not to taste the wide range of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Peranikan dishes and try using chopsticks.
The final run
Nearly a year has passed since last year`s journey, but the YRTC is far from finished. The final run of the camp is yet to take place during the inaugural Youth Olympic Games that will be held in Singapore between 14 and 26 August. Having been selected as one of the best 5 participants, I look forward to another eventful sequel of the saga. Indeed, it will not last very long, but the steel ring that bonds us all will forever unite us and the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect, which we have strived to actively promote so far, will remain deeply carved into our personalities. Is there a greater gift than that? I really doubt it.