A story of discovery and purpose
By BENEDICT YEOH
Never would I have thought that someday, I would be a part of the Leaderonomics family.
These people, despite not having superhuman strength or psychokinesis, are the capeless superheroes of our community today.
Not only are these young individuals multi-talented, they dedicate countless hours daily to the underprivileged with the promise of a better tomorrow.
As soon as I entered the office on the first day of my internship, I knew “proud” would be the word to represent me best for the next five weeks.
DIODE Youth Leadership Camp (YLC)
The journey began near the end of 2015 when my mother insisted that I participate in a seven-day long leadership camp she had come across online.
Her reason: I was spending too much time on computer games during my school holidays and needed to find a more “beneficial alternative” before school reopened.
Being the typical teenager, I rebelled and dismissed the idea of ever leaving the house.
Nonetheless, my rebellious act was in vain and I was reluctantly ‘volunteered’ to join the camp anyway.
1) You build your network
The first thing that came to my attention when I entered my dorm at YLC was the affable demeanour of the participants.
People were greeting each other and introducing themselves even before they unpacked their luggage.
It was evident that the participants were here to learn and make new friends; no one had the intention of isolating others.
Everyone was ready to share if you were ready to ask, hence I made the best out of my time in camp.
I went up to talk to as many people as I could, regardless of their age, ethnicity, language, and background.
2) You learn about new cultures
DIODE stood out as a whole new experience for me because I got to meet refugees for the first time. I remember three campers who were Afghan refugees.
There was the initial hurdle of getting over the language barrier, but as soon as things got a little less awkward, it became a daily occurrence for the boys to sit around them while asking questions like “Why did you come here?” or “How was it like in Afghanistan?” before heading to bed.
Their bedtime stories were undeniably a true eye-opener because they narrated incidents that we would never have imagined being a part of.
3) You pick up new skills
It was at the same camp that I was introduced to the art of pitching.
Every team was assigned a project to take charge of. My team was given the task of organising a reunion for the participants after the camp. We decided to add a little twist to it.
Since we had our refugee friends from Pandawas Academy, our team unanimously agreed to have the reunion there.
Our reason was twofold: We wanted to offer camp participants an opportunity to meet up once again and we wanted to perform a charitable act for those who were less fortunate.
I guess our “killing two birds with one stone” stance did work out in the end because our team won the pitch-out!
4) My takeaway
This DIODE camp was different as it offered activities that were fresh from the oven.
Throughout the seven days, we constantly reflected on our physical and spiritual aspects to mould ourselves to become the leaders we were meant to be.
Out of the numerous camps that I’d been to, this was the first time that I cried at the end of it, not because I was upset, but blissful instead. So much so, I was crying and laughing at the same time.
It was blissful because I felt like I’d acquired a deeper insight into things that are not taught in school or at home, “things” that ought to be experienced personally. That was the wrap of DIODE YLC.
Let it SPARK!
Next up: SPARK Leadership Programme!
Although this wasn’t something new for me, the prerequisite for SPARK left quite an impression on me.
For the public to register, they needed to attend an audition because a majority of the seats were allocated to the underprivileged community – similar to DIODE.
Coincidentally, I wasn’t a fan of auditions because I thought it would be too much of a hassle to prepare a pitch.
The title If You Could Change the World for One Person, What Would You Do? was already cumbersome just by the sound of it.
1) We all need a push sometimes
Fortunately, I had a friend who persistently urged me to give it a go since it didn’t cost me anything at all.
Being the reluctant individual, I decided to give SPARK a tough go.
The audition was only a day away after I had ceased rebuking my negative self-talk and began drafting my script.
Thankfully, there was sufficient time for me to complete and go through my script before I was ready to head to bed that night.
Well, I performed well enough to qualify for the Golden Ticket to SPARK (what a miracle!). Though I’ve not physically expressed my gratitude, deep down, I was really grateful to have a friend who pushed me to go for this.
2) It was positively, M.A.D!
SPARK was challenging because teams were required to execute their respective M.A.D. (short for Making A Difference) projects during camp and then pitch out later on the same day.
Everything went by at such a rapid pace – I recall how strenuous it was to simultaneously handle the preparation, execution and pitch-out.
Things turned out relatively well. We did our best and could only hope that I didn’t fail my team.
From camper to agent
My M.A.D-nificent journey didn’t end there. As soon as high school was over, I was back for more.
I signed up to be a M.A.D. agent and promised myself to commit wholeheartedly to as many Leaderonomics events while I could.
Lady luck smiled on me when Leaderonomics announced that they were in search for new interns!
I submitted my application immediately, because let’s be honest, what could top the offer of being part of a team that possesses the capability of igniting the exponential growth among today’s youth?
Gratefully, I was granted the privilege of internship not long after my application.
Though I know there are individuals out there who have more intriguing anecdotes to share regarding their M.A.D. odysseys, I hope you’ve enjoyed mine just as much as I did.
Benedict is a Leaderonomics M.A.D. agent who just completed his internship with the organisation. He has a profound passion for teaching and contributing to society. Though seemingly impossible, his dream is to ‘eradicate’ mental illness in the future. If you’d like to connect with him, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.