Responses to the Deadly Coronavirus

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The city of Wuhan, China is home to over 11 million people. Capital of the Hubei state, it is a major transportation and commercial hub. However, at this point in time, the entire city is under lockdown, with transport and travel completely on hold. Recently, the world has been struck by the Wuhan virus outbreak that has already claimed thousands of lives around the world.

For the past few months, the world has been doing its best to combat the COVID-19 virus. And Singapore is no exception. Due to the rising number of cases each day, the government has been implementing several measures to avoid widespread infection. 

All schools in Singapore now enforce their students to take their temperature more than once a day and even allocate certain times to allow students to wash their hands. Many mass activities like assemblies and inter-school competitions have been cancelled. Many of these new measures have unfortunately impacted much of our daily school lives. However, much of these advisories, like wearing a mask when one is sick, can help effectively combat the spread of the virus. One measure many schools have recently taken is to avoid the use of air-conditioned rooms. This is because the coronavirus spreads easily in cold conditions. Thus, it exposes anyone who uses the air-conditioner. Despite these extensive safety measures, some Singaporeans have not adapted well to these changes.

A mere two hours after the DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) level was raised to Orange, videos circulated on social media showed desperate Singaporeans in supermarkets emptying shelves of rice, noodles and even toilet paper, causing large queues. The outrage caused by unreasonable Singaporeans caused NTUC to put restrictions and rations on the amount of food a person could buy. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong even advised the public that it was not necessary to stockpile and to remind everyone that the situation was currently under control.

Despite the outrageous responses shown by some citizens, there are others who are harnessing the spirit of unity. Several NUS and NTU students went out of their way to deliver food to fellow students who were on LOA (leave of absence) after returning from China, which required them to be on quarantine for 14 days. These acts of kindness showed the positive side of some Singaporeans. Instead of only caring for ourselves, we can extend our help towards others in the community.  

Singapore has had its fair share of dangerous viruses eg. SARS and the Zika Virus. However, I believe that despite the danger of these infectious viruses, the Ministry of Health has placed intense measures to securely defend this virus from spreading within the community. These two contrasting situations show two very different ways of how Singaporeans around the island have reacted to the COVID-19 virus. What exactly should the right approach be? I believe that it is irrational to stockpile on food and basic supplies. Instead, we should be more mindful of our own personal health and that of others. If we all maintain a positive spirit, we will no longer fear the virus and we can face it together as one community.


References:

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/wuhan-virus-timeline-how-deadly-virus-spread

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/key-measures-taken-by-singapore-government-to-fight-spread-of-wuhan-virus

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/coronavirus-fairprice-chief-urges-calm-amid-panic-buying-of-groceries-singapores

 

Rachel Lie

4 Purity

Book Review: Five Things They Never Told Me

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Erin, the main character in the story, chooses to live with her family dog, Picasso, who lives with her father. She can’t stand not having a say in anything anymore. With a moment of impulse, she ends up getting grounded and is forced to help out at a retirement home. When she arrives, she is uninterested in Martha, a wheelchair bound senior who is unable to talk. Soon, she realises that it would be the beginning of a sincere friendship. She then learns that she should not dwell in the past, but instead focus on making the present better.

The story is written from the perspective of Erin, a thirteen-year-old girl. However, there are some chapters in the book that are written from the perspective of Martha and I think it adds a very interesting angle to the story as I enjoy reading about how Martha really felt in the story. This is because in the story, she sometimes hides her feelings from Erin. I also feel that the book is very descriptive and thus I was thoroughly engrossed when I was reading it. One of the reasons why I enjoy the book is because Erin’s actions sometimes resemble those of mine. For example, when she got into a squabble with her Dad because she was so forgetful that she left the sausages grilling in the oven until they were burnt. I can definitely relate to that as I am sometimes a scatterbrain!  Besides that, I really enjoy the part of the story where Martha and Erin spent their last afternoon together, drawing in the garden. Erin drew a picture of Martha. Erin is extremely talented at drawing and when she shows Martha the picture that she drew of her, Martha was extremely touched and she cried. This meant a lot to me as I enjoy spending time together with my grandmother.

 I think that this book is extremely meaningful as it also reminds me that although our Grandparents or the old people in our lives may not be active and may not seem to be fun to be around, they have experience that we do not have and they have made many contributions to our society before. Thus, we must always remember to respect them and try to spend time with them which I am sure they will be grateful for.

In conclusion, I feel that this book is great and I highly recommend you to read it!

Hannah Quah

Secondary 1 Grace

Australia’s bushfires threaten entire species and ecosystems as more than a billion animals killed

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Many have heard about the deadly fires that have plagued Australia for months. Since August 2019, the scale of the fires has escalated quickly, causing more than 10 million hectares of land to be destroyed. 28 people have been killed and more than 2,000 homes lost. 

Scientists have estimated that more than a billion animals – including birds and reptiles, but not fish, bats and invertebrates – and hundreds of billions of insects were killed. Additionally, several species of animals are likely to be extinct without being known. One of the main causes of the fires has been cited to be high temperatures, as Australia has been experiencing record high temperatures. A national heatwave was declared.

Although bushfires are a common occurrence during Australian summers (‘fire season’), the record high heatwave as well as stronger winds have caused the fires to be more deadly. The sudden increase in temperature and stronger winds are results of global warming. The impact of the fires could have been less drastic if not for the intensity of the fires. Who else do we have to blame for that but ourselves? 

With the recent surge in the amount and intensity of natural disasters around the world, it is a wake up call for many of us to help. To help in preventing climate change from worsening by aiding in protecting our environment as well to ensure that we do not ruin our planet.

Many efforts have been made in attempts to reduce the drastic effect of the fires, notably people who had volunteered to fight the fires and to aid in the rescue of animals trapped in forest fires. I feel that their bravery is to be admired as they had risked their lives and health to contribute to fighting the fires. The damage caused by the fires is unimaginable, but the effort and courage of the volunteers have saved many. 

While we go about our daily lives, lets not forget to keep Australia in our prayers and be more environmentally-friendly. After all, it is the little things people often forget, like switching off the lights and fans when they are not in use, that go a long way.

Lok Qi Ern

3 Unity

 

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas -Ursula K. Le Guin

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“The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”

The Ones who Walk Away From Omelas is a short philosophical fiction depicting a very festive ideal utopian city (which is obviously called Omelas). Everything seems great and enviable about this perfect place except for the dark secret of the city – the whole city’s happiness relies on a single child’s eternal misery. When citizens come of age, they are told about it, however, they treat the information very matter-of-factly and absolutely do not mind to let a poor child suffer in exchange for their infinite happiness. Some disagree with this system, but are powerless over it and therefore have no choice but to leave the city forever, therefore becoming “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”.

This book is still very relevant in today’s context of scapegoatism although it was written almost 5 decades ago. Scapegoat is a term from the bible and it is understood as a person or a group of people who “absorb” the sins of others and bear their consequences and carry them away from the ones who had originally committed them. Scapegoatism has been entrenched in our world since the start of mankind. Some examples would be in WW2 when Hitler rallied the whole of Germany through scapegoating the Jews and with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant and islamophobic sentiments, repeatedly scapegoating on the Mexican and their native-born descendants, claiming that it was because of them that all the problems in America existed, from safety and security issues to economic issues existed. Just as how the rest of the population in Omelas was aware of the child being sacrificed to take on and pay off all their sufferings for them, likewise Mr Trump has emphasised on this point, knowing very well that the Americans with low-paying jobs or even jobless Americans will definitely channel all their anger and violence at the immigrants and will not “cause him any problem” by turning onto him, questioning the government’s policies, etc, keeping him in office, comfortable and in his Omelas. (This scapegoatism eventually led to physical violence and hate speech from the white working class citizens in America towards the immigrants, sort of paralleling the fact that a child was to bear all the unhappiness and misery for the rest of the city’s joy.)

We are often put off and disgusted by the idea and evidence of ancient rituals of human sacrifice to “appease the gods” and bring back peace in the land. We hypocritically look upon them with disdain and classify them as cruel barbarians because we are so much more civilised, right? 

When reading this book, many of us heroically decide against allowing a child to suffer in such a manner and for such a cause. But we don’t realise that every day, we already do so, subconsciously or not — every racist “joke” we pass or laugh about, every snide remark about another religion or country. 

Much like sacrificing a person in ancient times and sacrificing a child to suffer for all eternity, xenophobia and hatred have no place in our world. We should all be more aware of our comments, our actions and out thoughts, so that we can, hopefully, move towards a brighter and more peaceful society for all communities and peoples. 

Elizabeth Leong 

4 Purity

“Wheeler’s Yard” – Bicycle shop and hipster hangout

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Wheeler’s Yard, it was a cafe that appeared frequently in many’s instagram feeds in 2013, with many visitors taking “OOTD’s” (Outfit of the day) at its iconic blue door. Mr Tommy Ong, a bicycle enthusiast, established Wheeler’s Yard in 2013, making it the first bicycle shop and cafe in Singapore. Its reputation as a “hipster hangout” grew extensively as it became renowned for its floor to ceiling blue door which many would undeniably name as Singapore’s most instagrammed spot. 

Once I entered the spacious indoor section of the cafe, I was struck by its cosy and calm ambience. The soft yellow lighting, high ceilings and the aromatic fragrance of freshly brewed coffee put me at ease, and all my troubles seemed to melt away.                                

I ordered the truffle fries, which most patrons raved about online, hence I had to see for myself how good they were. As the friendly waiter served me my plate of fries, I knew that I was going to be in for a treat. The savoury aroma of the fries wafted into my nostrils as I picked up one of the golden-coloured fries. The truffle flakes and salt on the fry melted in my mouth as I munched on it. There seemed to be an explosion of flavour in my mouth as I chewed on. It was undeniably as good as, or even better than the reviews made it seem.

I also ordered the hot chocolate as well to wash down the savoury fries. It was served with a side of biscuits which went well with the richness of the chocolate. It felt warm yet comforting to drink it and together with the cosy ambience, it will definitely make you want to drink more. 

The top notch quality of food and the cosy ambience of the cafe made it an extremely satisfying experience.  

References: 

https://images.app.goo.gl/AXNpHfC9aCkgybYu8 

http://ivanteh-runningman.blogspot.sg/p/ivan-teh-runningman.html

 Ashley Ng 

1 Loyalty

Conan Gray

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Starting his career on Youtube, American singer-songwriter Conan Gray has garnered thousands of fans through his relatable music that leaves many thirsting for more. He began making videos since he was nine. Making videos is a personal part of him as he uses it to connect with his audience. His videos consisted of daily vlogs, song covers and even the occasional drawing videos. He has since toured with Panic! At The Disco and embarked on two of his own. Moreover, Coachella has announced that he is going to be one of the performers this year which is undeniably a huge step to stardom for him.

Many people listen to his music as Conan has a distinct way of conveying unpopular and censored opinions. He is the voice for the young generation as he is able to show their frustrations through his music and broadcast diverse narrations that other artists do not dare to touch on. 

He is releasing an album in March this year through which he hopes others will be able to see a different side of him. The album’s main message is to encourage others to embrace themselves and learn to be unashamed of it. The album comprises 12 tracks with various beats and meanings that hopefully, are able to communicate with his fans on an individual level. He hopes that they will appreciate the effort he has put in for his album and that music will be a conversation for the youth. 

For me, Conan Gray is really someone whom I admire because he does not feel the need to follow someone else’s style but respects his own originality. His songs always leave a touching effect on me as he usually includes social issues in his music such as bullying. He never fails to amaze me with his creativity and selective wordplay that motivates me to express myself more. He is also a constant reminder to many to love and cherish themselves and accept their own flaws regardless of what others say. 

Angelica Chiw

3 Truth

Sources

https://www.seventeen.com/celebrity/music/a30211060/conan-gray-facts/

https://gritdaily.com/conan-gray-teases-fans-debut-album/

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8547753/conan-gray-the-story-album-announcement

What it means to be a VSCO Girl

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Oversized t-shirts. Scrunchies. Hydro Flask water bottles. These are just a few ‘must-have’ items for a VSCO girl. VSCO girls are taking social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, by storm. What exactly is this trend about?

The name is derived from photo-editing app VSCO, which allows users to filter their photos before posting them on social media. VSCO girls, who are usually aged 10 to 18, have a distinctive look with very specific accessories. They often turn to brands Urban Outfitters and Brandy Melville for their clothes, and only carry bags from Fjallraven Kanken. 

An integral part of the VSCO girl lifestyle is being environmentally conscious, which explains why most of them carry metal straws. VSCO girls even have their own lingo, such as “and I oop” and “sksksk”, both phrases are used to express surprise or excitement.

The VSCO girl trend is all teenagers can talk about these days. However, the internet has used its quirkiness as a target for mockery. Anne Milou, who is a VSCO girl, feels sad that they are teased for using certain products, like the metal straw. She believes that this is not ‘annoying’, as netizens seem to think but an amazing way to save the environment.

The term ‘VSCO girl’ piqued my curiosity when I first heard about it. Although I am not one myself, I can understand why teenage girls are such a big fan of this trend. However, we must remember that our online image is not everything. We should feel free to express ourselves in other ways and not simply follow a trend to gain popularity.

References:

https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/viral/scrunchies-saving-turtles-vsco-girls-are-newest-teen-lifestyle-trend-n1041956

https://www.thecut.com/2019/09/what-is-a-vsco-girl-anyway.html

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/9924872/vsco-girl-trend-latest-instagram/

Tan Ting Xuan

1 Unity

Trends in literature

The landscape of literature is constantly evolving and changing. From social issues to the discovery of new platforms, literature has always found a way to adapt to its time period.

The year was 1847. Jane Eyre had just been released. A few years ago, Little Women was published and before that, Pride and Prejudice. What did all these books have in common? All of them focus on independent, plucky heroines.

In the 1800s, authors like Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott and the Brontë sisters created heroines who are still recognised today: the sprightly Elizabeth Bennet, the plucky Jo March and the courageous Jane Eyre.  These characters were written on the cusp of the feminist movement – the first women’s rights gathering was held just a year after Jane Eyre was released. These books introduced a new type of female characters-ones who are not meek and diminutive, but rather, have their own opinions and a tendency to voice them. 

Today, trends like twitter novels have taken over the publishing world. With the advent of social media, succinctness has been more greatly prized than in past generations. Twitter has a word limit of 240 characters, which brought to light a new genre of reading. Novels are released as installments of tweets, which can be released over weeks or months.  Social media has also given rise to six-word novels, for example, “Brought roses home. Keys didn’t fit.” which was written by someone under the handle “shallowblue”. 

Besides social media novels, the Young Adult genre is also subjected to trends. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of dystopian books, one notable example being Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games. A common theme in these books would be a nation suppressed under an oppressive regime, the world running out of natural resources, and other such apocalyptic plots. These books reflect the tension-filled times of today, where global warming and terrorists are on everyone’s minds. 

In addition, with the creation of new streaming platforms that make media available in a way never experienced before, an increasing number of books have been adapted for the screen in the form of movies or even TV series by companies like Netflix. Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ is soon to be released as a movie and her novel ‘Sanditon’ was made into a television series. Many Young Adult books, such as ‘Divergent’, also have movie companions. These undoubtedly add a new layer to reading, perhaps enticing non-readers to pick up a book after they have watched the movie. 

In conclusion, literature is highly subject to the ebb and flow of trends, influenced both by the ever-evolving english language and the issues of that decade. It is this very quality that defines literature as a mirror to society and makes reading such an enjoyable experience.

Ashley Sia

3 Unity

Travelling to places is the best way to learn

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  As our lives get more hectic and busy, it is crucial that we find ways to relax ourselves. Travelling is one of those ways. Not only will we be able to experience many wonderful things, we can also pick up many important lessons that will definitely stay with us throughout our lives.

  Firstly, one of the benefits of travelling would be that it enables us to learn more about culture. As the saying goes “In Rome, do as the Romans do”. Often, when we visit an unfamiliar country, we first have to follow the locals set when it comes to local practices and culture, then only can we fit in. During that process, we are able to learn more about the culture in an authentic environment. Although, with the advancements in technology, using the Internet is a much simpler and cheaper alternative, yet can one really have the same learning experience online, compared to “offline”?

  For example, students learning Japanese travel to Japan to learn more about the language and culture. When it comes to learning the language, a part of culture, it is hard to replicate the learning environment of the country using the Internet or various software applications. According to a September 2018 research article by Greg Richards, many have started to use travelling as a way of learning. This is known as cultural tourism, which is a type of tourism activity whereby visitor’s essential motivation is to learn and discover experiences. Cultural tourism has recently been reaffirmed by the UNWTO that it accounts for over 40% of travel arrivals. This proves that many have recognised that travelling plays an important role in learning. Therefore, travelling gives visitors many learning experiences which are impossible to replicate with mere pictures and words. 

  Secondly, another benefit of travelling would be that it enables us to improve our character. After living in Singapore for a considerable amount of time, we have grown comfortable to the Singaporean lifestyle. Thus, in the country that we call home, there is a familiar bubble that we keep ourselves in to avoid any unexpected challenges life may throw at us. This forms a protective shield around ourselves that prevents us from growing, learning, and developing new skills. When we are stuck in our comfort zone, we don’t want to venture out to learn new things, and this clearly has an impact on our social skills and enthusiasm towards learning. Personally, I feel that travelling is the most surefire way to step out of our comfort zone. When we go overseas, we are thrown into a completely foreign environment where the locals speak a foreign language, enjoy their unique culture and way of life. Abandoning our daily routine and immersing ourselves in a new culture requires a lot of courage but the new adventures will trigger a dramatic growth within us. A positive attitude and willingness to push ourselves throughout our trip will influence how receptive we are to new adventures, ideas, and even meeting new people along the way.

   In conclusion, I strongly believe that travelling is the best way of learning. It provides one with the first-hand authentic experience and learning environment which cannot be replicated by the media or learning softwares. It allows us to use our senses, to discover and learn about various wonders of the world. Travelling is not only the best way to learn about the external environment and culture, but it also allows us to take time to learn about ourselves and most importantly, learn how to learn.

 References:

https://www.worldpackers.com/articles/tips-on-how-to-immerse-yourself-in-local-culture

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2018/01/22/five-reasons-why-travel-is-good-for-your-mental-health/#947b1d959342

www.lifehack.org › articles › lifestyle › 10-reasons-why-traveling-mo…10 Reasons Why Traveling Is A More Valuable Learning …

www.lifehack.org › travel-is-key-to-building-social-and-emotional-lif…Travel is Key to Building Social and Emotional Life Skills

https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284418978

Gabrielle

4 Hope

Kobe Bryant

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“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” -Kobe Bryant

  Kobe Bean Bryant passed away on 26 January 2020 in a helicopter crash with his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, on the way to a Mambo League basketball tournament that he was coaching Gianna for. His and his daughter’s untimely deaths came as a shock to everyone, leaving countless people mourning for them.

  Kobe Bryant was an American professional basketball player. A shooting guard, he entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) directly from high school, and played his entire 20-season basketball career in the league with the Los Angeles Lakers.  Bryant was a skilled and accomplished top performer, with remarkable scoring capability. His work ethic and determination were unparalleled by any other player.Throughout his career, he has amazed countless people with his undeniable talent and commitment. He is also the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points!

  Kobe Bryant was also a family man who always puts his kids first. He had 4 daughters, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri. Although many of his fans wanted him and his wife, Vanessa, to have a boy so as to carry on the family legacy and tradition, Bryant always supported his daughters and often voiced how much he loved being a father to his girls.I also admire him for keeping up with a rigorous training routine while still never compromising family time.

  “He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary. But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.”NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says in a statement. 

  I feel that this quote says a lot about him and how he inspires others to strive and get better. In hopes of following his footsteps, countless others are also influenced by him to never give up and reach their full potential. His success is not only an inspiration, but also an influence, compelling others to take the first step and improve themselves. 

References:

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/26/us/kobe-bryant-obituary/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant

https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/01/27/how-kobe-bryants-greatness-inspired-the-world/

Talia Ann

2 Diligence