Wednesday, September 29, 2010

S3's Barbecue and Bonding

A little heat, a little splash and a whole lot of laughter is never a bad thing to add to a meeting.While meetings usually tend to be dull in most corporate circles, the CCPEs of Aspire! take some pride in turning cluster meetings into a time for laughing, good food, and all round bonding.

The most recent South Zone 3 Cluster meeting was held at a different location than usual.While they usually incorporated a form of sports activity into their meetings, this time, their gathering was a bit more celebratory than corporate.Held at Regent Heights, compliments of Azizah and her family, the meeting which kicked off at 6.30pm eventually winded down to a chill out barbecue bonding session, with water sports in the pool after that.In line with Aspire!'s HIW, the cluster members took a dip in the pool and played several good rounds of Swimming Pool Captain's Ball.

Taking charge of the meeting, and the affairs of the kitchen (barbecue style of course) was Hazel, S3's cluster leader. And joining her in the cooking, and the occasional munching were Carinn, Azizah and myself. Sitting by the pool, with the distinct smell of chicken and spice on the barbecue, while sipping cool lemon tea drinks, it was easy to forget that a meeting was in progress.

Of course, amidst the constant munching on chicken wings, otah-otah, fried bee hoon, and spiced fish, the cluster managed to cover the different financial systems, discussed on various community projects, CCA past record amendments and even were introduced to a little new tool to help in file sharing within work.

Interestingly, the meeting naturally transformed into a sharing session amongst the CCPEs and the situations in their schools. There were anecdotes and funny stories as well as the more serious situations that were shared, and advised on. Cluster events and meetings are platforms and opportunities for such sharing, and it's never a bad thing when it happens on its own.

After the food, the corporate talk, the heart to heart, and the moment all stomachs felt light enough to brave the pool, the members splashed into the water and began the fun.

Even South Zone Assistant Manager, Azizah put on her flippers and joined in the fun.

By the time the night ended, stomachs were filled with good food, hearts filled with the sort of joy you get from laughing, and faces filled with, well, laughter lines. This was definitely the sort of meeting the members would definitely be looking forward to again.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Must Love Cats by Kharma Dharma

Editor's Note: Every now and then, Aspire!@Play will invite selected guest writers to pen (or in this case, type) their thoughts for sharing. This is not one of those moments. The following article is by Karma Dharma, one of our in-house writers, a certain soul whose views on animals took a drastic change. Keep on reading and find out why.

Must Love Cats (Part 1)

2009 is an important year that will be earmarked in history as the year that gave the United States its first Black President and, to the world, the death of pop legend Michael Jackson. On a more personal scale however, 2009 will be remembered as the day I changed my opinion on pet lovers. My loft for furry (razor teeth and claws) animals has never been popular with the masses. What was I to do? Born with a sinus problem, my parents would never let me close to anything with, that’s right, FUR! Filled with fear and ignorance I could never imagine myself having a pet. That though was soon to be changed.
It all started in 2009…

I had been trying to ask Sidney, this lovely lady, voice of an angel and with eyes as bright as stars, out on a date. We had nothing in common and could seldom see eye to eye. Yet somehow between the quarrels and screaming I felt a tug on my heart strings. Yes, I am sucker for punishment. I knew I had to ask her out or suffer the rest of my life wondering. So one fine day I plucked up all my courage and did just that. She said yes. Hardest part over, next was to plan the most romantic evening ever.

I decided on East Coast Park. There could be no better backdrop than East Coast Park to profess my immense, fourteen days old, feelings for her. We would take a stroll on the beach with nothing but the moonlight as our guide while listening to the sound of the waves carrying in the gentle sea breeze. It would be picture perfect, the type of evening that is recited about in poetry. There were going to be three phases in this plan, first dinner then the walk and finally the moment. The moment is the part where one party or both makes the move. It is the awkward silence before you profess your feelings or, even, kiss.

So the evening begins. To impress her I thought I would dine with her in one of those reasonably priced restaurants in Parkway Parade but due to her very strict diet and down to earth personality we ended up having dinner at a market nearby. We had the ever so romantic Nasi Ayam Penyet. The night wasn’t going as planned but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. There were still two phases to go. Next up was the “walk”.

After dinner we started walking towards East Coast Park. For some reason she mistook me asking her if she would like to take a walk at East Coast Park as a suggestion to walk over to East Coast Park from Parkway Parade. Seeing how pumped up she was at my great idea I had little choice but to play along. Thinking there would be an underpass, we started walking only to realize fifteen minutes later that we were lost. By now, tired and sweaty, I looked up at the heavens and whispered,” Seriously, Big Guy?”

And just as I was about to call it quits, she grabbed my arm and pulled me closer. I had never felt closer to god than at that very moment. He answered my prayer. There he was, omnipotent and probably just chilling and all, doing his stuff when he heard my call and came to my rescue. I quickly went through every possible scenario and rehearsed every romantic dialogue in my head. No matter what was going to happen, I was prepared, with god as my wingman, I was fearless.

That was till she asked,” Did you hear that?”

Just like a really bad accident, everything just crashed to stop.
My mind that was just processing a billion thoughts a second had gone into a blank. I stood there speechless. Even a decade of being in the dating game and countless romantic movies couldn’t prepare me for her question. The moment or what I thought was the moment was gone. Did I hear that? The only thing I could hear was the laughter and knee slapping coming from the skies. “There it is again.” She said edging towards a drain. This time I heard it,” Meow…” I froze and looked up to the heavens” Oh no, you wouldn’t.” (Continues in part 2)

Karma Dharma

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Breaking of Fast with Love, Laughter and Kindness

Ramadhan Break Fast with Kids at Pertapis Children’s Home
by Nurfidawati of S7

On 20th August 2010, a group of individuals put aside their usual pre-weekend activities for an evening to give back to the community.

Ramadhan is often presented as the month of sharing and giving. In conjunction with this Muslim Holy month, the South 7 Cluster headed by Nurfidawati Marfuruday of Peirce Secondary School, organized a simple yet meaningful break fast session with the children from the Pertapis Children’s Home.

The invitation was opened to all CCPEs and it was well received. Some came to offer their time for the event while some others came forward with monetary contributions to support the event. E4 cluster came forward with $140.00 in monetary contribution. In total, we collected a total of $430.00 which went to the hamper of basic necessities for the Home (courtesy of Aspire! HQ), goodie bags for the children and also food for the event.

It was a night that the children wished would not end. When it was time for us to part, a few boys peered out of their window. The volunteers went over to say their goodbyes and the children kissed their hands (salaam) as a way of saying their thanks.


“The children are happy to see visitors. Once in a while, visitors come to the Home, to bring them joy and gifts. These kids come from dysfunctional families. There are others who are abandoned. They need to feel love and cared for.”, said Mr Tan Boon Chuan, Zone Manager for the South Cluster. From the children’s response to the volunteers, it was heartening to see that everyone enjoyed themselves that night.

It was not only a significant occasion for all of us but it also serves as a learning experience for the non-Muslims to know about the culture.

South 7 Cluster would like to take this opportunity to thank those CCPEs who volunteered before, during and also behind the scenes for the success of the event. Special thanks also extended to the Kampong F&B Group for sponsoring the dinner packs for the volunteers who participated in the break fast with the kids.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

E4's Adventures & Activities

Editor's Note: A little something by Salinah from E4 Cluster on the events and activities that E4 ha participated in and organised, including the successful Dragon Boat at Bedok Reservoir in July 2010. Enjoy!

Our E4 Activities by Salinah

We treasured every moment when we were together and left behind unforgettable memories. Despite the heap of work, all of us made an effort to participate in the activities and the spirit of togetherness motivated us to be involved in all activities organized wherever possible.

We started with a bowling session in January 2010. Watching the way members bowled and very often 'cleaning both drains by the side of the lane' made us laugh throughout the session. It was a successful event and we had full of fun and laughter on that day. We felt the bonding starting to build. From there on, we were moved to organize more activities.

We then were empowered to learn something new in sport activity. We learnt how to play Touch Rugby with the help of Damai Secondary School's Rugby Coach. It was done in Damai Secondary School's basketball court. We were taught on the basic techniques of throwing and the game rules. We were exposed to different movements in the game. It was a new enriching experience for all of us. We were very enthusiastic and look forward for more training sessions in the near future.

We also then had cycling at East Coast Park in March 2010. We cycled more than expected from McDonald's to the jetty then back to McDonald's. For some of the members, they have not been cycling for years or months. This was a great opportunity to refresh on their cycling skills. We had the necessary and safety briefings on checking of brakes and use of gears and so forth. We talked and cycled at the same time in pairs. Once we reached the jetty, we made our way to the nearest benches, watched the sea breeze, felt the wind blowing and snapped some photos before heading to the bicycle rental shop.

On the way back, one of our members fell down due to abrupt cramps. Everyone lent their hands to help. The bond among the members were strengthened and the closeness in friendship could be seen during this incident. Throughout the evenings, we had an enjoyable refreshing experience.

We then embarked on water sports activity. We had our very first E4 Dragon Boat held at Bedok Reservoir on 9 July 2010. This was the most challenging moment we had as a team since this was our first time collaborating with CCPEs from both East and South zones. This activity was supposed to be held in end November 2009, but it was postponed due to bad weather. This did not hinder us from continuing to organize the same activity during term break in March 2010 but unfortunately there were fewer participants even for us to conduct a single Dragon Boat.

With the attitude of not giving up, we decided to hold it again.

It happened on one fine sunny day of 9 July 2010. E4 CCPE members gathered one hour earlier to make necessary arrangement and waited excitedly for CCPE participants to arrive at Bedok Reservoir. Registration started about 3.15 pm and each participant was given a hotdog bun, a banana and a bottle of mineral water sponsored by Kampung Hut as refreshment. All participants assembled at the GRC Dragon Boat House.

We were then briefed by the qualified instructor on the safety procedures and various paddling techniques. While listening attentively, worried for not being able to swim and the dragon boat capsizing has shown evident in some of CCPEs’ faces since it was a new experience for some of them. We were then split into groups and started to board on the dragon boat.

It was an amazing experienced rowing the dragon boat to the middle of reservoir. The feelings of nervousness vanished in the air when we started to pick-up the technique of proper rowing. We rowed simultaneously and at the same time enjoyed the serenity and tranquility of the reservoir.

Despite the exhaustion while rowing during competition between groups, the groups were able to work in tandem very quickly. The spirit of winning, teamwork and coordination displayed the positive attitude of a sportsman and bonding between CCPEs. It was an enriching experience and unforgettable moment.

This will not happen without the support of the Management, the Cluster / Assistant Cluster Leaders and CCPEs. We have eventually succeeded in having our E4 Dragon Boat. E4 hopes to continue this Dragon Boat event next year. Thank you.