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Learning to be Independent: The Sec 1 IBP Experience

Written by: Lucas Tang Zheng Jie (1I3) and Samuel Su Yong Kang (1P1)

Team-Bonding Session over Mookata

The inaugural Sec 1 Integrated Boarding Programme (IBP) took place for 8 weeks from 2 April to 26 May 2023 with 60-odd freshmen. It was unprecedented as usually only Sec 3 students would attend the programme. In our view, this stay laid the foundation for our transition towards an independent schooling experience and developed in us many good habits that we will remain with us throughout our time in Hwa Chong. We built strong bonds in this environment together, and last but not least, it was an overall fun time.

Initially, many parents were worried that their sons might not change for the better or they have wasted their money on supporting this programme. Happily, at the end, most boys have developed positively through the support of our boarding mentors who shared their wisdom and guided us. The wise words of Mr Joseph Tan, the Director of the Boarding School, also helped us in becoming more self-disciplined and independent. Personally, our mothers supported and trusted us throughout the programme and motivated us to make use of the eight weeks to learn from the meaningful lessons and form new habits.

Attending a Mental Well-Being Workshop

While asking our friends about their experiences of the IBP, there were many impressions I captured from them. Some really enjoyed this programme, as they had no siblings at home and could find many “brothers” in IBP. Some felt that it was a conducive place to live away from their parents and focus on themselves. Some also started to miss their homes around the start of the IBP, but soon got used to it. “Overall, I really enjoyed this programme” was the most common feeling I captured from them.

Physical Training through a Three-Man-Push-Up

There were many memorable moments in the IBP, including the cluster activity, the social mixers, the dance sessions, the talks delivered to help us reflect on school life, and the other workshops where we learned new skills. For our cluster activity, we were both from cluster G2/09 and had Mookata together. In this lively atmosphere, we got to know each other better and shared the food with each other. Finally, we ended off with Parents’ Nite, where we danced for our parents to symbolize the true transition in stepping out of our comfort zone.

At Parents' Nite

Our boarding mentor told us that the programme’s purpose was to reinforce well-being principles in us and for us to develop 自律 (self-discipline) + 自立 (self-reliance). Without the guidance of our families, we had to do our laundry and take care of our room ourselves. While it seems appealing to be away from our parents, it is after the programme when we finally understood the importance of family. Even after the programme, we no longer had to take photograph of our made-up beds and send them to our mentor but we still did it. We started cleaning our rooms on our own accord. It is just a natural occurrence now.

The boarding programme taught us many life lessons and reinforced good habits and well-being principles in us that would last a lifetime. It was truly a valuable experience.

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