Over a three-month period from June to August, NUS Law engages in a long-held tradition of welcoming new freshmen into the school through a series of Orientation programs. This series aims to cover the highlights of this year’s Orientation.
The performers, instructors and floats of RAG 2019.
RAG & Flag
RAG & Flag — the biggest cross-faculty event of the orientation summer, and also the last one before school starts,. This year, Flag took place on 27 July 2019, followed by the RAG performance taking place the Saturday before lessons begin.
All their practice culminated in this one performance, set in Bishan Park. Pictured is the first scene with its signature bright costumes, music and smiles.
And what’s special for Law Rag is that there are no barriers to entry — as long as you want to join, you can! Those with little to no experience, but lots of passion, are especially welcome — and this holds true for both the dance and floats categories. The year ones mastered gruelling choreography and built incredible structures.
This year, Law RAG regretfully received the bronze medal. We asked some of the seniors in the RAG committee for their feedback on their freshies’ performance, and here are some of their thoughts below!
After spending so long on RAG together, do you have anything to say to your freshies?
Denise Thia, Vice Dance Head: Good job still, I think y’all did well!!
Jolene, Dance Instructor: [The juniors] are really the cutest and the most caring. As much as I wanted the best for them I also felt so strongly that they wanted the best for me and that really touched me!! Thank you for always trying your hardest and filling s1 will happy vibes. :”)
Just as the instructors were grateful for the juniors’ hard work, the freshmen were equally appreciative of the seniors’ efforts. Pictured above are handwritten notes from the freshies to their dance instructors, Shanon and Denise.
What made you decide to be part of RAG?
Homer, RAG Head: I had a good experience during my RAG and I really wanted to pass that on to the juniors. RAG was also a place where I got to make many friends outside of my OG and I saw it as a really good platform for bonding.
Denise, Vice Dance Head: I enjoyed my time during rag when I was a freshie, and I also has dance experience so I felt compelled to take up RAG! Furthermore, I really liked the idea behind the purpose of RAG, where people bond and make friends and also learn something new such as dance or making floats/costumes.
Sean, Floats Head:I decided to be a part of the Float comm because I enjoyed my RAG experience as a freshman. In Float, we were given a chance to spend hours to getting to know our batchmates, serving as a wonderful opportunity to bond with one another. I then wanted to replicate this experience for this year’s freshman so that they could enter law school with a community to rely on.
Jolene, Dance Instructor: It’s actually just everything I love?? Like dance and meeting people and I think I’m just really excited and passionate about RAG. Also because it was important to have someone mentor the lead for this year!!
Xavier, Dance Instructor: I think I mostly joined RAG at first because of personal reasons (very selfish ones) and because of that like I was very unmotivated to do it at the start. But I can honestly say 100% of the reason why I was so inclined to stay on to the end was really because of the freshies I got in my scene like they really made everything worth it.
Su-En, Costumes Instructor: I wanted to be a part of RAG because I have nothing better to do w my life JK! but not really! Because I wanted to make costumes 🙂
Homer, the RAG Head, giving an extremely serious speech about how grateful he is to have joined RAG (ft. his unintentional duckface).
How is being an EXCO member different from what you expected/a participant?
Homer, RAG Head: As a freshie, I only got to see the fun parts being RAG head. I never realised how demanding the role was and how much work had to be put into it. Balancing it with hall commitments and studies was a major challenge but it paid off in the end because I got to learn a lot!
Denise, Vice Dance Head: There was a lot of planning involved that I didn’t expect! A lot of times we had to handle a lot of back-end stuff that freshies never ever see. We also had to be way more adaptable when situations crop up but overall it was a good experience that allowed me to learn so much from it.
Sean, Floats Head: As a floats instructors, we also have to focus on the big picture as compared to the individual construction of props. The seniors have to track progress, think about regulations, what the overall float layouts would look like and what limitations we faced.
Jolene, Dance Instructor: I think it’s more fun being an instructor actually! And I can effect change because now I’m in a position to discuss for better welfare, etc. for the ‘smolies’ and knowing what goes on behind the scenes! Especially because as a participant you receive a lot and learn the dance and practice, but as instructor there was wayyy more emotional investment la.
Xavier, Dance Instructor: I feel like as a participant who had dance experience you sort of get annoyed at the inefficiency that goes on in practices but after you take on the role of instructor you really realize the amount of work and effort that goes into just thinking about everything like not just the choreography but also how to conduct practices, how to make them fun, how to keep people motivated — and it’s really a lot of soft skills involved rather than hard skills.
Su-En, Costumes Instructor: Uh, not really different because I expected to do a long of saigang and run around Chinatown 100 million times.
Of course, being an EXCO member is no different from being a participant — in both roles, the immense pride that comes from a wonderful performance is extremely gratifying! Pictured above is the explosive second scene that had the crowd hooked — both the strength of the dance and the stage presence of the performers were phenomenally captivating.
What do you think the committee did well, and what do you think can be improved?
Homer, RAG Head: I think the committee was very professional and everyone was very committed to the project. Some stayed late into the night to finish up work which is very commendable!
We could definitely have improved the way we communicated with one another as there were many breakdowns and misunderstandings.
Denise, Vice Dance Head: The comm was largely on the same page with respect to the ideas but execution wise fell short. We were very open to solving problems — but only nearing the end of RAG — I think a lot of the problems could have been avoided from the start if the communication was more effective.
Sean, Floats Head: We managed to provide a relaxed environment for the freshman to get to know one another, but we could’ve done more in terms of our construction, such as having more cuboids or increasing the visual effects.
Jolene, Dance Instructor: I think we did well in that we were relatively open with communication I think and quite direct? And generally across the people in RAG comm we weren’t afraid to thrash things out. However, we could have planned better for expenditure — whether it be raising funds to spend on RAG or making the most of our budget.
Xavier, Dance Instructor: I think our comm was damn dysfunctional honestly. Amongst many problems I think we need to communicate better.
Su-En, Costumes Instructor: I think the committee was quite bonded but needed more communication between the different comms — floats, costumes and dance.
Speaking of communication, S2N is one place where communication is integral. Pictured above is S2N, all paired up, posing for a picture with their instructors, also (mostly) paired up.
What would be some advice to next year’s RAG comm?
Homer, RAG Head: Communicate! If you have a problem don’t feel bad sharing it with the rest of the comm. The comm is a team and members should help one another as far as possible! Remember that the comm is only as strong as the weakest link!
Denise, Vice Dance Head: Communication is highly important! Try to stay as transparent as possible with every single member such that misunderstandings can be minimised and the comm members are all together as one.
Sean, Floats Head: Don’t be afraid to try something new! Float involves a lot of experimentation and everything learnt can be passed on to the next batch.
Jolene, Dance Instructor: To set clear goals and not be afraid to trust each other because y’all are in these positions for a reason!!
Xavier, Dance Instructor: I think just trust each other? Everyone has their own styles and I think everyone has their own take on what works for them so like don’t judge someone just because they want to do something differently.
The storyline behind the evocative third scene, with its immersive midnight blue costumes and impressive contemporary dance elements, reflected much of the committee’s advice. Here, the main character is struggling to discover his identity and communicate with society.
Do you have any personal challenges that you had to face?
Homer, RAG Head: I faced many personal problems during my time as RAG head and made a lot of mistakes but I take these things as valuable learning experiences which I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is how to manage my time and juggle the different commitments that I had on my plate. Time management is a very valuable skill to have and I’m thankful that I had this opportunity to hone it.
Denise, Vice Dance Head: Yes! there were a lot of times where I felt damn sian of RAG and I regretted signing up but it’s just all part of the process. and as long as your comm members support each other, things will be much better and it’ll all work out!!
Sean, Floats Head: Personally, learning to communicate often was a challenge for me. Although having stepped into a leadership role, I had the tendency to work on my own. Float taught me that it’s important to keep others updated, and to leverage on their strengths to achieve a greater result.
Jolene, Dance Instructor: Creative block — O M G — or panicking that the choreo is shitty or worrying about how everything will come together or if I worked the ‘smol’ people too hard or if I was too rude to them…
Xavier, Dance Instructor: I think I just learnt to be very professional and achieve new levels of patience.
Sometimes, whatever challenges you face, you just have to tough it up and keep smiling. Just like the freshies giving their best RAG faces for the last scene!
What was your most valuable experience as a member of the comm?
Homer, RAG Head: My most valuable experience was learning how to be resilient. Honestly there were many times where I felt like quitting LMAO but sticking to the job and pulling through made the job so much more fulfilling and I am very thankful that I had really great comm members who were accommodating and understanding!!
Denise, Vice Dance Head: Having to work with these people who shared the same love for dance performance as I do!
Sean, Floats Head: My most valuable experience was learning how to manage expectations of people. Everyone comes into a team with different expectations, and it’s important to align them before any work begins!
Jolene, Dance Instructor: WAH I think the whole experience was super super valuable? From working with batchmates to interacting and growing close to the freshies to tempering how we speak to maintain cordial relations where it mattered and also learning to get along with everyone! But it was very very rewarding and ya I treasure it alot!
Xavier, Dance Instructor: I became better friends with some people. 🙂
As the freshies gather to the centre to wave and pose, with wide grins plastered on their faces, one thing was clear: this entire journey that culminated in the performance was a valuable experience that would not be forgotten!
This year, lead by our trusty Flag Head, Yadanar (pictured above), we managed to clinch the first place in Flag for raising the highest total amount per person!
When we reached out to her to ask her for her thoughts on Flag, she chirpily extended her warm gratitude towards the freshies for flagging so earnestly, as well as supporting Flag through buying their merchandise. Here are some of her thoughts.
What made you decide to be part of Flag?
Yad: My decision to be a part of Flag was very much driven by the knowledge that a little bit of money can do a lot of good for charities. I think in this day and age there’s a tendency to overlook the impact of monetary donations and prioritise direct beneficiary engagement instead. While the latter is worthy and has its place, more people who aim to do good should recognise that some charities are cash-strapped, not short of manpower. Hence, to best help these charities and meet their needs, we should aim to provide funds rather than our time through volunteering.
How is being Flag head different from what you expected/from a participant?
Yad: Flag is a logistics-heavy enterprise, both on the faculty and school level. I got to appreciate just how much goes on behind the scenes, especially on NUSSU’s part.
What do you think the committee did well, and what can be improved?
Yad: I think the committee did well in terms of the sheer range of fundraising models conceptualised and employed. Next year’s committee should look forwards fostering greater investment in Flag so more people turn up for Flag Day! Moreover, we should focus on reaching out to more corporate sponsors.
This year, FLAG committee (in collaboration with Floats) even set up a Pokémon-themed games booth to raise funds on the day of the RAG Carnival! Pictured is NUS President Tan taking his shot — you can see the concentration on his face as he aims to score.
What was your most valuable experience as a member of the comm?
Yad: Coin-counting night, where we stayed till 2am at NUSSU HQ to sort and count our donations. It was terribly fulfilling despite how tired we were because we got to see the fruits of our entire faculty’s labour. I was heartened to see how much good 100+ individuals trying their best could do.
Good job to everyone involved in RAG & Flag! Above all, the activities were another way to facilitate bonding within the year 1s before school started, and this author hopes you’ve enjoyed the experience.
[Photos taken by Justified and Bryan Foo]