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NDP2020: ITE students create video series featuring ‘Singaporean stories’

SINGAPORE — Sitting on a couch at home recounting his memories, Mr Harris Ivan Gerard was transported decades into the past — back when he made little boats out of ice-cream sticks and sailed them in drains when it rained.

Ms A'lima Roslan interviewing Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at his office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building.

Ms A'lima Roslan interviewing Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at his office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building.

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  • The one-off series was posted on YouTube earlier this month in time for National Day
  • The four videos feature Singaporeans “from all walks of life”
  • The ITE students formed their group, The Story Collective, to tell “untold Singaporean stories”

 

SINGAPORE — Sitting on a couch at home recounting his memories, Mr Harris Ivan Gerard was transported decades into the past — back when he made little boats out of ice-cream sticks and sailed them in drains when it rained.

“I can remember a lot of these memories; things that people have forgotten, that children of today have forgotten. They have heard of it, but they don’t practise it,” the 66-year-old manager said.

Listening to Mr Gerard’s story, 18-year-old Tan Wei Lun was moved.

“I could really, really imagine how wonderful his childhood was or how fun it was,” he told TODAY.

That was why he and four other students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West, aged between 17 and 22, decided to tell stories like Mr Gerard’s.

Along with two ITE alumni, they formed The Story Collective around May this year. All seven had gotten to know each other from the same co-curricular activity in ITE, where they first began shooting similar videos strictly on campus. 

But they decided to challenge themselves this year by venturing beyond campus grounds, said leader A’lima Roslan, 22, to tell untold and inspiring stories.

They also decided to time the release of their project around National Day, to lift Singaporeans’ spirits amid the pandemic, she added.

That project, called Time After Time, debuted earlier this month. It is a series of four videos featuring Singaporeans, from writers to Red Cross volunteers, sharing their stories in light of this year’s National Day.

Each of the four videos, which have been uploaded on YouTube, focus respectively on "Singaporean stories”, memories of the past, thoughts on present day Singapore and dreams for the future.

Among those featured in the videos are Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who shared an old black-and-white photograph that a former Bukit Panjang constituent had given him. 

Ms A’lima said that the group had sent emails and messages on social media to more than 600 people “from all walks of life”, and Dr Balakrishnan replied personally after the recent General Election.

Given the safe distancing measures that restrict gatherings of more than five people, only she and Mr Tan went to Dr Balakrishnan’s office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the filming.

After they finished the shoot, he gave Ms A’lima and Mr Tan the photo, which he signed. 

Ms A’lima said that according to Dr Balakrishnan, his constituent, whom he described as a “very active grassroots volunteer and leader”, had passed it to him as it featured his parents, who had taught at the old Bukit Panjang School in the 1950s.

Ms A’lima said: “He was very, very sentimental… the way he explained and shared the story, it was really interesting the way he talked and expressed his feelings. I think that’s something really nice to see, especially for a National Day video.”

Others that appear in the videos include Members of Parliament such as Ms Tin Pei Ling and Mr Vikram Nair, lawyer and ITE graduate Kawal Pal Singh and chef Jason Chua, who runs a hawker stall at Hong Lim Food Centre called Beng Who Cooks.

When asked about the challenges of executing the project, Ms A’lima said that she had to build her confidence in speaking to others, as she was the main liaison with the interviewees.

The self-confessed soft-spoken student, who is a Year 2 Nitec business student, said she learnt many other things on the go too.

Due to the pandemic, the crew had to suit up with gloves, face masks and face shields at every shoot. The team corresponded mainly through WhatsApp and used their own funds to make the project a reality, as their group is not officially affiliated with ITE.

Mr Tan recounted having to hide from the rain on one particular day as they did not have their own transport and had to lug their equipment — some their own, some borrowed — around on their own.

Nevertheless, the group plans to soldier on. They intend to recruit more people and are coming up with ideas for their next project.

Even though the school term has begun, they remain undaunted by the prospect of juggling school work with producing more content.

“Each and every (Singaporean) has different stories, different lives, different paths that they took to get where they are now… I think that's something we would like to share,” Ms A’lima said.

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