Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In conversation with Mdm. Oei. Tsu Min, Charmaine.

An edited version of this article was featured in the July 2010 issue of ENGINEERRUS (The official magazine of Temasek Engineering School) under the title of "Please Hit Me!". Below is the original transcript of the article that I had written before it was sent for editing and publishing.

How would you like to have whipped cream splashed onto your face repeatedly for 4 hours? An engineering school lecturer did just that in the name of charity. Urging students and colleagues to have a go at her, Ms. Charmaine Oei, a Communications Skills lecturer urged: “Please think of all the bad things I’ve done to you, and now you can take revenge”.

Amidst her hectic schedule, she spared time to tell me about her rather remarkable experience. It all began when she and her care group were brainstorming ideas for the CCN Day. Their stall, being located at the concourse level near the Short-Circuit canteen, was right in the middle of the excitement and prospects for a good earning looked promising. They settled on a game stall that they said was going to be ‘different’. Two of the ideas that arose from the discussion were dunking a person head-first into a tub of water and throwing pies at someone’s face. While the former was deemed a little too violent, the latter was still worth exploring. Flinging pies at a person’s face may have looked really exciting; however, no one volunteered to be at the receiving end. After further discussions, they settled on plateful of whipped cream instead of the pie. This attracted just one volunteer. So Ms. Oei surprised everyone by agreeing to be the other. “I thought it would be fun” she said, adding that she didn’t think of it as a big deal.

While the stall did attract a huge crowd of surprised visitors, however, not many people stepped up for the challenge. Both students and staff were equally hesitant inspite of Ms. Oei literally “begging” them to take a shot at her, at least for charity. While those who did step up for the challenge ensured that they missed their target, other simply paid the money but refused to take the shot. “It was a unique learning experience” admits Ms. Oei. Her perception of students changed forever after that. “I realized that they are not vicious but very respectful”. The greatest thing she said she learnt was that people are naturally very considerate and supportive about CCN day. “I didn’t feel embarrassed at all, instead people appreciated the hard work that we put in” adds a modest Ms. Oei.

Along with another game of guessing the number of chocolates in a jar, her class was able to raise a total of $89. When asked if she would do it again next CCN day, she happily agrees but expects to see more volunteers. We may see her again next time, with more innovative ideas. Perhaps it might be something about dunking a person head-first into a tub of water.