Every other week, Ellen, my e-newsletter editor, would come and show me the comic strips that the NTU ADM students had done for the next issue. It is one of the moments that I really look forward to – to see the drawings, to read the storyline. I am always in awe when the comic strips are finally done and the colours bring them to life. So to Calvin, Tze Qi, Samatha and Yvonne, thank you.
When the team of us started working on YOG, we have said we would not bus students and senior citizens to fill the stadiums. We want people to come to events because they are engaging and interesting and people want to be part of it. We said we would not have young people standing on the stage as mere props. We would not have lucky draws and goodie bags because we didn’t want people to just come grab their bag of freebies only to vanish into thin air the minute the last lucky draw number was picked out of the box.
We want to inspire people especially the young people, build sport culture, improve social standards and change mindset – not by telling people what they should do but by making available a platform and creating the opportunity where we could take action. We want to send the message that the youth is not just the future waiting for their time to come. We are here and now, and we can do something about it.
So it was interesting this week at work that we had a number of issues that reminded me of the very fundamental of why and how we have wanted to organise this Games. Do we keep asking people to contribute ideas and works when we have not quite worked out how we are going to use them? Should we spend money (when we don’t have the budget) to hire a pop star to sing at our event so as to draw the crowd or should we work harder to make the programme more interesting and engaging so that people would want to take part? Should we standby a student on a Saturday afternoon to present a gift to a Guest of Honour just in case he pass by our booth?
It reminds me of a teleconference I had with the consultancy company working for the IOC – I was asked if I would agree that the preferred outcome from all our initiatives would be to have a stronger engagement with a smaller group, as it is assumed that a smaller group would be more passionate and have a higher level of commitment to the YOG cause.
It is the age old question of quality versus quantity. I know that YOG is not just an event by one single organising committee. It is event involving everyone – where we can all take part and help to organise. The difference as well as challenge lies between engaging people and engaging people meaningfully. We want to do the latter because we want to stand by our value of Respect.
Last night, I went through the Asian Youth Games photos that Amanda, Yee Hon and their team of young YOG volunteers had taken and uploaded on Flickr. I don’t know much about photography but the pictures spoke to me. I could almost feel the tension of the competition, joy of the young athletes, and the mood of the moment. They were amazing pictures – taken by people who put their heart and soul to it.