We wake up bright and early (6:00, to be exact), to prepare for our first day at YLEAD-a youth leadership camp hosted at River Valley High School. We gathered in the lobby and many of us grabbed a fresh squeezed orange juice drink from the juice press vending machine shown below.
We head to the school, situated conveniently next to their hostel, and enter the cafeteria, or canteen. For school meals, one side of the cafeteria wall had been set up like a hawker center, meaning that there were street food styled vendors with full kitchens lined up next to each other. Bakery @ RV was one of the most popular breakfast stands, selling sweet crispy buns with Oreo crumbs and ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches for one dollar each. After breakfast, we headed outside for a game of frisbee before the start of the day.
Students are split into groups with one other BCA student, and we are introduced to students from schools in Thailand, China, Singapore, and many other Asian countries. After an energetic icebreaker session where we got to know each other, a personality profiling session follows. Groups of students follow their facilitator, known to them as their "facil", around the school campus to different rooms that offer different group activities. Throughout the group activities, the facils monitor the behavior of the students to evaluate the type of leadership style that fits them best, categorizing them as fire, water, earth, or air. Another memorable part of the morning would be learning YLEAD chants to repeat throughout the entire week. We eat lunch in the canteen, and the school lunch that day was grilled chicken with rice and braised vegetables. The busy day is far from over, and we head to the gym for a mass dance. The official YLEAD song also has a dance to it, and we spend the rest of the day learning and perfecting the dance as a group. At six P.M., we are finally dismissed to go back to their hostel rooms, but hurry down quickly to begin their night journey to a hawker center. At the hawker center, we try dishes from a variety of food vendors, including soy chicken and rice, spicy noodles topped with different vegetables, and a sugar cane juice. Below is a spicy seafood noodle dish with clams and peanuts.
After eating at the food vendors, we find a local fruit shop on the way back to the bus stop. We buy and taste exotic fruits such as rambutan and mangosteen. Rambutan is a cousin of lychee, a popular Asian dessert flavor, and is the first fruit pictured below. It has a spiky looking skin, but is easily opened with one's fingers and the sweet, juicy flesh can be eaten inside. Mangosteen is a bit harder to open, but a good way to do so is to use two thumbs and press against the skin, cracking the fruit open. The segments inside are citrusy, but sweet, and are known for its health benefits.
Finally, we take a bus back to our hostel, where we fall asleep soon after their arrival. We will need the rest as we face a week of waking up at 6:00 A.M...