Today was the day of the 15 Hour Challenge-the leadership skills we had acquired throughout the week would be put to the test in a long, interactive activity. All of YLEAD gathered in the auditorium after an early breakfast, and the theme of the 15-Hour Challenge was introduced to us. With groups from the week in different ministries pertaining to the advancement of Singapore, such as the Ministry of Lifestyle and Development (MOLD), each ministry was presented with a “problem” that would require an innovative solution. One example of a problem would be that in the year 3000, the internet would replace the roles of teachers, and school would become less engaging or interactive. Groups within the ministries would be competing to design the best solution for their respective issues and build a prototype in fifteen hours.
Throughout the day, teams were in classrooms drawing out their plans on large pieces of paper, creating presentations on blue poster boards, and building their prototypes out of cardboard, tape, and rafia string. We were able to present our prototypes in the gym like a science fair, and teams received feedback from other students. After the presentation, teams were relocated to classrooms again to improve their prototypes for final submission. At 10 PM, we (BCA students) were finally dismissed to back to the hostel, as the River Valley High School students prepared to sleep in the school gym.
The next morning would be the last day of YLEAD, and there was a lot planned, starting from the final presentation of the prototypes, followed by the presentation of the winning team from each ministry, a cultural appreciation showcase by every school, a commencement ceremony, and a dance. After performing a short skit on the prototype to River Valley teachers, they selected a team to represent each ministry in an assembly, where they would perform in front of all the other ministries. Winners were announced and we were then dismissed for lunch. Following lunch was the cultural showcase, where we, BCA students, brought posters and videos on America’s history, traditions, and even displayed BCA’s unique school culture. The highlight of the USA booth, however, was Aaron Thammavongxay’s card trick, where he would tell the history of the USA by using a deck of cards and arranging them so that the numbers on the cards represented years and dates of important events. We also performed the Cotton Eye Joe and Cupid Shuffle on stage, as seen below.
After the cultural showcase, a dinner buffet was set up in the canteen, and we were able to eat with our YLEAD group for the last time. We ate, mingled with other students, and talked about how close we had grown in the past week. As dinner came to an end, we all went outside on the field to take pictures with each other in the sunset, and exchanged social media as well as phone numbers.
As the picture taking slowed down, the facilitators began running towards the outdoor gym, motioning for us to follow. We joined them and the blasting music, and BCA students were front row, dancing together. The dance was then moved to the indoor gym, where there were glowing lights in the dark. After jumping up and down to many thrilling songs, we calmed down and watched a recap video of the week. The principal of River Valley High School gave a short commencement speech and announced awards, including best facilitators, best groups, and best leaders. Several BCA students were among the groups who received best group awards, and Thomas King also received a best leader award for Group A.
Everyone was dismissed into their groups to say their goodbyes and reflect on the past week, and many exchanged thoughtful notes and small gifts. As we walked back to the hostel, everyone was talking about how rewarding the conference had been, despite the early mornings and late nights. We then hurried to bed, as tomorrow would be a full day of sightseeing, followed by a 1:00 A.M. flight to Hong Kong.