It is probably affecting me more than it should. Perhaps it is partly due to my being away. I wish I could have been there when the seniors finished their capstones. I wish I can be there now, post-capstone, as they organise different things that they are passionate about. Their last opportunity to give back to this community that has shaped them, but importantly, that they have shaped. And then they are gone.
Even before their graduation was so imminent, back in semester one, I looked upon this distant milestone with a vague sense of uneasiness. It was weird to think about it then, and it is weird to think about it now. They are graduating. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. What do you mean this amazing group of people who have been with us since day one are leaving? They welcomed us, integrated us, guided us, fought for us, loved us, laughed with us, led us, showed us what Yale-NUS was supposed to be. And now – we are alone?
Of course, we are not really alone. After all, we are “full-house” now. We have the current sophomores and freshmen. And next year a new batch will arrive, full of excitement and eagerness. I don’t want to discount that. The sophomores and freshmen are wonderful. But they aren’t the seniors. It’s odd that I feel this way, since I wouldn’t say that I am close friends with many of the seniors. But I suppose it isn’t about an individual thing. I feel sad that the specific seniors I am close to are leaving, that’s for sure, but that’s a little different from what I am saying now.
There is and always will be, I think, a special bond between our two classes that is beyond individual relationships. When we first came in, there was a true spirit of pioneering (for them more than for us, of course). We were in RC4 then, trying to figure out how to do this Yale-NUS thing. The then-sophomores were the only ones there to receive us. And they did so with open arms. Having a year on us, they showed us what they learned, they brought us into the project of building this community. They sat with us in the dining hall (singular), brought us to their nascent student organisations, amazed us with their open-mic skills, warned us about QR and FOS. Together, we tried to build the community that was sold to us. And all the time we looked to them to lead the way. Even as we became sophomores and even now as juniors, we still look to them to lead the way. Who else is there to look to?
I know this sounds over-nostalgic, but the RC4 Yale-NUS will always be different in my mind than what we have today. That’s not a bad thing. Change comes, and the school evolves and grows. 300 people living in one building will be very different from 1000 people living in 3. And that’s fine. But that also means, at least for me, that the relationship between the current juniors and seniors will never be replicated. And that, I think, is why this is so sad. Because now we are to take their place. And somehow, it feels lonely.
This post is dedicated to the lovely bunch of people known as the class of 2017. Pioneers, trail-blazers, leaders, and friends. They were giants among men.