THE journey undertaken by the Anglo-Chinese Junior College (ACJC) “Odyssey of the Mind” team has truly been an odyssey of discovery – of the art of creativity and imagination.
It all began in the first quarter of the year, during which a highly contested selection saw seven students – Dior Lee, Nicholas Lai, Nirali Subnis, Ashwin Gowtam, Glenn Yong, Noel Ng and Meranda Tang – taking up the challenge of representing ACJC in the internationally-renowned competition. The team embarked on the journey, trusting God for providence and wisdom every step of the way.
Working hard to come up with creative solutions and props for their competition skit, the team members forged strong friendships and many wonderful, fun-filled memories. Their innovation and attention to seeing the project through were rewarded with an outstanding win in their division “I’m Only Thinking Of You” (category), with full marks for the spontaneous round, during the Nationals held on April 13 and 14, 2007.
This earned them the right to represent Singapore in their category in the “Odyssey of the Mind World” Finals, held at the Michigan State University in the United States from May 23 to 26 this year.
College team overcomes many setbacks, presses on and finally emerges top
Despite the elation and honour this presented to them, there were still many challenges that they had to overcome before they could head off for the World Finals. Being mostly JC2 students, they were concerned about their ability to juggle competition preparations, school work and CCA commitments. They faced another setback when a valuable team member, Ashwin, could not make it to Michigan due to personal reasons.
Despite these setbacks, they persevered, convincing themselves with the value and rarity of such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With a firm trust in God, they valiantly pressed on.
However, that did not mark an end to the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that they faced. In an almost comic twist of fate, they stepped onto the tarmac of Detroit Metro Airport, only to find their luggage missing when transferring from one terminal to another. Thankfully, their props for the competition were intact. Perhaps, the deprivation of clean clothes magnified their desire to win.
Either way, the ACJC Odyssey team was determined to stay focused and not be demoralised by other strong teams. Yet amidst this intense spirit of competition, the team members never forgot to seize the moment and enjoy the process of meeting new people, including their buddy team from Florida. Keeping a steady concentration on their task ahead, they did not rest on their laurels but engaged in intensive prop touching up and rehearsals day and night.
And so they gave of their best on competition day, and the standing ovation they received on their humour from not only the judges but also the audience was testimony to their outstanding performance.
However, things took a worrying turn when their raw scores reflected a penalty of five points, and they thought they had lost all hope of gaining the championship.
On the way to the second part of the competition (the spontaneous problem), a stranger approached them and his comments that their performance earlier had him laughing harder than he had in a long while really encouraged them and gave them strength to deliver their best yet again. Perhaps, it was God’s mysterious way of sending His people to encourage the ACJC students that day.
Waiting for the awards ceremony was nerve-wrecking. Just when the tension was becoming unbearable, they were pronounced World Champions, sharing the title with Ithaca College, with a difference of 0.4 point. The entire Singapore contingent cheered for them. It was then that they truly savoured the fruits of their labour, with the eight magnificent minutes of performance playing over and over again in their minds.
Their success in replicating ACJC’s 2005 success brings honour and glory to the college as well as to Singapore. The team would like to thank everyone who supported them – their teachers-in-charge, Miss Choo Wan Xian, Miss Azlina bte Majid and Mdm Ng Cheng Cheng, their alumni coaches, David de Winne and Jill Ng, as well as their many faithful schoolmates.
They would also like to thank the many individuals who contributed to their fund-raising efforts, and the Lee Foundation and the National Youth Council for their support.
On reflection, they could understand better the many obstacles faced, the fear of failure, moments when they allowed their hearts to give up; restricted by their humanness, but God who is sovereign once again assured ACJC that “A man’s heart plans his way, but it is the Lord who directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). They see in part, but God sees the whole.