NUSSU Rag and Flag is the university’s largest student-led fundraising project and part of the annual Freshman Orientation Programme. Many students revel in the floats and performances that are staged for Rag, and many are eager to train with their fellow faculty and hostel mates for the dance performances. But some may ask: what is Flag, the latter half of this two-part project? More importantly, with Covid-19 restrictions in place, how will this event be carried out?
On Flag Day, students take to the streets to ask for donations towards various beneficiaries. In this edition of #ResLifeinterviews, we talk to the Kent Ridge Hall Flag Committee this coming academic year on their plans on the many changes, thoughts and motivations for their partnership with Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC).
1. Firstly, let’s get to know who we’re talking to! Can you introduce yourselves, and your role in the committee?
Si Jia (SJ): Hello, my name is Si Jia and I am the Chairperson of KR Flag 20/21. I’m currently a Year 1 student (going on Year 2) in Architecture, under School of Design and Environment. As the Chairperson, I am in charge of all fundraising efforts and activities that the committee is involved in. KR Flag is made up of 15 talented and committed individuals, I work closely with my Exco members, Jia-Xin and Elisha, and all members to see that our fundraising goals come to fruition.
Jia Xin (JX): Hi! I study Life Sciences and I’m the vice-chairperson of the KR Flag Committee. Besides fundraising, I am also in charge of the welfare of the committee and beneficiary engagement sessions.
Elisha (EG): I’m this year’s Flag treasurer. I am currently going on Year 2, from Business. As the treasurer, I oversee the committee’s cash flow, statement of accounts and any matters relating to finance.
- For those who are unsure, could you explain what is the ‘flag’ component of NUS’ annual Rag and Flag event at the start of every academic year?
SJ: NUS Rag and Flag is an annual fundraising tradition spearheaded by the National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU). The NUS Flag portion is carried out by a community of Flag teams, with each faculty and hall have their own team. Flag teams conduct community outreach activities, beneficiary engagements and fundraises for the respective beneficiaries that they are working with. The spirit of Flag is to give back to the community, raise awareness for the underprivileged in our society and bring hope to those in need.
JX: NUSSU traditionally organises the annual nation-wide ‘Flag Day’, and NUS students can participate in the fundraising too by donating, or helping to solicit donations from the public.
- What drove you to be a part of KR Hall’s flag committee? Did it stem from your previous experience in Flag, if any?
SJ: Since young, I have always felt a sense of mission to help others to the best of my ability. I believe that as students, we should give back to the society and lend a helping hand to the underprivileged. Wanting to inspire others to dedicate their lives to helping others and giving a voice to the silenced in our society, I challenged myself to take on the role of the chairperson for KR Flag 20/21 to lead the team to greater heights!
JX: To be in a position where you can help others is a privilege. Coming into university, I was hoping for an opportunity that will allow me to do the same. Upon joining KR and hearing more about what the seniors had organised in KR Flag and how much they raised in a short amount of time, my interest was piqued. KR’s flag committee has also always been known to be a very welcoming, family-like community. With all this in mind, I decided to run for the vice-chair position in flag, believing that I can not only help those who need it the most, but also do it with a group of people who have the same vision.
EG: Personally, I definitely didn’t see myself being in Flag, let alone take on the role of treasurer. I was actually intending to pursue an internship or job during summer. However, our seniors in flag were really convincing in how being a part of Flag is a meaningful and fulfilling journey. This made me reconsider joining Flag and now I can safely say that I have no regrets in doing so! It has really opened my eyes and showed me that most of us here in NUS are very privileged compared to the rest of the population.
4. How did you guys decide on the beneficiaries, and why?
SJ: As the Covid-19 pandemic was unprecedented, we were put in a position where we were not sure on how we could help the underprivileged in our society, given the stay home restrictions and social distancing measures put in place. Our committee wanted to do our best to help our migrant worker friends in Singapore and help them find a home away from home here. This is why we partnered with the MWC and started “The Home For Home” Project “. We are hoping to alleviate the social stigmas these workers face here.
JX: We also have a NUSSU adopted beneficiary called Fei Yue Community Service (FYCS). As we’ve worked with FYCS in the past and share a long-standing relationship, we decided adopt them as our beneficiary again this year. FYCS serves people of different profiles, ranging from the elderly to prison inmates. They provide services such as counselling, healthcare, skills-equipping & training and research.
EG: Another reason why we decided to partner MWC was due to our close ties with them through Kent Ridge Volunteers. We were able to hold various volunteering engagements with MWC, hence our history with them also inspired us to adopt them as our beneficiary.
5. How are you planning to involve KR Hall residents, both present and incoming, as well as members of the public? With Covid-19, what changes have you had to make to previous years’ plans?
SJ: We aim to inspire the KR Hall residents and beyond, to take small steps into alleviating the social stigmas attached to the migrant workers in Singapore. We will be posting regularly on our social media (@thehfhproject) to provide information about the migrant workers to educate residents about the current situation and raise awareness for our cause. With Covid-19, we’ve shifted all our fundraising efforts online. We’re also selling merchandise, baked goods and handicrafts online (@thehfhmarket) to reduce physical contact and minimise interaction.
- Although the journey is still in its early stages, has there been any especially difficult challenges so far? And what are some that you might foresee in the future?
SJ: Since we’re all working from home, we don’t get to interact as much in real life. This reduces our chances of bonding and having meaningful exchanges. However, it is very heart-warming to see that despite this, all our members are still working very hard for the success of our fundraising efforts. Through this, we have connected with each other regardless.
EG: Compared to the Flag committee of previous years, we will definitely not be able to raise the same amount that they did. Instead, we decided to be more realistic and set our sights on raising $30,000. This goal is definitely not easy with the current economic downturn. But it is definitely achievable because every single committee member has put in countless hours into this project.
- What does a successful Flag look like to you?
SJ: To me, a successful Flag is one where every single member has grown in their own individual way and gained something meaningful from this entire journey. It’s not just about our tangible achievements throughout the journey, but by a priceless bond amongst all members. I want this bond to inspire the team to dedicate their lives to the betterment of others even after Flag.
JX: A successful flag would be when every single Flag committee member is able to proudly say that they have taken away new skills and friendships from this process, while doing their best to help our community. I think the emphasis is not so much on the amount we raise, but that we maintain the right heart doing so and into the future.
EG: Achieving our fundraising goal of $30,000 would definitely be icing on the cake. But what’s more important to me is that our committee members and myself have forged long lasting friendships. I hope that a few years down the road when we see each other, we can still laugh and joke about the funny or embarrassing moments during the summer of 2020.
- Do provide your socials so that readers know where to find you and how to support!
SJ: You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org for any queries regarding our project. To support our bake and handicraft sales as well as donate to our project, check out @thehfhproject and @thehfhmarket on Instagram for more information. We hope to receive your kind support for our project. Let’s work together to recognise migrant workers as members of our Singaporean family!
All pictures credits: @thehfhproject on Instagram