How NUS got to participate in 全营19 (缘起)


There are many people we have to give thanks to in order for NUS to be able to participate in 全营19.

I first heard of this large annual camp from Dennis Ong, a NUS Buddhist Society senior who has now graduated, when I was just a freshman in Camp Ehi Passiko 2001. He took part in it when he was in year 1 in 1999, the last time NUS Buddhist Society has linkages with our fellow Malaysian counterparts.

The present contacts came in when we participated in the Global Conference for Buddhism held in Shah Alam, Malaysia in December 2002. Thanks to my Vice-President, Lena, who persuaded me to join in the conference over my personal alternative of slacking at home. As luck would have it, I was with Yin Soo having lunch when 4 cute-looking girls came over to our table and have their meals too. It is natural instinct for me to strike a conversation with them and one of them will eventually turn out to be the treasurer for 全营19, she is Siew Ming. Siew Ming is not able to join us for this camp as she has started work. Many thanks to Lena and Siew Ming for establishing the contacts to the camp organising committee.

Siew Ming send me the application details for 全营19 on the first week of February. Hmm... I was browsing through the website and omigosh, the application closes end-January. Thanks to Siew Ming and the organising committee, our appeal for application extension got through to end-February.

The responses was not forthcoming initially with Catherine, Alex, Darren and me in the list towards end-February. I informed Darren and Alex that we will have to put off the camp participation this year and focus on our Vesak celebrations which is also in May. My greatest concern is for the girls as it would be best to have at least 2 girls to participate in the camp. As luck would have it again, Sabrina sms me on the 28th February at 12am to sign up for the camp. This settles it! We will go ahead with the camp. Alex and Darren were informed on the 28th Feb morning that we will have a go ahead. Yong Foo whom I met in Engineering DC were enthusiastic about it, so he's part of the group. Wee Pin, whom I always seem to meet anywhere, from after-Kendo supper session to the remotest part of NTU, also joined in. We informed the organising committee of our finalised name list on the 28th Feb morning. Many thanks to all participants from NUS, if not for all of you, our participation would have been cancelled.

The remaining administrative stuff is to collect photos, money and application forms. You guys are really hard to find a common time to meet up. Thank goodness, I'm staying in hall, phew! Anyway, my dad also help me process a cheque in Malaysian ringgit to be tag along. It was all send on the 15th March and I got a confirmation email a week later.

Everything's done. It appears now the only thing left is to go to the camp. Then came the SARS menace!

My hall friends mentioned that the Tzu Chi Youth camp held in Malaysia is cancelled due to SARS. I made a quick check with the organisers on how goes 全营19. There seems to be no changes. Another bomb-shell came in when NTU postpone their exams by 2 weeks. It was a close-hit but thankfully NUS remain firm in their stand to go ahead exams as planned. With special thanks to the Ministry of Health decisive action against SARS and NUS President rational stand towards it.

Then the mass media were making lots of noise regarding SARS. Singaporeans Are Really Scared (SARS). Now, we have to make our own decision and not to trust the mass media. But the problem is, when our friends and family are worried for us, we have to accord to their demands in order to pacify them. Catherine dropped me a mail on the 25th April asking me for advice on this matter. Some time were spent researching on the Internet on the actual facts and figures on SARS and finally coming to a rational conclusion to it. Thank goodness a paper ended on the 25th and my next one is on the 29th, so there is some time to do some BS stuff. I have to apologise for replying via email instead of calling you all as I was staying in hall.

I came to find out that NTU also signed up for the camp (All their participants are Malaysians) but they have to cancel their place cos of a delay in their exams. A request was made to Kean Yap, NTU coordinator for the camp, and the camp organisers to allow NTU to cede the 5 places to NUS. Thanks to the camp secretary, Jin Lian, she gave us the green light for it. A second email was send out to the Society mailing list calling for participants. 2 girls signed up for it but withdrew a few days later as NUS has imposed strict restrictions on international students traveling overseas and taking up residence in campus during vacations. It is unfortunate that they were not able to join us for this camp.

The organisers were consulted on the SARS situation and Siew Ming rest-assured us that life was normal there. I gave the girls till the 28th Apr (Monday) to decide whether would they withdraw from the camp. I will request refund from the organisers there and return the cost of transport. The girls were strong and they managed to persuade their parents to let them go for the trip. Bravo! Darren was appointed the bus IC (in getting the tickets) on the 29th Apr. We are set to depart for Taiping.

Yong Foo was our local translator there in Taiping in negotiating a cab price from Kumunting Bus Terminal to Taiping Buddhist Centre. Finally we are safely in the hands of the organisers. Many thanks to them and all the participants of 全营19. All of us were able to participate in the camp indeed after much challenges. 160 participants signed up for the camp but only 108 turned up cos of SARS...

"We are just part of the conditions, it is the fragile combination of time, space and people that determines its outcome - 缘起" ~ Venerable Ji Chi

Vincent Lim
NUS Buddhist Society
24th Management Committee