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30 August 2011

A meeting of the minds...

...took place at the Lee Foundation Volunteer Training Room in the National Council of Social Service from 22-24 Aug 2011.

Explora conducted a series of one-day workshops on experiential and adventure-based learning for youth workers. The participants in these workshops are all involved in the "Enhanced STEP-UP" (ESU) programme - they hail from different voluntary welfare organisations all over Singapore.

It was truly exciting to be able to have 'direct' contact with passionate people united by one aim - to help special needs youth in whatever ways possible to stay in school or to get them back into school.

[More information about ESU can be found here.]

Fortunately, a good friend of Explora's, Mr Ahmad Taufiq took a short detour from pursuing his PhD in Family Ecology at University Putra Malaysia to share his knowledge and experience with the workshop participants.

We were gratified that the participants were so open to what we had to share with them, to the extent that at the end of the sessions, many participants remained behind to ask us questions.

Here's what one participant from New Life Community Services emailed to us the day after the workshop:

I enjoyed the training sessions. The trainers shared generously. They have a wealth of experience in organising and managing groups. I’m glad I made the time to attend. M. Quek

15 minutes till the workshop starts
Gene sharing an ice-breaker game with the participants
Always a crowd pleaser - "Giant, Wizard & Dwarf"!
Shukor getting proceedings under way
Taufiq talking about the importance of the family ecology in youths' lives
Applying von Bertalanffy's GST (no, not the S'pore Govt's type of GST)
Is that a sheltered child in the circle..?
Choosing between condo, flat or landed property...
Yes, the workshop did arouse some passions...
An exercise in 'mirroring' - not a mystery to psychologists!
Proposing an ideal experiential learning programme is not easy
Shukor pitching for a broadcaster's licence for his new radio station?
Hope the printed notes are of some use!
The proper use of metaphor in experiential learning is emphasised by Shukor
Taufiq is glad the workshops are over - but looking forward to future ones!

29 August 2011

Time and tide...

...wait for no one and this was harshly proven for the bold and valiant men from the Police Technology Department (PTD). The two-day leadership development and assessment programme (28-29 July 11) didn't seem very short at all to both the participants and us facilitators, once we entered Pulau Ubin's mangrove river system at about 1230am.

The water level grew progressively and relentlessly shallower as we went deeper into the interior of Pulau Ubin, until our kayaks ended up not floating on water, but sitting on the warm, squishy, popping muddy bed of the river.

It was a classic case of being caught between a rock and a hard place. The metaphor of going up a certain creek without a paddle also came to mind, whilst we slapped at bombarding sandflies and worked towards a solution to get out of that quagmire.

In a true test of their resilience, determination and focus, the participants worked together to pull/drag/lug/tow every single kayak out of the swamp, through the jungle and back out into 'civilisation', which was a Chinese temple guarded by several zealous guard dogs which barked incessantly. Well, they (the dogs) were just doing their job...

This was the climax of the leadership programme; of course, this did not discount the participants' achievements elsewhere in the programme, but it is safe to say that there could not have been a more challenging test of the participants' personal leadership skills than in this overnight challenge of Herculean proportions.

Our hats are respectfully doffed in honour of the men from PTD.

Appreciating the situation

Re-distributing carrying loads

Finally ready! For the raid mission on IKEA...

Did they make a wrong turn near Tampines MRT?

Who left these things lying around?

The Superstar Virgo was fully booked, so...

Funnily enough, all the restaurants on Superstar Virgo were fully booked too...

Who says LEGO is child's play...

Reflecting on the day's events

Preparing to enter the river system outside Ah Ma's Drink Stall.

Doing their best to make the most of a potentially difficult task ahead.

17 June 2011

The largest...

...concentration of student leaders on Pulau Ubin? Probably not, but about 100 of them does constitute a fairly large contingent. These Primary 5 students were selected by their respective schools to experience and practice leadership firsthand in a 3-day leadership development camp organised by MOE's Gifted Education Branch (GEB).

Explora is proud to work alongside the passionate GEB staff to provide an experience which allowed for natural and authentic outcomes, while putting the students' leadership skills and what they know about teamwork to the test.

The camp's broad objective was to enable the participants to develop deeper understanding of leadership qualities and values such as:
  • Listen closely to others
  • Be reflective of personal values, attitudes and abilities
  • Strive to understand and empathise with others
  • Rely on skills of persuasion and not coercion
  • Develop communication, group planning and decision making skills
At the beginning of the camp, the students discovered that they had to learn certain basic skills because they were going to embark on a Leadership Expedition. They would apply these skills with some guidance from the facilitators, but not to the point of being 'spoonfed'.

[To protect the privacy of the young participants, some images below have been digitally altered.]

The Camp Chief informing the participants about the Leadership Expedition.
Setting up Expedition Base on Pulau Ubin.
Participants preparing their dinner, supervised by a teacher.
For many participants, it was a first-time experience cooking over a charcoal fire!
The teams on the land phase of the Leadership Expedition on Pulau Ubin.
Preparing for the sea phase of the Leadership Expedition.
Tying canoes together to form a raft for more stability.
On their way at last! Glad we got the safety escort motorboat..not that the participants needed it...

We see the participants' creativity in retelling their Leadership Expedition experience.
Someone should call Tony Buzan to have a look at this Mind Map...


12 March 2011

The Eagles have landed! But they had to fly first...

It was certainly a memorable three days for our participants from one of the police Divisions in mid-February. For us facilitators too...We certainly had it all: rain, waist-deep mud, hiking long distances, sleeping in the open (if you could call it sleep). But the officers gamely took on all the challenges we could throw at them and still their professionalism shone through. Impressed? We sure were. Surprised? Not really. Because these men (and lone woman) showed they had what it takes to survive the gruelling pace and intensity. This is Leadership Development at its best.

The opening 'ceremony' on Day 1
It's not a scratchy image - it's rain!
Lined up for the sea patrol - that's a storm in the upper right...
The assessors (on yellow raft) get a free ride...or maybe not.
There were one or two canoes that kept going in circles.
If only they arrived 1 hr earlier, then the mud wouldn't be so bad...
Simulated casevac in MacRitchie...they made a curious sight for joggers and walkers.
Crossing a 'river' to pursue the human traffickers.
But first, we have to make our way across.
Altogether now...PULL!
The crossing is a success!
Even for the heaviest officer...

A note about the video: You may hear the words "cock up" at the end of it, but we hereby state that this was not directed at the person doing the crossing, rather it was more a comment on the lame attempt at some kind of soundtrack to accompany the crossing :D

30 January 2011

We are now...

...a certified bizSAFE Level 1 company! On to Level 2...

At the bizSAFE Convention, held at Suntec City on 20 Jan 11.

26 January 2011

1 day of Experiential Learning...

...for a group of teachers involved in the Gifted Education Programme took place on 1 Dec 2010. The main event was an 'Amazing Race'-style activity that took them from Labrador Adventure Centre to places like Fort Canning Park, Kampong Glam, Botanic Gardens and HortPark. They even had time to sit down to a delicious lunch at Zam Zam Restaurant - for some of the teachers, this was their first time they were able to sample the famous prata and briyani!

Perhaps the most interesting (and interactive) checkpoint was at Kallang Community Centre, where the teachers sat down to a community drumming session, conducted by Ms Soh Geok Kee and her team of dedicated drumming leaders, all of whom volunteer their time to pass on their passion for drumming to interested people who want to try their hand at it.

All in all, it was a full day and the teachers came away with a deeper impression of how Experiential Learning can help in the education of their gifted students in the respective schools - particularly in the area of dealing with open-ended outcomes, decision-making as well as leadership and followership.

The teachers being briefed about how Experiential Learning can be incorporated into the teaching curriculum.

Determining the best way to get to the first checkpoint.

A member of the public is approached to answer some questions posed by the teachers.

Lunch at Zam Zam Restaurant!

Meet the Kg Glam family!

Trying to piece together a sketch of a bus stop.

The other group doing the same.

There's some hidden talent in these people...