As early as 6am on 8 August, NUS students were already awake and busy with their preparations for Flag Day. The annual event saw some 6,000 freshmen and seniors spreading out island-wide to seek donations from the public to support 21 beneficiaries under the Community Chest.
In appreciation of the public’s generosity, Flag Day will be followed by Rag Day on 12 August, where students will put up dazzling performances incorporating creative floats and props made out of recycled materials. The history of Rag and Flag stretches back to the 1950s where it began as an avenue for the NUS community to give back to society, and has since evolved into a unique yearly tradition for the University.
This year’s theme of “Reminisce and Flourish” encourages students to have a deeper appreciation of its origin as a charity event even as they are caught up in fervour of preparing for Rag Day performances, shared NUS Business Year 1 student George Wong, Flag Day 2017 Project Director. “We hope that the students can recall the initial altruistic purpose of Rag and Flag so as to continue the legacy of generosity and excellence,” he said.
In addition to collecting donations on Flag Day, each participating student group was encouraged to work closely with a beneficiary in the run up to the event. King Edward VII (KEVII) Hall worked with Lee Kong Chian Gardens School (LCKGS), one of MINDS’ special education schools, with hopes of increasing awareness and understanding of the special needs community and the challenges they face, shared NUS Science Year 2 student Waise Koh, Project Director of KEVII Hall.
“I strongly believe that the key to fostering an inclusive community is through promoting interaction, and it is my hope that the students in KEVII Hall will use this occasion to understand the special needs community a little more,” he elaborated.
The KEVII Hall undergraduates had ample opportunity to interact with and get to know the LKCGS students through the fun and games of a Youth Day celebration. The hall participants also raised funds for the school through sales of T-shirts and caps. Waise has hopes that a possible long-term partnership between KEVII hall and LCKGS will arise from this collaboration.
George added that Flag Day is an example of how a community comes together to achieve great things. He hopes the experience will allow students to understand the value of doing their part for the community.
“I hope students will start realising that giving back with a happy heart is less of ‘how much do I need to give?’, but more of ‘how can I contribute to make their lives a little better?’,” he shared.
The Rag and Flag organising committees target to raise at least $430,000 through their efforts. The public can also donate through an online portal.