In the early morning of 6 August, more than 7,700 NUS students gathered at their respective faculties, halls and residential colleges, ready to take to the streets across Singapore for NUS Flag Day 2018 to seek donations from the public in support of 21 beneficiaries under the Community Chest.
Rag and Flag is a well-loved annual tradition in NUS which dates back to Welfare Week in 1957, when undergraduates were encouraged to raise funds for charity as a way of giving back to society. Rag Day, which falls on 11 August this year, will see a dazzling parade of floats lovingly handcrafted by students from recycled materials, accompanied by a series of exciting student performances to thank the public for their contributions.
The theme for Rag and Flag 2018 is “Reigniting our flair”. Elaborating on the rationale for the theme, Flag Project Director and Year 3 NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) student Valerie Tan said that they aimed to rejuvenate the project through reviving the things that students and the public like, such as games and free food at the Rag and Flag carnival as a way of thanking the students for their hard work and the public for their generosity, as well as reignite the passion for volunteerism in NUS students — not only in freshmen but also in seniors.
As such, this year’s Flag committee mooted the idea of allowing time spent on Flag to be counted as Community Involvement Programme hours, which students can include when applying for programmes such as NUS Overseas Colleges and Student Exchange Programmes. “I thought this would encourage a lot more people to join as flaggers and it did,” said Valerie. She added that more than 200 NUS students from various faculties, halls and residential colleges were also involved in non-flagging aspects of Flag Day.
Another innovation by the Flag committee is the introduction of digital payment for Flag donations, and this is done through the QR code on every donation tin which allows donors to contribute through mobile apps by NETS, DBS, OCBC and UOB.
Valerie was prompted to participate in Flag Day upon reading one of prominent philosopher Professor Peter Singer’s works, which highlighted that there is no reason why anyone with the means to give should not give to someone in a less fortunate situation. “It stayed in me that I was in a position to help and that I could make a difference if I just tried, so I joined NUSSU Flag in Years 1 and 2. Anyone can make a difference in someone else’s life; even the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference,” she shared.
For Year 2 NUS Business student Nicholas Ng, the Flag Day 2018 Project Director for Eusoff Hall (EH), it will be his second time participating in the event as well. A flagger for both his faculty and EH in 2017, he will be managing some 200 EH flaggers this year. Nicholas shared that the Flag committee visited their beneficiary — MINDS Training Centres — prior to Flag Day. “We helped out in the daily activities such as morning walks and classes, interacting with them and looking out for their safety,” he said.
The Rag and Flag committee is hoping to achieve a target of $500,000 for donations.