Ficus Green at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park turned into a sea of colour and vibrance on 10 August when the NUS Students Union (NUSSU) Rag Day travelled out of campus into the heartlands—for the first time. At the event, NUSSU announced that a total of over S$366,900 was raised for 22 charity programmes supported by the Community Chest.
NUSSU Rag 2019 Project Director and NUS Arts and Social Sciences Year 3 student Kimberley Aw reflected, “It is inspiring that the first NUSSU project for some 2,000 freshmen was one that emphasised reaching out and giving back to those in need, as well as small acts of kindness to those around us. Through an artistic medium, seniors and juniors got to explore the nuances of social issues and develop their creative talent. Students also had the opportunity to bond on an interfaculty and hall level.”
She believes that it is particularly important for efforts to be reciprocated. “If one party reaches out, the other should try to do the same. Only then can we create a cyclic nature of kindness,” she explained.
Known as “Receiving and Giving”, Rag Day 2019 was the culmination of freshmen orientation activities that kicked off on 1 June. The full day event was also the students’ show of gratitude for the public’s generous contributions on Flag Day. They dazzled thousands of guests with a series of 13 performances that involved props and floats handmade from recyclable materials. There was also a game and food carnival boasting 14 booths.
Guest-of-Honour State President Madam Halimah Yacob graced the event, taking the time to tour the carnival and enjoy the various performances. Other guests included Special Guest Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Vice Provost (Student Life) Professor Florence Ling, NUS Dean of Students Associate Professor Peter Pang as well as officials from the Community Chest.
Speaking at the event, Prof Tan offered food for thought for the more than 8,000 incoming freshmen. “If you reflect a little, you will chance upon a sense of gratitude towards your parents, your friends and people who have supported you along this journey, especially the institutions and teachers who have moulded you. We would like this sense of gratitude to guide you in whatever you do. I’d like to encourage NUS students to pay it forward, by first caring for your friends around you, supporting them and growing together with them and then later, extending this care and support to the society beyond us. I think this is the sort of culture that is really embedded in the tradition of more than 70 years of Rag and Flag,” he said.
Themed “Reach Out”, the mission of Rag & Flag 2019 was to educate, encourage and empower. The student committee hoped that it would educate through greater awareness of social issues faced by the less fortunate, encourage a voluntary spirit, as well as empower participants to grow from passive observers to become proactive champions of altruism and giving back. In line with that, performances were interspersed with videos of student groups’ experiences and reflections on volunteering with their chosen beneficiaries.
The participants started their preparation for Rag Day as early as May, conceptualising their performances, practising their dances, as well as building their floats and props. NUS Engineering freshman Erika Goh, who took part as a dancer in her faculty’s performance, found the experience an eye-opening and meaningful one.
“Something that really resonated with me is the amount of dedication and commitment that’s needed in putting up a good performance, not just from the dancers but from every single person involved — the floaters, the costumes, the seniors. It’s quite heart-warming to witness all of these different aspects coming together and resulting in such a performance. I experienced the whole journey and I really didn’t want it to end. I can definitely say that I’ve not only grown as a dancer, but more so as a person. Along the way, I met some friends I know I’d cherish for the next few years of my NUS life,” she shared.
Nearly S$2 million has been raised for beneficiaries through NUSSU Rag & Flag over the past five years. In recognition of their dedication and outstanding efforts, NUSSU has received the Community Chest Special Events Gold or Platinum Awards on an annual basis since 2003.
Winners of NUSSU Rag and Flag 2019
Flag Day Awards
Friends of the Community
- 1st place: School of Computing
- 2nd place: Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
- 3rd place: Department of Pharmacy
- 1st place: Tembusu College
- 2nd place: Residential College 4
- 3rd place: Raffles Hall
Highest Total Amount Per Person
- 1st place: Faculty of Law
- 2nd place: Kent Ridge Hall
- 3rd place: Faculty of Engineering
Highest Non-Flag Day Fundraising: Faculty of Dentistry
Highest Flag Day Fundraising: Faculty of Science
Champion Shield: Business School
Rag Day Awards
- Business School
- Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
- Faculty of Dentistry
- PGP House and King Edward VII Hall
- School of Design and Environment
- School of Computing
- Faculty of Science
- Department of Pharmacy
- TERzetto (Temasek Hall, Eusoff Hall and Raffles Hall)
- Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
- KRSH (Kent Ridge Hall and Sheares Hall)
- Faculty of Engineering
- Faculty of Law
See press release.