Colour and carnival energy: NUSSU Rag & Flag Day returns in-person after three years
Awash with vibrant and dazzling colours, University Town Green at NUS was buzzing with festive energy as cheering students and performers in multi-coloured outfits took to the green grass fields once again. The display of festivities was the first time in three years that the NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag & Flag event was held physically for the NUS community to do its part for charity.
Themed “Against All Odds” to signify resilience in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic, NUS students demonstrated the true spirit of giving, raising close to S$230,000 for 21 beneficiaries from Community Chest through generous donations from members of the public and corporate partners.
Dating back to 1958, the NUSSU Rag & Flag Day is an annual university tradition, where students and staff rally together to give back to society. The event comes in two parts, firstly Flag Day, where NUS students head out into the community with tin cans to seek donations in aid of the beneficiaries from members of the public. The charity effort culminates in Rag (Receiving and Giving) Day, where students stage spectacular performances in a show of appreciation to donors for their generosity.
Braving the heat
The sun was out in full force on 1 August 2022, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of about 1,600 NUS students from different colleges, faculties, schools, halls and residential colleges. Traversing in groups to 60 locations islandwide, they braved the sweltering heat to cover as much ground as possible to raise funds for the beneficiaries.
The collection might have ended in the evening but it was not a wrap for nearly 120 students who volunteered as “counters” to help tabulate the donations. That extensive effort lasted through the night, finally concluding at noon the following day. In total, an impressive S$83,000 was raised in just one day.
A vibrant show of appreciation to donors
As the morning sky brightened on 6 August 2022, the air of hustle and bustle was palpable at University Town Green. In a culmination of the fundraising effort, about 1,000 students armed with eye-catching props put together elaborate performances that they had rehearsed for NUSSU Rag Day over the past two months.
Gracing the event were Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Education Mr Chan Chun Sing, who officiated the opening of the finale, along with NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye and NUSSU President Mr Lee Yat Bun.
Despite starting their day in the wee hours of the morning – with some even forgoing sleep – the students captivated the audience with 14 engaging finale performances to thank the public for the donations. The dazzling performances as well as the eye-catching floats and props used showcased the students’ creativity and their commitment to the cause.
Ms Dorothea Ang, freshman from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, injured her right leg during rehearsal three days before Rag Day. “I was initially devastated for not being able to perform with the full team. However, with their encouragement, I still put on my costume and makeup, and cheered them on stage,” said Dorothea who was seen cheering her lungs out by the stage side and even swung a costume change in sync with the dancers. “Rag is much more than performing. It’s being united and together on stage. I’m so proud of the team!”
This year was the second time Ms Chelsea Goh, NUSSU Deputy Student Life Secretary of Rag & Flag, was involved as an organiser. Recalling last year’s iteration which was held virtually and on a smaller scale, Chelsea shared that organisers had to put in extra work, including crafting multiple proposals, to keep up with changing safe management measures.
This year also saw an immense effort put in by the various organising committees. Nonetheless, she was glad that the Rag & Flag tradition could resume physically. “I hope that everyone will enjoy themselves during Rag & Flag, and that our friends will come down to witness the results of months of hard work from the performers!” she enthused.
For NUSSU President Lee Yat Bun, this year’s Rag & Flag Day event was especially meaningful, given the impact of the pandemic especially on the less fortunate. “The guiding principle of NUSSU Rag & Flag – giving back to the greater community – has remained constant despite the pandemic. With the effects of the pandemic felt significantly by the needy and disadvantaged, NUS students remained resolute and steadfast in their outreach efforts,” he said.
In the last decade, NUS students have raised more than S$3.3 million in donations for Singapore beneficiaries through the annual NUSSU Flag and Rag events. Members of the public can continue to contribute to this worthy cause through the Giving.sg online donation platform until August 15.
Winners of Rag Day 2022
Every year, the line-up of Rag Day performances are awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze award prizes. Here are the winners.
- Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
- Faculty of Science
- NUS Business School
- Raffles Hall
- College of Design and Engineering
- Faculty of Law
- Faculty of Dentistry
- Pharmaceutical Society
- Eusoff Hall
- Temasek Hall
- Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
- King Edward Hall and Pioneer House
- School of Computing
See press release.