By Lin Jiawen (4K)
When we bring up the topic of competitions, I’m sure we all know that the Math department has Math Olympiad and the Science departments have their various olympiads and tournaments. Well, what does the Literature department have to offer? Do English Literature (ELit) students have competitions to participate in? We sure do! Let's take a step back and look back at the National Schools Literature Festival (NSLF), which was held on the 20th of July this year. NSLF is the biggest literary event for secondary schools and has been around for 15 years now. It allows ELit students of different schools to interact with each other and share ideas through various friendly competitions, promoting the passion that these students have for Literature. NSLF also offers a wide variety of exciting events for students to participate in, with competition categories including Set Text and Unseen Text debates for the upper secondary students as well as Book Trailer and Choral reading for the lower secondary students.
If your memory's a little hazy, let's recall the stunning results achieved by the RV teams this year - the Secondary 3 and 4 teams clinched the win in all 4 of their debates this year! Well, fellow Lit students (pun not intended), wouldn’t you want to be like them? Here are three reasons why you should participate in NSLF or any similar competitions in the future! (and get Lit in the process! Again, pun not intended)
#1: You get to work with like-minded individuals from other classes
There’s no doubt that RV provides ample opportunities such as CCA for us to form friendships with students from other classes, but the chance to meet like-minded people with a common interest in Literature doesn’t always exist. With that, NSLF is nothing short of a fun yet educational opportunity for ELit students to know each other better on a deeper level.
“Meeting and working with other people from different classes has allowed me to learn how to communicate with newfound friends beyond my class. Although it was slightly awkward when we met each other for the first time, I realised after a while that all of us were cooperative and easy to work with. ” - Joanna Goh En Qian (2E)
Many participants of this years’ NSLF indeed shared similar sentiments as Joanna - despite the initial awkwardness within the teams, NSLF definitely served as a platform to bond these like-minded students through the preparation process and allowed them to make new friends!
#2 Contrary to ‘popular’ opinion, the workload really isn’t that colossal
“Don’t want la, school work so heavy already still join this kind of competition? You a lot of time to waste is it?” If you’ve heard yourself mutter such phrases of skepticism and even slight disapproval to your friends before, NSLF definitely won’t be the competition that’ll let you develop such an attitude. Every year, the participants get two weeks of preparation time before the actual competition. While schoolwork may prove to be tough to manage at times along with NSLF preparation, the reality is that preparation isn’t as burdensome as many would think.
“Sometimes, not all of us could make it for practice sessions outside of school hours. However, we always had productive practice sessions, which helped us greatly through the preparation process. Despite difficulties faced such as lack of ideas for choreography and learning how to execute the movements effectively, the practice sessions went smoothly and were fruitful, making preparation an enjoyable process.” - Ching Xin Wei (2F)
Many other participants also reflected how despite several roadblocks, a collaborative effort from everyone in their own teams was evidently present. This was definitely reflected through the enthusiastic response from the different teams during the prize presentation - it was hard to believe that most of these students were merely strangers wearing the same uniform and having the same interests just two weeks prior!
#3 There’s a whole lot to learn from students of other schools
Literature is no doubt a subject that gives rise to many different insights and perspectives. There is no one definite answer that is right, and oftentimes answers are classified based on how well they are articulated. Though there will be several teams working on the same text as you, every team more often than not as a differing perspective with regards to the text.
“The other teams were very worthy opponents as they came prepared like us and put up really strong substantives. Many of them were confident and knew their book or poem well.” -Koh Chew Hui Bryson (3K)
Evidently, NSLF can allow us ELit students to understand how such a versatile subject is able to be studied in different ways. Through the speeches from invited speakers or listening to how students from other schools try to win the judges over with their convincing debate points, or even through booths set up by other schools, NSLF is undeniably a platform for all to learn from each other. Being able to see how other students study the same subject as you, you’ll definitely get to understand the different perspectives that people may have of the same text. This not only will help you in your ELit analysis in the future but can also help you in life as a whole as you learn how to consider different perspectives!
“No matter the results of the competition, it's worth the time spent to prepare and participate. When you look back at these memories, they're the ones that will make you laugh and cry at the mistakes, the things that happened, the things that you've done.” - Valencia Tan Yan Yu (2D)
All in all, NSLF has been an extremely fruitful and enriching experience for this year’s participants, and I’m sure that it will be for you too in the future. So, when the opportunity comes for you, don’t forget to grab it and join the Lit side!