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Rebel to a Revivalist (The Story of a Pagan)

 

In 2008, I was elected as the Youth Coordinator of the Seremban Sai Centre. My duties as a Youth Coordinator back then was to inspire the Youths in the centre as well as plan out service projects and activities. I had a huge daunting task at hand. However, due to my immaturity and my lack of responsibility as well as my anger issues, I did not do a proper job. And I resigned the post after two years in 2010 amidst a lot of negative complaints about me.

 

I resigned the post because deep down, I knew I had failed my Master and I felt at that point, I did not deserve to be a Youth Coordinator. Infact, a proper Youth Coordinator should never behave or act as I did back then. I was so rebellious, so negative, so egoistic, so angry with everything around me. In my opinion, the only right thing I did as a Youth Coordinator back then was to resign.

 

I resigned just in time when I started Uni at UCSI and I promised myself that I would never join any clubs or anything that had to do with a position in an organisation/club in the Uni. I was approached by one or two individuals asking me to run for a post in their respective clubs but I declined them as I didn’t feel fit to be in it.

 

Infact, at that point, in 2010, I preferred standing outside (not involved) the organisation and criticizing it. I’m ashamed to say that, that’s what I did at the Sai Organisation as well after stepping down.

 

However, then, I assumed that anything to do with any leadership post was negative and had something to do with politics. And I started to view it in a negative view point. And those were the reasons I gave to anyone who suggested me to run for any post in some of the student’s associations in the University.

 

But my Master had other plans for me.

 

Time flew and the next thing I knew, 2011 loomed and I enrolled for a subject which I found interesting called “English Literature” for the January 2011 semester. 

 

The final project for the subject was to put up a Shakespearean play and the boys decided to put up Julius Caesar. It was exciting and fun! And I finally felt myself enthusiastic about things once again. We rehearsed and prepared the props and rehearsed even more. And on April 7th, the class staged Julius Caesar (the girls staged Romeo & Juliet that same night). The whole event was dedicated to performing arts and to Shakespearean enthusiasts and it was a huge success.

 

Killing of Caesar

The Killing of Caesar (By the students of the English Literature class of Jan 2011)

Personally, I honestly felt I had a reason to go to Uni again. And this play played a significant role in almost all the people who were involved in the development and production of this play. A Vietnamese friend of mine, Hoang Tung Lam, who was always quiet and shy became even more outspoken after this play. He itched to perform yet again.

 

Adrian Lai, who had major issues with stage fright, overcame them on that fateful night. And having conquered stage frights that night, presenting infront of an audience became a piece of cake for him. He too, like Lam and me, grew addicted to performing arts. (Click here to read about that night’s report on the UCSI website.)

 

And that was how the idea to form a Performing Arts Club in UCSI was born.

 

That night, after the play, I spoke to all the casts and told them of the plan to form a club. Apparently, according to sources, there was already such a club in UCSI but it was not active. That club catered to enthusiasts who loved performing arts and it’s called Performing Arts Guild of UCSI. However, due to issues unknown to us, the club was no longer active. 

 

Adrian Lai, Lam and myself planned to meet the President of the already dead club and planned on joining it.

 

However, as fate has it, my father passed away and the semester break holidays began. So we couldn’t meet the president as planned and neither did I have the motivation to meet him/her.

 

I shelved the whole idea of joining the club until May, when the holidays ended and classes resumed as normal. That’s when Lam approached me and said we should continue with this idea.

 

Coping with my father’s sudden death and keeping the depression and guilt aside, we met the then current President of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI. And to our amazement, he agreed to step down himself to give us the post as the board members as he felt he lacked the credibility and manpower to run it. I was confused and excited. Confused because I didn’t want to do anything with any post. Excited because something deep within me screamed, “Take it! Take it! Take the challenge!”

 

And that was it. In a few days time, we held another informal meeting, signed a few papers and we became the committee members of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI. It was nothing grand. No applause was given to us. Nothing. The whole “ceremony” took place in an empty classroom with only 6 people attending it (us; Adrian, Keba, Lam and myself making the majority of the numbers). Infact no one knew that such a club existed until the Clubs Day the following week.

 

Even then, everyone thought it was a new club. Not many realised it was a club which was revived.

 

But revived it we did.

 

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My good friends, Owate, Adrian Lai, Hoang Thung Lam and Keba at the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI booth at UCSI Uni on Clubs Day on May 2011

 

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Zoheir (who played Caesar), Keba (who played the soothsayer) and me (who played Cassius) who were part of the Julius Caesar play at the Clubs Day in May 2011

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A student signing up to be a member of the club.

 

The first thing we did was inform the students of the Uni about the club’s revival and the only way we could do it was via Facebook. We created a fan page and in a month we had about 60 something members. Click here to view it.

 

Soon, in months to come, almost everyone comes to know about the club’s revival. To some of the students, the club’s revival came as a blessing, or rather like a prayer answered by God. Because many were looking for a drama or performance club in UCSI to join but at that time, before the club’s revival, there were none.

 

And so, in a few months time, we had atleast 10 active members.

 

Adrian and Lam used to be a little disappointed with the number count and I keep reminding them, using a quote from my Master Himself, “Quantity is not important. It’s quality.”

 

And true enough, from then, we staged Unisia.

 

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The Unisia play. In the middle is Adrian Thomas who played the President of Unisia. He’s one of the few talented individuals I had immense joy and fun working with.

 

The play was a huge success with nearly 200 over people turning up to witness it.

 

And just recently on March 9th, we staged Crossroads: A Musical.

 

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Joelle performing during the play. The play was the club’s first musical play. And just like Unisia, it too was a success.

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The play revolved around 3 women who had different issues and how they overcame them. Crossroads: A Musical was staged in conjunction with International Women’s Week 2012.

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The cast and crew of Crossroads: A Musical celebrating after the amazing and successful performance.

The club was not only revived now, but was alive and running. We three had got the ball rolling. That night, after the success of Crossroads: A Musical, I knew we had a bunch of talented and enthusiastic individuals who will do well in running the club.

 

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Celebrating the club’s 1st Birthday/Revival Smile

 

And soon, it was time to pass the baton to the future of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI. The active members themselves.

 

And so, on March 23rd 2012, we had our first election. The baton and the responsibility of the leadership of the club was passed down to four enthusiastic active members of the club after conducting a general election amongst the members.

 

The term “Pagans” was used for the first time on this day. PAGans (PAG stands for Performing Arts Guild). Now, the members were not called members anymore, but rather pagans. You will realise why the name suits us as you keep on reading below *laughs*

 

poolball

“The Pool Ball of Responsibility”. The pool has the number “1” on it. A symbol of responsibility. The beholder of the pool ball holds the responsibility as well as the leadership value for the club. The pool ball was first used for the Unisia play. I forgot to pass it to Adrian Thomas, and since then it had always been with me. Now it’s in the hands of Tracy who holds the responsibilities as the current President of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI.

It’s funny how as performing arts enthusiasts were enjoy associating ourselves and the things we love with symbols and forms. The pool ball you see above was used for the handing down ceremony. It was Tracy’s idea and I felt it was a good idea. The pool ball was used in Unisia (one of our plays) and it belonged to Adrian Thomas. However, I kept forgetting to pass it to him and since then I had been holding it.

 

I felt, since we didn’t had a proper ceremony when we took the leadership roles of the club, I felt it was only proper that the new batch be welcomed with a proper ceremony. And so we came up with the “Pool Ball Handing Down Ceremony” where previous board members pass down the ball to the newly elected board members.

 

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Me delivering my last speech as the President of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI

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Lam handing down his responsibilities to Nalinie (Lam was our Treasurer as well as Secretary). Nalinie was elected as the new Treasurer for the 2012 term.

 

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Lam, again, handing down his responsibilities to Bala. Bala was elected as the new Secretary for the 2012 term.

 

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Adrian Lai handing down his baton to Carmen as the latest Vice President of the club for the 2012 term

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Me handing down my responsibilities and duties as a club President to Tracy. Performing Arts Guild of UCSI is indeed in safe hands Smile

 

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Tracy delivering her speech as the latest President of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI. An extremely firm, confident, passionate and talented individual. She fit every criteria to be the President of our club Smile

 

And then, that was it. The ceremony ended and I felt this sudden emptiness, this void in me. Now what? I asked myself.

 

After the whole handing down ceremony (I prefer calling it ritual *laughs*), I sat in the train on my way home and I recalled back every moment in my life that brought me to this day. March 23rd.

 

How I was rebellious, how I was an irresponsible Youth Coordinator, and how, life changed me and I became passionate at what I did. I wouldn’t say I was a good President for the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI. I wouldn’t say I did a splendid job.

 

But I can say this, the whole experience was a humbling one. And it was worth it.

 

I realised there was a difference between Power and Responsibility. And being a leader, one’s personal goal shouldn’t be to demand and obtain respect but, the other way around. Respect the people around you.

 

I truly enjoyed my stint as a President and it would have just been an insignificant post if the club had no members. In truth, the club consists of the members themselves. The club is alive and running because of the members. Had it not been for them, the club would have not served it’s purpose. Performing Arts Guild of UCSI is the members themselves and we, the “leaders” are just tools to serve these inspiring, enthusiastic individuals.

 

I would say, in a holistic way, my Master taught me a lot about responsibility and leadership through this one year.

 

I’m thankful for the experience. Smile

 

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Tracy and me (The current and former Presidents) posing with the “Pool Ball of Responsibility”

 

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The “Primo Trio” as the members affectionately call us. From the right, Lam, Adrian and myself.

 

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The past and present members of the Performing Arts Guild committee.

From a rebel to a revivalist cum a humbled spec of human flesh in this universe, I’m pleased to be given this opportunity to serve the University, as well as the members of the club. Thank you, thank you, thank you. May you all be happy always.

 

I would still say, despite all the skipping and bunking of classes, if there was one thing I did right as a student in UCSI, it was forgoing my negative perception about a leadership post and taking up the responsibility to be a President of the Performing Arts Guild of UCSI.

 

And now, after writing this post, and reading it from the beginning to end, I’m amazed at how much I’ve matured. Thank you Pagans Smile

 

Lots of Sweet, Warm Love,

Sukhbir Smile

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