We met Yikai who is a DADP Alumni and got him to share all about his journey at Yale-NUS.
Why did you choose to apply to Yale-NUS?
I was hungry for something different. For the longest time, everyone around me had commented very negatively on the education system in Singapore, such as its rigidity, competitive and rote-learning nature. So it became very easy for me to attribute my academic flaws to the system at large. Yale-NUS recognizes these issues (in our education system) that some of us have, and hence, is willing to experiment with something different. I was very intrigued by this willingness to leap into an education concept so different, yet at the same time not claiming it will necessarily be better. Just different.
How did you become interested in your course(DADP)? Who/ What influenced your choice?
After 'O' levels, I was very determined to avoid the re-enactment of a rigorous-mugger lifestyle. This I will definitely go through should I choose to go to a junior college - no one will even disagree with me on this. Thus, I looked into the possibilities of a polytechnic education. I knew I had an interest in drama and wanted to venture into the field of psychology. Before my formal application, the SP Open House counselling also helped me see DADP's seriousness in working for something extremely experimental.
What have you learned about yourself as a student in DADP?
I don't even know where to begin! Mostly, I learned that my interest in theatre is more than individual enjoyment. DADP taught me the amazing applications of theatre in community work and education. I became intrigued by theatre's social purpose instead of its ability to entertain.
Who/ What made the greatest impact in your development and learning?
The theatre community. This also includes both my drama and psychology lecturers from DADP. I am both in awe and intimidated by the diligent spirit in theatre practitioners. This was more apparent during my internship under DADP, where I worked with a local theatre company. Most people were extremely hardworking and serious about their work. This passion and motivation that drives the theatre community is remarkable.
What was your favourite module? Why?
I can't decide between the FYP (Final Year Project) and Theatre for Intervention module. However, they were both similar as they require, from students and teachers, the skill to apply. The contents and projects are very fluid, and it is from these two modules I learnt that there are many ways to apply theatre when it comes addressing social issues. Especially in FYP, we really saw the potential connection between Psychology and Drama. It is also in these two modules I realized that art is bigger than the artist; that an artwork is only significant if there is belief from the community.
What do you think made you stand out from other candidates applying to Yale-NUS?
How does one even answer this question with humility? For one, I think coming from a polytechnic helped a little. My college does not have many polytechnic students. Perhaps my existence will contribute to diversity? My college focuses on Liberal Arts, and a major component of this is the study of a variety of disciplines (such as arts and science). My diploma - which combines applied drama and psychology - certainly helped too.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years' time?
I don't know. For one, I would only have graduated recently. If situation allows, I definitely want to travel a bit and find an opportunity to work overseas, most ideally in the theatre, community work or education scene. I will most likely maintain my interest in the social sciences and arts, but I am still uncertain where exactly I can best utilize this interest. Perhaps further education? Perhaps a strange unheard-of job? Who knows?
Any advice to your juniors who aspire to do as well as you?
Firstly, I wouldn't say I have done well but I grew to become more academically inclined, and interested in reading, and books and "nerdy" stuff, which is fortunate because it fits the expectations that come from society. Not everyone is interested in this, though. The fact that one has chosen to attend a polytechnic probably means he/ she believes in the potential of talents that are not academically-inclined. If there is a piece of advice that I must give, I will borrow one from the inspiring director I worked with during my 3 years in DADP. When asked what specific talent he possessed to survive the tough and demanding arts industry, he simply replied he has no special talent and only knows how to "stay on". Not everyone chooses to do so. I suppose if you allow yourself to be hardworking, there will be many things you can do and many routes you can take.