From the 17th-18th of August, the entire Grade 11 cohort of CDNIS travelled to the Gold Coast (the one in Hong Kong) to familiarise ourselves with the Diploma Programme. I particularly liked how the retreat was an easy way for me to socialise and get to know other people in my grade other than the ones that I usually hang out with. I was able to hang out with the other people in my grade through participating in various activities like the poverty simulation at Crossroads, our free-time at the pool after the simulation and the “IB Core remix” on the second day of the retreat.

During the poverty simulation, we were put into ‘families’ and made to act like impoverished families and make paper bags for very little pay. All the while undergoing various trials at the same time, all the while trying to survive the day. I was able to bond with the various members of my ‘family’ through the pressure of trying to survive the day’s work (I also bonded with them through the loss of my phone, shoes and a kidney to keep the ‘family’ from falling into debt). While this activity was fun and provided insight into how impoverished families lived, I also gained more insight into what I might be able to do to help these impoverished family. This is because  the simulation leader’s question, “How could someone as insignificant and seemingly-powerless as me could do anything to help anyone?” really resonated with me. I have racked my brain trying to find solutions to no avail, which led me to prematurely accept that I could do nothing about the situation and that only the ‘big people’ could do something. However the simulation director has finally provided me with a solution, making micro-loans or backing a child’s education. I now realise that despite all the challenges that are seemingly posed against normal people are simply figments of our imagination, and if we are determined enough to help, we can.

Spending my free-time hanging around with my friends at the pool and for dinner are the fondest memories I have of the retreat, because recently I have been constantly stressed about my DP course choices and this retreat was a great way for me to relieve and forget some of my stress. Furthermore I did not hang out with many people my age throughout the summer, so this was a great opportunity for me to let loose and basically be me. Although things did get slightly out of hand when I a small get-together in my hotel room turned into a big get-together, which was annoyed me and reminded me of how tight-knit our grade can be.

During the “IB Core Remix”, I was brought back to the reality that I am now a DP student and will face many new challenges throughout the next 2 years of my academic life. I found that many of the activities in the remix helped me gain and idea of what path I would like to walk on, and this idea was created after going through the university talk, figuring out a personal statement for myself, the talk with the alumni and thinking about CAS opportunities. While the idea I have now is not that specific, it’s a start that was only possible through listening to Ms. Irvine talk about different universities, thinking of my accomplishments and shortcomings, interacting with the alumni and thinking of CAS opportunities for me to make a mark on society.