The month of October brings about several events in my life. The first of which is the birthday of my beloved sister and cousin who’s birthday happen to fall on the same day itself!
Such coincidence which used to be celebrated very frequently at my auntie’s residence when we were much much younger. These days, it’s just spent with our families and our significant other halves.
Another significant event which happens in the month of October is also the culmination of 28 individuals who have worked tirelessly over months to put up a grand show for their loved ones and their peers as well as seniors who have went through the same experience.
What am I talking about here?
SSEAYP or Ship for South East Asian Youth Programme.
A programme which is in it’s 37th year as a result of the Japanese Prime Minister when he visited Indonesia years after the war. There was an uprising then when he visited and SSEAYP was born! Of course, if you do your research you’ll find out that the cause of the uprising wasn’t about how much Indonesians resented the Japanese for the crimes performed during the World War, it was something else totally different from it.
But SSEAYP played a big part of my life and has definitely been a big part of all those who have either been directly or indirectly involved in SSEAYP. For the Participating Youths, it is a life changing programme. Lives will be changed. The programme, infamous for being called a ‘Love Ship’ programme for the many love stories that churned out on board the cruise ship, Nippon Maru and now Fuji Maru. It is more than just a ‘Love Ship’ programme, for many like myself, it’s a programme where we find love in our friends and in ourselves.
Many times when I embarked on this programme in 2007, I was told that it’s best to remain single so that complications can be minimized. True or not, that’s up to the individual to believe but the challenges faced can be hard to swallow especially for dating couples. The participant is removed from all social life for at least 6 months and any partner who is not understanding of the situation will grow apart and break.
It’s a natural process and it gets worst especially on return from the programme. For many, we rediscover a part of ourselves that we never knew we had. I came back the same but had been more forthcoming with how I express myself to others, especially to those whom I missed. Unfortunately or fortunately, that led to a chain of events which brought me and my ex girlfriend to separate. But she did find love eventually thereafter shortly and is now married whilst I am now pursuing something that I treasure most in life.
If everyday was a life-changing event, how would it be like?
For the 37th Singapore Participating Youths of SSEAYP, I wish you all the fun throughout the 52 days just like how I did!