Tiltshift Summit 2013

  • 12 Oct 2013
    YEAR 5 TO 6
    Community and Citizenship


    Written by: Johan Mizra and Jasmine Yak

    Edited by: Michelle Lee



    25 schools. 25 countries. 5 different continents. The Tiltshift conference, which took place from 17 to 21 June, was an incredible opportunity for the members of Community Advocates to meet like-minded students from all around the world. During these five whirlwind days, delegates learnt to generate ideas through dilemma flipping, the art of looking for opportunities in the face of seemingly intractable dilemmas. In doing so, innovative solutions to a number of given problems can be generated.


    Student delegates from members of The Global Alliance of Leading-Edge Schools (GALES), an association of top secondary and college preparatory schools around the world initiated by Mrs Lim Lai Cheng in 2010, were invited to participate in Tiltshift 2013. The student delegates were split into five interest groups – Doveswarm, Lifeline, Empty Pocket and Glass Ark – which tackled the issues of transmigration, healthcare, poverty and the environment. The summit was co-run by us, the members of Raffles Community Advocates. We acted as Student Hosts, Facilitators and Emcees, and played key roles in logistical, operational and administrative matters together with our teachers from the Raffles Leadership Institute.


    The Opening Ceremony on Day 1 saw delegates coming together in the Performing Arts Centre, which was graced by RI alumnus, Ambassador-at-large Professor Tommy Koh, as well as other ambassadors from around the world including HE Hazel Ngubeni from South Africa, HE Minda Calaguian Cruz from the Philippines, HE Olivier Caron from France and and HE Tormod C Endresen from Norway. The Ceremony began with the launch of the Raffles Leadership Institute (RLI), followed by a plenary session on the global dilemmas to be addressed over the course of the summit. Professor Koh and the ambassadors provided us with insight into complex issues, reigniting our passion for creating positive change.


    A pictorial representation of the issues discussed in the plenary session in the Opening Ceremony


    In the media workshop conducted afterwards, we learnt practical tips on photography as well as photo editing skills. The interactive activities conducted during the session imparted to us skills for producing photo narratives, which helped to prepare us for our final proposal presentations.


    Day 2 of Tiltshift started off with Mr Ray Jefferson’s talk about ‘the one thing that matters the most’. He related stories about his long recovery from a devastating injury that caused him to lose all five fingers on his left hand, and his truly amazing experiences revealed his exceptional strength of character and depth of wisdom. Mr Jefferson’s story inspired everyone to aspire towards living with the same kind of courage and clarity of vision, and most importantly, to never give up no matter how tough the road ahead may seem.


    Inspiring talk by Mr Ray Jefferson


    Delegates also had the opportunity to visit a wide range of voluntary organisations to explore the four central issues that were addressed during the Summit. Lifeline visited MINDS (Move for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore), where delegates gained a better understanding of the issues faced by the mentally disabled and got to know them better as individuals through a performance of the viral Gangnam Style dance. Other delegates explored the lush greenery of Marina Barrage and Bishan Park (Glass Ark), while yet others visited partner organisations like the Healthserve and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Dove Swarm). Finally, delegates working on Empty Pocket embarked on a tour of Reach Family Centre and visited a family in their rental flat. These experiences shed light on the human stories behind the important issue of poverty.

    Through the visits, the delegates learnt more about their respective foci within Singapore’s context, in relation to existing schemes in place and the challenges tackled by people who face these issues on a day to day basis.


    Delegates from Lifeline dance with participants from MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore)


    Day 3 began with a talk by Ms Zhang Tingjun, the co-founder and director of The Chain Reaction Project. The Chain Reaction Project is a non-profit organisation that seeks to find creative ways to enable individuals to effect the changes they envision. These projects included cycling trips and fundraising efforts to bring aid to communities. Ms Zhang showed us the importance of passion in advocacy as well as flexibility in thinking – holding events outdoors can pose unforeseen challenges. She also shared with us fascinating and inspiring stories about the adventures she experienced while travelling through foreign lands on two wheels.

    At the Tiltshift Project Fair, every school was given the opportunity to showcase their programmes and advocacy projects. It was an eye-opening experience, and we learnt more about different initiatives from the wide diversity of projects showcased. However, what truly shone through was the passion every delegate had changing their local communities and making their societies a better place, no matter where they come from.

    During the Breakout Sessions, the student delegates were posed questions. By discussing and applying lessons learnt over the previous days, we were able to come up with sound and effective action plans. It was an invaluable opportunity for us to learn, and apply our skills to generate solutions while bonding with each other in the process!

    Breakout sessions

    On Day 4 we listened to Dr Tan Lai Yong, a Singaporean doctor who spent 15 years in Yunnan training village doctors on proper medical care practices and running a medical practice. We were enthralled by his stories; he encountered difficulties in acquiring medical supplies, and had to employ creative solutions to treat his patients. We learnt the meaning of pursuing one’s passions to the fullest no matter the cost through this meaningful talk.

    The Delegates’ Presentations on Day 5 were the culmination of the delegates’ hard work. Everyone demonstrated understanding of the issues at hand, and they took the local context into consideration in their proposed solutions to the seemingly intractable problems. From a cycling tour to the reform of Singapore’s existing Community Involvement Programme for schools, the delegates’ ideas were unfailingly refreshing and a treat to listen to. The insightful analyses, captivating visuals and carefully considered solutions embodied the spirit of The Next Draft, fully displaying youthful energy, creativity and ownership of the future.


    Delegates from GlassArk leading everyone in taking an oath to care for the environment


    Delegates in their traditional costumes at the closing ceremony

    Tiltshift 2013 ended with a closing ceremony, in which participants had to say farewell to the friends they had made. Delegates from different countries brought traditional snacks which showcased their diverse cultures, and the performances – which ranged from impromptu instructions on how to dance the Austrian Polka or the Hawaiian Hula, to a tour of Pakistan and beautiful renditions of traditional Pakistani songs – were a fitting tribute to the nature of Tiltshift; students from all over the world, each with diverse and fascinating stories, coming together in the spirit of creating change.

    We hope the members of Tiltshift 2013 will take home not only the drive to better themselves as advocates and catalysts for change, but also beautiful memories and lifelong international friendships. While this year’s summit was only five days long, we sincerely hope that the subsequent impacts and larger international outreach following this summit will better the lives and surroundings of others around us. As mentioned by Professor Tommy Koh, in this globalised era, no problem can be solved by acting alone. We should think of ourselves as ‘global citizens’ with a responsibility to our family, country and the world.

    Group photo taken during the opening dinner



    This article was first posted on the Raffles Community Advocates' blog