Written by: Claire Goh
That anticipated time of the year came back in full swing for NTU students – and no, it’s not Christmas (yet), but the NTU Students’ Union’s semester exam welfare pack giveaway Fun Fiesta that was held on Thursday, 25 October 2018.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, graced the school-wide event which attracted thousands who congregated at North Spine Plaza for a bustling afternoon of food, performances, and welfare.
This marks the very first time different committees from NTUSU, namely U-Study (under Welfare Initiatives Committee), U-Fund, Integrated Career Opportunities Network Committee (ICON) and U-Shop, came together for a joint collaboration as large as this.
A wall of paper bags adorned with cute doodles of microscopes, apples and alarm clocks lined the sitting area near the Canopy Stage. Below the stage, snaking lines of eager students queued up for the much sought-after packs while Ussociates in their distinct navy blue polo tees assisted with crowd control.
Available in limited quantities, the 5000 packs included school supplies, snacks like Jack ‘n Jill Dewberry sandwich biscuits, novelty items like a safety nose hair trimmer and vouchers by sponsors such as Food Panda, Smoochiezz Pte Ltd, WingStop, GATSBY, Carousell, ShopBack, MilesLife, QQ Rice and MGP The Label. The first 1,500 students in line could also snag free cold HL milk and Mr Bean soya beancurd.
Due to the popularity of these welfare packs, measures were taken to ensure a shorter waiting time. There were 3 designated queues introduced to ease the congestion – a normal, express and Ussociate queue, and exchange students could only get the packs after 3 p.m. to ensure that undergraduates get priority.
Germaine Khoo, a first-year student at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, was one of the lucky 800 students who was randomly selected from doing an online survey to join the express queue.
“The L-holders are useful as I can organize my worksheets,” said the 19-year-old, “and the free snacks keeps me going when I’m doing my assignments.”
Yong Wei, who studies at the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE), said the pack helps in her exam preparations.
She said: “The foolscap paper is essential as I need lots of it when I revise. When I study overnight, I also need lots of food to boost my energy.”
Jia Le, a first-year Public Policy and Global Affairs student, said that he waited for 45 minutes in the normal queue even though he came before the official giveaway time.
“Despite the waiting time, I rate this pack 3 out of 4 as it provides stationery which I use a lot of,” the 21-year-old said, “The food is a bonus, but I would appreciate more stationery.”
For students like Jia Le who expressed interest for particular items, he could donate or exchange his food items for stationery at the Exchange Corner set up by the Welfare Services Club (WSC), Earthlink NTU, and Food Bank Singapore. This initiative aimed to maximise the consumption and utilisation of the welfare pack items and reduce waste.
Over at the Canopy Stage, Hall 16’s performing arts teams put on spectacular performances while they queued. The hall’s jam band One Knight Stand sang crowd favourites such as “Lover Boy” by Thai singer-songwriter Phum Viphurit, and students were treated to a visual spectacle of the hall’s dance team made up of girls in ‘20s inspired flapper dresses dancing with guys smartly-dressed in tuxedos.
Meanwhile, the fresh aroma of popcorn, churros, brownies and acai bowls wafted through the air from the nearby food bazaar and students could pay for these goodies via cashless payment as it was in line with the NETS cash-free challenge. ICON also held a NETS cash-free case competition at the nearby Global Lounge which saw a number of students participating, with Dr Balakrishnan as the guest judge.
Students could also express their NTU school spirit by getting NTU merchandise from NTUSU’s very own student-run shop, U-Shop. To support their recent launch of new items like shirts, pullovers, and zipper hoodies, students who bought these items from the booth could participate in a “Spin the wheel” lucky draw to win even more merchandise.
Profits from the sale of the food bazaar and merchandise will go towards U-Fund, which provides emergency grants and financial bursaries to NTU students.
There was also a talk by the University Wellbeing Centre (UWC) to learn tips and tricks on how to destress for students feeling the crunch of schoolwork. Indeed, maintaining good mental health in university is important as navigating through endless projects, exams, and deadlines can impose a hefty strain on students. Coupled with having to juggle multiple responsibilities like school, hall and extra-curricular activities, it can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Receiving welfare is thus just one of the ways in which NTUSU strives to provide for the NTU community. Students also gave back by contributing towards U-Fund, creating a dynamic and cohesive community of giving and receiving.
With less than a month before finals, remember that being on the last lap already, striving for progress instead of perfection is key. NTUSU wishes everyone all the best for the upcoming examinations!
Images: NTUSU Corporate Communications