Look what came in the post today: another issue of ‘One’!
Before I begin, ‘One’ is a Raffles Institution Alumni magazine that comes I think twice a year. The first time I got it I think it was the first time it was ever sent out (correct me if I’m wrong?), and that was last year– I loved it. Freshly thrown out of school and life as I know it, it was one of precious few remnants from the past that came like a lost diary tossed onto the shore after so many years (alright I exaggerate, just a couple of months. You get what I mean.) That wasn’t actually the reason I loved it though, given that it didn’t really remind me of my years in school with its many feature articles on illustrious alumni and some noteworthy new events at Raffles. No, I loved it because it had nice fonts.
Before you smack your head with the back of your hand and accuse me of being a font bimbo (fontophile, I will sweetly correct you) I shall defend myself and hastily add a “and the other awesome features of the magazine of course, like the good selection of articles, the clear writing, the inspiring interviews, and not the last nor the least the great design of the whole magazine with well-taken photos and a sensitivity to the layout”. And okay, the way the cover is so nice to fondle with its plastic letters and photos embossed on a rougher material because I really have no idea what to call this material. DESIGN IS IMPORTANT, how many times do I have to tell you that?
Design aside, I really like the way the magazine tries to cover a diverse array of career paths that Raffles alumni have ventured into; for example, this issue caught my eye because of an interview with Razer’s CEO whom I’ve seen in the YouTube video promoting Razer Blade. I only just knew he was from Raffles from this issue, and it is reading about all these passionate people in all sorts of random fields that makes me go man, Raffles is awesome sauce. At the risk of sounding cheesy — it inspires. (cue ‘aww’s)
Beyond that, I like it that the school bothers to send alumni these reminders of their history, making Raffles more than just a period of time spent at an educational institution but something that is lifelong — in other words, attempting to hold true to what we’ve always heard at Raffles, Once a Rafflesian, always a Rafflesian. It’s something many places will try to spam you with — once a (insert identity), always a (insert abovementioned identity) — and with frequent repetitions, becomes merely rhetoric, carrying a hollow ring in its chirpy attempt to create an identity on just the strength of these words. But we all know that identity isn’t just something proclaimed, perhaps for the span of orientation or cheering for your school during sporting events; identity defines, and requires a conscientious effort to maintain. And I am touched by the effort gone into this magazine, into the online portal for the alumni, and into whatever other things that Raffles comes out with to make its alumni feel connected and updated with this constantly evolving entity.
A while ago I posed a question to Joe and Alex — “You see all these banners around school, encouraging you to give back to NUS; but when I think about giving back, I’m more likely to give back to Raffles than to NUS. And this isn’t just a university thing, because I think people are quite inclined on giving back to universities like say Harvard– why?” “There’s no pride in NUS,” Alex responded, or with something to this effect. I think that has some truth in it, in that pride definitely plays an important role in creating that identity, and one way to create that sort of pride is to perform well. At the same time though, even as NUS continuously spams its buses with “A global university, centered in Asia” and attains a respectable ranking in university rankings, there seems to be an incongruity with what students perceive its position to be– “You’ve got to be kidding me,” is more often the reaction when another news article gets published on how NUS has performed better than some other more well-known university in the latest rankings. There is no pride in NUS, but it doesn’t seem to be entirely a result of not performing well. What accounts for this self-deprecating attitude among students?
In any case, here’s a post of appreciation towards the people who have made ‘One’ possible — thank you for your efforts to continuously maintain a Rafflesian culture.