how the other half lives

The inaugural Medicine Debates, jointly organised by my company, NUS Medical Society and Duke-NUS Student Council, was held at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House in the NUS Kent Ridge Campus on 13 August 2011.

The debate was meant as a platform for students from both the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (YLLSoM) and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School to interact and form lasting friendships. To encourage this interaction, the debate teams comprised of students from both schools.

Although my colleague SY and I weren’t part of the organizing committee, both of us went down to attend the debate. I was supposed to cover the event and asked SY to be my photographer. Both of us could also provide additional help to the kids if necessary.

When we got there and entered the auditorium, what a sight greeted us! There was general chaos as they were running last minute technical checks, and bags and other belongings were strewn everywhere. SY commented that although some were our age (or possibly even older), they still had the ‘student mindset’. Heh.

It was finally 2 pm, the time the event was supposed to start at. The Guest of Honour, Prof Tan Chor Chuan, president of NUS, was already seated. Apparently attendance was lower than expected, and I heard one of the YLLSoM student organizers calling up her friends living on campus to come over. After a delay of about 20 minutes, they managed to muster up the numbers, and the debate began.

After a couple of customary speeches, the chairperson of the debate, Adrian Tan, explained the rules. (He was also extremely witty and amusing throughout.)

And then the debate began. The motion was ‘Women are better off making lives than saving lives.’ As expected, plenty of politically incorrect (but hilarious, nonetheless) points about both sexes were made by both the Proposition and Opposition. (For all the sordid details, see my article HERE. :D )

After all six speakers had their piece, the judges adjourned to another room to make their decision. During this time, two musical groups (one from Duke-NUS and the other from YLLSoM) took to the stage and entertained the audience with a few songs each, backed with live music.

The emcee, Kenneth (Duke-NUS), also bantered with the audience. ‘Who do you think is the winner?’ he asked. Someone in the audience yelled, ‘NUS!’ He replied, ‘Yes, because NTU is the real enemy, right?’ :P

After a conference of 15 minutes, the judges returned.

One of the judges, A/Prof Paul Tambyah, who had been appointed adjudicator, stated that the judges felt that the Proposition had laid out the case well, but the Opposition had been more entertaining. They also felt that it was a pity that none of the speakers had accepted any points of information, although it had not been compulsory to accept any. He then declared the Opposition the winner to loud applause. Joshua, the second speaker of the Proposition, was named Best Speaker.

After the debate, the kids were clearly all famished and obviously overjoyed when it was announced there was a reception outside.

During the reception, I managed to speak to Adrian Tan. He wrote The Teenage Textbook and The Teenage Workbook, and is also an alumni of my JC. (Both books are littered with quite a number of in-jokes that only our fellow alumni will catch.)

When I was in J1, he came to talk about those two books during one assembly. He held a lighthearted discussion about what girls and guys should and shouldn’t do to attract the opposite sex. For guys, he declared that they should not have centre partings. I remember telling one of my classmates, ‘But I have centre parting!’ And she replied, ‘You’re not a guy!’ :P

I told him that we were from the same JC and I had heard him speak in school ages ago, and mentioned the centre parting thing. He said that most guys could not carry it off, and his wife (who was also there) agreed.

I also told him I had read both books and watched the movie. He asked me which I preferred, and I told him the books were better. He said ‘well it’s a different medium’, but I think I prefer the books because a lot of the details (like the aforementioned in-jokes) were lost in the translation to screen.

(And I couldn’t resist asking him why he went to my JC although he was from ACS. He said that it was because he wanted to enrol in the Humanities Programme. Ah, no wonder!)

Finally, after our short chat, I asked him for a photograph!

Truly an exhilarating afternoon!!! :D


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