We have been through rough times but the mere memories that we have created will forever be cherished during Brunei Phase especially the flooding incident in Litad, Tutong. Finally, this phase was over! I was all packed and ready to go to Singapore. 2 hours later and we have landed in Singapore, the Land of Lions. Before we stepped out of the airport, we were fortunate enough to observe the beautiful Water Vortex light show in Jewel Changi which illuminated the dark background of the indoors terraced forest. The warmth and caring attitude of the Singaporean MinDef (Ministry of Defence) officials were very welcoming and I was looking forward to stumbling across future surprises for this phase. Soon after, we headed to SAFTI MI (Military Institute) to settle in our bunks, where we stayed for the whole programme.
Sunday, the 31st of August 2022 marked the first day of the 12th Brunei-Singapore Defence Scholars Development Programme. We checked in at noon, our parents sending us off to the Askar Simpanan Melayu Diraja Brunei (ASMDB) camp with heavy luggages, clothes hangers and a huge sense of relief that the household would be much more peaceful the coming 2 weeks. That's not true at all, our parents were so reluctant to let us go they stayed outside the barracks for a good hour taking pictures and for Alya especially, saying goodbye!
Summer break has started in New York. Every day I followed the same routine of waking up to my summer classes, with nothing to look forward to. As I was getting ready to bed one night, I got a surprising call from our Head of Scholarship Section, Ms Susie. She asked if I wanted to join the 12th BSDSDP 2022 (12th Brunei-Singapore Defence Scholars' Development Programme 2022). I was stunned as I was given a delightful chance to reunite with my fellow scholars, especially Zharfan and Liessa who are going to enter Officer Cadet School (OCS) soon. I immediately called my whole family and broke the surprising news to them. They were already setting a one-week menu to welcome my return (which was full of different variations of Buttermilk Chickens, my favourite food). At the same time, they were also blasting my phone with items they wanted me to bring back from the US, haha!
Dr Seuss said, "If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good".
Trying new things can be undoubtedly daunting. The unfamiliar puts us in a vulnerable position, and leaves us with an onslaught of questions running through our heads.
And then there's the rush. There's nothing quite like- or as memorable as- the thrill of a new experience. This is what I have been chasing this past year.
The holy month of Ramadhan have witnessed the scholars striving to excel, finding enjoyments in the company of each other while persevering through hunger and thirst. While the Coronavirus restrictions were still in place, I had to find something to channel my energy into – that was the fitness training for me.
The memorable first week of Ramadhan training, I could recall my struggles to pick myself up for the 9PM session. Admittedly, I was often sluggish after breaking my fast but I pushed through and drove myself to Dewan Gerak Badan, Bolkiah Garrison.
We marked this as our last month of training together in the morning as we would be moving on to night training in the upcoming fasting month in April. This month we were introduced to new various training routines which add some spice to our morning exercises. Despite the fact that training under Performance Optimisation Center (POC) could be challenging and strenuous at times, we slowly learned to stimulate the fun that comes out of suffering together during training.
At last, time has come and its February! How fast time went by… It felt as if yesterday we were just awarded the scholarship! And now here I am, meeting Ms Susie for my predeparture briefing. We went through all the relevant information and documents. The documents included Australian Visa, E-Ticket, Negative PCR Result Letter, Australian Travel Declaration, MinDef Movement and Admin Instruction Letter, MOE Approval Letter, PMO Exit Travel Letter and Australian Overseas Student Confirmation-of-Enrolment (CoE) Letter. Ms Susie also gave me lots of advice for when I am in Australia. In all honesty, I still feel surreal that I was going abroad. But little did I know… things were about to get more surreal in the coming days.
The month of January has introduced a new routine into my 2022. I begin the day early with rigorous training under the guidance of the Performance Optimisation Centre (POC) instructors and spend my weekdays working with the Defence Information Technology Unit (DITU). Both sides of my day are filled with experiences that help me prepare for a future with MINDEF and RBAF.
Applications for The Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Scholarship for the year 2022 opens today Tuesday, 8th February 2022 and will close on Tuesday, 1st March 2022 at 4.30pm.
New York: The City That Never Sleeps, here I come!! Hearing about Richmon's departure (the first of our batch 2021 to leave) felt so long ago... but the baton's finally passed on to me. It still feels so surreal to be adulting. Throughout this final week in Brunei, people kept asking me "how do you feel?", to which I would respond that I'm feeling so many emotions gushing over me: curious, excited, scared and even sad all at once. To which Syasya reassured me by jokingly saying that it's okay to feel those mixed emotions for the first time now cause the next time's going to be during labour, haha!
Dasar Belia Negara & Strategi (DBNS) or otherwise known as the National Youth Policy and Strategy is a living document outlining the 4 core strategies intended to prepare and drive the youth of Brunei Darussalam to achieve the Wawasan 2035. The strategies include: Nationwide Co-operation, Culture of Unity, Accessibility and Suitable Employment and Youth Empowerment
What an interesting month it has been. 8th November marked the first day of Raziq and I's volunteering journey at the Medical Reception Station (MRS), Berakas, and I have had the best time ever since.
It's the month of October: a little over 2 months since we've started this virtual Work-Out of the Day (WOD)! We feel like we've properly incorporated it as part of our daily routine. We seem so comfortable with it now and that made Miss Susie, our Head of Scholarship, decide to challenge us to work in pairs starting the middle of the month. We started off October with a relaxing Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga organized by Liessa. She led us beautifully despite it being only her second time leading (and first Friday session!).
We started off this month with our final workout with Richmon, as he flew off to Ireland on the 5th of September, we had wished we could send him off but the pandemic allowed otherwise. He led a full body workout. We discovered full body workouts as another way to train our endurance, other than running. Furthermore, we build strength at the same time which is a good bonus. We were a little over 2 weeks into our virtual trainings at this time, so we were starting to get used to it but we still had a lot of work to do nonetheless. It is also worth mentioning that we start off and end every session with the same dynamic stretching warm-ups and cool down stretch routines that the Physical Training Instructors have taught us at the Performance Optimisation Centre, Bolkiah Garrison during our Freshman Induction Programme.
12th September 2021- The long-awaited day has finally arrived. It has been over a year since I left Brunei to pursue my further studies and as much as I love London, I quite miss home. This time round, however, the anticipation was a bittersweet one. After 6 years of studying here in the UK, the environment grew onto me. Furthermore, knowing how the current situation is curbing future travels, it made this trip more melancholic than usual. I wasn't sure when I will be able to come back to visit the UK.
Finally, I am in Ireland, the land of the Leprechauns! But entering this country was not as easy especially during this unprecedented time as I had to go through so many procedures such as obtaining a Prime Minister Office (PMO) letter, having a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) result for COVID-19 and getting a permission from Ministry of Education (MOE) for leaving as a student overseas.
Week 8 has ended and I am so disappointed that we are not going to have our closing ceremony until we break the COVID-19 chain. We have put in tremendous effort throughout the induction programme. From working out before sunrise to testing our resilience during Outward Bound Brunei Darussalam (OBBD), I felt that it was a let-down that we are unable to display to the board of members our experience and who we really are during our adventure.
Since the beginning of the program, my expectations for this week were to get to know many of the previous scholars during the Scholars' Annual Reflection and meeting the VIP/ VVIPs during the Closing Ceremony. Furthermore, I also pictured a beautiful mini farewell party at our apartment before officially checking out… Unfortunately, reality was we stayed most of our time at home this week and even checked out without proper closure! This second wave of pandemic was surely something I did not expect in the schedule when we started off this 2-months program.
The first half of week 7 was significantly hot. At times my air conditioner could not even neutralise the heat. But I feel like our experiences at OBBD really helped open my mind up, because in fact, the first week I returned home, my air conditioner was not working at all and I slept through the night with a fan. I remember telling myself, "I have been through worse, and for a longer period of time, this is nothing compared to that", and I was right. Towards the end of the week it started to rain more so it has been a lot cooler.
The week started off with 'Workout of the Day' (WOD) but this time, we put together our own exercises that work on different components of the muscle. As for my workout, I included 30 jumping jacks, 10 standing toe touches, 10 pushups, 10 squats and 8 burpees which majorly work on full body.
For the first day of the week, I woke up to my turn of leading the Work-Out of the Day (WOD). I had intended for the workout to focus on our full body. I am grateful that I was able to conduct my session the way I had planned to. I even got compliments from Ms Susie and my fellow scholars. Hanan said it was a good workout to start the week, it made me really glad.
It has been about a week since we all went home from our apartment due to the unexpected covid situation that had arisen last Saturday due to community spread. Although our Military Orientation was postponed to a later date, this did not stop us from moving forward and carrying on with our Freshman Induction Programme at home through online platforms.
Having sent home, the next day was Awal Tahun Hijrah Holiday. I believe each of us spent it as a rest day and catching up with family type of day. At nighttime, we received multiple messages from Ms Susie regarding the activities we would do throughout the week and one of them was Work Out of the Day (WOD). This meant we had to wake up at 0600h daily to do the given WOD. The following day, everyone woke up early and did the sent WOD individually.
Saturday, 7th August 2021, during our Life Skills programme at The Shared Kitchen while we were enjoying the food we made, Hanan received a message from her mother about the new local Covid-19 case. When I heard this, I thought to myself that it might have been a false rumor since the previous weeks also had a false news regarding Covid-19 cases. At that time, we were not really bothered about it because there has been no certified information released by Ministry of Health (MOH) yet.
Week 5 was much less action-packed compared to the previous weeks, especially after returning from the Outward Bound Brunei Darussalam (OBBD) trip where every second of everyday was ever-moving.
We went to the Directorate of Intelligence to meet Lt. Kol. Hj Fadzli, Maj (U) Hj Ilhamdi and Maj (U) Pg Izzul. They were very informative and gave us interesting knowledge on their roles and responsibilities, which we were initially so curious about as normally, when we hear the word 'intelligence' we would think James Bond.
Before we went for our OBBD trip to Temburong, we had first had a briefing done by Puan Amni back in our apartment. She pointed out all the activities, places and even emotions that we will go through within the seven days of our trip. To be honest, I felt both excited but at the same time, I was worried before the trip. I was just concerned about whether or not I could endure such long hikes or even go through one night of solo camping.
As expected from previous week where we had OBBD briefing, the first day of the week, we departed to Temburong by 0700h with excitement as well as nervousness. From what we have been briefed, we would be mentally and physically challenged throughout the activity. We were also warned that there have been many participants which went through mental breakdowns because of the tasks given.
On Sunday night, we made sure that we had packed every single item that was mentioned in the checklist. I can see that every one of us had heavy, big bags that were filled to the brim. We even had items that were not required individually but instead one per group such as detergent blocks, insect repellent spray and nylon string. Those items were evenly distributed between us group members (boys' group and girls' group).
We left our apartment at 7:00 am and reached the Batang Duri Outward Bound Brunei Darussalam (OBBD) base camp at 8:30am. It was scorching hot and we were carrying uncomfortably heavy bags. The base camp was what Raziq described as 'a wooden bunker', but we have both spent nights camping in the jungle so the scene was nothing new. The weather, however, was overwhelming.