Google Translate

Sunday, June 11, 2006

ECO retreat

Here's a little story: Once upon a time, I was feeling like my free time wasn't being put to productive use. So I volunteered as a web developer with Environmental Challenge Organisation (Singapore). The Web team consisted of one other person, who was the team's head. Along the way, we got one other person in the Web team, but I was the go-to guy because of my relatively improved technical prowess (fwah!). And after a seemingly innocent turn as a stand-in at an Exco meeting, I magically became the deputy head of the Web team (fwah! fwah!), with all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with it.

One of those privileges was attending the Exco retreat this weekend. It was at East Coast Chalet. I was actually surprised that it hadn't been redeveloped already. This was only my second time at that particular chalet, and third time at any chalet. My previous experience had been a bad one (a choked toilet shared by 10 people makes for a really, really bad memory!), so I was actually quite worried about attending.

Aside: Staying at chalets is the "in" thing for Singaporean youths to do. My lack of experience at chalets shows just how "out of it" I was.

This was also my first time meeting most of the Exco over an extended period of time. The Exco meeting I had attended was two hours and it was all work. This time, it would be work and play. I wondered how welcoming they would be.

Fortunately, that particular worry was laid to rest. They are all sociable folks who made me feel like we'd known each other for a long time. It helped that we were about the same age, so I didn't feel like a child or a parent.

The retreat had started the night before, but I joined them on Saturday morning. It was to be a productive day. There was a recap of the previous year's goals and accomplishments. Then we went on to redefining the organisations vision, mission and goals. It took us two hours to figure out the difference between "vision" and "mission". In the end, we used two metaphors:
  1. ECO is a painter. Its vision is the picture it wants to paint. Its mission is how it wants to present that picture, e.g. pastel, water-colour, etc.
  2. ECO is like a woman. The vision is how you describe her attributes, e.g. beautiful, of a certain age, etc. The mission is how you describe her actions, e.g. teaches, organises events, etc.
Once we got the vision, the mission came almost easily, and the goals even easier. And then, it was dinner! It was meant to be a barbeque dinner for all of the volunteers, but due to low response, the plan had been scrapped. However, the food had already been ordered, which meant that the nine of us had to eat 25 persons' worth of food.

We had fried rice, fried bee hoon, 30-40 chicken wings, almost as many chicken fillets, sausages, many sticks of satay (chicken and mutton), and two cartons of drinks (Coca-Cola and green tea).

In the end, we finished half the chicken wings, all of the fillets (though some fell on the ground accidentally), and some sausages. We gave away half of the satay to a neighbour, and had half a carton of drinks left over. And threw away three-quarters of the fried rice and bee hoon, sob.

As the night wound down, we shared about our thoughts of the organisation and the other Exco members. Then I was slightly surprised when I learned that half of them would be leaving. I thought that everyone would be staying overnight in a chalet meant for four. I had already planned to stay over, so I did.

I stayed up to talk a bit about possible ways of promoting the organisation. After being shushed for keeping the others awake (ha!), I went to bed and didn't wake up till after 9:30am. Yup, last one up. We watched TV, talked about revising ECO's constitution, cleared up, then left for home.

And yes, whenever I used the toilet, I was afraid that it wouldn't flush. Once, I thought it really stopped working after someone had used it. Fortunately, it was due to the tank not being filled up after the last person had used it.


Technorati tags: , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment