Wednesday, September 06, 2006

O Canada

Today was Imagine. Orientation for the UBC class of 2010. I went through it like any other ordinary UBC student would do, but there was only one part I'll remember clearly.

'O Canada'.

We had just finished the campus tour, the student success workshop, plus lunch. And now it was time for the pep rally. Frankly, nothing really inspiring was spoken. I'm very used to the usual hush-hush of cheering and "follow your passion" speeches, because frankly, I'm already cheering myself on and I am following a passion. But I still enjoyed it nonetheless. There were my new Science One classmates, whom most of them are younger than me by one year, and the tremendous atmosphere of gathering the entire class of 2010, the class that will graduate to the Vancouver Winter Olympics (given that they don't do co-ops or screw up any years) in the War Memorial Gym, with flashing strobe lights, colorful faculty shirts, and roaring cheering from Science and rivals Arts, plus the smaller faculties of Business, Engineering, Forestry, Land and Food Systems, Music and Human Kinetics. All through that, I kept my spirit up, I cheered with the crowd, and I basically had fun.

That one part, which still sticks in my head, is the part when one student, obviously a music student, came up to lead the entire class to sing the national anthem. When I heard it, my voice box suddenly became stuck. Tears came to my eyes, and I simply couldn't squeak a sound. I had to mouth the first few lines of the song before my voice came back to me, and I sang it with real pride, trembling still, tears still coming to my eyes as I sang it. It was then, that I made a massive realization.

"Our home and native land"

I realized the true extent to which I yearned to come back home, after spending all those years in Singapore. How else could one be moved to speechlessness when their homeland's national anthem is sung? For 10 years on that island, I sang (at first), and then simply stood through (later) the "Majulah Singapura", knowing fully what the song meant. yet not experiencing one bit of it. Canada's my true homeland, the true place of opportunity for me to jumpstart my life.

"True patriot love, in all thy sons command"

My critics will tell me, I escaped Singapore to escape the mandatory NS. And I won't deny that. I'm a pacifist, which means I'm anti-war in general. But then I always have this prepared mindset ingrained in me, something that I learned while in Chinese High - 没有国家就没有家,没有家就没有我. Indeed, without Victoria, BC, Canada, there's absolutely no way I'd be here. And there'd be no way that I'd be born into the family I've got. I owe my existence not only to my parents, but also to Canada, for without this place, there'd be no me. Hence, I'm always prepared to serve my nation first, and not a foreign one in which I was but a 10-year-transit passenger. If there's a war and Canada's territorial integrity is at stake, I'd grab a gun and join military training. Medic, engineer, machine gunner, signals, whatever it is, bring it on, I'll be there.


Whatever it is, the yearning to come back to Canada, and my longing for this land, culminated in that one moment during the pep rally. There's no way I'll ever forget that moment when I was entirely moved to speechlessness.

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