General education student-inmate from institution A2
I have always been a shy and reserved person since young. I have had few friends because of my introverted personality. I do not talk much and prefer to keep to myself. However, this all changed when I was in secondary two. My form teacher saw how quiet I was and she must have thought that it was important for me to open up. One day she called me and told me to take part in a drama competition. I was shocked that she could even suggest that. However, that became a turning point in my life.
To prepare for the drama competition, I had to work with a group of five schoolmates, whom I had never met before. We were all from different classes and the five of them were so chatty and sociable. I felt out of place when I was amidst them. I did not have the courage to tell my teacher that I can’t participate in the competition. I secretly wished that the team would not want me. However, the five of them were very friendly towards me. They knew that I was very good in English and thought I would be a great help to them. Despite this, I continued to be apprehensive. I constantly worried if I would be able to go up on stage to act. I dare not even face people let alone talk to them in real life, going up on stage to deliver my drama dialogue in front of so many people amongst the audience was inconceivable. I had several sleepless nights thinking about all this!
We started our practice seriously and I was given a small role in drama. I was supposed to act as an angry boy, which required me to raise my voice and act in a very mischievous way. This was totally different from my personality and it was very difficult for me initially. However, I told myself that I had to do it for the sake of my team members and school. We wanted to win the challenge trophy for our school that year.
In the days leading up to the actual competition, I rehearsed my lines at home several times, in front of a mirror. I realised then how much this competition had changed me. I started to show more expression on my face and varied the tone of my voice. I suddenly realised the beauty of human communication. My classmates also started telling me that I was changing, they said I communicated better after participating in this drama competition. I started feeling good about myself.
The actual day of competition came. Everyone was quiet and nervous but I was extremely jittery. Even before our turn, I started to feel butterflies in my stomach and my legs were wobbly. I also perspired a lot. My team members told me to relax. When it was my turn to go up on stage to act, I told myself to be calm and went up. Halfway through my dialogue, I was so nervous that I forgot my last two lines. However, I decided to improvise and added two lines by myself on the spot. To my surprise, the audience gave me a loud cheer and it was only after coming down the stage did I realise that the dialogue I created spontaneously was so good, everyone commended me for it. My form teacher was there and she gave me a big thumbs up. I thanked her for the opportunity. We did not win the competition that day but personally, I was so thrilled to have achieve so much.
Looking back on this journey now, I realised how I was fortunate to have had this chance to overcome this personal challenge of mine since young. I used to be happy living in my own world, without talking much to others and not showing much expression. However, this competition revealed my talent and potential. Today, interacting and communicating with new people had been part of my daily routine. I am also a mentor to others who want to learn to act. I feel so elated that I have grown so much!