SJI 110th Anniversary Celebrations
Form 5 (1989) & Upper 6 (1991)
16 August 2014
by Richard Lee Ruen Chien
I have been asked by Cikgu Ruby to share some my thoughts here in the SJI Blog, on our recently held gathering on 16 Aug 2014. Overall, it was deemed as a highly successful event because approximately 120 students (from Form 5 in 1989 and/or Upper 6 in 1991) and 13 teachers attended this function. This means that approximately 1 out of every 3 students who attended school together in 1989 were present that evening, after completing Form 5 in 1989, some 25 years ago.
Teachers and Students alike were extremely happy during and after the function. I received an endless stream of compliments from both teachers and students for making the effort to hold what they deem is an extremely memorable gathering. It has also been openly proclaimed by many to be far better than the official function organized by SJI.
Being the Organizer of the function, I have been asked many times on how I can successfully convince so many people (from one single batch of students) to attend the function and why was the seemingly simple gathering so satisfying and successful. The answer is pretty simple and should serve as the basis on how we should organize future gatherings, which is "We just want to enjoy the company of the friends and teachers whom we had spent many years with.".
Simplicity - Our aim was just to have an opportunity to meet many of our friends and teachers whom we have not seen for a long time. We were not there to enjoy fine dining that would have required us to pay exorbitant prices for the food and to be seated most of the time for an 8-course dinner. We were not there to spend hours watching performances by individuals we hardly knew. We were not there to compete with each other on who wore more expensive branded clothing, watches and jewelry. By maintaining simplicity, majority who came were in very simple casual wear, helping to emphasize the fact that for that one evening, we were just fellow Johannians, with no discrimination towards social status or financial wealth. This simplicity created a highly conducive environment for all to mingle freely, without worrying about stressful formalities normally attached to many of such formal functions. Simplicity also ensured that the cost is kept very low, and by keeping the cost extremely low, it encouraged many to come.
Sincerity and Perseverance - Many of our teachers have taught us that "When There is a Will, There is a Way". This lesson was once again highlighted by Mr. David Fernandez when he spoke about the state of SJI's school field, where so much money had been spent but the field is literally bald, as compared to the times when Mr. Vincent Fernandez kept the field in good condition despite having little to no funds. My sincere wish was just to create this platform to provide opportunity for all to gather and celebrate our enduring legacy of being Johannians. Initially, it took me a fair amount of effort and time to personally call friends and teachers individually, to gain their support for this function. One by one, the numbers started to add up and soon we had a very big group of people committing themselves to attend the function. When the numbers grew, and more people understood that there was absolute sincerity, word spread even faster and more decided to attend. There were even friends who flew to KL from the United Kingdom and Australia, just to attend this function.
Meaningful - Meaningful actions or souvenirs does not mean that they have to be expensive. Often, many would immediately equate meaningful actions / souvenirs to nicely and expensively crafted items that can be displayed. If true, we should have just ordered expensive silverware or pewter-ware in the form of SJI logos. To me, that will just mean another piece of expensive "dust-collector" in my cabinet. For the event, we got together to take a big group photo. Photo cost RM 9.00. More than 100 Johannians (last came together 25 years back) coming together during the photo-taking session, PRICELESS. Commemorative photo folder cost RM 6.00. Messages from our teachers and friends written in our folders, PRICELESS.
I take this opportunity to thank all the teachers and friends who took effort to attend this function and made is a highly successful and memorable event. Thanks!