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Marching into their `PAST'

R. RAJARAM captures the excitement of NCC cadets from Singapore.


CADET LIEUTENANT Gowri and Cadet Lieutenant Thinesh are here on a mission. They have flown miles from their home to learn about India's rich culture, its socio-economic set up and particularly Tamil Nadu, which happens to be their roots. For cadets Gowri and Thinesh, it is their maiden visit to Tamil Nadu, decades after their ancestors settled down in Singapore.

The two young cadets are part of a 15-member National Cadet Corps (NCC) team from Singapore, which is here on an International Youth Expedition Project sponsored by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF).

For nearly a fortnight, the Singapore NCC team along with select NCC cadets of St. Joseph's College will camp at Kavandampatti village in Karur district and carry out various community development programmes besides sharing and exchanging experience with fellow cadets and interacting with the local community.

During the 12-day camp, the combined NCC team will carry out the task of laying a concrete roof for a high school in the village. The thatched roof of the school was pulled down following the Kumbakonam fire accident. The cadets will also conduct a health survey, plant saplings, take classes for the school students and mingle with the local community.

The Youth Expedition Project is a service-cum-learning experience aimed at fostering understanding and exchange of culture and values. Under the auspices of SIF, two teams of students from Singapore in collaboration with a section of St. Joseph's College students undertook a couple of community development projects during November-December 2003. However, this is the first time that the Youth Expedition Project has involved the NCC cadets from both sides.

"The camp, which concludes on December 12, will provide an opportunity to our cadets to learn from each other," says Captain John Leong Woon, Project Manager, NCC, Singapore, who is heading his NCC team.

He said this is the first time that NCC cadets from Singapore are involved in community-developmental programmes in an overseas country under the YEP.

"Our cadets will also get a chance to get enlightened about India's rich culture and its heritage from their Indian fellow counterparts as well as from the local community", he added.

The joint expedition would certainly bring about a "sense of belonging and oneness" among the cadets and become a platform for a new learning experience, according to Prof G. Melchias, Director of Extension Department, St. Joseph's College.

The Singapore cadets have brought with them toys to be given as gifts to the school children. Cadet Gowri is absolutely thrilled on coming to Tamil Nadu. "It would be very exciting to mingle with the local community", she says.

The same views are echoed by Cadets Thinesh and Benjamin Seow, who feel that the expedition will give them a better exposure and enrich them further.

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