I went there feeling rather nervous - I mean, a presentation to 400 students is no laughing matter, and this would be the first time we would begin our official publicity of StartMeUp@Stockholm (SMUS). I was scared! What if they don't like me? What if they all fall asleep? But as we walked towards the school, my whole team was so supportive and encouraging, it felt like the sky could fall down and they'd hold it up for me :P Thanks team! :)
A little background on whom we were presenting to - A few of the students in Södra Latin organize these weekly Friday get-togethers, to show off their talents and skills while spending time together for 30 minutes. This was the crowd that we were supposed to reveal SMUS to(mostly specializing in the Arts). 400 of them.
So we were ushered into this amazing auditorium - It was cozy, seemingly small, but so beautiful! It reminded me of the chapel back in my high school in Singapore, Methodist Girls' School. It felt like home.
Then one of the students did her sound check for the solo she was going to sing later. A beautiful piece that (I believe) she composed. Her melodic voice trickled into the air, her crystal clear tones accompanied by the plucking of her guitar filling the auditorium. Mesmerizing. I wish I'd gotten the opportunity to speak to her afterwards, but unfortunately, I didn't get the chance.
But to the talented artiste who gave a beautiful solo, if you do somehow get to read this - Thank you! With that one song, all my fears were washed away. And if you are reading this, please drop me a mail so I can thank you in person! I'd love to feature your song on my blog and/or our SMUS website :)
Then came rehearsals for the dance team, which did a great shindig to the song 'Let's Dance' by Lady Gaga. It was at that moment that I felt like I was being transported right back to my high school days, where I'd watch my talented friend do her thing on stage. I whooped and cheered like the rest of them, and felt several years of 'grown-up-ness' drop away in that one instant. I was sixteen again :P (All goes to show that you don't need botox to stay young!)
11 o'clock came. We glanced towards the doors closing us in this surreal sanctuary and got a shock. People were queuing up outside! It was like fans waiting to enter a rock concert, or people waiting to get into a popular club on Friday night! I was stunned. When they opened the doors, the students flooded in, scrambling to get a seat with the best view possible. It didn't matter if they had to sit on the floor - They just wanted in! The air was pulsating with an energy that I haven't felt in a long time (or maybe it was just the music blasting through their fantastic sound system) - The excitement emanating from the students was infectious.
"Gooood morgon, Södra Latin!!"
Students cheered, lights flashed, and the entire auditorium came alive.
And before I knew it, it was our turn to go up to speak.
"Tjena!" (Yo! in Swedish) said I with my English/Mandarin accent, to the amusement of my patient audience.
But they were nice people, not holding a grudge against me mutilating their language. And I was off, talking about StartMeUp@Stockholm.
I've never spoken to a more wonderful and responsive crowd than these youths before. They were amazing! They actually looked like they wanted to listen. All the tiredness from sleepless nights and working 20 hour days melted away, and I was rejuvenated by their overwhelming response.
We ended the presentation and continued to watch their programme, enjoying every split second of it. The atmosphere, their enthusiasm, their joy. It recharged me. I left the auditorium brimming with renewed hope.
We sat down for a meeting with their principal, Lennart Kågestam, afterwards. I felt like thanking him profusely, over and over. Lennart has played an important role since the initiation of StartMeUp@Stockholm. Enthusiastic and supportive, always offering whatever help he can give. Thanks Lennart! We couldn't do this without you! (I wonder... did being around such wonderful students gave him such enthusiasm, or was it the other way around? ;)
I couldn't help grinning for hours after that! Södra Latin, you rock! :D
And lastly, I have God to thank. It's not very Swedish of me, this part of my post. But when I first decided to step up as the 'leader' of this amazing SMUS team, I decided to dedicate this project to Him. And He's been good, every step of the way!
(Pictures will be posted up when I get it! Watch out for them!)