Friday, March 19, 2010

BRATs - Day One (13/3/10)

When I saw the 'Wifi Zone' stickers on the automatic hydraulic glass doors of the Subang Airport, I smiled. Thanks goodness, I thought. I won't be sitting alone at the departure lounge, not knowing what to do with myself. Little did I know that my phone would be unable to connect to the airport's weak wifi. On the plus side, however, I did have great company.

I met Kaelan at the check in counter, and saw Ben. Kaelan and I met Alex in McDonald's, and we were lucky it really was Alex, 'cause we were kinda sorta semi-stalking him since we had each other on Facebook. Anyway, I shall skip the airport. Our flight seating:

We were in Row 12. Poor Alex, he was sitting all the way up in Row 4, since he hadn't checked in any luggage. Seeing/being inside a propeller plane was a new experience for me, although there wasn't really a difference from the inside.

Ben, Kaelan, Alex, and me.

When we arrived at the airport, the four of us went our separate ways -- Kaelan, Ben, and I had relatives waiting for us, whereas Alex was to meet Stephanie, another BRAT, at McDonald's. I was greeted by [Grand] Uncle Peng and Aunty Mary. We all hopped into the Kancil and headed to Cititel, the hotel we BRATs would be staying at.

Alex happened to be in the lobby when we arrived, and led me up to the ballroom we were supposed to wait in. Slowly, it filled up with BRATs and we began to mingle. Mingling is not really my thing, so I was a bit awkward for the most part.

Um, what follows may or may not be in order, but I think what happened first was that we were told to go out to the hallway to get our T-shirts, notebooks, and tags. That's when Niki Cheong, Sharmila Nair, and Ian Yee walked past us into the ballroom we'd just evacuated, and I think I froze.

In order for you to kind of understand my fangirling, I must pause my story here to tell you something I have never, ever told anyone before: To have my own column in a newspaper or magazine is something I've secretly wanted for years. It seems an awful lot like blogging, just that it has to be politically correct and all. So anyway, seeing these columnists (journalists, really, but they do have columns) whose columns I faithfully read every Wednesday (except Ian's sometimes, 'cause football isn't my thing) in the flesh was... Well, it wasn't something I'd have gotten to see if I hadn't joined BRATs, I'm sure.

Anyway, after that, we all sat in a circle and introduced ourselves. "Tell us your name, where you come from, and something interesting about yourself."

"Hi, I'm Hui Jan, I'm from PJ. And I'm kinda having a bit of a fangirl moment right now, 'cause seeing you three *gestures to Niki, Sharm, and Ian* in the flesh is, like-- *makes weird, high-pitched sound*" I must have given everyone a very good first impression of myself. Goshdarnit.

After that was an introduction to BRATs by Ivy. I'm not too sure how much of this I'm supposed to reveal, since the same things are probably said at every workshop. Basically, we were told to take the opportunity to learn as much as we could from them, because we were the lucky thirty-six (I think it was) to have been selected.

When the intro was done, we all trooped outside the hotel for a photoshoot. We were in page eight of The Star, yo! I'll put the photo up if I can find it.

In the meantime, here's the photo Jessica took!

We had our lunch at the hotel's restaurant then (buffet meals all the way), and headed back to the ballroom to learn the theory of journalism.

Since we would be hitting the streets to source stories the very next day, we were taught the basics of interviewing first. Even if you're outgoing as anything, interviewing really is a lot harder than it looks; say the wrong thing and your interview could be gone. There were a few different scenarios presented to us, and some BRATs had to act it out, with help from the senior BRATs. I didn't volunteer, but I could tell that those who did were struggling, and it wasn't because the seniors BRATs were being overly difficult. Here I feel the need to mention Andrian's commendable portrayal of a man who'd just lost his only son in a fire. Bravo, Andrian, bravo.

After a short tea break, we got started on the basics of photography. I'd never understood nor appreciated photography before, but now I do a wee bit of both. We were shown some iconic photographs, and I love so much how they really do tell a story, without words.

So right after they show us those beautiful photographs, they distributed cameras among those (few) who didn't have any and gave us fifteen minutes to shoot photos of things around the hotel, themed 'Green'. Massive, epic fail. But I know I am not a photographer and it most certainly isn't in my list of possible future professions, so I guess it's okay.

We were given a break, and then time for dinner. Once we'd all gathered in the ballroom again, we played some games (there were quite a few of them throughout the workshop, very strategically spaced out), in one of which I sang the starting of Bad Romance, high-fived Ian ("GIVE ME FIVE!" -- I was very hyper), told Sharm, "I'm a fan!", and said the Rukun Negara, among other things. Very fun. After the game, Sharm asked for my name. Hmm.

Once we'd all calmed down, they started a talk on the basics of videoing. (We went through the 'Green' photos everyone took -- 95% of which were of plants -- but I can't remember where that fits in.) I never realised there were so many different styles of videos, although I probably should have since I used to go on YouTube quite a bit. My favourite video that Niki showed us was the Get Firefox one! Youshah and Andrian found it. Wheeeee!

Anyway, we all got the chance to do attempt stand-uppers (with a mic with The Star logo on it, no less) while Ian videoed us. It was fun(ny). We're all very fun(ny) people.

"Ho Hui Jan, The Star, Malaysia." Ehehe.

We got divided into groups then, according to number of writers, photographers, videographers, Penangites, and Chinese-speaking people (a must-have for each group in Penang). Courtesy of a bad pun by Greg, our group's senior BRAT, my group's name was Sing is King. Our group leader's name, you see, was Sean Sing. I told you it was a bad pun. Anyway, there were twelve of us: Sean, Aishah, Pau Ling, Stephanie, Han Ming, Kelvin, Keeshaanan, Ken, Isaac, Sharannya, Aminah, and me. Also, we had Sharm on the Sce-- I mean, Sharm on our team.

We were going to be covering Chulia Street, Muntri Street, Love Lane, and Stewart Street for story-sourcing the next day. Since there were four streets and twelve of us, we had a little discussion, which resulted in the splitting of Sing is King into two groups, each with two photographers, three writers, a videographer, and either Sharm or Greg.

When we were done, we went to our rooms, exhausted. It had been a long day, but already, I was excited for the next.

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