By Samara Gan
Speaking to Sin Yee always brings a smile to your face.
Even if you’re meeting her for the first time, her charm and cheerful disposition make her extremely approachable.
As the person in charge for outreach and alumni relations, Sin Yee is mostly known for her involvement with the USP Ambassadors. She also often leaves the office to visit other schools to promote the USP programme to prospective students.
What most USP students don’t know is the fact that Sin Yee is a dancer.
Sin Yee started dancing in 2013 when she joined a dance class through the NUS Staff Club.
“What my school does is that every quarter we have to put up a performance, we have to showcase or something. So there are deliverables. So that means that you always have to train for something.”
“Previously, if you ask[ed] me to go and host an event, or be out there speaking to a large group of people… I would be really scared. But I think now, if you put me up there, I will be like ‘okay can, no problem’!”
According to Sin Yee, it takes an average of three to five months to train for a dance performance.
“One thing that performing really helps is that it trains confidence. In that sense, training confidence really helps when I have to do outreach or I have to give talks, or host events, or whatever.”
“In that sense, I think both my work and dance helps to train my confidence level.”
She explained: “Previously, if you ask[ed] me to go and host an event, or be out there speaking to a large group of people, or [sit] on a panel discussion with all the other people and [get] people asking you questions about why your programme is better than others, I would be really scared. But I think now, if you put me up there, I will be like ‘okay can, no problem’!”
Together with her classmates, she later formed the KPOP and Hip Hop dance crew NUSCK (pronounced ‘noos-ck’) in February 2014. They would practice in dance studios on campus and post dance covers on their Youtube channel.
Her favourite dance cover is a dance video created as part of her friend’s marriage proposal. She felt that the video was very meaningful, even though it wasn’t as well-produced as her other dance covers. The group danced to WINNER’s Really Really and MOMOLAND’s Bboom Bboom.
“One of my dance mates’ boyfriend wanted to propose to her, so we actually learned a whole cover and we filmed it on campus, so it looks like an NUS promo[tion] video,” she laughed.
“But why I’m still here after so many years, of course it’s the community; the students, the people are so friendly. And it’s really different from what you’ll hear outside when there’s so much politics or unhappiness between each other.”
For another of her dance covers, she travelled to South Korea with her friends and recorded themselves dancing publicly in different parts of the country. The group coordinated outfits for the dance, and one scene even featured them dancing in Hanbok – a traditional South Korean attire.
She mused even though dancing publicly (better known as the “Kpop in Public” Dance Challenge) has recently become a trend, she and her friends had developed the idea for the video last year.
“USP is my first job. A lot of people ask me why I have not changed jobs.
Asked what the best thing about working in USP was, Sin Yee immediately said that it was the community: “It’s very cliche but when I think back, it’s really the friendships, the people, and the warmth of the community.
“When you’re young, a lot of people would say ‘Go out and explore’. I guess, yes, explore and all. But why I’m still here after so many years, of course it’s the community; the students, the people are so friendly. And it’s really different from what you’ll hear outside when there’s so much politics or unhappiness between each other.
“The community is not just the students, but also the admin office.”
She shared that the staff in the office used to have regular tea breaks together, and would visit each other’s homes during important holidays.
Indeed, the camaraderie between Sin Yee and her colleagues is palpable. If you ask some of the admin staff about Sin Yee, their faces would light up with a warmth that can only come from years of inside-jokes and camaraderie.
“Working with students make me feel younger too,” she laughed. “So at times I’ll also do things like coming in a onesie for End of Sem [dinner] last year.”
She sent me a link to the USC Events calendar, where a picture of students wearing onesies is proudly displayed in the header. Sin Yee [far left] is the only staff member in the photograph.
“Here, when you work with students, everybody has very interesting ideas and they’re very daring to try new things.”
“I feel like that’s why I want to work in USP; it’s really the people and the community.”
Now in her late twenties, Sin Yee just wants to have fun with her hobby.
“I think competitions, all those, are too stressful. They bring the fun out of dance.
“To us, it’s more like, [we want] to make sure we enjoy performing together, rather than trying to [become] the best.
“Dance helps me de-stress, so I just want to have fun with my friends.”