My Journey Discovering Purpose

Hi, I’m Nicholas Eng!

I’m 23, and a second-year undergraduate at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information in Nanyang Technological University.

Yup, that’s me on the right, being the child I am, and my fellow intern Ruth Smalley

I belong to Gen Y. Stereotypically, we are self-entitled and narcissistic because we’ve never gone through much hardship in life. I can’t say I’m different. I mean I sailed through life, relying on my parents for my wants and needs. Isn’t that my entitlement as their child?

Halfway through my second year in university, I started to have an existential crisis. I was thinking day and night about what my purpose on this planet was. I couldn’t just live off my parents forever.

I felt that I was supposed to do something, something for myself, something for the rest of the world. I felt that I needed to make a difference in some way. But because I couldn’t put my finger on how I could do that, I got really upset and frustrated with myself.

So when I had to choose my modules in the second year of university, I decided to apply for Regional Strategic Communication Management (RSCM). RSCM is a module in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information where 12 students are chosen every year, to work on building awareness and raising funds for a cause. For us, we were heading to West Java, Indonesia, to help The Learning Farm (TLF) — a residential organic farm for vulnerable youth.

I was really excited for the trip organised by Gone Adventurin’ because I am a sucker for nature. So throw me somewhere I could see a volcano every time I looked out the window, or see horses trotting alongside cars on a steep hill, and I will be sold!

At TLF, we learned the basics of organic farming, and what the students did on a day-to-day basis. From their morning parades where they shared their reflections for the day before, to their English lessons conducted by Cara, a volunteer at TLF.

Every morning, students at TLF will take some time to reflect on the previous day, and what they learned

But what really stole my heart during the trip, were the interactions with the students at TLF. They are positive, enthusiastic, and most importantly, tenacious. I remember fondly the night where students from my university and TLF had a craft-making session. In case you didn’t know, I am the kind of guy who would get his hands glued together before even embarking on any craftwork. So as usual, I wasn’t doing any good. Noticing my frustration, a student from TLF tapped me on the shoulder. Revealing a warm smile, he said, “Don’t be angry, you angry, it come out bad, you happy, it come out good”.

A Teaser video done by NTU, featuring students of TLF

But speaking to the staff at TLF, I learnt that they weren’t always like that. In fact, when they first enrolled in TLF, they were unmotivated and resigned to the fact that they were never going to escape from the state of vulnerability they were in.

Erocasrono and Albertina, recent graduates of TLF

It was then that I realised the impact of TLF on its students. TLF taught them things that completely changed their perspective on life. TLF helped them to find purpose and meaning. TLF taught them to find themselves.

What do you learn in school? 

It was also then that I realised I could be a part of that. I could make a difference in people’s lives.

I set out with the intention to help TLF, but returned with more help from them than I ever could give. I wanted to pass on what I had learned to others, so what better way than to apply for an internship with the good people at Gone Adventurin’?

I am only just beginning my journey of discovery, so I wouldn’t say that I have now found my purpose in life. I do however, finally feel that I’m on the right track. I no longer find myself questioning what I am doing, but rather, I find myself beaming with excitement every single morning.

~ Written by Nicholas Eng, Gone Adventurin’ Trainee

Nicholas Eng

Born and raised in Singapore, Nicholas believes that it is not about changing the world, but making the first step to change the world around you. He enjoys hosting, writing, and film-making. Passionate about social causes, he truly feels that the world is his oyster.

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