I met someone who joined Leo Club in his secondary school. He was super proud of himself, “I was The President. Really active. I got some awards from it.”
“Yeah? Do you still keep your badges?”
Thinking of Leo, a volunteer uniformed club, I wasn’t especially proud of myself.
Mostly, I joined because there was suddenly a rule from Education Ministry that everyone must have a uniform club in their extra curricular activities. Damn. Hitting the books and participating in sports weren’t enough? Why wasn’t my Sports House uniform count as a uniformed club? I didn’t (qualify to) participate in sports competition (except tug of war bwahaha hmph!) but I supported for my team! I had tuition classes practically everyday after school too! Where to find the time?
I was just an ordinary student.
Wanted to have all the power to give truant and noisy students tickets to be disciplined but I couldn’t maintain a clean profile (not exactly the most obedient student). That was because the school wasn’t totally supportive of us! We had to carry so many textbooks and exercise books on our small backs and the luggage with rollers were only for stewardess, not students (yet). So I kept some of my books in my table which was a crime. :p Oooo.. and those senior prefects looked so yau ying. I had lots of crushes on them ;) I always peeked outside the window whenever they passed by the labs and daydreamed of dating them, like in those Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High books I read. Silly. Wanted to wear the super stylish jackets – looked so professional and smart but hated to wear tie everyday.
Wanted to be with the books but only nerds become librarians. Besides, everyone must be quiet in the library and I preferred discussions over silence. I still remember the golden letterings on the wall: SILENCE IS GOLDEN. Surprisingly, the top scorers didn’t join to be librarians! Oh well, at least the librarians get to be in an air-cond room unlike prefects who had to stand under the sun, walk around school blocks and guard the territory (in blazer if you are a senior). Best of all, the librarians could reserve books that they wanted before the others (like us mere mortals with no coloured uniform) got access. Sometimes the revision books weren’t enough nearing exams time.
So I joined Leo Club – the easiest club (I thought) and no need to give resusitation to old man with bad breath or save people from fire/drowning. Of course there were other uniform clubs but none sounded as cool as Leo Club.
In fact, we only had Leo Club founded during my Form 4 year in my school. The founder was a rich girl into branded clothes and equally branded bags, stationeries, etc.
She was the first student in our school to wear CK One – the it lifestyle – to school. Everyone around her could smell it during the assembly. She became popular after starting this club in my school. I guessed everyone wanted to leave a mark for the school or on their lives. Some of us were debaters to the National level, some runners, volleyball players, chess players, etc. It was cetainly commendable to be a leader to start a new club.
The Club was more of a popularity sorority because the committee was made up of her closest friends who were more popular (and prettier, smarter) than her. Being young, the most important thing then was to get good grades/active in extra activities and be popular. Their group became the more popular club than older charity clubs which had existed in our school for ages, err.. Rotary and … sorry, couldn’t remember the club now. That club was made of popular girls too but when there was something new, obviously there were a lot of news about the new club.
In Leo Clubs, there is a lot of parties. During the launching.. err called installation, we invited other Leos from other schools. The committee members competed for the badges which the President had managed to get her hands on earlier. Mind you, you had to pay for the other school’s badges. The idea was you exchange your school badge with other schools/friends as a goodwill. Ahh.. like exchanging the name card of your business.
Those who had more badges meant more popular (or rich). I had seen 1 of the most down to earth friend pushed me away and grabbed as many as she could when I could get a badge free (courtesy of the President because she wanted us to have lots of badges too to show that we were in). I remember feeling disappointed at my friend’s behaviour. She snorted, “Move la, you. I’m in the committee!”
Then, another new friend, a junior of mine, only watched us exchange badges. I asked him, I noted his vest had only 1 badge – our school’s, “Don’t you want to exchange badges?” He was in the committee.
He shook his head, “No.”
“Yes,” he nodded. “My badge is enough.” He patted our school badge on his vest. Wow. I saluted him. A younger person who had clarity on badges. Maybe he was too poor to buy more badges to exchange. But I loved his stand. He wasn’t behaving like a maniac, attaching popularity and self-esteem on a 20cent size badge.
Yep, I joined because I wanted to be popular. I wanted to help in charity too but in my year, we didn’t do much charity. Mostly collected money from parents, friends, relatives, strangers, etc. Not really the work-on-your-hands type of volunteer, being face-to-face with orphans, deaf, dumb, blind or handicapped.
When the caretaker of a handicapped child told us, “You all can come visit us. Very near only.” They were invited to our launching.
I nodded. I knew I wasn’t going there alone even if I had free time. I felt guilty but I didn’t do anything about it. I only tried to make sure he had a great time partying with us. Shame on me.
Of course, I met some really kind, outgoing and friendly fellow Leo from my school and other schools. I found out that Jinjang students weren’t that bad. You know a lot of people think Jinjang and Kepong* have a lot of gangsters? Most of the Leos in Jinjang school were quite intelligent and hard working, not gangsters and rude at all. They even followed us to ‘protect’ us when we were walking to/from their school from guys in motors wolf-whistling us.
Soon, it was SPM time and most of us concentrated on studying instead of organizing activities in Leo. Besides I still had other clubs!
By the end of my time (hehe, sounds like a death sentence) with Leo, I learnt that being popular for the sake of popularity was fake and pointless. Hey, I could mix with younger generations albeit they were 1 yr or 2 younger than me. A lot of people prefer to mix with their own cliques during trips and activities. At least I became more outgoing and open minded.
If you have the chance or power to go back in time, would you change anything?
Usually I would answer, “No. I’m glad my life has turned out to be this way even though there were somethings I regret.”
Not after remembering what I did/didn’t do as a Leo. I would’ve just exchange badges with people/badge designs that I liked. I would be more discriminating in joining clubs. Heck, I would NOT stoop so low to compete for badges with my friends just to show off that I had made lots of friends/had lots of badges. I would find out how to treat and communicate with handicapped before being with them. I would do more. I would love myself more. Be braver.
* If you are confused about Jinjang and Kepong:
Jinjang is part of Kepong.
State Development Office Wilayah Persekutuan – Kepong