WHAT IS SALT?
The Sunway Ambassador Leadership Trek (SALT) is an initiative founded by a group of passionate scholarship recipients from the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation back in 2015, who aspired to give back to society. The famous politician, Bill Bradley’s wise words echo, “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better”. The need for potent leadership is ever surging in various aspects all across the globe. SALT aims to provide a platform to foster leadership skills among high school students through a positive and fun-filled environment.
SALT KLANG VALLEY 2021
Marking 2021, SALT launched their first event initiative for 200 high-school students in the Klang Valley area. This year, the theme of SALT is R.I.S.E which stands for resilience, integrity, strength and embrace. The idea behind the theme is to conquer obstacles ahead with integrity and strength while embracing the entire journey of personal growth and striving to be our better self with resilience. The SALT committee’s enthusiastic nature let them blast off two days of exciting activities online with the participants, as part of the whole trek. The first day was the Pre-Event Day, which was filled with icebreaker activities to encourage participants to get comfortable with their peers and Game Masters. The second day was the Event Day itself, which was filled with an exhilarating adventure comprising a series of quests, intending to instill leadership in every participant. The SALT committee successfully conducted the whole trek via the Zoom platform and left an impact on the highschool students of Klang Valley.
The Pre-Event Day took place on the 16th of April 2021 from 8.00pm to 9.15pm on Zoom. It kick-started with a small introduction session from the committee members. Following on, the participants were further assigned to separate breakout rooms. Each breakout room was composed of around 10 to 11 participants and 2 Game Masters. Efficiently, the Game Masters began interacting with the participants to make them feel comfortable. The Game Masters also advised all participants to turn on their cameras throughout the event. The session began with a self-introduction of every participant and Game Master, where each took turns to introduce their name, school, and their feelings at that point in time. The purpose of self-introduction was for the participants and Game Master to get familiar with each other and nurture a tight-knit bond throughout the trek.
The first icebreaker game was ‘Something in Common’. The Games Masters asked a series of 5 to 6 questions to the participants about their interests, such as hobbies, experiences and preferences. Some examples of questions included:
- Who here learns a music instrument?
- Birthday months?
- Favourite ice-cream flavour?
- Who is your favourite singer/band?
- What’s your favourite fast-food chain?
- What is your favourite sport?
- Coffee, tea or me?
- Tea live or Tealive?
- BTS or Blackpink?
The participants then answered their interests and choices on the Zoom chat function. The purpose of the first icebreaker game was to get to know each other in depth. Both the participants and Game Masters had a great time discovering each other’s unique interests.
The second icebreaker game is ‘One-Word Icebreaker’. In this game, Game Masters portrayed a series of photos representing several categories such as flowers, boy-bands, animals and languages on the screen. Then the participants had to say that one-word that came to their minds relating to each photo. The rules were simple. The participants cannot repeat the same word once someone has mentioned it, and if a participant messes up, they have to reveal an assumption about themselves that they would like to rectify. If a participant messes up again, then other participants would have the privilege to punish them with a dare. Interesting, isn’t it? The participants sure had fun during this game, and Google was probably their right hand.
The third game is ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’. This game required participants to stand up and make sure three-quarters of their upper body was visible on camera. For this game, the participants unanimously appointed a leader, and the leader had to describe either the head, shoulders, knees or toes vaguely without being obvious. On the count of three, participants were then to touch the described body part simultaneously. The goal was to make sure all participants were in sync with the leader’s description. This game allowed participants to build teamwork and realise the occurrence of misinterpretation in communication when working in a team.
The last game is ‘Virtual Bingo’. Bingo is a common game known by all. However, virtual bingo only existed ever since creative netizens started promoting and playing them via Instagram’s story function. Similarly, participants were to play virtual bingo on a ready-made template on SALT’s instagram page, and post their outcome on their respective Instagram stories. The virtual bingo template was about things participants have done before. This game was significant to set the mood of the participants at the end of the session as many were excited to attain BINGO.
That marked the end of the game sessions. The SALT committee then debriefed the participants back in the main room regarding the upcoming Event Day and concluded the Pre-Event Day. The Pre-Event Day was particularly important to acquaint participants with a familiar setting and establish a homely atmosphere with each other before the event.
After a fun and fulfilling night on Zoom, the D-day had arrived! Participants were already up on Zoom by 10am. A video prepared by the SALT committee warmly welcomed them. Participants had a glimpse of life at Sunway Campus as the video perfectly depicted it and set the mood of the whole Zoom session.
Riding on the hype of the video, the emcee welcomed the participants with big smiles and made sure everyone was having a great time before the event started. Despite the entire event being online, the emcees successfully created a safe space for the participants to express themselves, albeit via online chat. This is seen when the participants were actively participating in the chat box, which made the event much livelier.
So, one might ask, what’s the difference between pre-event day and event day? Did the event day live up to the expectations made during the pre-event? The answer is yes! Participants had to complete challenges in groups to complete their quest, but little did the adventurers know, the quest they took on was a quest to understand and apply SALT’s theme of R.I.S.E. With the goal of collecting as many crystals which served as points, they embarked on a journey to live out R.I.S.E.
These crystals can be used to purchase artifacts to help them in the games.
In between each game, there were also trials to test the groups. The groups had to choose between fight or flight in different situations, to test them on R.I.S.E.
For this trial, the adventurers are to either take out the guards to enter freely or pay the lawful fee of 400 crystals to enter. To teach them integrity, groups who chose to take on the guards were forced to receive a punishment of losing 700 crystals instead. Hence, this taught them a lesson in being honest and staying true to one’s principles without compromise.
Overall, the participants had a really fun time. Another hurdle came by, where the participant’s crystal stash was stolen by bandits and so they had to overcome several challenges to get their crystals back. There was one participant who was so enthusiastic about gaining crystals that she thought out of the box. Her challenge was to have a paper moustache, but she took it to the next level by using an eyeliner to draw out the moustache on her face. With that she earned back crystals for the team. Another member also took on the challenge of mummifying himself with toilet paper!
Hearing from a participant, Sim Choon Wei, he found SALT to be a very fun workshop that was innovative and creative in terms of the planning and development. Unlike the numerous virtual meetings or activities he had attended, by far SALT left the most unforgettable experience to him despite being online.
He also found the event teaching him valuable information to prepare a leader for the challenges ahead in life. Hence, it is safe to say that he would definitely join SALT again in the future. Using his words, “It’s a chance that can’t be passed up if one were looking for improving the inner leader that is within them.”
At the end of the trek, although exhausted, both Game Masters and participants knew that the energy and time was spent for a noble purpose. Throughout the trek, leaders inspired through propitious impact and leaders were born together. The committee members then explained the series of hurdles every participant had to go through as a team, reminiscing through the lessons learned from the entire trek. Imagine at the end of it all, flashes of memories pass by, it is truly a sight that is capable of a smile. Just like that, the SALT committee even came up with a remarkable recap video where everyone’s journey and presence marked the history of SALT. The participants, Game Masters and committee members, were all witnesses of this leadership trek that was immeasurably amazing.
SALT is not the average leadership program. SALT made Resilience, Integrity, Strength and the Embrace of all, rising as leaders possible. SALT shaped the future generation of leaders, and SALT will ever faithfully continue this sacred mission for the young people today.
The upcoming SALT event targets high-school students from East Malaysia, Northern and Southern Region. So, do stay tuned to SALT’s instagram page for more updates, especially the next SALT event.
Bonus: Interview with the Game Masters
- Preparation before the event
After interviewing 4 Game Masters, it’s safe to say that the SALT committee did a good job in preparing and guiding them for the event. The 2 week preparation that they received was both online and virtual, which had the purpose to equip them the skills needed in bringing out the vision of the content team. Through this, they got to experience and feel what the participants were about to go through, which helped them to embody the vision better. Although it was called a training session, they still had fun and made deep connections with other Game Masters as well.
- Challenges faced
Because of COVID-19, there were undeniably some restrictions that they faced. The entire process had to abide by the current SOP, and this required them to be quick on their feet to ensure clear communication between the Game Masters.
- The biggest takeaway from being a Game Master
Geena learned that everyone can be a leader and her experience testifies it. Everyone has their special skill that they excel in which qualifies everyone to be a leader.
For Joshua Loo, he found that a leader should be optimistic and keen in finding opportunities instead of shying away from them. SALT overall made him a more confident leader, as he said, “Just do it and try out new things.”
In terms of skills, Zhee Xuan saw the importance of communication and attentiveness. Since Game Masters were in pairs for each group, they had to have good communication skills to lift the participants’ mood for games and be attentive in keeping track of time.
Lastly, Kang Juan saw the reality of being an inspiring leader. “If a leader does not inspire others to follow, nothing will happen. Instead of being a dictator, be an inspiring leader.”
Written by: Jamie & Maki
Edited by: Pei Zoe