Doors to Diplomacy Project ID: 5355

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Review of past, present and future of ASEAN: Is ASEAN Way the key to regional and global security
Category: 5. International Security

School: Raffles Institution
    Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

3 students, ages 14-17 worked together to complete this Doors to Diplomacy project on March 19, 2008. They have participated in Doors to Diplomacy in the following year(s): 2007

Classes and Teachers: Mr Koh Chin Chong Eric

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Joining Doors to diplomacy can be described as half about chance and half about interest. Our members happen to share a common interest in history and we met our history teacher, Mr Eric Koh, who first introduced Doors to Diplomacy to us.

Chua, 15, is our team leader. He is often decisive and assertive. He is quick to make rational decisions and understands their repercussions fully even before carrying out the task. He never lacks a sense of direction for the group’s progress and he is the overall in-charge for our work. Write-ups are vetted by him in order to ensure a consistent team stance as well as a basic standard of excellence. The only area where he needs help is perhaps in his skill of summary. He has never failed to substantiate his points with both quantitative and qualitative ideas.

Gao, 16, is the IT professional in the group. His interest in multimedia and photography has marked him as a perfect choice for website designer. He is in charge of the website design for he can inject variation and an entirely distinctive view-point from multimedia and photography.

Wu, 17, is the public relations officer. Apart from coordinating the three men group, his main job has been to search for interviewees who can provide great insight into our project and area of study. Without interviews, our project would lose many crucial perspectives.

Finally, we have our teacher mentor Mr Eric Koh. Mr Koh has guided us immensely throughout the project. Using his critical view in judgment and analysis, we were able to refine our direction for the project and the interview questions. Without his help, our group would not have traveled so far since our beginning.

2. Summary of Our Project

The purpose of our Doors to Diplomacy project can mainly be described as: 1. “Reviewing the past, present and future of ASEAN: Is the ASEAN Way the answer to regional and global security in today’s context”. This is particularly relevant for us, being the youth of South-east Asia who will eventually have to grapple with such issues in the future. This piqued our interest in the concepts and ideals of ASEAN. 2. Through this project, we hope to clarify ASEAN’s approach in dealing with regional crises. We also aim to critically analyze the context and factors of the ASEAN way of conflict resolution. After which, we hope to understand ASEAN’s actions as a whole and examine its approach in the global context. We will address the question: “Is the ASEAN way the answer to ensure regional and global security?” Our core approach to this will be to analyze these historical successes and present failings, focusing on whether the changing political context 3. Our social objectives are to raise awareness of ASEAN and how it may have a direct impact on the lives of people, whether or not they live in ASEAN states, especially considering the advent of globalization and therefore the rise of economic interdependence. We hope to bring about greater awareness of the regional bloc’s aims and objectives, as well as how they intend to achieve them. 4. As such the detailed objectives for this project are as follows: a) To identify the characteristics of the ASEAN Way by studying the following events: i. The current Myanmar crisis ii. Communist Vietnam iii. The 1978 Cambodian Crisis iv. The 2006 military coup in Thailand b) To assess the ASEAN Way in resolving regional conflicts; c) To explore the successes and limitations of the ASEAN way in managing conflict; d) To examine the relevance of the ASEAN Way’s in managing regional and global conflicts; e) To clarify and raise regional and global awareness of the ASEAN way among South-east Asians and beyond; f) To engage the world in discussing the ASEAN Way online, hence internationalizing it, so as to improve the ASEAN Way in managing conflict.

Our project aims to allow a greater population to understand the importance of international affairs and diplomacy. By showing the relevance of ASEAN in our everyday life, we can effectively show that international affairs and diplomacy are never aloof and distant from personal life.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The main problem we had to overcome was the challenge of time constraints. Our group started our project only 2 months before the deadline for submission. The amount of work would naturally increase drastically. Furthermore, we have only 3 team members. This shortage in manpower results in numerous difficulties and inconveniences when carrying out research.

On the technical aspect, we faced two challenges. The first was that the valuable interview process that we had recorded was not usable due to poor quality of sound. Secondly, despite having Gao in our group, all three of us are still amateurs in webpage uploading.

All our members have great devotion to the project. We all spend a large proportion of our non-academic time to work on this great endeavor. Sometimes, we meet up for discussion while at other times, we work with unwavering determination on our individual assignments. Despite being unable to meet up very often due to hectic schedules, we were able to co-ordinate our work effectively and efficiently due to good use of communication tidbits as well as time management, which allowed us to liaise quickly and maximize usage of time.

A particularly pertinent problem we encountered was the fact that there is a level of political apathy amongst the public, who generally view political doctrines and ideals as “obscure” and “irrelevant”.This narrows down our scope in terms of people we can approach for opinions. This is also a major problem we hope to tackle through our project.

For website uploading, we were fortunate to find peers and friends alike who were willing to help us to grasp this new skill. We learnt through real experiences and ultimately, with great friendship and teamwork demonstrated, were able to solve the problem of uploading our webpage.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

A journey that brings out significance and influence far beyond the confines of oneself that stretch to the yonder; a dream that will forever eradicate political apathy and ignorance, illuminating the lives of many. A chronicle of hope and sorrow; but a dream of peace and stability in a world of perceived reality.

6. How did your activities and research for this Doors to Diplomacy Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

The Doors to Diplomacy is considered a viable project that is under the school’s “Research Education Program” (RE). Under RE, students will be focusing on a certain project that will span over one year. Doors to Diplomacy opens a gateway for students to understand much more about international affairs and diplomacy through project work. This snugly fitted into our school curriculum. There is definitely significant benefit from this project. We affirmed our aptitude in reviewing literature, carrying out an interview, analysing sources and drawing relevant inferences. These skills will be useful throughout our life, both in learning and in work. They also help in developing our critical thinking. Some group concepts practiced were cooperation, discussion and group management. It is never easy to work in a group as different people have different working styles and preferences. However, if we can transform this dynamic force into strength, it is a bonus to the group. Therefore, our group has tried to incorporate these concepts into our work and we enjoy a satisfactory level of success.

The biggest misconception cleared is perhaps the drawing equation between “diplomacy” to “aloof from our daily lives”. In almost every event when diplomacy is involved, it would create an impact to the people, directly or indirectly. By understanding this, we start to realize the connection we have with the international issues that are happening around us everyday. The influence and impact of diplomacy and international affairs are far greater than we can imagine.

Through this project, we can better appreciate the RE curriculum that has been drawn out from us since secondary one. Along the way of the project, we discover many common characteristics between Doors to Diplomacy project and our RE curriculum. We find these characteristics very useful and we feel fortunate to be exposed to this type of learning.

Through this project in my school's unique Integrated Programme where we skip the O Levels, I have fully experienced and appreciated the recent educational changes in Singapore to promote independent learning and get in touch with the wider society in hoping to better their lives. I have realised I am more than an index number; I have realised that I am interacting actively with my friends and teachers to develop myself according to my passions.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your Doors to Diplomacy project?

This project can be divided into three parts: background research, interview and website designing. For each part, we make use of different kinds of information tools and technology. In terms of background research, we made innumerable trip to the Singapore National Library to look for information. Due to the fact that reference books are not for loan, we had to photocopy the pages we deemed necessary using the photocopying machine provided in the library. In addition, one of our group members, Zeyang, brought his video camera for the interview so as to record the whole proceedings. Lastly, for website designing, we made use of Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Macromedia Fireworks to edit the images and design our template, before using Macromedia Dreamweaver to create our webpage. These applications were kindly donated by our school. Upon completion of our website, we managed to get permission from the school to get our website uploaded using its domain name.

We think the most valuable tool we employed was Adobe Photoshop CS3. Due to its user-friendly interface and numerous functions, it is a valuable designing tool for both the beginners as well as the professionals. Without Photoshop, our group would not have put up as vibrant and appealing a website.

The helpful technology is the Internet. It has helped us in every aspect of the project. With its massive information storage, it really makes our project more convenient and easily accessible.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your Doors to Diplomacy project both on-line and in person.

To act as the precursor to our project,we first promoted our website to the school community. By doing this, we raised more awareness about the importance of international affairs and diplomacy to within the school community.

However, getting attention is not enough; we would also need to be able to retain the attention. One great way of doing this is to set up a forum on our website. Forum provides web visitors a platform for communication. If the forum can start rolling, it would mean that we have successfully raised awareness and also retain this awareness in people.

Apart from the website, our members can also act as ambassadors to our project. Through our contacts from class and various clubs and societies, we can also spread more information regarding our project. This is effective in the sense that human communication is more personal and we can better clarify the questions that other people may have.

In the future, besides a constant update to our content and stay “updated”, we hope to be able to incorporate more web elements that are attractive and useful to our website so as to improve our website.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

As Doors to Diplomacy is a relatively new project in our school, our involvement in this project has definitely raised more awareness on it, and perhaps our juniors may be interested in their own projects in future.

During our project, we have interviewed academics and foreign affair officers. The interviews not only greatly contribute to our scope of research and personal experience, the process of it has also in some ways build more connections between our school and the various institutions, which our respective interviewees belong to.

Judging whether or not our project has been useful per se, we say that it certainly has raised awareness, at least within the school for a start. This has been done through two main methods, the first being the use of the internet and the second being the publicity measures taken in order to raise the profile of politics within the school.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Our team definitely owe much to the many people who have helped us greatly along the project.

First is our teacher mentor Mr Eric Koh. His guidance and support for us has helped us tremendously.

Secondly, we would like to thank all our interviewees, namely Dr Ian Storey, His Excellency Ambassador Severino, Mr Ong Keng Yong and Dr Christopher B. Roberts. Out of their very busy schedule, they have accepted our interview requests and our group would like to sincerely thank them as it was with their expertise that we are able to do co cross reference to our research and gain much more insight into the project.

Next, our group would like to thank our friends, namely Benjamin Mak, Jarret Huang and He Zhiyuan and for their effort and time invested in our group. Their much-needed support has helped us to move a very long way.

Lastly, we would also like to thank our friend, Lin Jin, for his technical assistance provided for our website and the school’s IT department for hosting our website.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Throughout this project, there has been new discoveries in view of the topic and depth of our research, the people whom we work with, and most importantly – new world views.

We learnt that there are different ways in which diplomacy can be carried out, both formally and informally. Seen from the case of ARF, we see it as a good example of synthesis between formality and informality.

From the literature review and interviews, we realized that academic work is not purely academia. In fact, it has high relevance to the world around us. The issues addressed in academic literatures are highly linked to the currents affairs that we know.

After embarking on this project, we ourselves become more aware of the issues in international affairs, especially in issues concerning ASEAN. We realized that political actions had great direct and immediate repercussions on the society in general. There have been encouraging signs with regard to eradicating political apathy in our immediate compound—the school. We believe that with the progress of time and rapidly increasing accessibility to the internet, the future for obliterating political apathy through means such as ours is immeasurably bright.


View our Doors to Diplomacy Project (Project ID: 5355)

Close this Window