Wei Yang: NUS student, Sportsman and mentor

Q: So Wei Yang as you know, I am going to join NUS in a few months time. As you can see, I am not the most sporty guy around. I am quite scrawny, so I wanted to know more about what sports opportunities NUS offers. You have done a lot as one of the leaders of the NUS sports community. You are both the logistics head for NUS Canoeing team and also helped start a sports mentor ship programme, CAPTSLAM. What is CAPTSLAM about?

A: CAPTSLAM stands for College of Alice and Peter Tan Student Leader Action Mentorship. We hope to attract Secondary school students to us and pair them up with NUS mentors. These students are actually sports students who are going to be leaders in their own fields (such as president of a CCA) in the future. A common characteristic is that they tend to lack leadership skills so we want to use NUS mentors with a sports background to bring out the best in them. Our mentors are athletes in their own fields and they talk to their mentees about their past experiences, trying to steer them in the right direction. We aim to empower them with confidence and improve their relationship skills.

Q: That is very interesting! What motivated you to start such a mentor ship programme?

A: To be honest I always wanted to start a motivational programme regardless of the topic. When I was young I wanted to start a public speaking confidence programme. As I grew older I wanted to start a programme to “teach people how to teach”. I always played around with these ideas. One day a professor approached me and said the words “leadership”, “students” and “mentors”. I heard these words and said “Okay, I’m in”. I did not create this programme out of thin air. It was only possible with the help of my professor, Dr Tan Lai Yong, and my fellow project director who worked with me to create this whole idea together.

Q: Wow, it has been a very long journey for you! What were the biggest obstacles you faced as part of CAPTSLAM?

A: As students we face a lot of difficulties trying to catch up with sleep, work and friends. If you add CCAs, we really need to juggle responsibilities. My biggest challenge last year was managing between my three commitments (being sports director for CAPT and logistics head for NUS Canoeing and lastly CAPTSLAM). Most of my time was spent juggling between meeting deadlines, administrative duties and still focusing on serving the people I want to serve. One of the greatest challenges was meeting new people, bringing them together and creating a team that is good enough to go out there and mentor these students.

Q: Wow you have three different commitments. That is quite a lot to juggle! Actually the second, NUS Canoeing did catch my attention. As you can see by looking at my arms, I need to bulk up a lot so I would like to join NUS canoeing! What was your fondest memory as their logistics head?

A: My first memory is from when I first joined NUS canoeing in semester 2. I entered late since normally they recruit in semester 1. I thought it would be a very awkward transition. However, on the first day, we bonded together immediately and they even added me on Instagram. It was so easy to enter the family without feeling awkward. The second memory is from when we had a run-and-kayak biathlon called “Legs and Paddles” in 2016. We brought all the kayaks from Marina Barrage to Kallang. We had to sleep there over night, settling administrative issues and also had to bring bicycles in. Furthermore there were only 20 of us for manpower. Doing all this and falling asleep to supper with them was my fondest memory.

Q: I know that your Canoeing community as well as your duty to your mentees as part of CAPTSLAM has motivated you a lot. Is there anything else besides these two that has helped motivate you to do so much for the NUS sports community?

A: My greatest motivation that trumps all others, are the teams I am proud to call my own. Because they are so good, I always feel like going back to work. Take CAPTSLAM for example. We constantly have to stay awake until 2–3 AM but our team is so solid that we do not mind at all. Whenever I have to do something related to CAPTSLAM, I do not think of it as a deadline but rather something we do together.

In the CAPT sports committee as well, we need to stay up to do publicity and facilitate games. These people do so much for me that I never want to disappoint them. The least I can do as their leader is be there for them. These people are all my friends so I want to put in effort to make things better for them. A lot of motivation comes from the people behind me who spur me on to do my best.

Q: So Wei Yang, after all these years participating in NUS sports, who would you name to be the most important mentor who shaped your life?

A: I base myself off different people rather than having a single mentor. For example last year I joined MYMCA for a short 3-month mentoring stint. The In-Charge there showed me a lot of ways to interact and engage with people. I would come to emulate her actions when I did CAPTSLAM. The inspiration to juggle responsibilities also came to me when I saw some of my peers here. We have people doing double degrees, running 3 committees or even studying while juggling two jobs. Thus, there are many mentors throughout my life where just witnessing how they persevere, I decide that I want to be like them. I get inspiration from them rather than a single mentor.

Q: Just talking to you I already know I want to be just like you. When my friends and I finally join NUS and if we decide we want to become leaders in our own fields just like you, what advice would you have for us?

A: Don’t be afraid. Step out. In NUS there are going to be so many things that interest you. Before NUS I have never been in canoeing. If I had not had the courage to apply for NUS canoeing, I would not be here today. If we don’t try, we will never get it. If you see something you like, do not just look at the experience level. Look at what it can do for you and what you can do for them. Everything after that will take care of itself.
However, since there will be many activities in NUS, remember to focus only on those that you really want to commit to. Your commitment level pushes you forward. Do not just do a lot, do a lot in one field.