Letter to the Reader: New Foliage, Unchanging Roots

To all our readers that climbed up this figurative Tembusu tree, welcome (back) to Treehouse! As our home of possibilities ushers in a brand new academic year and celebrates over 10 years of teaching and inspiring Tembusians, profound changes have arrived for the college such as new Masters taking over leadership, and a revamped general education curriculum. Despite these changes, our roots still ground us to all that we love and treasure so dearly in Tembusu College.

To all first year Tembusians that just completed Tembusu Welcome Week 2021 (TWW2021), welcome to your new home away from home! Thank you especially for navigating your way here to this community of curious readers and writers. We hope Treehouse will be an opportunity for you to develop, and enrich a culture of creative and critical thought in the college.

The preceding academic year was a demanding experience for everyone. The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic blurred the vibrancy of Tembusu College due to tough, albeit necessary restrictions on social gatherings and activities. We struggled, and some of the hallmark Tembusu events like formal dinners were sorely missed. Even simple acts of sharing a meal with friends became an uphill task.

In spite of these restrictions, seminars, interest groups, house events, and late night suppers still persevered safely, keeping the spirit of the college alive. This is where comparisons with our College’s namesake, the Tembusu tree (fagraea fragrans), become beautifully apt. Native to Singapore and much of Southeast Asia, the tree is famous for its hardiness through harsh environmental conditions and provides comfort and solace to those that seek its shade. Resilient in the face of insects, its wood also furnishes many Southeast Asian households.

Although some leaves have fallen, new foliage has taken its place, making our metaphorical Tembusu tree more vibrant and luscious than ever. Tembusu College remains a place of spontaneity and comfort for all who live, learn, and engage here.

Even though some foliage has been renewed, we should never forget where our roots latch, and firmly ground us. Every Tembusian who clicks the ‘accept offer’ confirmation button, who walks through their hardwood-grain veneered room doors enters a home – our ‘Home of Possibilities’. Although our roots might be starved after a hiatus, they will never wilt, but continue giving life to the Tembusu community.

As our seniors hand over the position of Treehouse Editors-In-Chief to the new team this academic year, we hope to continue growing with every single Tembusian, and at the same time, not forgetting what we embody as one Tembusu family – courage. The courage to step out of our comfort zones and willingly venture beyond the familiar. The new editors will continue to provide this space to deepen our landscape of thought in the college, and provide a mouthpiece for personal catharsis. A necessity during times of both difficulty, and tranquility.

To all Tembusians, let us continue to nourish our thriving foliage and overcome whatever devastating droughts or surging storms together. Crucially, let us never lose sight of our roots – a community that is committed and curious, yet tenacious. Whether you are a germinating seedling, maturing shrub or evergreen bough, Treehouse welcomes you to this space to grow, and thrive. Arm yourself with a curious mind, and join us in our Treehouse.

Feature image by mrsiraphol from Freepik. Banner image by Natalie Pedigo from Unsplash.