The Star Malaysia - Star2
Seniors at We met with three returning our recent malacca camp –including one from the very first group of braTs!
tHINGS were different back in 1993, when The Star’s BRATs young journalist programme kicked off. For starters, there weren’t any BRATs camps like we have now!
Instead, Jason Leong, 37, and his batch of BRATs were given story ideas monthly, and they spent most of their time shadowing Star journalists, learning the ropes as they went along.
“I don’t know if the ‘Annoying Teens’ part of the name came about because of us,” he said with a grin. In case you didn’t know, BRATs stands for Bright, Roving, and Annoying Teens. The first group of ‘em came up with the name themselves ...
Leong was one of three “old” BRATs who showed up at the BRATs Malacca 2014 camp in QuaySide Hotel two weeks ago, as part of a mini-reunion for BRATs alumni in the area. He’s currently based in New Zealand, but he just so happened to be home for a couple of weeks and saw our announcement in the papers.
While the format of the BRATs programme has changed over the years, it seems one thing has stayed the same – the awesome assignments. Leong, the co-founder of Pocketsmith, a company specialising in personal finance software, recalled one of his assignments – reviewing a CD-ROM encyclopedia at the old Star office in Section 13, Petaling Jaya.
“I’m really showing my age now!” he said ruefully. “We were like, ‘wow, what in the world is this?’ Everything was floppy disks back then, and suddenly there was this CD that had images and music. Remember, this was before the age of the Internet, so having something so interactive was truly amazing.
“I’m literally the most ancient relic here!” said Leong with a laugh, noticing the dead silence around him as everybody tried to process the idea of floppy disks and no Internet.
And how’s this for coincidence – Leong was the BRAT who came up with the logo’s typeface! Imagine his delight when he saw that we were still using it after 21 years. Some things are just better left unchanged ;-)
Leong was joined at the minireunion by Navpreet Sidhu, 34, who attended BRATs Ipoh 1997 (BRATs camps started in 1995), and Bernice Han from BRATs Kuala Selangor 2012, who, at 19, was the youngest of the returning seniors.
“One of the best things I learnt was photography skills. I learnt to see things from a different perspective,” said Han, a psychology student. She added that her favourite memory from the camp was a night-time river cruise to see the fireflies. “It was like Christmas!”
“What makes BRATs special is its camp format,” said Navpreet, who is now an opthalmologist. “In school, everything is so academic-oriented, but in this camp, students can improve themselves in a fun environment.
“Kids should join to improve their confidence levels and open up new opportunities!”