BRATs: Xandria Ooi

Xandria Ooi, 33,

TV host, motivational speaker and emcee

BRATs 1999

I waited anxiously to turn 16 just so that I could join BRATs. I wanted to be part of it because all the adventures the BRATs went on looked amazing – it was an experience I really, really wanted to be part of. When I received the acceptance letter I jumped around the house with joy!

The BRATs were an integral part of my growing up years, and every moment was a privilege – from the travels to kampungs to interviewing strangers on the street. Without BRATs, I would never have showered in the river or have slept in an organic farm with bats flying around all night or met girls who were pregnant at 16.

Without BRATs, and without Tan Ju Eng, I’d never have been pushed out of my comfort zone again and again as a kid, which made me brave and extremely appreciative of everything as an adult. BRATs doesn’t teach you things – it lets you experience them, and it’s through this awareness that you teach yourself.

It was through writing stories for BRATs that I started a career in journalism, and learned to observe, to listen and to be genuinely curious and interested in people. As a journalist, it’s always about the other person and not about you; this approach to communication makes for great relationships with people, both in my career and in my personal life.

BRATs showed me that everyone has a story to tell, it’s up to you to see it.

  • Since 1993, The BRATs programme has been training aspiring young journalists. It has now grown to encompass three camps held every year in different cities, and social media skills, photography and online video production are among the skill sets deemed necessary for the modern journalist.

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