Regulars / Thinking aloud
Before I Kick the Bucket …
By Li Shiya & Liu Junhao

The Before I Die project (NTU edition) was initiated by four NTU undergraduates: Li Shiya (Aerospace Engineering), Liu Junhao (Economics), Keyon Guo (Economics) and Zou Jingxi (Chemistry). The four friends share a common passion for making a positive impact on the world around them. As Keyon points out: “Before I die, I want people to talk about how I lived rather than how I died.”

Death is a somewhat taboo topic.

But “thinking about death clarifies life,” says artist-activist Candy Chang, who initiated the global art project, Before I Die, in her hometown of New Orleans after losing a loved one.

While surfing the TED channel on YouTube one day, we came across Ms Chang’s inspiring speech on her project at the TED Conference, an annual gathering of the world’s leading thinkers and doers. It made us pause to consider the inevitability of death. Amidst our hectic school life, and attending talks on career planning and portfolio-building, who really thinks about death? Are we doing what we really want to right now at this very moment, or are we wasting our life away doing something else?

My friends and I got thinking about these questions, and we decided to start a Before I Die project right here in NTU, in the hope that our peers and the larger NTU community would be similarly spurred to take stock of their lives.

In three months, with the support of TEDxNTU and the university, we created nine Before I Die boards and placed them at high-traffic areas around campus. Students, faculty and staff members were seen lingering around the boards penning their dreams and ambitions. In corridors, we heard friends talking about their findings with curiosity and excitement.

The boards filled up quickly with an amazing array of dreams, and every day, after taking pictures of them, we had to (with deep regret) refresh them so more people could write on them. Before I die, one said, I want to “do the insane Canyon Swing”. Before I die, I want to “win a Nobel Prize”. Before I die, I want to “make a friend smile”. The list went on.

We were touched to see so many positive responses. Many of these dreams weren't wild fantasies, but simple wants that often came down to things we take for granted. Things like “spend more time with family” or “go for holidays with loved ones”. These wishes, though modest, were genuine and personal.

“Before I die, I want to_________.” What do you want to do? Think about it, then go out and start living!