As the first rays of sunlight peeked through the window, I slowly stirred awake from my slumber. I yawned and stretched my arms before reaching for a glass of water on the nightstand. I splashed the cool water on my face, feeling the refreshing droplets wash away the drowsiness.
I laced up my running shoes and headed out for my morning jog. Running always helped me clear my head and focus on my thoughts. As I jogged through the quiet streets, I tried to push aside my feelings of guilt and sadness that had been plaguing me for so long.
Today was the day when the results for the entrance exam of the prestigious School of Alliance and Academia (SOAA) were supposed to be announced. But, to be honest, I wasn’t excited at all. It wasn’t because I was unsure of my performance in the exam, but rather because I was certain of it. The exam was challenging, but it was not at all about preparation or academic ability.
The questions were unlike anything I had ever seen before on an entrance exam. It wasn’t that the questions were particularly difficult, but rather that they were strange and unconventional. Why were they asking about the strengths and weaknesses of nations, the development prospects of different countries, and the role of leaders in specific situations? And the questions about group work and ideological preferences? It was almost as if they were seeking our personal opinions on these matters.
The official explanation was that the exam was designed to test our critical thinking skills and prepare us for the real world. But deep down, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something more to it than that. Perhaps they were trying to usher in a new education system, one that was radically different from the current one. Or maybe there was a bigger, more sinister agenda at play. Whatever the case may be, one thing was certain: the exam had left me with more questions than answers.
SOAA, or the School of Alliance and Academia, was established this year as a testament to the unification of the seven great nations. The academy’s funding is equally contributed by all seven nations, and foreign student (nominees) constitute approximately 70% of the student population.
As an institution, SOAA stands as a beacon of hope for global cooperation and harmony. Its multicultural student body, coupled with its commitment to academic and military excellence, embodies the values of cooperation and mutual understanding.
Or so people say.
Just because an academy has many positive attributes does not guarantee that every step it takes will be in the interest of the greater good.
As I returned from my morning jog, I prepared myself a hearty breakfast and sat down to play some video games. I never really had a keen interest in them, but my late uncle always insisted that every teenager should have some experience with gaming. So, after working in a conventional store for a month, I earned some cash, which was more than enough for me. I rented the latest edition, “SK Gen 04,” from a nearby shop, which offered me a 50% discount, knowing I would eventually return it. Initially, I opted for the toughest version with a hundred levels, but after grasping the basics, the game turned out to be even easier than playing Tetris, which I completed in just a week. Nonetheless, it helped me kill time and kept me from boredom.
At 11:30 am sharp, Mr. Norman barged into my room, sweating and panting, asking if I got accepted into SOAA. I didn’t even bother to look up from my game and asked him, “For what?” Irritated, he replied, “Don’t play dumb. The entrance exam for SOAA, of course.” As I was going for the last kill in the game, I asked him to wait for a minute.
As I remember, Mr. Norman also had a daughter who was my age and had taken the same entrance exam. So that’s why he’s rushing, I thought to myself as I quit the game.
Finally, I finished the game and checked the results. “Well… I got accepted,” I said, half-heartedly. But as soon as Mr. Norman heard the news, he jumped with joy and hugged me tightly while patting my back. I had never seen someone non-familiar being so happy with my achievements. Usually, all I could feel on my back were the eyes of envy and pity. But this time, it was different.
As Mr. Norman left in a hurry, I couldn’t help but smirk and think to myself, “Happiness, huh?” I had never shown any emotion in the past 12 years, not even when my uncle died. I didn’t drop a single tear because all I could feel was loneliness which I can never throw away.
Even though I got accepted I didn’t expect all the reasonings that were going on in my mind throughout the whole time regarding the academy to be exactly correct whose proof is the result that is flashing on my phone.