Friday, December 31, 2010

Rekindling Good Memories...

It was one of the most meaningful gathering I had this year... indeed, it's just meeting Val, whom I taught... er... I think about 10 years ago, the batch that graduated in 2004 (I think, the year I left for my volunteer work).

Indeed, in the 2 hours of chatting, I realised that whom I was talking to was no longer the Val I saw or I knew in the CPA class, but is a mature lady who is able to draw out lots of observations and analyse situations very well. She has grown so much... Val did not come across as one who would express her thoughts and opinion so well in her secondary school days! Haha... she was definitely one of those quieter ones, but we knew, she was a kan-cheong spider afterall... oh yes, Zubaidah and me had a fair share of her those days... haha... (of course, Zubaidah had another 'nightmare' that she was very proud of, too. Ah! Grateful of the opportunity to catch up with her. I believe I would see similar changes in batches of students whom I spent time with in the computer lab those days.

We spoke over lots of things in those 2 hours. Indeed, it accounts from coping the university workload and stress, based her own self-analysis of the challenges (and what gave rise to the challenges) that she faced these days... to mental models of elderly at home and society, as well as those good old teachers who had taught her in those 4 years. Haha... almost everything under the sun :)

I guess, no matter is work or study, stress is always there... I guess it really goes down to 
  • weighing what is needed and what one wants. And yes, what one wants have another layer: Are we contended with what's enough for survival or we wanted to strive hard enough to actualise our aspirations, which might be set higher than what we are capable of achieving (within our comfort)?
  • realising that one is actually competition against oneself, rather than others. Take for instance, many a time, we felt good because we saw ourselves progress within the same old environment over the years. We were happy (and to some extent, tend to be contended or happy over the achievements). However, it's still comparison within the same old environment, still within the same wall. Only when one starts to meet people from other communities, then it's the 'testing' time to tell where we are.. and realise there's always mountains higher than those who know :)
Well, lots of good deep thinking behind all these... and we can go on more...

Of course, another common 'topic' is really about the school where she had great memories for 4 solid years, and for me, more than 10 years!
  • CPA & EOA Lab sessions - ah! Those were the days when all spent hours to work on the coursework
  • The meetings at the benches outside the then-HOD room
  • Her teachers... yes, and my ex-colleagues like Mr Lee SL, Mrs Pong, Alice, Zubaidah,... and even Mr Chua! haha... Yes, Val asked a very interesting question that would make us respond with a laugh, "Does Mr Chua still like to put on his pink shirt?" What do you think? Hahaha...

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    2010 Year-end School Reflection

    Last year, we had one round... I remember the task was more challenging, when we were to create a short clip on it... I recall mine... was in fact, a recap of the journey since Day 1 (that was in 2008 April) till before the tyre started to hit the road (which what Mrs Chew likes to say). That was a recap, not just what I did, but also a promise, a renewal of my commitment to what I did this year...

    I'm not sure, if you ask me, a promise to??? myself or the organisation... sometimes, I really could not quite tell the difference... I guess, it's all because I don't see it as a job, but it's a means to fulfill a dream, a dream which I think probably not easy to materialise, but I found a place that I could probably do so?... and there's alignment of my dream and what the organisation aims to achieve, I suppose... though my dream is a smaller one, compared to the organisation's as a whole.

    To make it come true... no doubt, lots of hardwork... I guess, not just hardwork, it's also hardship... It takes place in many forms - not only the usual ones, but also the stress to battle with. Often, the stress came from self - for 'wanting' to do well, for the 'fear' to see things go haywire, I guess, lots of this got to do with self expectation, and assumed expectations that others have on me ... well, these are within my circle of influence and I could manage it at my hand. However, there were also stress created by others, which sometimes was unnecessary and undesireable. This 'stress' became stress because it has an impact on (or probably hinder)  my work progress or quality of output. So, I think this was the greatest challenge I faced this year.

    Getting into real action and 'flowing' along with the action was something that I could not imagine before the project was in action. Not just dealing with projects, but also dealing with humans with different ways of thinking and expectations, dealing with human beings who claimed to be in the same professional field yet acted and behaved otherwise! ah! That caught me in surprise, and of course, those unrefined emails that flew across the cyberspace. I would not have expected such from supposedly refined human beings! oh! Leopards' spots would stay put, no matter how hard it tried ot disguise!

    I think, in 2010, I had really turned twitter and facebook status update into another avenue to let my steam off. Yup, needed a place to let it out, sometimes quite badly, all because I could not figure out why some human beings behave or think so 'abnormally' or so 'ridulously'! Or, maybe I was the odd one who rationalised things using a different set of logic or logarithm? I wonder? Well, that also prompted me to let out my frustrations in a more refined manner - have to do what I preach... as a result, have also sharpened my art of writing, became more creative, too!

    In terms of achievement, I think, I would measure my success based on others' success. Yes! That's where impact become visible and therefore tangible. Others' gain, indeed, was my gain :) There were also opportunities for me to present and share beyond the local audience. While it's an affirmation of the work done, I would not have these opportunities or exposures without the present "springboard". I am grateful of that :)

    Certainly, apart from what I could do within the environment I'm situated at, I'm also very thankful of the help and support from friends who work with me under various context! The encouragement and extra hands :)

    Also, something new to the me, was being 'freed up' from my teaching duties in the 2nd half of the year to focus on the projects. Grateful to the management's understanding, and also the confidence on me :) Yes, I was left 'alone' most of the time to work at my own pace own target (of course, it aligned to the bigger targets). It was an experience.

    A Christmas Gift...

    Who says that a gift needs to be 'concrete' and physical? Haha... although many a time, when people spoke about gifts, it's usually tied to a physical object... Very often, the first thing one could thought of is, "Buy something." Then people moved on to talk about "Making something" to give an appreciation from the heart... as no two things we make are the same, especially during the process, the kind of thinking and effort... though it might not look 'professional', it's the thought that counts! So, this has moved the gift 'up' another level.

    I think the next level, not sure if it's the highest level... would probably be something that's intangible... and probably something not represented by any physical object - it's the bonding between people :) For instance, just a get-together could be one of the best gifts in the world - the "quality" added to the time is factor! Hahaha... Then how about material gift? It serves as a 'recalling point' of the expression of 'gift'.

    Of course, I'm not saying that material gifts are unrepresentative of one's thoughts... I beg to see material gift in a different light... and we could tell the difference! Haha... How to tell the difference while it's just an object? I'm very sure, 'cost' is not a consideration.

    It's whether the recipient could be 'connected' to the gift - that tells how observant we are... so, it need not be told to the recipient, but from the gift - it tells... also, sometimes, one gives what one likes to other because they wanted to share what they like and their joy with others :)

    On the other hand, when it comes to 'gift' exchange, very often, people would go the shop and pick up something - without much thought (i.e. not much of representation between self and others) - then such a gift is just 'any other gift' that's bound to be circulated or ended up...

    I think "Re-connection" is the best Christmas gift that I received this year... I think it's also technology, the social network to thank :)  Well, it's great to get re-connnected to the very first batch of students at NAS. Yes, the girls whom I taught for 4 years... and some were also in the Red Cross CCA. I think it's this reunion that makes the very big difference. Certainly, they are a very nice bunch of people :)

    All the best to this group of young ladies... yes... it's great to hear that they are doing well... they've taken the path that's less travelled... and in fact, I guess, they are the winners in their own ways :)

    Friday, December 24, 2010


    A pleasant surprise from Hokkaido! It's from Megu, an acquaintance met in the Darwin trip almost 10 years ago! :)

    Instant Noodles from Kyushu

    When overseas, one of the 'must-go' places is the local supermarkets... which is a good place to learn what the locals buy... and sometimes, we get very good buys - not just value for money, but also really authentic local products :)
    In the recent trip to Kyushu, one of the best buys was Instant Noodles! Ha! It's not just any instant noodles... perhaps I 'sua-gu', but it's the first time I see something that's so compact! and easy to prepare!

    Just let the 'dried' pack immerse in hot water for about 1 min (we don't even need to cover it...) and it's ready... more importantly, it's very very tasty! I'm pleasantly surprise! I'm amazed!!! It's an innovation!

    I wished I had bought more!

    Click HERE for the Kyushu trip

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    When travelling abroad, would you let others know that you are a...

    This is something that made me very puzzle... or maybe it's "ME" rather than others are practising this seemingly (to me) 'strange' behaviour... of keeping our profession as a SECRET.

    Interesting 'disguise'... Once I travelled with a friend to Taiwan... guess what she filled up under "occupation"? "A Clerk". I wonder why?  Then recent years, travelled with a few other teacher friends in tour groups, they would agreed unanimously not to disclose our identity when asked or during the conversation. In fact, I wonder, "What's wrong being in the education?" The same happened in the most recent trip too...

    No questions posted to my friends... anyway, I guess the main reasons (would not go beyond these) include
    • So that others would not ask questions about our school? er... especially to parents who are 'shopping' or comparing schools... then we would be easy target to answer questions (or being a pseudo spokesperson)?
    • In case we meet teachers from the 'rival' schools, and in exchange of 'glares'?
    • Hear 'misconceived' ideas of 'good' lives of teachers and having the need to clarify?
    • People making assumptions that we know all, so expect more questions to come?
    • We could not enjoy the 'play' and 'fun' because we need to maintain our image as a no-nonsense teacher?
    • Uncalled for kind of attention because we are expected to 'enforce' certain attitude/ behaviour? 
    Oh! So many reasons... so much so that many of us (without second thought) would asked to have our profession 隐姓埋名?
    Just wondering... is that fair to who we are actually...