Month: September 2007

An inspiration for us all

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I’d like to introduce you to a young man whom I have deep respect for. He called me one afternoon a couple of days ago as I was about to leave school, and asked if he could come over to meet me. He is one of my ex-students, but he was not able to make it for the reunion dinner last week, and on his day off, he wanted to meet up with me. I had not seen him or spoken to him for almost 10 years, so of course I said yes, I’d love to meet him. The only trouble was, I said, that my kids were waiting for me at home, so would he like to meet me in school and then come home with me? And so we were off.

At home, he met Mr V, Arjun and Rishi, and everyone quickly became comfortable with each other. My husband, in particular, was very taken with how dignified and yet humble this young man was. In the short time he sat with us, my ex-student filled us in on what he had been doing since I had last seen him. His story is one of hard work, determination and- in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds- success.

He had found English very difficult in school. Despite his ability in the other subjects, failing English soon had him forced out of the academic route, and he was posted to ITE. After completing his studies there, he got a job as a technician. At this point he could have given up and settled for this, which would have been okay, except that he knew he deserved better. As he worked, he made a good name for himself and was soon in a much higher position than someone with his qualifications usually attains, all because of his sincere attitude towards his work. He decided to take up a part-time diploma course at the Polytechnic, which meant that he worked the whole day and then studied at night.

After 3 years he finally got his diploma, and you would think that this would have been enough for him. It would have been, if he had been an ordinary man. But you see, this is no ordinary man. Urged on by a mentor at his workplace who saw the bright spark of intelligence in his eyes, he applied for entry into an Engineering degree course at NTU. It took him 2 and a half years because of the credits he had accumulated in the Polytechnic. He is now a graduate, with a very fine job that involves creative problem solving with a government defence agency. He is also taking courses at the British Council to improve his fluency in English.

The young man’s name, ladies and gentlemen, is Kay Sua. I am proud to have been his teacher, and prouder still to be his friend.

Playtime

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Yesterday my son Rishi wanted me to play hide and seek with him. At first I was very reluctant- I had just come back from school, my back was aching from all the standing, my throat was sore from all the teaching, and I had a pile of marking to do. “But you never play with me anymore,” he pleaded. That did it. His words tugged at my heartstrings and I could not disappoint him. To understand the pull his words had on me you should know that for the last eleven years, while I was at home looking after my children, I was their constant playmate, and I know that they have been feeling my absence this year.

So anyway, I agreed to play hide and seek. You would not believe the fun we had! I crawled under the bed, crouched in the cupboard, hid behind the door- all this while trying not to giggle, because that would give away my hiding place. But the giggles were hard to stop, I can tell you, because trying to stay silent while someone is looking for you is one of the hardest things in the world to do.

It brought back memories of when my son was younger. He would hide, and then, when I said, “Rishi! Where are you?” back would come the reply, “Here I am, Amma, in the kitchen.” This was when he was about 3. Of course things have changed since then, and he is now a really good hider (is that what it’s called?). He even hid in an empty suitcase- you can imagine how hard it was to find him!

Anyway, the result was that after one hour of counting and seeking and hiding and giggling, I felt 10 years younger. I think I will patent this, and call it play therapy!

Actually I get very good practice for hide and seek with all of you. Just think of what happens when the due date for an assignment comes along…

A warm welcome…

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A warm welcome to 3N1 and 3N2. I am proud to include them in my circle of friends. I met both these classes today, and I found them to be warm and responsive. Mr Terence Goh, their usual teacher, has to be away for a while (when I find out why I will fill it in here), so I am now their English teacher. I must say, it is quite a challenge to take over a class so near to the end of the year, but my hope is that I can do a good job getting them ready for their exams. I now officially teach the whole of the Sec 3 level, with the exception of 3T1. So if I appear a bit spaced out when I come to class, give me a few minutes to switch gear. One burning question plagues me- how will I ever remember everyone’s name?! Suggestions PLEASE!!

For my first lesson with them we did the story building game. Their stories will be posted here by tomorrow- I am writing this post from home, and their stories are on my computer in school.

Welcome aboard, 3N1 and 3N2. You are ‘N’ telligent, and never forget it!

The difference between a cheer and a jeer

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Do you know the difference between a cheer and a jeer? It is not the actual sound that is important, but the effect it has on the people around you. When you cheer for someone, you encourage that person. You make him feel good. When you jeer, on the other hand, you are purposely trying to put him down. To make him feel discouraged. If you’d like to know how this makes people feel, try imagining yourself doing something that is important to you. It can be a race, a competition, a basketball game. The crowd is cheering for you. You feel like you are on top of the world. The other side has its own supporters cheering their team on. But that’s okay. Everyone has the right to cheer for whomever they want to.

Now imagine that the other side is jeering you as you line up that perfect shot. Do you feel good now? I’m guessing you don’t. It’s not so nice when it’s happening to you, is it?

This message was brought to you by Mrs V’s Social Education Service, the main objective of which is to fill in the gaps in your upbringing. It goes out specially to the charming boys of 3E4. Thank you for making my day.

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The hands of God

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I walked a tightrope strung up high

Above life’s chasm of melanchoy

No net below nor aid above

I walked alone devoid of love

Or so I thought, for once when I

Seemed ready to fall down from up high

A voice reached out and embraced my soul

Before troubled winds could take their toll

And when my feet began  to burn

And teeming winds to buffet and churn

The voice that I had yet to trust

Told me to let go and fall

But I could not, too full of doubt

“I cannot!” I heard myself shout

I tried to walk my slim tightrope

But slowly began to lose all hope

Till that voice came stronger still

And in my heart confidence instilled

That urged me to heed, so I ceased to trod

And fell into the hands of God

Elastic walls, a houseful of fun and a gem of a man

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I have a full house right now, because staying with me are my parents and two of my nephews. I also have many guests coming and going, and this adds to the atmosphere of revelry in my house. One of my neighbours commented the other day about how my door never seems to be closed, and I took that as a compliment. It means that no matter how small my house is, the hearts of its inhabitants are big. This makes the walls feel as if they are made of elastic- stretchable to accomodate any number of people.

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One of the great things about having so many people around is that you can do so much more for entertainment than watch TV, play computer games or go shopping. Today we all sat around and played Scrabble. If you have ever played this game, you would know that it is  a word game that involves a wide vocabulary and some strategic planning. My mother is very good at this game, and she was named consultant, because no one wanted to play against her. She gave every player equally good advice. Everyone was laughing because the scores before she stepped in were somewhere in the lower numbers. But after she started helping, all the scores went up to double digits. If you can get hold of this game, I recommend you play it. It makes a change from all the electronics we normally turn to for fun.

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My poor husband is far far away in Amsterdam. Hah! I’m the poor thing who never gets to go anywhere. But I know he is missing all of us, because he calls a few times a day to talk to the children and me. We look forward to these calls, because we really miss him too. I know I sound soppy, but I want to share with you  what I have learned from my husband in the 16 years that I have been married to him. If you ever meet him, you will be calling him Mr V. So here are Mr V’s nuggets of wisdom:

1. Success is a habit. Keep aiming high and you will definitely get there.

2. Honesty is the best policy, but if you must lie, do it convincingly.

3. Always look for ways to help people.

4. Forget about turning the other cheek. If someone hits you, make them sorry.

5. Always be neatly and smartly dressed. You never know when you will meet someone whose impression of you will affect your life.

6. Marks don’t matter. It’s the effort that counts.

7. Always do your best- no one can expect more of you than that.

8. Family is the most important thing in the world.

9. In everything you do, it’s your attitude that counts.

10. Being cool is not about what you wear or how you style your hair- it’s all about being yourself.

11. There’s a thin line between being cute and being a brat.

12. Learn from your mistakes, and never stop trying.

My kids are very familiar with these lines because they hear them from their father all the time. Do you have any advice from your fathers that you would like to share?

Reunion with ex-students

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You know who these delightful young people are? They are my students from 13 years ago. This was my first form class ever, and I enjoyed every minute with them. Sure, there were those crazy moments when I wondered if they were ever going to grow up, but you know what? They did! And they did it with style. I am SO proud of them. They are responsible adults now, who are very aware that they need to look after not only themselves, but the people around them as well. Some are married, some even have children. And it warms my heart that I was lucky enough to have been a part of their lives, for however short a time. We met for dinner last night at Annalakshmi restaurant in Chinatown Point. And that in itself says something about them. They chose that restaurant because they believed that it would be best for me. I was very touched, and I can’t wait to meet them again.