May 30, 2012

to the fallen, and the fallen stars

(A response to Eugene)

"they say that many of the stars you now see in the night sky, all their brilliance and beauty, are from stars that have long since died. All that is left is the light it once emitted. When you wish upon a star, you are wishing upon something that is no longer there beyond a strong beam of photons. Your wishes are dead, meaningless, just like these stars."

Then I won't wish on the stars in the night sky. I'll wish on the Moon. I'll wish on the Sun, that still burns bright, that gives life. I'll wish it on my own heart, I'll carve the words on its walls; with each painful heartbeat, I'll keep my wish in mind.

If I wish on the stars and my wish falls back down, dead, I'll wish on something else. I won't give up simply because I can't; wishes are made out of love, of passion, and that's what keeps one alive.

And the stars that we see now, many light years away, they were once alive. They burned with the miracle of life once upon a time. You're right; what we see now is the little legacy they left somewhere in the universe billions of years ago.

I'll be like the stars. Now, I will burn with the passion and life of flaming fire; I'll work at the destiny I am to leave behind. Light years later, when I'm dead and gone, someone somewhere will still see my light. Someone will look at the shadow of my life and think I'm beautiful, and they'll wish on me.

Somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight
Someone's thinking of me, and loving me tonight; 
Somewhere out there, someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another
In that big somewhere out there

May 26, 2012

To America.

I've had enough.

Disclaimer: These arguments are my own. They represent my opinions as an individual, and not of Yale-NUS; neither do the views expressed reflect those of YNC.

#1. Singapore does not criminalise homosexuality. That's a weird - and insulting - rumour. The word 'homosexuality' creates an image of gays being imprisoned - it's a law against physical male homosexual acts. And I mean....well, who really checks / cares what you do in the bedroom, anyway?

#2. So a country doesn't do things your way. It doesn't make that country wrong. Each country has its own reasons for setting certain laws. For example, you can be fined / arrested for posting racist comments here. Does that mean we are oppressed and deprived of our right to freedom of speech? No, it's just that freedom comes with responsibility, and every action has its consequences. It just so happens that we are a very multiracial society and we can't afford discord or riots because we are also very small and extremely vulnerable. We have learnt enough about racial discord and its devastating consequences to our vulnerable country to know that racial harmony is something we need to constantly strive to attain, for our own security's sake. We're definitely not living in total harmony, but we're still trying, and we have to try to avoid things that will cause disharmony. And I'm happy with the security of my country. I'm glad we don't really have to worry about riots breaking out or anything. Each country has its own unique characteristics, and therefore its own way of doing things. It might not be the American way of doing it, but it's not wrong. It's a necessary measure the country has to take. Maybe some things should be looked at again. I'm definitely for removing 377A. Give things time. What matters more than the policies is the mindsets of the people. Those must change first. We are definitely not perfect, but generations and attitudes change, and we're on our way to good change.

#3. America is not the top of the world. It may be the gateway to the world in the sense that the U.S. is a good place to go to break into the international arena, and it's the country with the highest GDP, but that doesn't mean it's the top of the world. We all know your President's name and watch your shows (I love The Big Bang Theory) and know your music, but it doesn't make you superior. See, that's the mindset many Americans tend to bring with them when they go to the rest of the world. That they're smarter, they do things better, like they're higher beings, that they're educating the rest of us. Yes, America definitely has power. It doesn't make you superior. No one is superior. We all have a lot to learn form one another. Singapore is a small and often misunderstood dot that sometimes seems to be known for little more than its Michael Fay incident and no-chewing-bubblegum laws and 377A, but I'm proud to have been raised here. I'm proud of the values I have been brought up with and the values that I hold dear. I'm proud of the high standards of education (although our education system is a whole different issue altogether) and our high levels of security. I'm proud of the fact that we lack natural resources, land and labour, yet find ways around our problems. Although I think kids here study way too much, I'm proud of how hard we work. I'm assuming Wikipedia is right when it says we are the world's second-biggest casino gambling market. And we have two casinos. Two. Of course, I'm not proud of the fact that this has to do with gambling, but I'm proud of the fact that we take risks, venture into things - and succeed.

And just fyi, despite the International Baccalaureate program being pretty new here, one school alone (Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)) produced half the world's top scorers - 28 out of the world's 57 45-pointers. And if you want to look at SAT scores, the number of people I know who got below 2050 can be counted on one hand. I'm not kidding. It might be just me, but... I haven't heard of anyone who got below 1900. And my friends consider getting 1900+ "embarrassingly low".

 #4. Speaking of risks, I've been interacting a lot with the bunch of kids who got accepted into Yale-NUS, and I'm pretty amazed at us. We've got our hoard of distinctions, our pre-university scholarships and awards, our slew of co-curricular activity (CCAs, e.g. Choir, Basketball, Arts Council) involvements and achievements, our leadership posts in school. But more than that, we are a bunch that thinks. We wonder. We feel the burden of the country. We pursue knowledge for knowledge's sake - something that the education system here really doesn't end up encouraging. We are bold. We are very creative. And better still, we are a risk-taking bunch. I mean, if we were to play safe, we wouldn't have chosen Yale-NUS. We've all gotten accepted by / have the potential to get into other great universities. The fact that we've chosen this college shows that despite all the heated controversy and despite the other great colleges that we've been accepted into, we're going to give this a shot. We're going to give this a shot because we have the chance to create history.

I guess the whole point of this post is... hello America, welcome to the rest of the world. You have a lot to learn, too.

P.S. And I like using the British spelling.

May 20, 2012

Life so far

has been pretty full of work and meeting friends when I have the time. My days have been really packed, and it's been tiring but amazing. My legs need a rebirth. Working as a waitress has killed them. I'm such a whiny pig.

I've also made up my mind to be a part of Yale-NUS College. Was a little unsure initially, but the Experience Yale-NUS weekend was amazing. Met a bunch of great people and made awesome friends. At midnight our Taboo game turned into a get-to-know-you-a-little-better session, so the group of about ten or more of us shared about the reasons our parents gave us our names (my parents named me after Karen Carpenter, the one who sang 'Top of the World' and...died of anorexia), the stupidest things we've ever done, etc.

Then suddenly at about two in the morning things started to get more serious.We talked about things like how the reason CIP doesn't work like it should is that we help with the mindset of a giver, someone who's superior in a sense, and it's so essential to treat those we're giving assistance to like an equal, nothing more than a genuine friend. And how alcohol being allowed on campus at Yale but not in NUS reflects how the Western mindset involves giving one the responsibility to make his own choices and learn from his own mistakes, whereas here, we're more likely to step in and protect those whom we feel will make the mistakes, because the risks are too large; they can't afford to make those mistakes now.

How the education system and the mindsets of parents here have caused most of our students to be uninspired, unmotivated to delve deeper into knowledge. Here, we don't inspire curiosity. My friends say I'm lucky not to have taken Chemistry or Biology in junior college because it would have killed my interest in it. I've heard of too many people who've had their passions killed. Music and art students vowing not to pursue a career in those areas. Chemistry students simply hating the subject after two years of madness.

How there are people with valuable work attributes that can't be recognised on paper because of the way our system is structured, and therefore don't catch the eye of potential employers. How our workforce - or student body - or society has become largely uninspired, dispassionate. Dylan was talking about how there hasn't been a real breakthrough in physics for too long, and we realised it was also probably because in the past, you could make a thousand failures before finding success. Now, there's no time for failures, not enough time and money to waste on something that might not turn out right. Stick to the safe route; don't allow too much space for trial and error.

At one point Dylan was quite disturbed by how everyone seemed so passionate and informed about history and politics, and he was just...a scientist who really just wanted to do science. Would he be able to find anyone who shared his interest in Physics? Would he simply be surrounded by people who didn't share his interests, would he be alone?

It was then that we all became really excited about the liberal arts programme. We have a bunch of students, each with different academic interests and abilities, each possibly unable to understand another's field of interest. Like, I love literature and linguistics, and I never understood physics or politics, although I'd love to. Here at Yale-NUS, being made to take classes outside my little area of interest will open me up to so many different things,and I'll also have the friends who have these various interests. Besides taking different modules, we should also teach our friends. Let them into our own world; introduce them to our areas of interest. Unlike online resources which are usually really opaque and don't start from the fundamentals, we'll be able to bring things down to a level that's understandable for our schoolmates, and slowly bring them deeper into the subject. As we teach our friends about our own areas of interests and learn about other subjects from them in return, we'll all grow in our understanding of the world, and with greater enlightenment also comes greater curiosity.


The Facebook group has been so alive and amazing too, and getting to know everyone there has been so much fun. I just can't wait for things to start. Yale-NUS is only opening in 2013 so I'll be taking a gap year; I really hope to go overseas with a pal or two, take up driving and maybe resume my piano lessons, hopefully pick up the guitar...and go to bible school! Can't wait.

May 11, 2012

Growing up is

realising that the Earth does not, in fact, follow a stable orbit. The world does crash sometimes; sometimes it spins too far out of control for you to hold a grip onto things; sometimes it stops completely. And when the world goes off-track ever so often, it takes a while to get it going at the right pace again, lead it back onto the right path. It takes time and effort and you have to find your feet, close your eyes, catch your breath.

Growing up is realising that the heart is not, in fact, the strongest muscle in your body. In fact, it's the weakest. It can tear itself apart at a word, a flashback, at the sight of a face you once knew; it wrings itself dry when you pass by a place that brings back memories, or when you unintentionally revisit old texts and pictures, or when his name appears on your screen. The beating of the heart is subconscious? Nonsense. Each beat is pain pounding at the walls of your lungs, threatening to puncture. It is your brain that is strong, the brain that forces the heart to keep on beating, even if each contraction is a struggle.

Growing up is realising that what people teach you is not what the world teaches you. What you learn from books is not what you know.

May 5, 2012

Tip for university

Take your heart out of spring. Leave it at home, safely guarded, and take every moment of heaven as nothing more than a fling.

May 4, 2012

God guard my heart

"A relationship only ends two ways: in marriage or a break-up. So think about which is more likely."

- wise words of Derrick Chin

do you believe in life after love part two

'I can see myself in your eyes,' you said with fascination at staircase number one in the afternoon. 'That's number five,' you said as I kissed your cheek on the thirty-ninth floor at number two. You'd been counting. At number three, your legs hurt but you refused to let me move. Number four was the last time I hugged you before we said goodbye three months later. Three.

'I can see myself in your eyes'. That has a double meaning.

'That's twice today,' you said at the thirty-ninth floor. Was two a bad thing? Was it bad to drown in excess? Did I drown you in excess? Did I drown in excess?

Whenever there isn't much to be done in the restaurant, you come like a flood back into my mind - that's why I like to be kept busy. I dream that you're back and you say the things that I don't want to yet want to yet cannot hear, and I say no, but I'm thinking yes... yes.

What does it mean when the images engulf me and take my heart all over again? Take it again, and I come plunging down, like I had never tried to crawl out of that hole.

Yes, just keep running away like you've been doing all your life. This was never meant to be right; it hurt too much, for the both of us, to be right - although now I only remember the times heaven came down upon us. Maybe running away is the right thing to do. Maybe it's time I started running away too.

do you believe in life after love?

No matter how hard I try, you keep pushing me aside
And I can't break through; There's no talking to you
It's so sad that you're leaving; it takes time to believe it
But after all is said and done, you're gonna be the lonely one

Do you believe in life after love?
I can feel something inside me say
'I really don't think you're strong enough, no'

What am I supposed to do, sit around and wait for you?
Well I can't do that, and there's no turning back
I need time to move on, I need love to feel strong
'Cause I've had time to think it through
And maybe I'm too good for you

Do you believe in life after love
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough, no

Well I know that I'll get through this, 'cause I know that I am strong
And I don't need you anymore
No, I don't need you anymore