Jan 28, 2014

Christian =/= Good Person

A lot of people say going to church doesn't make you a good person. Doing good things and being good-hearted does. They say it in an angry, attacking way: "stop being a hypocrite. Stop feeling you're a good person just because you are a Christian. So you call me a wretched man, that I'm going to Hell? You're just as much of a sinner yourself."

Well duh! Isn't it obvious? Why do people even think that being Christian makes you a good person in the first place? That's just absurd. Christianity is acknowledging that you AREN'T a good person; you can't save yourself. We are all sinners. No one is entirely righteous. All being a Christian means is that we are just as fallen and hopeless as any other person, but we're looking for a source of strength in Him. He has chosen to love us, and none of us deserve it. Heaven is not something anyone earned; it's not us, it's Him. Duh.

I feel so sorry for anyone who has been condemned and judged outright, for anyone who was told they were going to hell for not accepting Christ or whatever. I mean, it's unfathomable. I'd hate the people of the religion if it had happened to me. Instead, when I first went to church, I got nothing but love and non-condemnation, even when my non-Christian schoolmates called me a disgusting sinner.

What I don't want my future to be


My first chance to sleep before 3am in two weeks and I end up lying here for more than half an hour, unable to fall asleep. I let my mind wander, from close friends to others who are beautiful. And my mind drifts to how so many people from the Philippines have such a calm but strong love for God. And then I recall the time a friend said his mum had paid for his maid to pursue her dream of going to graduate school.

And I remember a friend saying her maid was a med school graduate, but decided to work as a maid because it got her a higher pay. And I thought, it’s so sad to do a job just for the money…where is the pride? The pride in knowing you can do so much more for society? Life is so much more than money; it’s about self-fulfilment, feeling like you’re doing something significant for the community.

And I think about my future. I think of offices I’ve spent days in, and I suddenly feel such a fear, and a strong rejection towards the possibility of spending the good years of my life in a big office, where each person is merely a cog in the machine, spending their daily 9-5 doing work on a computer, answering calls, meeting people purely for money-making purposes.

I mean, for people who are comfortable with that, that’s great. And if it's a cause I am passionate for, that'd be good. But that aside, I can't see myself in a quiet, rigid profit-centred corporation, with a sterile atmosphere, neutered creative passions and an endless amount of work on the computer that amounts to dust. Impersonal targets, goals that do not serve the greater good of humanity, goals that I do not personally identify with and share.

I stare at my bedroom wall. Here I am, in college, and I decorated this room, and I love it. I love every picture and my constellation glow-in-the-darks and Teressa's artwork and my guitar and how it's all placed. Here I am, my Philosophy prof saying that my comments in class were probably among the most insightful, original and thought-provoking that any student made in class last semester. (This means a lot to me because I thought I would hate and suck at Philo. Not proud, just very grateful to be made to study it.) Here I am, free to express and create, feeling like I'm getting somewhere, limited only by myself.

I don't ever want my mind to be dulled. I don't want to be forced into a box at the workplace or in society. I want to expand, I want to be full and bursting at the seams with life, I want it to spill out into the world.

Jan 27, 2014

a day in the life of a college student

Tonight: Finish Journey to the West readings

9-10.30: Lit class
10.30-12: Practice Japanese (probably no time for lunch)
12-2: Japanese class
2-4.15: RUSH Anthro readings
4.15-5.45: Anthro class
5.45-6.30: Dinner
6.30-9: Salvation Army (sacrificing Acapella session sigh)
9-11+: Journey To The West movie screening
11+-late: Summer program research & application form **DO I HAVE TO COMPLETE MORE JOURNEY TO THE WEST READINGS FOR WEDNESDAY TOO?!?!?! SHIT

Very annoying when you're only rushing out your readings not even for the next day, but for the next class. And if there's more Journey to the West to be read for Wednesday I'm going to be quite pissed. On Wednesday I have a makeup Lit class at 10.45 and I have to leave early for Japanese which is from 12-2, and my FREAKING SUMMER PROGRAM APPLICATION IS DUE AT 5PM I CANNOT DO THIS



Jan 26, 2014

How I want my future child to grow up

- Appreciative of the beauty he/she sees around, in anything, every day
- Delighting in the little things, and with a keen fascination for things
- Healthily balanced between motivation/drive and chill-ness
- Happy, or at least able to find healthy outlets for worries and other negative feelings
- Loving the outdoors as well as the indoors

I actually really don't want my child to grow up in Singapore. Being here when he/she is older is fine, but I don't want my child to grow up in the sterile yet perpetually hectic and dissatisfied environment here. I want my child to grow up playing in the outdoors and being creative, in a relaxed, nurturing environment. It does so much for a person. With that foundation he/she can move on to the city life, but I really want him/her to first know that in life, we must strive to be the best of ourselves, while always also remembering to be happy and to love the beauty in the little things.

When I stayed in Abingdon (Oxfordshire) for a week, that was pretty much it. I went for a two-hour walk with the dog and there were these beautiful fields - not in the pruned-perfectly-pretty sense, but in the natural, free sense. And the girls both sang along to Taylor Swift and happily helped out with the vineyard; they baked and bounced on their trampoline and played hide-and-seek. There were 12th-century churches and houses left their gates open.


Our War Stories

I want to create a pool of memories - memories of torturer and tortured, of sufferer and soldier alike. The generation of war is disappearing fast, and soon, these memories will disappear with it. So I've created a new website that attempts to preserve the stories we have left.

Look at the treasure-troves of experiences all around you - the old man sitting on a stool at the market smoking a cigarette; the white-haired couple who still holds hands; your own grandparents. Ask them about the things we will hopefully never see.

This website hopes to collect retellings of the war. Do contribute by asking your grandparents about their memories, or other people who have been through it, and tell their stories here. It can be a short anecdote, little things you recall them saying, or any response you got when you asked. Your story might not be entirely factually accurate, but it’s okay - stories, as with memories, are imperfect. Hopefully the website will begin to spread, and we'll have a collection of memories from people all over the world who share a common terror, a common tragedy.

Jake Evans wasn't mentally ill, just a curious normal person

"When I look at people, especially teenagers, I see them as being very cruel to one another emotionally. It seems that their favourite hobby is picking on someone else. The people who are racists, bullies, and who are full of themselves are the really evil ones. And it amazes me because those three qualities are extremely common today. I was very sad because I felt like my own family was becoming the people I hate. I know now though that I'm done with killing. It's the most dreadful and terrifying thing I will ever experience. And what happened last night will haunt me forever." 

(this post is a response to the comments on this article about the murder)

Don't blame it on his medication or a mental condition. You don't need to be mentally unsound to kill somebody. Stop putting him in a category so distant from yourself. He isn't a different person. Any one of us could be him. Read his confession.

I can't comment on the article but I thought it was obvious that this was simply the curiosity of a teenager that had gone way too far. But no. No one seems to have brought up that possibility. Everyone's talking about how he was mentally unstable, or how he could do such a revolting thing. Well look, he had watched a morbid movie thrice in a week. He has strong aversions towards emotionally insensitive people. He sees a sad, ugly side of the world; no doubt the movie was a big factor; he was simply drowning in the emotions of the time, overcome by fascination, curiosity, and a dread at the state of society. With the influences around - the mass media, popular songs, the fact that a gun lies in an unlocked drawer in your house - why do we try to blame his actions on a mental illness?

Stop it. Any one of us could've been overwhelmed by curiosity the way he was then. We have all stopped at one point in time and wondered, "what's stopping me from doing this?" whether it's letting go of the glass you're holding or putting the knife to your wrist or letting your foot get stuck in the gap between the train and the platform. We just know that time will continue regardless, and there will be pain, so you restrain yourself as you always have.

My point is that it could be any one of us. We all have the potential for good and evil - or to do things that society deems good, or evil. He was fascinated by the emotionless way the boy in the movie killed. I mean, is it that hard? What's stopping him from taking a gun and killing a person? Curiosity can kill eh, and when something tragic happens as a result of damn curiosity people say they must have been brought up wrongly, what kind of values, what mental problems, what went wrong, what went wrong? Maybe he isn't as different as a person from you.

I thought this was the clearest point that stood out from the article, but it seems not. I want to make this known to the world. These people that do these things could be any one of us.

Jan 24, 2014

Yale-NUS without walls

I love how at Yale-NUS we have no boundaries. We see something we want to try for, we plan it, propose it, get on a plane and do it. The MUN team went to Taiwan and Mumbai over the holidays, and some of them were first-time MUNers (I've never done MUN before either, but I've always wanted to, so hopefully someday I'll have the courage to tag along). The debate team got their awards at the Hong Kong Debate Open, and then there was this WUDC. Not all on our school's debate team were involved in debates previously, either; as Dean Kim told me, the only criterion they have for clubs is that they are not exclusive - anyone who wants to try it out should be able to join. 

No professional trainers or coaches, but we chart our own paths. We get as much as we want out of this school, really. Even in academics - a few of my friends are doing a self-initiated research module with a professor about gender studies, because they went up to her and asked if they could. Summer programs - want to plan your own learning adventure? Go ahead and propose it! There is such a sense of freedom and ownership; you take your college experience into your own hands; you write your own story.


Jan 23, 2014

We are our own slave-drivers

I just read an article about a girl in UPenn who committed suicide. It reads, "At the end of high school and going to Penn she was the happiest girl on the planet. It was easy for her in high school," said Madison Holleran’s father... "There was a lot more pressure in the classroom at Penn. She wasn’t normal happy Madison. Now she had worries and stress".

The article was also run on the Daily Mail, from which I quote:
Family friend Bob Weckworth said the high-achiever ultimately couldn't cope with the expectations she'd set herself... 
"She got a 3.5 her first semester, and I think just the high expectations that she put on herself was that that’s just not acceptable. 'She was not happy at Penn, but the parents had told her then, ‘Don’t go back. We’ll transfer. We’ll look at other schools. There’s no reason to go back, it’s OK,’' he said.

Isn't it funny that the higher up we are, or the better a place we are in, the smaller we feel?

This article makes me terribly sad because as much as I deny it, I see it in myself, and definitely in those around me: the more we achieve, the more we expect of ourselves and the more we despise ourselves when we are not excellent. I mean, at Yale-NUS I always feel like I don't really care how my grades will turn out, because I am prioritising living and learning to the fullest, even if it doesn't translate into good grades. Or that's what I think, anyway. Today we had our weekly Quantitative Reasoning quiz, and I got extremely pissed at myself because I could've gotten full marks, but I made all these careless mistakes and got only 50%. And an A is 95%. And I managed to use the coding program to make a really pretty graph on my own, y'know? But it means nothing if the tests don't show I can do it.

And it's funny. When I got an A1 for the Chinese O's, I immediately made that my expectation even though I knew my Chinese is far worse than my grade implied. And then I got disappointed when I got a B for the A Levels, but why should I be pissed when my command of Chinese doesn't even deserve a C in the first place? And my final grades are usually far above what I expect - like, I get Ds and Es for every test and miraculously make an A in the end. (That was basically my whole A Level story lol.) The end-grade makes no sense. Yet I take it to be the standard for myself, and then if I get a B after that, I get pissed. Suddenly I go from being content with a D to hating myself for a B.

It's strange that the more we achieve, the more we take to be "normal", and the less we are happy with. Yes, the best schools have the worst academic stress levels, but the pressure is often self-inflicted. My Nanyang Girls' tuition kid was talking about how she did "really badly" for her Lit paper, and it was a friggin' 20/25. That's more than I have ever scored for an essay. We become obsessed with perfection, and anything less is an insult to ourselves. It's a blessing to know when to be grateful and content, while also not being complacent.

This girl who committed suicide, her parents encouraged her to transfer out. But that wasn't what she wanted. She wouldn't settle for less. She felt like she was worth more, that her grades should've been better because she was excellent. Mediocrity means different things to different people. For some, mediocrity might be having nationally-average grades. For others, mediocrity might be blending into the background. And even in the best school, you can blend into the background. You feel the need to be the best wherever you are, whether it's in an average high school or an Ivy League. You've never been any less, after all.

It's so important to step back and remember how fortunate we are to have gotten this far already. But it's really difficult because we are immersed in the environment of our school or social class, and that becomes our gauge, our universe. You could live in the smallest house in Orchard Road and feel like a poor wimp, or be a retainee in a top school and feel like a reject. Here in college, I often feel very incompetent and unintelligent, like everyone else has brains full of volumes of books and I have nothing. But that's a funny way of thinking, right? My other friends would go, look Karen, you're in freaking Yale-NUS, with an average admissions rate of under 4%, and the people here are exceptional. It's unreasonable to compare yourself to exceptional people and feel like a lousy person.

Okay, I think it's more than just pegging yourself against your immediate community. It's also about pegging yourself against what you think you are able to achieve, and this is the greatest pressure. Like, before taking the O Levels, I expected an L1R5 of 9, and I was hoping to go to SAJC. And when I got my results, a raw score of 7 which is 1 point away from the 'perfect score' and a final score of 5 (7-2), I was somehow disappointed that I wouldn't even be able to try appealing to Hwa Chong. And that was unreasonable of myself. I mean, I didn't even take Higher Chinese; I wouldn't have been able to make it to Hwa Chong anyway. But suddenly, when it seemed to be somewhat within grasp, I started to take that as an expectation for myself. Funny huh.

Yeah, sorry this is a rambly disorganised post. Just typing out my flow of thought. I'm just, very sad for the girl. I hope this serves as a wake-up call to us - that we might not be the best, and we might think we can do better, but it's okay. We have so much already, and we just need to step back and remember that.

Jan 22, 2014

resolutions this year

This is the exact opposite of what I put on Kevin's wall last semester. I told him that it was okay to not be okay, that he could depend on other people, and that someday he might see how my joys and fears were dependent on his - it is all a little sister knows.

I am tired of being the person I was last semester (and also in 2011). It was always draining, always unfilled, always longing and comparing and worrying. I want to be enough for myself. I want to be a person who concludes in acceptance, knowing that it doesn’t affect her self-worth or self-love (whatever that is), and who can decide to be happy.
(I thought I had achieved it, but no, no, I haven't after all; this realisation terrified me today.)

Can you do anything about this? Do you even want to? No? Okay then; how can you change your emotional response to it? How can you feel okay about it? Take active steps to be happy. 

It is not a formula and I can only learn along the way, but I believe I will be okay. And I don't know how to do this without forcing myself into an attitude of dismissing and not caring about other people/situations, or into deliberate indifference / delusion. But I promise to make an effort to find self-sufficiency in love and happiness.

Jan 21, 2014

the first and last forever

It is all over then, all over. I shove my heart into your hands all raw and wrinkled from the wrenching, more out of desperation than of the tentative faith. You try to put it down as gently as possible, but my emotions have made me the thinnest sheet of clay; I will break anyway. Your strong arms gently guide me into an embrace, and I am ablaze and drowning all at once. You say I must push the love from my mind but I whisper not now, not yet; for now I let the smell of your t-shirt fill my nostrils and my lungs and warmly envelop that tender heart. The texture of soft cotton against my cheek, your palm cradling the back of my head because my brain feels like it's about to fall apart - in darkness all the other senses are enhanced. In the silence my heartbeat pounds against your own chest, your swallows are gulps, your deep measured breaths are an ocean - at this moment I know every bit of you, and you me, and yet in the most delicate of intimacies we are gulfs apart. I want so badly to cry, because I have crumbled on the inside, limp and defeated. But I cannot find the strength to cry as long as your arms continue to hold me together. You wrap my soul in bandages and I cannot cry because you are holding me; I am the happiest I have been in a year; I am held in the arms of the one of my dreams this is actually happening this is reality I feel so very much alive. Preserve this moment. Remember the touch and warmth so intricately you can replay it every night.

There is no moment happier than the first embrace, but equally intense is the dread of knowing that it is also the last one, forever.

This paradox, the overwhelming joy and utter heartbreak; the softest of intimacies and the eternal distance. In this moment I am too caught up with loving you and being happy to remember that once you break away, my soul goes with you, and I am left empty.

("And I was so happy, because it was the first; but I was also so sad, because it was the last" - 

and that was when you finally started to cry)

Jan 19, 2014

not worth reading, unless you too have a phobia of machine voices

So I am afraid of big bold regular capital letters because they're all intimidating and imposing and hard. Well my first fear, really, is the Machine Voice. The fire alarm went off today and this female machine voice kept going on about staying calm and waiting for further instructions. I was doing my Lit readings when the fire alarm went off; I got out of the room and the door-partitions along the corridors that are always open were closed; I was a little disconcerted to find that no one else seemed to be around, until Jon came out of his room. Thank goodness I wasn't alone when this female machine voice started resounding through the hallways and going on and on for quite some time. Even with three other people around I was freaked out.

And even now as I walk down the corridors and prepare to go to bed I am still somewhat terrified - not of the chance of a fire, but of the bloody freaking machine voice. If the machine voice were to come on again through the PA system in my room now I would probably scream to drown it out and shrink to the other end of my room (because going to the door would mean I have to go near that voice, although shrinking to the corner isn't going to make me feel any better).

I hate machine voices. I hate calling for cabs; I always try to do it with other people around, and if I'm alone, my phone's definitely on speaker mode. And I hate taking the last train home because they keep announcing that it's the last train and the Female Machine Voice echoes creepily and loudly through the empty station. I especially hate it when Female Machine Voice announces "Attention please. The last train has departed. We are closing the station. Goodnight." Ughhh I have trouble even typing it out. I'm feeling so creeped out right now. I wish it wasn't so late at night; wish I weren't sitting alone in my room now.

Ughhhhhhhhhh machine voices freak me out!!!!!!!!! I don't know why it's scariest when it resounds throughout a place. Perhaps it's because it's not human, not mortal and imperfect, and it's everywhere. You can't put a face to it but it's omnipresent; you can't escape the sound. And it's fake; audio-synthetic. And all devoid of emotion, like anything could happen around/to you and that cold voice would still go on.

Maybe dehumanised things are just freaky to me.

UGH maybe i'll have to play music to sleep tonight

Jan 17, 2014

Semester 2 Day 5

'One can sometimes touch,
in the distance between two people,
a moment of another person’s endless dream.'
- Yves Bonnefoy, In the Shadow’s Light

No, that is totally unrelated to school, but it reminded me of love and poetry, which is basically what today's classes were about, so I might as well just talk about class while I'm at it. Had Literature and An Anthropology of Literary Culture seminars today, and they were fantastic. I was so engaged and fascinated throughout, and I'm so glad I got the profs that I did. Just so excited for the rest of the semester now.

So, in Literature class, the most striking moment for me was when Patke was talking about how Don Quixote really isn't as blind to reality as he seems - he simply chooses to see things in an idealised manner. So Don Quixote is this weirdass old man that reads a lot of books about chivalry and decides one day that he wants to be a knight, so he goes around attempting to rectify wrongs and bring justice to the world when all he really does is cause trouble to himself because he sees everyone (or everything) that he encounters to be an enemy who's going to fight him. And his attendant is like, that's a flock of sheep, not an army, dude. That's a turbine, not a giant with magical transformative powers. 

And he has this lady of his dreams, a village girl called Aldonza, but whom he chooses to call his Lady Dulcinea, whom he glorifies in his mind as a noble princess worthy of highest praise. (Patke: “'Dulcinea' sounds sweet, right? 'Aldonza' sounds like a boulder fell on your toe.”) This Dulcinea is basically a girl he has seen three or four times, and the one time she looked back at him he wonders if she noticed. He decides to make her the lady of his dreams because every knight he has read about has a lady that he commits all his thoughts and prayers to; therefore it must be a sort of prerequisite. And so when he's on his knightly journey he laments about her and does stupid things out of the sorrow of unrequited love and everything, because he feels like that's what he's supposed to do.

He's basically deluded in every way, and the book satirises the notions of chivalry that were glorified way back when. But on page 201, he goes "And yes, not every poet who praises a lady, calling her by another name, really has one. Do you think the Amaryllises, Phyllises...are really ladies of flesh and blood who belong to those who celebrate them? No, of course not, for most are imagined in order to provide a subject for their verses... And therefore it is enough for me to think and believe that my good Aldonza Lorenzo is beautiful and virtuous..."

- and then you realise that he isn't completely delusional. He does know that he is taking a woman and deliberately warping the image of her in his mind; he does know that he is living in 'untruth'. Being aware of your deliberate blindness means that you are not blind after all, just choosing to see something a different way. He is the epitome of idealistic, but he believes in the richness and beauty of ideals, and that ideals shouldn't be dropped simply because reality doesn't live up to it.

So she is, in reality, Aldonza Lorenzo, but Don Quixote does not recognise the woman of reality as the woman he loves; he has made something else of this figure in his mind, an alternate, consciously-decided-upon reality.

The book was first published around the Renaissance period - a time of both looking backward in the rediscovery of ancient texts, and forward in the development in the areas of science, religion, etc. The author sees chivalry as a past way of being that doesn't work anymore, but also notes the logic to it, displayed in the character of Don Quixote. Don Quixote is a reflection of the past, and his attendant Sancho Panza might represent the present or future, seeing things as they are. Both are merely different modes of living, different ways of conceptualising and reacting to reality. Do you say that either way of living is superior?

We always like to think that we're superior and more advanced than the times of the past because there is more equality, greater progression and freedom in society, more scientific advancement, etc. But last semester, I realised that everything we know and believe in - the 'universal' truths and basic values we wouldn't challenge - is simply a product of the times. The era now is simply different from the era then.

(I hope I didn't misunderstand or misrepresent the class lol)

Okay some hilarious quotes because Patke is awesome.
(on different forms of love and Sancho Panza or something, I can't even remember what he was imitating lol)
“I want to make my babies and I want to be looked after at an old age; I have found a short, hair-lipped old woman but she cooks well and she’s good in bed when I can’t see her anyway.” 
“If, ma’am, I had the time, I would praise you until judgment day; but since I don’t, let us make love now.”

And then we had Anthropology! Okay, the reading and summary-cum-analysis we had to do for today was crazy, but the seminar was totally worth it. It's basically about a theory based on / challenging the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that the way we use language shapes the way we think about things and see the world. So, like, in Japanese, if you're talking to someone of greater authority than you, you address them differently, say 'thank you' differently, etc. and you are more likely to place a bigger emphasis on people's rank and seniority than, say, if you grew up in a culture that spoke English, where there's no difference in the way you say "you", regardless of whether you're speaking to your younger sibling or a VIP. In a lot of languages they use the third person "they" to address someone senior even if it's just one person - it emphasizes the social difference, reinforces the fact that they're so much more than you.

We were looking at Paul Friedrich's work today so we spoke more about poetic language - how studying poetry (not poems, but the poetic use of language) is the best way to compare languages, given that you have to look at language to understand a culture. And there was just SO MUCH in this seminar too, and all these terms like "poetry" and "myth" and "music" became so much more loaded, so I don't really want to go into it, but I'll put some quotes here.

"Great art turns you into an artist – the emotional experience of an artist is transmitted to you; you are able to understand the world through his perspective." 
 "There is a reflexive quality to poetry. Poetry turns back on itself, makes you notice it, says 'I'm different'". 
 "You know it’s poetry. You may not know what it means, but you know it. It’s got rhythm, music. It unites music with myth."

Okay, I am SO. EXCITED. for the rest of the semester. it's going to be insane with a terribly heavy workload (for Anthropology) and an overload course (Japanese) with seven extra hours of class a week, but I am really excited. And I love the fact that this is what school is about. The fascination for learning. It doesn't matter if my profs seem to go off-tangent sometimes, because when they go off-track, what they talk about is still fascinating anyway. Just learning and loving learning.

Jan 15, 2014

Singapore will change

I was recently engaged in a conversation that reinforced the ugly glaring fact of Singapore's stifling culture, and all the people who have fallen prey, become dead, and are spreading the zombie virus. I forget it often because of the amazing environment I'm immersed in in school, where people have started their own board game companies, national-scale NGOs funded by huge organisations, and more; where our debate and MUN teams go off for international events (and clinch awards) without any training from an external coach; where we organise and start whatever we want. Many of my close friends outside school are also doing what they love, whether it's financial consulting, game-coding or app-designing. They're loving what they're learning and forming opinions for themselves, rejecting some of what has been fed to them since young.

I believe a lot of this stifling culture will change with this generation, because we haven't seen the struggles of the country like the previous generations have; we grew up taking for granted the gifts of education, full stomachs and a bed. See, Singapore was a third-world island with no resources and no support; we struggled, but triumphed when we found the formula for success. Since then, we've been on a roll, but the country is still clinging to its formula in desperation. It is never enough. A family-sized government flat in the suburbs can cost half a million dollars. A car is a couple hundred grand. And the older generations run on the fear that if we were to ever loosen our grip, we would plummet back to poverty, high unemployment, and struggles. They are too afraid to take a risk; we already have the formula - why try to find another one, at the risk of a plummet?

I concluded, for now, that Singaporeans are blessed enough to have a foundation of stability in terms of relative material stability and security and educational access, but the curse is when we are mentally bound by the culture and mindsets of those around us.

I believe my generation will see that some things just aren't working like they used to anymore, and let in some fresh air. But we have to be brave enough to fight safe monotony. Do something we love and be great at it, instead of being content with secure mediocrity all our lives. This passion doesn't have to be the single focus from the start - you've got to have the money to pursue your passion sometimes - but we should never throw it away. If you have passion and dedication for something you will rise up in the field. Dive into whatever you feel passionate to build. I have extremely smart and talented friends who are utterly passionate about education and politics; they see the cogs in the machine that are now irrelevant, and they believe something bold should be done about it, and they are willing to invest their lives.

When I received my A Level results, I considered applying to law schools instead of Literature courses. My mum said I was being ridiculous, I would be a terrible lawyer, and that I should stop trying to be someone I'm not. My mum pursued pure biology and pure chemistry in university at a time when not all believed in the value of higher education for girls; they said she was being silly to choose her course, and that other than being a researcher, her career options were dead. Look at how far biochemistry and other related fields have come; look at how big companies chase after her qualifications, and the places she travels to to give talks. "Do what you're passionate enough to become excellent at," she says, "and the jobs will come after you."

Of course, another great hurdle is culture. Mindsets about pursuing something that might not be the most lucrative or stable. This place is barren ground. But with time, water and stimuli, the fruits of passion and excellence can grow again. I believe Singaporean youths can grow up to become bolder people, people who take initiative and pursue their careers not only for the priority of material security, but also to live life.

Unfortunately, we are still timid, aren't we? Playing it safe, letting the fear of authority form a path for us via elimination of doors, because that's the easy way. Letting others speak up in class because we're afraid of the humiliation of getting something wrong or saying something dumb. Preferring to follow instructions, because thinking is hard. I hope enough of us will be willing to take the front seat.

I posted this on The Online Citizen (not that I agree with the site and its readers/commenters - I just thought it was a relevant platform for the issue I wanted to address) and received some comments, some really nice and some sad but true, and I thought I'd post some few up here.

 (omg LOL)


Jan 12, 2014

blind vs mature?

(note: This post is for Christians. Non-christians will not understand because they have never felt God with the heart; they will dismiss this post as classic Christian blindness. Therefore i won't be speaking to them as a validation, but to the Christians as affirmation.)

This post is about faith that transcends thought, not faith that excuses thought.

In my initial couple of months of church, I questioned and doubted all the time and it got me so frustrated; I often wished I could just blindly accept everything. Along the way, as I continued to yearn for God in the midst of doubt, God also began to give me encounters with Him, little by little, drawing me closer. I started to come to reconciliations regarding some of my questions - not all were answers, and no conclusions set in stone. But I began to realise how important it was to think about these things. It gave my faith a lot more depth. I wasn't standing on something high and hollow that could easily be toppled over.

But our walk with God is not only about theorising and philosophising, or feeling or singing. Our walk with God is mainly about the personal relationship.

You can argue for or against God all you want, philosophically or conceptually or factually or whatever, and you will never get anywhere conclusive. College has brought me a few new questions and causes for doubt. But in the end, it is not the arguments or theories that matter; it is the personal relationship.

In His presence, I soak in His peace. As I spend time with Him I hear, see, feel new things. That is the God that matters, the one I know personally and who knows me intimately. We might not understand Him completely, but it doesn't matter when His personal love is tangible. And if you know He is true to you, then we can make a decision to say I don't know everything, but I will choose to put my trust in You anyway, because Your love is true.

"I realise that as I become smarter, going to university and all, I use the intelligence God has given me to question God," Baoyun said to me, and that got me really thinking about how we do progressively use our intellect in such an arrogant way, thinking we are above the profoundness of God, and we forget that relationships have always transcended proof anyway. It's like, if your boyfriend is overseas for a while or in the army or something - how do you know that he really loves you? How do you know he means everything he says? How do you know he always means well, or that he's not hiding anything from you? Well...based on the beauty of your moments together and the emotion that seems as genuine as possible, you make that conclusion and decide to trust, despite any occasional creeping monsters of doubt, don't you? And how do you know that right now, right this instant, he's not suffering from an asthma attack, or that he didn't just get mugged or stabbed? How do you know that he isn't dying right now? Well, arguing about the issue won't make you sure of anything - the only way to know for sure is to call him and ask, right? You have to turn away from the annoying dude asking the questions, and actually talk to your boyfriend to know. And you're not going to talk to him every second - that's like an overbearing parent. You have to take a step back and have faith, too.

I end this with a conversation I had recently, for the Christians who like intellectual talk. (it was a personal Facebook convo, so pardon me if some of it sounds a little off or weird; I hope you don't nitpick and argue, but appreciate the bigger ideas.)

There're a lot of ways of conceptualising religion. I usually philosophise about religion in a non-religious way. But then I ask myself if I think my God is real. With the personal experiences and everything, God is a relationship; He's someone to come back to and feel and learn about. I didn't disagree with Durkheim. But who is God to me personally? It's a personal experience, and when the philosophies and everything get the better of my perception of God, I go back to remembering that this is a relationship.

Exactly! Religion IS a very personal thing..so Durkheim and James and all the other religious academics can conceptualise religion all they want but what it means to myself will always cut through what they say. 

Durkheim kinda removes the authenticity of religion, like God is some phenomenon that emerges from the intellect to benefit ourselves. For a very long time this is the view I clung to..and it was very patronising and arrogant of me, because it meant i was looking at God from my own human-constructed reasoning. 

And about Him existing..I feel like that't not the most important question. Everyone who asks if he exists is just using the question as an excuse... Suppose we could know for sure that the answer is "yes, He exists." Are they going to fall to their knees and start worshipping? 
We shouldn't even try to rationalise all of His existence because in the first place, God being God supersedes any of our understanding. It's a futile question to ask. 

I think there's no way of objectively knowing anything about God simply because he is God..and that's where faith comes in. Faith always sounded like some convenient excuse to me, but CS Lewis wrote that a person may have complete logical knowledge that the surgery he is undergoing will be perfect and smooth, because he has logical knowledge that his surgeon is capable and experienced; but the moment the mask is clamped over his face, emotions of fear and doubt will cut through his logic. Emotions therefore override logic. Therefore he cannot come to terms with his surgery with logic, but can only rely on that which overrides emotions. And this is faith. And he could tell himself that he is just lying to himself, but at the end of the day the only thing that will pull him through is his faith; if he did not remain faithful in his surgeon, he wouldn't have gone for the surgery anyway.

Jan 6, 2014

2012 & 2013: A Review, in lists

Countries & cities travelled
Malaysia: Penang (with Maddie and FJ), KL (with Andrew & Sam / with family)
England and Scotland: Oxford, London, Edinburgh, Coventry, Stratford-upon-Avon, Barnet (with various awesome people, and mostly on my own)
Australia: Canberra, Sydney, and all the little towns in between e.g. Wollongong, Kiama (with family)
Indonesia: Jakarta (with SOT people)
US: New Haven (Connecticut), Boston (Massachusetts), Brooklyn & Manhattan (New York) (with school)
Greece: Athens, Ancient Olympia, Delphi (with school)
Nepal: Kathmandu, Pokhara (with family)

Wow, all except KL are first-times! That's what youth is for.

Jobs / internships
Teaching: Crescent (internship), ACJC (relief), City College (supplementary lessons)
Private tuitoring
Interning at the Yale-NUS Admissions Office

(okay, in 2010 I did a little something with Geraldine at Health Promotion Board where we had to record down various nutritional information of all the cheeses, sauces, milk, fruit juices etc. at NTUC. It was insane. I remember sitting on the floor being surrounded by soy sauce bottles and Geraldine just bringing more and more. Okay in 2009 I was hired to blog for polyorjc.sg which was hilarious. But I did a post about God and someone got furious and demanded we do something about it before he sued us, so they let me off the blogging contract but still paid me the full amount. Hey, I'm not complaining.)

(Shucks, I wanted to try working at a hotel and stuff, what happened to that?!)

Musicals, plays, etc.
A Chorus Line
Some wacky Harry Potter thing
The Phantom of the Opera (in London! Best musical I've watched)
Some other comedy play in London that would've been funnier if we could get their thick accents
Cirque Du Soleil: Saltimbanco, Noir
Jersey Boys
Avenue Q (Off-Broadway, but still, NEW YORK CITY!)
Notre Dame De Paris 

I probably missed out one or two... Still, though, the best musical in terms of visual experience was definitely The Lion King. Chicago, which I watched in 2010, was also fantastic. 

Definitely have to catch Les Mis eventually, hopefully in London. I put the full blame on Theo for refusing to watch Les Mis when we were there, saying it was damn boring and he fell asleep and all. URGH should NOT have listened to you man. OMG it's showing on Broadway in March. And Rent is doing its 20th anniversary tour in London now!!!!!

Speaking of Rent...


No relationships, thankfully, but Frozen teaches us that love comes in other forms too.
In fact, I'll probably go back to 2011 for this, because a lot of people showed me love then, and I can't talk about friendships without thinking back to the AC days.

(NOTE: really long and not worth reading lol you can ctrl-F your name)

AC: Amelia and our long breaktime chats; Pau and the loving, amazing sister that she was (also the foster brothers FJ and Seokhoon yay); Derrick for being so bloody freaking selfless and such a lovely friend, bearing with all my nonsense; the entire exco - Abi and our occasional really good chats, Justin and just being there when I needed him, Emme's bubbliness and honest outspokenness, Gerou's love, Geri's sincerity (and how much she loves God after coming to Him only in JC! Another miracle I need to remember), Alex and everything that he did in the months that I was feeling down, and... the one and only Goh Wei Liang. My PR subcomm, all wacky and insane and with all its problems but heck yeah we were awesome, with special thanks to Rachel (much love), Jaslyn and Hyun. Ah, the three boys were always insane together, the life of PR. And Van was amazing too. And Yue Cong, ah everyone had such different personalities that came together so beautifully, I love you guys. And of course MR FONGGGG

It's sad that I only continue to keep in relatively close touch with Derrick and Wei Liang now - everyone's so busy with their new lives. But, considering the very sad fact that I don't keep in touch with anyone from Crescent anymore, perhaps two is enough.

2012 and 2013: Ruo Wei (and oi Haoyang!), Rachel and Teressa, Sarah and Sumay; Andrew and Sam; Willie and Ben and Daniel; Hsieh Wen (for always being so loving although I'm a bitch of a friend) and Yale-NUS - Kevin, for every single tiny and humungous thing (I could write an essay); Sau; Dylan; Wan Ping, Evan, Chris Tee; Ami; Pei Yun, Charlotte; Carissa, Janel; Baoyun, Yixuan; Denise, Joshua, Carmen, Aleithia, Anthea and all the rest of the amazing CF people (special thanks to Daryl for always being so reassuring and helpful and everything); the little things in the little moments spent with Val, Adrian, Sanjana, and also the lunch date with Kei. Subhas - we don't talk much, but the couple of times we've spoken are the times you made me banana milkshake because you felt I needed it, and the time I was looking really down and you sat me down on your bed to tell me that I had a very big heart but I needed to be strong for those who needed me. You, too, have a very big heart. Adlin, YOU'RE SO SWEET AIYO!! Ximin for our occasional but awesome chats, and for being with Regina because it's SO FRIGGIN' SWEET!!! Also, as much as I would like to deny it, Rohan and Theo - you've taught me a lot (more than I'd like to have to think about hard enough to be able to articulate).

I've probably missed out a lot of people and later on I'm going to go HOSHIT and scramble to add it in, but I am so so thankful for each individual in my life. I mean, I obviously don't talk to everyone on that list a lot - most of my time is spent doing school readings in Kevin's room in silence, right? But I'm thankful for every single individual in my life, even those I've only talked to once or twice, because you've taught me or reminded me of something, given me a memory.

I remember the little things - like Jolanda noticing that I was sad and giving me the sweetest note and chocolate; Keziah knocking on my door with tea and coming in for a chat - and the lovely things, like Carissa and Janel coming to sing me a song when I was down, and just, so much love. So much love in my life right now and I need to grow it more. I am so thankful, because there are all these people who like having me as a friend and who really trust me. And I promise that this year, I'll start forging closer friendships with these people, knocking on their doors too and reciprocating the trust and writing more post-its. There are so many people I want to get to know better, too! I'm really excited for the new semester. It's going to be hectic since I'm taking a course overload (Japanese on top of my four modules), but I am going to get out there and forge closer friendships because there is so much depth and love in each person in Yale-NUS. Gonna write more post-its.

Okay no seriously, there are so many people I would like to get to know better. This is crazy. Yale-NUS is an amazing place.

2012 & 2013: A Review (Part 3 - Yale-NUS and travelling!)

(Part 1: 2012)
(Part 2: first half of 2013)

1) Singaporientation (album)
Honestly, I didn't feel all that ready to meet all these new people and be a bubbly hyper facilitator, because June had been such a hectic month and I was missing SOT and all. But Chris Tee was an amazing partner and I'm so glad for the time we had as co-facils and for the friendship that lasted beyond, and will continue to strengthen.
I can't really remember what the weekdays were like anymore - sample classes? Talks? The highlight was obviously the weekend, planned by the comm led by Jared. An Amazing Race to places like Haw Par Villa and Pulau Ubin; camping at East Coast Park; doing the mass dance in the CBD...

but we shall not spend too much time on this because
2) YALE!!!
I've never been to the States before (I mean, come on, a round trip ticket can get me 2 MacBooks), and what better way to spend your virgin experience than with 150+ absolutelyfantasticallyamazingbrilliant people, for free? And it was just nothing short of amazing. (I've run out of adjectives.) We had a lecture, a seminar and a rector's tea every day - would've been far more enlightening if I had actually understood all that was going on, lol. Rector's Teas were like optional guest lectures, except that nearly everyone went for all of them, and I kept feeling that creeping sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out, lol Marvin Chun) whenever I considered skipping it for a lie on the hammock or a Shake Shack trip instead. Stupid me. 

Other memories: walking around / food-scouting with Wanping, Chris Tee, Evan and Shaun; blueberry picking; Insomnia Cookies. Lying on the grass with Sheryl one night. And, of course, magically becoming closer to Kevin :) Okay but seriously. Nothing beats the hammock. I remember one day I was feeling all overloaded with all these classes I didn't understand, and climbed into the hammock and put on my earphones and let myself drift into the most peaceful sleep. (And then I woke up when I felt a push and Shaun was like "shit")
And going acapella with The Wallets (video) and doing Wondergirls' Nobody with Carissa, Janel and Charlotte LOL (video)! I don't know what evil powers got me to agree to do it with them, but I'm glad I did because our lovely bond wouldn't have been forged otherwise.

(the middle picture is of me using a spoon at Shake Shack cos it's so fantastically thick and creamy)

I also went to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and got my hands on the Wycliffe New Testament - one of the first ever handwritten English translations!!! And you can actually decipher the words!!! I spent an hour touching the pages and marvelling at the pencil markings and breathing in 700-year-old awesomeness. The one on the left is John 3:16!! Try deciphering it!! It's not hard!

The weekend trip to Boston was great - explored on my own a lot. I'll always remember sharing a mattress with 4 others in a room of 17 people, because budget, duh. Night-cycled around the city after our amazing lobster dinner! 
New York was awesome too. Watched Avenue Q for $60 in the fourth row! I didn't do much in New York because we had the BLOODY FREAKING PRESIDENTIAL SUITE AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL. LIKE WHUT. WHUT EVEN. (video) We also had Ban Ki-Moon address us at the United Nations Headquarters - just us, just 150+ wide-eyed kids. (album: Boston + NY)

Okay okay this has turned into an Orientation post - time to move on.

August-December: SCHOOL!!!!!! (album)
Have you ever met someone who talked so enthusiastically about school before? Especially about university, in Singapore? No? Well you obviously haven't met many people from Yale-NUS because school is amazing. Seminar discussions are engaging and enlightening; professors will talk about anything, but they'd rather let the students figure it out themselves; we have Science activities like figuring out the Egyptian King Tutankhamun's family tree with actual DNA information, and constructing a periodic table from alien elements on an alien planet. Essays on homosexuality and the nature of the human soul; debates on kidney-selling, bring it on. Bring it freaking on. Skits involving Greek, Hindu and Chinese philosophers, from walking into a bar to fighting to be a prof's BFF, reality-TV style.

Thanks to Tiffany and Maria I, we got to meet Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider before their concert!!! We sat on the floor with them and talked about life at Yale, juggling school and music, music... We told Sam we were currently reading the Odyssey (since he majored in Classical Greek), and he recited the first ten lines in its original text to us! SWOON

 What else about school? Dressing up as the Greek goddess Athena for Halloween, bouncing castles, days where we all dressed wacky / dressed with our underwear on the outside / dressed in our PJs / dressed in our school uniforms, the opening of our student-run late-night cafe the Shiok Shack, performing with the Acapella group (a mashup arranged by Jevon for Halloween (video), Somewhere Only We Know for Tharman S. also arranged by Jevon (video), Seasons of Love for Snapshots). Watching three very good friends run their Comedy Improv workshops and shows. Christian Fellowship. Sleepovers with Carissa and Janel at the lounge. Random jamming sessions anywhere, everywhere. Being a sneaky angel and surprising my mortal with a bubble blower and flowers. Loving classes, loving my profs.

And everyone's so talented!!!! Listening to Kei recite her poems, Jevon on the piano, Evan on the piano, etc. Watching Yale-NUS's first basketball game and cheering the debaters on at the Hong Kong Debate Open (two of them won individual Top 10s!!!) and sending our love to the MUN team in Mumbai. We have no coaches / trainers for our CCAs yet, but we fight with what we have. 

But I must move on to 
October: Greece!!!!
I still haven't gotten around to sorting through and uploading the photos on Facebook, but here's a poem (not a happy one), and blog posts one and two, which are only snapshots of the trip and not a comprehensive post. We went to Athens, Ancient Olympia (to witness the opening of the Winter Games) and Delphi, and basically saw a lot, a lotttt, a lot of ancient stuff. WHICH I LOVE. Finally being able to decipher a word or two of ancient stone inscriptions was amazing too. 
 (Ancient Olympia!)

 (Temple of Zeus, Athens)

Delphi was amazing. It was home to a temple where a priestess gave prophecies and was considered "the most important oracle in the classical Greek world" (source: wiki lol). It was a huge complex (being an ancient agora), and VIPs from all over the ancient Greek lands would travel all the way to this remote temple on a mountain for counsel before waging war on other cities. It's mentioned quite a bit in Herodotus's Histories, which is considered the founding Western historical text, and just seeing the word appear on the book made me all excited because like I'VE BEEN THERE. Delphi was breathtaking. It's like, you look at the ancient ruins and know that while this was the structure for the temple-marketplace thousands of years ago, it is nothing like it used to be; and then you turn around, and the mountains you're facing is exactly what they saw in 800BC, too.


Now we arrive at December: so I went on my first hiking trip with my dad, brother, and three others - a two-week trip to Nepal, nine days of which were spent trekking up the Himalayan region. I haven't really blogged about it yet, and I'm still trying to find a way to retrieve my photos from my dead phone, but basically the trip highlighted the futility of all human activity. Like, we trekked to a guest house at 2500m elevation on the first day, and on day 2 they were like "our lunch place is there" and it was a mountain away, slightly lower than where we were standing. And I thought, oh, pretty much a straight road. WELL NO, there's no bridge that leads you directly from one mountain to another, so we had to go down all the way to the river, cross the river, and THEN climb up again. And it was a lot of climbing up and down. I remember one day we climbed 3000 steps to lunch, and then after lunch we went on a very steep downhill trek and then climbed upwards at least 2000 steps more (I gave up counting after that). 

It was pretty insane, and it gave me pudgy muscular legs and a terrible complexion, but a really good experience anyhow. You know how the clouds always seem so impossibly high up? A plane takes you to the clouds, yes, but you're still in a machine that's magically transporting you there. It feels really good knowing that I climbed right up to the clouds. :) 

Annapurna Base Camp, 4100m

Okay, so here's a memory: going back down after reaching the peak of our hike. It started SNOWING! Wait...was it snow? It was hard, and bounced off our down jackets. Okay, it was hail. But HECK IT, IT'S SNOW, OKAY?! And the ground turned white with hail-snow and I was just freaking out screaming IT'S WHITE!!! CRAP IT'S WHITE!!!!!!!!!!! and just getting so excited. And then we continued to descend...and then it turned into rain. And then it turned dark. So we were trekking in the forest, in the rain, being guided by a path of stones and soil-turned-mud, in the dark (thank God for headlamps / torchlights). That was pretty fun.

 Also visited primary schools and orphanages - my dad's school had donated lots of stuff to them. The welcome was insane. Blaring instruments and beaming faces in a line rushing to give you a beautiful garland with a "namaste". I was honestly a bit scared, but it was lovely.

And after Nepal I had two days in Singapore before going to KL to meet my cousins for Christmas again. 7 out of 8 aunts, and a whole bunch of kids! Played I Never as usual, watched 47 Ronin at the stroke of midnight on Christmas. And it's just weird seeing so many small kids around. It's like we were the first wave of kids, and now it's the second wave.

Anyway , that's the second half of the year! On to more adventures in 2014!

2012 & 2013: A Review (Part 2 - first half of 2013)

(Part 1: 2012)

OKAY 2013!!!!

Jan: Experience Yale-NUS Weekend, this time as a facilitator thingy, since I was interning at the Admissions office. (blog post) I think Dec and Jan were my two months of six meet-new-people events, and I was really jaded. But EYW was fantastic, meeting all those amazing people! And Julia and Tutku!

I also started giving weekly 'O' Level English supplementary lessons at my church's private school, City College, under the tuition ministry. (For no pay, of course.) I loved the experience and meeting all the people that I did. They're all lovely people and unfortunately I can't teach for the first half of 2014 but I hope I'll be there for the second half!

Feb: Crashed ACJC Orientation with Sumay! (blog post) Was fun, but one of the girls said "You don't look 16...you look 20" and I was like AH DAMMIT. Watching Ruo Wei go from being a clueless OG kid to an OGL himself was just really nice :3 About the picture below: I was Jess Chen's OGL, and then when she was Ruo Wei's OGL I crashed her OG, and then when Ruo Wei became an OGL we both crashed his OG. Three generations of leader-crashers!
OMG RUOWEI IS GETTING HIS A LEVEL RESULTS SOON THIS IS GETTING SERIOUS GUYS HE'S GROWING UP i mean i still remember so clearly the time i was pretending to be a DSA kid and he was taking in all my crappy lies and he was like "Maybe we'll be classmates!!!"

Mmm, Chinese New Year was also fun. I remember my poor brother trying really hard to help Sumay and I take pictures and we were so demanding and my brother was like "aiyah no one even looks at you anyway!"

Also stopped interning at the Admissions office to give myself a short break before SOT. 
Valentine's Day was fun - I tried baking orange chocolate cookies on sticks and bought flowers for the interns at the office and made cards yay! And then we went to Ikea with Aly. (blog post)

March - July: School of Theology!!! It was supposed to be till September but I had to stop for Yale-NUS. But I'll probably be resuming the course this year. Definitely an amazing experience, from praise and worship every morning to trying out various ministries (e.g. Children's Church) to learning so much more about the Word and just, just being in that atmosphere of love. I wasn't very close to my SOT team, but there's such a pure easy atmosphere of acceptance and love, of no judgement, of embraces and just love. LOVE! Mock Cell Group and Preaching Test sessions were also really fun, listening to everyone's own personal revelations. 
I'm really glad Andrew was my batchmate, too; someone to chill out with during breaks and talk to and everything. I like to think I was sort of his backstage girl, too, like I am with Kevin now (link). 
Each smiling face has so much within - it was amazing hearing all the stories each individual had to offer. Everyone's own personal struggle, gangs and drugs and griefs and family situations; how they came to God, how God turns things beautifully around; parents still against their kids being a Christian (very few of us are from Christian families); hard times with God and hard times without.

June: an insane month with camps / overseas trips every single weekend!
1) Went to KL with Sam and Andrew!!! We went church-hopping and it was simply wonderful. 
2) Pre-camp for game masters and team leaders in preparation for our church zone camp, which didn't happen that month because of the haze.
3) Also went on my first mission trip to Jakarta for SOT, where we preached for cell group / leaders' meetings and stuff, and did door-to-door prayer visitations (this was INSANE, and draining, but a fantastic experience).



...i think the awesomeness of yale-nus demands a separate post so i shall end here

Jan 5, 2014


I was looking at something I wrote a couple months back about identity, and I remember Peiyun telling me in her room that we are who God has created us to be, individually and uniquely. And I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind to understand that at that time, and I was wondering how we could base our identity on God's since He created us all to be in His image but that isn't exactly very specific or unique, but I called that the third level of self-perception:

1) "i am my job, my various roles, my abilities, my friendships"
2) "i am my personality, my thoughts and emotions"
3) "in Him i am."

I guess what Peiyun was probably trying to say was that I am who God created me to be, as a person - good in some things, bad at others (maybe bad at a lot of things), with my unique personality, and I’m okay with that. I was born very average-looking and I wasn’t nurtured to be all that witty or talented in stuff, and I’m okay with that, because God doesn’t shortchange in the grander scheme of things. It’s okay that I have weaknesses in my character that I need God’s help with, and that sometimes I screw up. But He lives in me, and I have the capacity to become a better me, which is basically to let Him be more and more of me. And He doesn’t change my talents or weaknesses or personality, because He meant for me to be like that, but enhanced - with greater bouts of love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc.


I guess at that point in time I wrote that identity post, I was struggling a lot to find a place for myself because of various things too complicated to talk about right now. I felt like I was just a shadow, a mere bland inferior copy of someone else, like I had nothing unique about myself to make me me. And I was able to find a resolution only when I realised that I was not only "her, but less" - I also had a few qualities of my own, like being unashamedly annoying and hyper. Perhaps more of a Venn diagram’s circle than a subset, then. I had to dig within myself to find parts of my personality that were different, not just less.

It was probably just the stress of that period. Now I look back and I’m able to understand it much clearer. Like, so I’m like that. So God created me to be this person. But I am my own person, and it has nothing to do with someone else, whether or not that person is everything I am and everything I want to be but far better in all points. I am me with my own stronger and weaker aspects, with my struggles, and the point of my life is to get through those things and attain that unshakeable strength, of faith and dependency on Him.

(maybe the reason that is called a ‘foundation’ is that it’s the basics for heaven-living. DAYUM)

Wow. It's so important to look back once in a while, eh?

(oh man c, now i look back and i was just so immature and blinded. i am so so so sorry to have dragged you into all of it T______T look at what boxing yourself up into a building day and night does to you; it makes you feel like that is your whole world



Jan 3, 2014

Summer '14: Study Abroad programs

Yale-NUS's Summer Opportunities!

Okay so my mind was quite set on the Yale-NUS NGO bootcamp because I do see myself working passionately for an NGO in the future, but I won't be able to make it for the internship part of the bootcamp this year and the training itself is only 1-2 weeks long so I'm looking at other study abroad opportunities AND OMG YALE'S SUMMER STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS LOOK SO GOOD

Swaziland: Visual Approaches to Global Health 
This course explores the intersection of global health and visual media. The course focuses on global health issues such as HIV, TB, human rights, and violence in public health. Students learn filmmaking as a means for translating complex public health concepts into a format approachable by a general audience. In addition to traditional learning, students work with instructors, guest lecturers, and production personnel to create a short film on a selected global health topic. 

Okay so I don't have any background in a public health course, which is a recommended prerequisite for the course; I unfortunately didn't take A level Bio and I also never took History or World Issues or anything, but wow, I'm definitely willing to read up for this. And like, WOW! I was also telling my International & Professional Experience advisor that I would love to go to Africa at least once during my time in college - while you're given amazing opportunities to go around and explore, you're also protected by the institution in a sense. And Swaziland!!!!! Kei!!!!! And right next to South Africa and Mozambique, not far away from Zimbabwe (Joice!!!)....OMG EXCITING

Tokyo: Humanities in Tokyo 
This course surveys the cultural history of Tokyo through literature, film, art, anime and architecture and living spaces. Starting with the heyday of Edo when the city lent its name not only to the shogun’s capital, already a thriving urban center of over a million inhabitants, but to the historical period itself (1604-1868), we will examine the city’s reincarnation as the imperial metropolis of Tokyo in the Meiji period (1868-1912), the phoenix-like cycles of destruction and reconstruction through the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923), the firebombing of the city during WWII and other significant changes in the topography and lived experiences of the city. Particular emphasis will be given to contextualizing the classroom content with field trips to museums, historic neighborhoods and a hands-on experience of living in Tokyo. 

This logically is a perfect choice - it goes well with my electives next semester: An Anthropology of Literary Culture, and Japanese 1. AND WE GET TO DO HOMESTAYS!!!! It sounds amazing, but not as attractive to me as the Swaziland one - I'm honestly not as interested in big busy shiny cities, and I like the smaller towns in Japan far more - but here I'd learn all about the culture and everything, the basics if I really want to understand the place.

Okay. Wow. Wow. I'm definitely going to try for both, and really really hope I get either one - hopefully Swaziland, but I don't have the recommended prerequisite so my chances for it are lower. But like WOW!!!!! AHHH


I now have an image of a snowflake as my phone's wallpaper, because it's a reminder of how incredible God is, how amazingly intricate the work of His hands are, how He is the founder of beauty. Even in the tiniest things whose forms disappear as soon as they melt, in the most unnoticeable flakes that perish in a second, He infuses with so much delicate beauty. Look at that. No two snowflakes are the same.

Like a thumbprint. Like our identities. Like everything we are, with our memories, philosophies, values, passions, personalities - we are all unique, all so beautiful, yet each so small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Yet He takes so much care in shaping each of them, and He takes so much care in shaping each of us.

Jan 2, 2014

a plea to my generation

Oh look, the girls in front of me are from River Valley. Good school. High PSLE scores. Smart people.

Dear girls, dear girls, I hope you do the things that you love, and that you choose to love what you do. I hope you find the things you do to be enriching. I hope you reflect, and that your experiences build you to become better people, to make the world a better place. Let everything you do teach you something valuable. Don't see school and work as a dread, only to find escape in the other things - let school and work be your joy! Love the things you have to do. Crescent taught me tremendously much, my time at ACJC was fantastic, and at Yale-NUS I'm having the time of my life, both in and outside the classroom. If you love what you do you'll never work a day, and life is too short and unpredictable to feel trapped. Don't let negative experiences go to waste either - let them give you depth, and the capacity for compassion. Again, reflect. Let the way you see the world and yourself change and change again.

Think about these things. Don't simply go through the motion. The depth of reflection and philosophy is infinite, and so precious, and it gives your life meaning.

Dear girls, I hope you find meaning in everything you do. Don't just engage in mindless chasing. We Singaporeans do love to chase - grades, money, all things bright and shiny; we blindly chase and chase, we clamber desperately, and miss the main point: the journey. Whether it's part-timing at Subway or mugging for your exams, I hope you do not discount the process and look only to the end-goal, because we never really reach the end. Just a few months, and it will all be over. Just a year more and I'm out of this place. All too soon you will wonder where the years have gone.