Passing Time

The “Passing Time” photography exhibition by Mr Lui Hock Seng – showcasing his evocative, superbly composed photos of a bygone 1960s and 70s Singapore – made me do what I haven’t done for ages, if at all. I pre-ordered an actual book of paper and ink – Mr Lui’s first photo book.

With (my exes) Jacqueline Lim and Isabelle Lim, we went a-visiting and had the immense honour of meeting and chatting with Mr Lui himself at the gallery.

Catch it while it’s still running!

Lower Gallery, Objectifs
8 Feb to 11 Mar 2018
Tues to Sat, 12pm to 7pm / Sun, 12pm to 4pm
Admission is free

More information here.


Update on fundraising

Update on fundraising for Agape School for the Deaf.

So far, we have raised SGD$3,650 from 12 donors, with two more donors indicating interest and awaiting their transfer (not sure how much). At least three of the donors were people who do not even know me personally and do not know about Agape prior to the appeal. To all donors, thank you very much!

The target is USD$5,000 (about SGD$6,560) by 15 March 2018. So there is some way and time to go.

Any amount is greatly welcomed and appreciated.

Obrigado barak hotu-hotu nia diak povu!

(My Tetum is terrible. But I think this should mean, “Thank you all you good people!” At first, I ended up writing “Thank you all you good fruit!”)

What my students taught me

An abbreviated version of this essay was published in the Singapore School for the Deaf’s 40th anniversary magazine in 2003. After more than half a century, the school has, sadly, run its course. But it lives on in the memories of its alumni and former staff, of whom I am one (at four years and change, it was the longest work stint I have had). And I’ll be at the closing ceremony to bid SSD a final farewell.

<< What my students taught me >>
As any teacher will tell you, the transfer of knowledge within the classroom isn’t always a one-way route. We learn as much from our kids as they, hopefully, learn from us. And in some ways, the learning curve is steeper for me, a novice teacher, than for my charges who are veterans at the art of being, well, students.

My time with Singapore School for the Deaf barely covers a year. Yet it has been some of the most enriching and enjoyable times I have ever experienced. And oh, the things my kids have enlightened me on! Among other intriguing facts, I learnt that America is located on the moon, that Singapore became independent in either 1940, 1987 or 1998, that a change of state actually means a moving bicycle changes into a horse, and that it is possible to fully comprehend the meaning of ‘sarcasm’ without having ever come across the word itself.

I also learnt that the little matter of a student wanting to give me a cornflake cookie she baked herself can be unexpectedly, absurdly touching, that a child’s sentences can make much more sense than a published article written by an adult, and that, sometimes, we grown-ups are indeed the misguided ones who have all the wrong answers to life’s questions.

I enjoy my class very much; they are an animated, responsive bunch and very fun to be with. (Well, when they are in the mood.) My kids are what makes teaching worthwhile, and what gets me going in the morning. Leaving home at 5.45am every weekday in order to reach school on time is otherwise an unjustifiable torture. Of course they aren’t perfect, neither are they angels. They can get rowdy, noisy–very noisy, and they don’t realise it no matter how often you tell them–as well as naughty, rough, possessing incredibly short attention spans, being disruptive during lessons and all those other qualities which make teachers throw their hands in despair. Typical students then.

Anyone who has spent time with them will realise that these abled kids are definitely not disabled, as mainstream society is so fond of labeling them. What they don’t need is charity or patronising pity from others; what they need is others’ understanding of their ‘disability’, more acceptance and less unfounded skepticism of their abilities, and a change in the thinking that providing a quality education for a child must be justified by the future return in dollars and cents. And what they crucially need is a level playing field, equal rights, equal opportunities and equal status in the eyes of the powers-that-be. I feel privileged to have the chance to work with a group of people who care about people–my colleagues and the volunteers with SSD.

And I wish for all of us–the grown-ups, the adults from every quarter in the Deaf community and beyond–to continue to do our best for the students and to fight for their rights.

They deserve nothing less.

Please don’t look down on me

IMG_7774.JPGI’ll be giving a talk in my current school and looking through photos from the archives to use. There’re lots of eye-opening stuff in there, most of which I’ve clean forgotten about. And even looking at them now, I also cannot really remember either.

This particular one makes me think I was way too slack on those people.. some of the time. I mean, “Don’t make us to look down on YOU!”?? I hope I did dock marks off the final exam score of whichever bugger wrote that.

And: How come my students are wishing me, their teacher, well for exams when it should be the other way round? I can’t exactly recall already; it should be referring to the diploma in special education course I was taking then.

Have to say they’re a great bunch though..

P/s: It’s unfortunately cut off in the photo, but my favourite notice above the whiteboard went: “Smile At Teacher.”

Alexis, 2015


My favourite.

[This is a new series about friendship – through sentimental syrupy essays of exactly 100 words. In this case, two words suffice. Any more is superfluous.]

[Image description: A photo shot outdoors at night, of a lady with a short crop and dark clothes holding a sparkler which illuminates her face.]