Saturday, February 03, 2007

MFA tea session

Attended the MFA (ministry of foreign affairs) tea session with my sis at the swiss hotel stamford today. was suddenly reminded that i didn't actually attend any tea sessions back in JC. how sad! it was pretty interesting...listening to some high commissioner talk about how he used his diplomat privileges to buy duty free luxury items like volvo cars and french wine.

chatted with some foreign service officials over the buffet spread and learnt that foreign service is a pretty cool job. get to travel a lot and see things and personalities that normal people normally don't get to see.

Foreigners in Singapore

its been a long hol and i played host to a fair share of foreign "dignitaries" who have been visiting Singapore. as a resident here and a friend, i do feel obliged to bring them round town sometimes. understandably, singapore is not a very big country and we cannot offer the same variety of mountains and rivers that some neighbouring or regional countries can offer. (won't mention names here)

however, what we have achieved i reckon is commendable. given our size and lack of natural resources. since land is scarce, most of it has to be used for some form of economic activity such as shopping malls and what not. is is inevitable that we are slowly but surely turning into a concrete jungle with numerous interlinkages between the various buildings and the efficient public transport system.

besides achieving a standard that provides a decent standard of living for our citizens, we have even been able to reach out and offer our generosity in the form of allowing bright students from the neighbouring countries to study in our local school. every month, they are given living allowances by either the school or MOE (ministry of education). and they need not pay the expensive fees levied on foreigners.

i hence find it disturbing that some of these "scholars" have been taking our generosity for granted and making rather cynical and unconstructive comments about our country. comments like..."oh....its another shopping mall again..." or "oh....its another mall and the people think its so interesting."

my point is....if you want to accept our generosity and come here to have to accept the fact that the country you are going to reside in for the next couple of years is not going to be the same as your place back home. it might be for the better or for the worse, depending on the individual. your host country may not be able to offer you things that you find interesting by virtue of their constraints. also, the cost of living will be higher in a place where economic development has reached a fairly mature stage. that is the reality. there is no basis for comparison!

hence, before you should take all these factors into consideration. so please come with an open mind, and if you want to make comments, you are welcome to do so, only if they are constructive ones. also, if a gracious singaporean guy has kindly taken time off to show you around his tiny little island, do be tactful or regale the graciousness by keeping whatever uncalled for comments to yourself, out of my ear shot.

if you cannot accept that this country is different, or that we have lots of shopping malls, or that the cost of living is too high, or that there are not enough rivers and mountains, or that the food in your homeland is better,


so, if thats the case, please go back to your homeland, where you can have all the mountains you want, all the rivers you want, all the mamaks at every little corner, where things cost half the price and shopping malls are kept out of your sight.

i have said my peace.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Relief Teaching.

These 2 days, I got to try my hand at some relief teaching for the first time after getting a call from a neighbourhood secondary school. It was certainly quite an experience and I must say i kind of enjoyed it!

The classes i took were mainly the lower sec classes, so being highly energetic 13 and 14 year olds, it was difficult for anyone to possibly control them. But i have certainly never seen such genuine joy and carefree attitudes in any Singaporean students that I have known. Usually, people are always worried about something. Which leads me to the conclusion that the less you know and the less you compare, the happier you are.

One of the most fun and funny ass moments I had was in the Tamil and Malay classes for the lower sec students. No, I wasn't there to teach, just to ensure that those guys do the work which their teacher had set for them. But the reality was that many a time, they would just say "tcher.....very boring leh..." and start chit chatting with each other. I guess there was only so much i could do to push them, but the onus really is on the individual to get his/her work done and learn as much as possible.

In the end, I spent most of the time chit chatting with them, laughing at their jokes which though simple and crappy, can certainly make you laugh your head off and brighten your day. One attention seeking boy in my Malay class tried to do a 360 degree spin on his chair...he was like, " 360 degree spin! whee!!!!" then splat! His rotund and flabby frame slammed into the ground to a chorus of laughter of the whole class. That really cracked me up and I just laughed till tears trickled out of my eye!

I've just strengthened my resolve to at least learn some basic Bahasa Melayu. Its appalling that though the Singapore population is 20% Malay, I can hardly construct a proper sentence in Malay! It will certainly be necessary to know some Malay in future as a doctor. (or maybe the rather demure looking Malay-Chinese girl in my class just captured my heart for an instant!)