Thursday, June 4, 2015

Random thoughts: A recap of a hectic and Mad Fortnight

Looking back at the last fortnight, one thing is getting clearer and clearer, teaching is worth it, my job isn't. I am making plans...

I enjoyed the Nanjing Immersion trip, appreciated the time spent with the children, it was sobering both for them (I hoped) and myself.

First day, there was a flight delay and we were 3 hours late. When we arrived at Shanghai and took a coach to the school at 5 p.m. On the coach ride from Shanghai to Nanjing, I have 2 kids that pee on the travel coach! When I realized it, I was shocked that they cannot even hold their bladders for 2 hours. They use the SIA paper bag to contain their fluid and when I tried to get a plastic bag to hold it, I was 2 seconds late and my hand is....

Then I talked to the teacher from China, I realized all the prior discussion on the activities we would like to have were "empty talk"- promises but no delivery. But to her credit, she did make changes to some of the programmes. There are lessons from my part too, I should have insisted on a detailed black and white program sheet, (Which I asked for, but not delivered, instead I was given a whatsapp chat group to discuss the needs..) Then, I realized the weebly website that I PAID to update the activities and photographs in China side cannot be accessed from China. This is my fault. When I asked the China counterpart to check, he did told me he could view the website but could not logged in. I thought he got the password wrong, but end up I spending the first night recreating another QQ website.

Second night, 2 kids start to fall ill. Then 4 kids. but 2 recovered on the second day. Someone unhappy with the results of the cleanest dormitory competition break the dormitory door! sigh...

Third day, the sicked recovered but another 6 fell ill after a mountain climb. By night time after the hot afternoon activity, half the group is unwell. I went to get masks, vitamin C and isolated all unwell.

Fourth day, almost all recovered, but 3 were still unwell and we sent all of them to see a doctor.

By the night, we were quietly happy that we had only 2 kids unwell. Throughout the trip, I have feverish pupils in my room. I am surprised I have not taken ill until now.

Fifth day, we had a girl with fever at 38.7, which we also sent to the doctor, and there was a big downpour. We have to wait for her return before we returned to Shanghai.

She was given a drip with herbal fluid because the Chinese doctors are worried that she might be allergic to the antibiotics. Her temperature went down to 38.4 and we decided to leave for Shanghai

One hour into the coach ride, the storm get bigger and her temperature become 39.4! I later found out that that day was the same day the storm caused the Nanjing Vessel to capsize

We keep sponging her to try to bring down her temperature but it went up to 40.1 instead, and she kept asking "are we reaching? are we reaching?" Although everything turn up well now, we were getting ready for medical evacuation and were worried sick then.

We were told we need to get a Doctor report before they tell us how to go about getting the evacuation. I was busy getting the paper works done with another colleague as we carter a car to bring her to a Kids Specialist Hospital in the city area.

The paper work to be done is ridiculous daunting, having need to get Principal and Parents signature for a document that is password protected!! My colleague and I slept less than 3 hours as we took turns to sponge her throughout the night. We were later told that there will be no evacuation.

We took a big risk and  had the parents' consent for the girl to take antibiotic. She recovered then.

Hell of a ride.

I enjoyed it. My mind is a constant state of vigilance. I was very worried that once I let down my state, I would fall sick. We got the next 2 days off from work, but I still go back to clear my backlog slowly, and let down my guard slowly. My colleague who was fighting side by side fallen sick yesterday.

My Principal ask me why so many fell sick just now, I explained. Although she was very gentle, she seems to suggest that so many fell sick because we didn't isolated the first 2 kids enough. (e.g. Gather in group, meal time etc, although we isolated them from the school activities and the dormitory from the rest.) I was rather offended although I am sure I didn't show.


Right before the trip, I was preparing pupils for a entrepreneurship competition. We did the worst. I couldn't really get over that results although I know the 2 objectives of signing up for that competition are meet. They are selling sponsored stationery to FAS (financial assistance scheme )   pupils who will each receive $20 worth of vouchers. I wanted my pupils in the FAS to get some free stationery. First objective met. Second objective, I get the whole class involved in folding paper cranes and hearts as stickers on the pens as a gift. They told me that are very happy helping others. Second objective met. I have no desire for the top 3 positions because the results was based on 2 criteria, one was presentation, another was sales. I sold my pens cheaply so that many could more for less. My stall sold the goods the cheapest. The presentation, I didn't prepare them well enough as I only have 3 sessions with them. I believed the killer for the poor results was the component on a slogan (口号), the schools have slogans that are paragraphs long...I only have 7 words.

The organizer are very kind and reminded me that it is very different from the rest and marks are given for that component.

I thought about it, and told my pupils that if we look at the world around us, "fingers lickin Good" for KFC, "I'm loving it" for MacDonald and "delighting you always" from Cannon, none will have a tagline or slogan that are longer than a sentence. I prepared them that we definitely would not win anything from this competition but I insist that we live in the real world, and we learn the real stuff. Looking back, did I regret my decision for not changing the slogan and hence getting last in the competition? I don't know. I am not as Zen as I thought I could be.


I love educating and teaching children, maybe because of my big ego, that like to tell others what to do. I however, are contemplating my options. Maybe It is better to leave when there is still love...


  1. Sillyinvestor,

    1) You are right. Don't listen to the academics. In the snake-oil world of marketing and propaganda, we count slogans in syllabus ;)

    A paragraph? I'm laughing so hard I'm tearing...

    2) Ha ha! That's your virgin experience with cultural differences. Imagine how many blue-eyes Singaporeans paid the price for learning the hard way that a "contract" in China is merely a starting point for further negotiations and interpretations? Even big daddy got screwed in Suzhou ;)

    3) When planning projects (trip in your case), always leave a lot of "blank space" for things that may not go as planned. When I arrived in Athens, the moment I discover they work a lot like Indonesians, out went my plans and milestones... My Scandinavian colleagues were so frustrated while I just chill. I've worked with Indonesian suppliers before.

    There is always tomorrow :)

    1. SMOL,

      I think there are few from the corporate world among the judges. But they have to follow to the rubric when they judge. I remember one of the judges asking teams to study the criteria carefully next time.

      Thanks for making me feel slightly better. LOL

    2. Sillyinvestor,

      Opps! Must comeback and correct my spelling mistake.

      It's syllable - not syllabus.


      Coke is it!

      Just do it!

      More good years!

      How the hell do we do a slogan in a paragraph???

      I'm not afraid to make mistakes; I'm more afraid of not realising I've made a mistake.

      I make a good student no?


    3. Precisely SMOL,

      And the descriptors are like "catchy and easy to remember!". How the hell do u remember a paragraph!

      But I also made a typo error on the presentation slide. The shop name. Lol. Although I edit it so many times. Think that costs some marks too, as the judge ask why is the word different, my kids are so shocked that they cannot do the Q and A ...

      I ask the pupils if they want to come back again, they said yes. I a bit scare of getting last again thou... LOL

    4. Actually I know why it's in paragraphs, in the end, they want pupils to practice their language skills. There are songs, raps created for this component etc. A lot of creativity

      I just Iron Teeth la.

  2. Hi SI

    As I was reading this, I could feel the heavy loads you and your teachers have to endure during all of these trips. My son is also sick recently and what more you have 4 children sick at the same time during the trip. Must be hell of an experience in trying to get the kids home safe and sound.

    Good teacher great person.

    1. B,

      How is your child now? As a father, we understand, but a young child
      Takes much longer to recover and is easily irritated.

      My pupils are P5, except for the disobedient ones, who refused to rest when told to, many recover within a day

      Hope your child recovers soon

  3. Hi SI,

    Wow, what a trip...must have been a great learning journey for u! Can see that your very passionate in your teaching roles.ive a few teacher friends who are also frustrated with administration duties that they quit.

    Well, take it all in stride. Maybe wait till you're in a better mood before deciding :)

    1. LP,

      Thanks for your concern, I think most prob. I am just COw bei cow po only.

      I am thinking of doing relief and giving some tuitions... I should be taking a 40% cut in pay... The gap might get smaller when I cheong the tuition part but it might be bad for family life ...

      Other options include starting s tuition center etc...

      Just thinking... The push force haven Push me to act yet

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  5. Hi SI,
    I like how you see it, "Maybe It is better to leave when there is still love..."
    This was the same thought I left my previous job - loved my work, but hated the red tape and daily grind and unappreciative mgmt
    Can only say I have hardly looked back, also thanks to the support of my hubby. I hope things only get better for you!

    1. Hi Ellaa,

      Thanks for the comment. Pardon me, are u are Eurasian? Your name do not seem local?!

      Saw your profile you are a freelance yoga teacher and trader, so how is the switch?

      My wife is also having a rough time, her circumstances were worse than mine. At least I don't have to face a low EQ boss everyday.

      I told her to make plans first. I think I will endure as long as possible. Perhaps until it's takes a toll on Heath, physically or otherwise.

      No point earn money to spend it on medication.

      Always nice to meet a new friend in the bloggerphere. See u around.

  6. Hi SI,

    I am actually local Chinese, William is my hubby's surname and he is not ang moh also, so you make the guess heehee.

    The switch is great, my temper and health have improved and I have time to do things that are really important to me. However, I have to take a huge pay cut but I am blessed with my husband's support in many areas, because he is really the main breadwinner. Having said that, I made sure I left my job with more than sufficient liquid cash. It helps that I am a saver more than spender, and my work made me toil such long hours so no time to spend lol! With more time on hand, that was how I decide to beef up passive income, and I have only begun trading. Maybe investing is still easier lol. We shall see...

    And sorry to hear both of you coincidentally having a tough time, hang in there and once you start planning with a better end in mind, it usually gets better.

    I am new to blogging (hence so noob accidentally created twin comment... some google+ confusion), so see you around more often too!

    1. Ah huh.. Thanks for explaining Ellaa,

      Welcome to blogging, it's a nice place with many real and interesting characters. Sometime I felt people can be more themselves when anon.

      I think my wife is in a similar position, and I hope she will decide finally to switch. I fully supported Her too, and she is rice bowl (lol)

      See ya around, the bloghersphere has a no. Of traders now!