Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Random Stories: The Christmas Tree

There lived this poor boy, who always passes the gift shop on his way to help his hawker father to clean up his stall. His parents worked hard to provide for him and his siblings. He never had to go hungry or endure the cold. Yet, whenever he passed the shop, he would looked at the Christmas Tree with envy.

From the display windows, he would see images of his classmates, celebrating Christmas, exchanging Christmas gifts, and the adults bringing out the feast for the children. 

Christmas, was just like any other days for him. It was just busier than usual at the Hawker Center. He will have to help his father with the business. He would spent the night washing the dishes and serving the customers. Somedays, he would see his classmates on their way to their Christmas Party. They would ask if he would be joining them later, and he would always replied:" I might, if business is good, and we clean up the stall earlier." Yet, he would never join them, he did not know how to ask his dad for money to buy the gift for exchange. 

He worked hard, and graduated from university. He made a decent a living, and his aged parents retired. He could now enjoy all the indulges that he could not afford in the past.

One day, he decided to buy a Christmas Tree, and invited his friends over to his house. He played music, was a good host to his guest, and serve his friends with the best food he could find. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, and felt he had arrived.

A few years has passed, he found the Christmas Tree a nuisance.  

It was difficult to fit the Christmas tree back into the box after Christmas celebration was over. And the Christmas Tree would have to be replaced after 2 years of use, otherwise the Christmas tree would not look nice.

He also found shopping for the decorations for the Christmas Tree a nuisance and no longer enjoyable

He started to wonder why Christmas Tree always look so pretty in the display windows and not in the house. His neighbor suggested that there are different sizes and models of Christmas Tree, and it is an Art to choose the type of decoration for the Christmas Tree. 

One day, he decided to pay a visit to his parents. His parents have continued to lived in the older estates. He saw 4 kids playing at the playground. 

They are stacking up rocks and stones, and planting twigs between the cracks. They sang Christmas Songs and hug one another. 

He suddenly felt a wave of intense emotions cruising through his whole body, and he could not describe what it is. 

He went to a nearby shop, bought some snacks. He went to the kids, and said:" Merry Christmas, what a beautiful Christmas Tree!" He took a photo of it with the kids and pass them the snacks.  


Monday, November 22, 2021

Random thoughts: Touching Thank you cards

 Ok... This is a self-cheering type of post. 

Not too long ago, I was busy preparing pupils for PSLE, and I requested my pupils to send me their Oral recording. Many of them needed reminders.

So I did this:

During the last day of school, I received this

It just brought a smile to my face. They do appreciate our efforts.

There is also this very dreamy girl, always drifting off or doodling in her book. She did this for me.

She is so talented isn't it? But when I am teaching, and see doodles in her work, I am not sure to laugh to cry. But true to her style. She also dreams or doze off when doing this card. 

Hahahahha... Funny hor... The little joys in teaching

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Random thoughts: Keppel lost the battle but won the war,?

Keppel was out bid by Cuscaden in SPH offer.

I am happy for that. Personally, there is some synergy with the reminding stake of M1 from SPH that comes with the deal beyond property 

Given that the bidding is at PB 1, I dun see why Keppel cannot bid for other companies that are trending at much lower valuation,.

HK land is at 0.4 PB, capitaland before restructing at 0.8, and City Dev also below 1. 

I do understand SPH properties are mostly investment properties and the capital-intensive part of the business is the part of the business that affect valuation, and the REITing SPH properties would have gotten most of the money back, but that is if the REIT properties can fetch valuation above 1, to worth the battle playing out now. Ascendas and MIT is at around 1.1 and 1.2 PB, I can't see the scale and scope of SpH properties to guaranteed them commanding a premium valuation. 

My reactions was "Yes,! Just walk away please, not like u dun have the scale to grow organically or there are no better properties to be bought, if u cannot buy cheap, dun buy."

I am mindful my opinions are usually not mainstream, you can have your differing views

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Random thoughts: The highs of teaching in 2021

I have not been blogging for a while. I am not that busy, and I realized I have 2 drafts of blog posts that never get published. I guess the main reason is that I feel these blogs does not value-add to my readers in any way. I can't see how this post is different, but I guess I shall "talk to myself" once in a while.

What a year of teaching in 2021. I never expect a secondary 3 pupil to visit and say "Hi" during teacher's day. The meeting outside the school gate is boring, I felt "loss" when that group of pupils of 2018 came back to visit, I knew they came for others. I received a message to ask me to come to the gate to meet them, but I guess I am never good at socializing (What ironic statement, isn't it), after a while, I just left. The chat with the Secondary 3 pupil happens through whatsapp messages, and we chat for almost an hour. Truth to be told, I used to hate Teacher's Day, it is a very awkward day. I am particular happy this year, that I can have a proper chat with a student. I do not like small talks, but deep, engaged talk. There are so much to talk about,  her secondary life, and how she is coping and thriving in a top secondary school, and her attitude towards life. I only taught her for a year in P4, and I am very surprised when I continue to receive well wishes from her this year. Well, almost all pupils will stop visiting or send well wishes when they goes into secondary 2. 

The high point is I also had a heart to heart talk with her mum. Although we have known each other for years (She have 2 children), it is only this year we became friends. She told me that her daughter felt that I am still her best Chinese teacher all these years. I was very touched by that sharing. I think I work well with parents, but very few became "friends", with that kind of trust, talking about anything under the son. That trust has a "expiry" date too, usually after their children graduate for a year or 2, contacts will be few and in between, but I am still very thankful for all the friendship built, even if just for a few years. I believed in 活在当下。

I also believe that teaching is about relationship building, about trust. Although that relationship and trust has a expiry date, I am always very thankful for any pupil whom I have the "缘分” to connect with. When they trust me with their problems/ life beyond academic work, I believe some level of trust is established and I am careful not to break it. I believe teachers should be life coaches, a trusted adult, beside imparters of knowledge. While I cannot solve problems of potential divorces, death and sickness of loved ones, low self-esteem, I take every such case that I come across as "God" (I am a atheist btw) arrangements. I will check on them, when they are feeling overwhelmed. Don't ask me how I have helped them in their life, beyond chatting, and referring some pressing ones to counselors, I am not sure what to do. I do not pretend to be a bleeding heart too, and unlike stories that I know, where there are home visits, and real tangible help given, I simply talk to them, and if necessary, also to parents. I seek to influence some of the parents' thinking by slowly engaging with them, but if I feel there is no connections, I do not pursuit the matter too. This, perhaps is a "parent" year, with parents updating me about their graduated children. I  also managed to “话家常” with some parents, in hope of slowly planting the seeds of  awareness regarding the stress their children feel, without being seem as being noisy. (Although the ironic here again is I am being super kaypo here).  

My understanding of pupils also get challenged, this year. I am also happy for that. This is the year, I felt there really is a generation gap between me and them. The annual activity of making a business card for themselves, turns out occupations that shocked me. The activity is unlike the usual ECG lessons, I said upfront that NO doctors and lawyers, unless you are 100% sure that is what you like to do. I ask them to just think of what they like to do, what their ideal happiness is about, and what job would achieve those. I told them jobs that are imagined or do not exists counted too. I usually get 1 or 2 "evil" jobs, but this year, one third of pupils wanted jobs that see the "suffering of others", like squid manager, squid soldier, "body collector", demon slayers etc. 

When I watch some of the shows they watch during their short break, I am shocked but the gruesomeness and gore of some of the videos. Of course, there are still many innocent and pure minds, but those are getting lesser and lesser. I ask them to create thank you notes and good bye notes for their friends, and I told them I will get them printed for them so that they can give it to their friends during graduation party. I am quite shocked that some pupils created templated cards, and a number of them can't even pen a personalized message for 1 friend. What I have taken for granted, is no longer true, I must remind myself to be mindful that every batch are different. And this year batch cannot be more different. 

Last year, I had a lot of fun with the graduating class, we joke, talk about life, share about music in class, etc. I used to think as long as I keep an open heart and mind, and not be judgmental, I can easily connect with others. It is not really true. Some pupils just doesn't like small chats and are introvert. Initially, I thought they didn't like me, but I later realized they are just introverts. After the PSLE, they are more articulate, I guess the stress also play a part in they clamming up. But they will not and definitely can't talk about anything under the sun with me. 

In short, it is a year of abundance of relationship building, the negative or positive.