In a Chinese culture, we are taught from a really young age to be humble. Parents would always be heard complaining about how playful their kids are or how they haven’t worked hard enough at school. For some, it’s even “pantang” (a Malay word meaning taboo or superstition) to praise your babies in front of them because they might grow up being more naughty!
But in praise and recognition, there lies our strength. It’s human nature! We strive harder and we are motivated to do more when we have positive reinforcement. And each of us should share our experience and be recognized so that we may find the strength to do more .
There are those who climb the tallest mountains or who swim in the deepest oceans. There are those who are faced with the struggles of survival and make it though. There are people who are talented beyond words. I don’t belong to the any of these categories. But I’m blessed and I choose to embrace my blessings and pass the goodness on. It’s not that I always had a smooth life but I do feel that compared to so many others, my personal tribulations are “chicken feet”. And so I want to share my luck and my love to everyone that I meet. Especially those that have less than what we consider to be normal here in Singapore.
I usually don’t share my volunteer exploits on my blog but I was reminded by Aviva ( the company that takes care of all our little important details , the largest insurer in UK and one of the biggest providers of employee benefits and healthcare in Singapore) that we all need to share the goodness in us to others from time to time. So here’s my story.
I volunteered my time to a village school in Bali to teach English. I’m not sure if they benefited more from my English lessons or I gained more from their innocent joy and easy contentment. It wasn’t easy to break the ice at first, especially since there was a slight language and cultural barrier. But once they got used to me, it just got better and better!
It’s amazing how simple things like pencils and empty note books are prized possessions with these village kids. In Singapore, kids would tell you that they want the latest Ben 10 toy or a trip to Disneyland. But these children just want a chance to learn. They want a chance to help their family and to be able to read, write and speak.
I bought a bunch of Disney pencils for my class and I would ask them to choose which character they prefer. And then I realized most of them didn’t care to choose. They would just take any without even thinking because they are simply overjoyed to have a new pencil to write with! This was the case with blank note books as well. The very things we would expect students to have.
And their enthusiasm is absolutely contagious! They are warm and excitable about learning and accepted me as an insider. Outside school times, they would run up to me to greet me and give me high fives! If they see me in the village, they are always all smiling and waving! Even kids that don’t belong in my class would hang around outside my classroom to peek in on the English lessons.
The local village teachers would sit in my class so they could learn more English as well . It was a fantastic sense of achievement when I got every one in my class of 25 to participate fully. Even the shy ones or those who felt that their English was weak.
Am I proud of my achievements with these kids? You bet I am! And I will do it again in a heartbeat. In fact I had considered quitting my day job but I need to consider my current commitments to family and my dogs so for now maybe I can try to work with 3 months stints.
Here’s a video that I did in one of the classes.
Now that you’ve heard my story, let me hear all about yours as well! I want to recognize each and every one of you and your unique stories as much as Aviva wants to. Because you are important and you matter. It’s easy and you don’t even have to write much! Just a line or two ( of course if you are excited like me and want to share more, go ahead!) on Aviva’s FB page – http://facebook.com/AvivaSingapore 🙂
As an added incentive, every week, from now till 28 Nov, the top 3 entries with the most number of ‘Like’s will each win a 64GB iPad with Wi-Fi & 3G! So share your stories and get recognized!