I Met 3 Remarkable Authors-To-Be From The Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH)

On Wednesday morning, 6 March, I visited the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH). I was invited by Tanya, whom I met in January. She told me that she would be meeting with a few people from SAVH who were visually impaired and that they will be working on their books together. She asked if I would like to share my authoring experience with the group.

Of course, I said, 'Yes!'

And there I was.

These are truly remarkable individuals who refuse to be brought down by their inability to see. They were open about sharing their experiences and how they used text-to-speech software to do their writing. And though this is, needless to say, a slow, laborious activity, they persevere.

2 of them have books that are near completion and are projected to be done by April!

I truly admire their resolve and look forward to meeting them again to help in any way I can.

At the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH)


I Started My Training Journey in the Life Sciences. I Intend to Continue the Journey.

In the numerous networking events I've attended, after telling others what I do now, many of them have asked how I started as a trainer.

I tell them that I started by training in the topic I studied - Biotechnology - in the Secondary School I graduated from - Chung Cheng High School (Main) [CCHMS].

Life Sciences in Schools - Singapore - Microbiology 01
Life Sciences in School - Singapore - Microbiology 02

And I'm still teaching it in different schools across Singapore for two simple reasons: I love the subject and I love what I do - inspiring minds (especially young ones) through a complicated-sounding topic introduced in an easy-to-digest way.

Yes, doing public workshops, conducting corporate training, and having speaking engagements are all fantastic and well-paying.

Life Sciences in School - Singapore - Heart Dissection 01

That said, I want to stay rooted to my beginnings, especially considering how 'perfect' the combination was. As long as there is a demand for education in the life sciences, I want to be a part of it.

Life Sciences in School - Singapore - DNA and Genetics 01

I Had An Epiphany. But It Was So Counter-Culture, I Initially Kept It To Myself.

Some months ago, after some conversations I had, I had an epiphany.

It could explain, at least in part, some of the nagging doubts I’ve been having throughout this year.

This is what I realised about myself, and I wrote it down in these words:

I DON'T want to touch as many lives as possible.

Before you frown any deeper, there is a second part:

I want to deeply impact a very few.

Splash

For so many years, I keep hearing advice about increasing my reach so I can impact as many lives as possible.

For example, I hear of music stars who record a single song and, because it reaches so many of their fans so quickly through so many channels, they earn a tidy income from the exposure. Their fans convert the people around them into more fans, advertisers can’t wait to sign them up for endorsement deals, and they get invited to exclusive events and perform on ever-larger stages.

It’s all about gaining leverage and using it to get yourself out of exchanging time for money. In the music star’s case, the recording of the song required spending time once. After that, it constantly ‘works for’ the star.

music

It sounded logical. And it was.

And I kept hearing this, especially from well-meaning fellow educators and trainers, especially those I knew from networking events and meetups.

Yet, there was always something about it that didn’t sit quite right with me. I didn’t know what it was, until recently.

It was the ‘volume’ of people that I was being told I had to reach that was bothering me. But why? What could have brought this on?

As I dug a little deeper, I was reminded of the times when I just started being a trainer and got affected by less-than-stellar feedback. Though these incidents didn’t happen often, every time they did, I felt bad.

Eventually, I learned to remove my focus on the negative feedback because they were the tiny minority. Most of my feedback was good. Some were great!

Good Feedback

Why should I have to feel low if I had already tried multiple times to engage the student who ended up deciding that he/she didn’t want to be there in the first place and was adamant about keeping a bad attitude about it?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on those who were eager to learn and apply themselves?

And these were the memories that made me realise that I had known all along that what I wanted to do was to focus - very sharply - on the very few upon whom I know I can have the greatest impact because we were compatible and we found each other at the right place at the right time. Sounds almost like a love story, doesn’t it?

Neon Laser

I was then reminded of three students that I taught. Two of them went on to pursue education paths in the subject matter that I taught them, one locally and one overseas. In recent conversation, they expressed their gratitude for my being part of their decisions to learn more.

Another one became my colleague - a fellow trainer - teaching the same types of courses that I do even today.

Out of the thousands of students I’ve had, of whom I still keep in touch with a few, these were three that pointedly remind me about why I do what I do.

This is what I want to keep doing - to find the very few for whom I can deliver the deepest impact and help them effect the greatest change.

Doubtlessly, it will entail a certain amount of ‘outreach’, but this recent realisation has sharpened my focus and it will feature strongly in my goals for the upcoming year.

2019 Begins

'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Thoughts Came.

Christmas has become something rather different from what I remember as a younger version of myself.

I remember it to be celebratory, joyous, and a relaxing time.

Though I never really had a family tradition to celebrate the season, my mom would sometimes buy honey baked ham and log cake (chocolate!). We didn’t really do presents, though we did when I was much younger, or have a Christmas tree, but this simple gesture was enough to remind me that it was a time to indulge in a little food and have a little fun.

As a teenager, I remember attending gatherings, going to Orchard Road to see the lights, and enjoying the days leading up to it with friends. We would brave the crowds and sit somewhere to talk about the simple things that teenagers talk about.

As the years went by, I felt the vice of commercialisation tighten. I started to notice the ‘SALE’ signs everywhere, the advertisements for Christmas-sy products, and the promotions for ‘Christmas lunches and Christmas dinners’ at restaurants.

I started to resent ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchanges, the mad rushes to find something vaguely suitable, and the near-useless ‘gifts’ that ended up in everybody’s laps.

It was no longer about spending time with people I cared about. It had become a sideshow, about showboating, about who got the biggest, brightest present and how ‘lucky’ some people were to win the office prizes.

After a few years of this, I made a decision. I would no longer participate in these pointless gift exchanges and I would either spend my Christmas Day’s where I want to or stay at home.

As it turns out, this was one of my favourite decisions. Some may argue that I’m being oversensitive about the whole thing and others have tried to cajole me into joining in their versions of ‘celebrations’. I never caved.

Christmases in the most recent years are nothing like the ones I had when I was younger. They certainly don’t look as laugh-out-loud fun, but they are less meaningless to me now.

I take the time to think about the year that passed, and the one that is to come.

And, in case you wonder about my faith, Jesus was not born on the 25th of December, and I have very strong views about the christianisation of this ‘holiday’. I am not completely against the celebration of this day, but only if it is done with careful consideration, with the knowledge and understanding that this is a substitute celebration, and not a ‘holy day’ as it were.

You are free to do on this day as you please, just as you are on all the other days of the year.

As am I.

Winter