Saturday, April 30, 2011

Posture


Posture by ~mafer-seow-wayn on deviantART

This is one that I tried with colour pencil. I find some insight of human movement and imagined this object to jump in mid-air, sensing the freedom and hope. But as you see, due to my poor drawing skill, it turned out to be not really as ‘dreamy’ as what I imagined. More effort should be done. The colour choice wise, I think is still acceptable. What do you think?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Curiosity about Learning Attitude

After a consultation with one of my professors, I was asked with this question, “I was just curious, why didn’t student come and talk to me?” First, I have to admit I was standing in an awkward mind of ‘but I am here – so why are you asking me?’, but this question was exactly the question I asked one year ago.

Growing up flipping encyclopaedias rather than fairy tales, I questioned a lot. Sometimes they are answered, sometimes they were not. I question and think a lot – and I think that’s what most people called daydreaming. I took my time over a bus ride, waiting arrival of friends, waiting for class – questioning what I saw and reason them, at the same time imagine. And when you grow up, reality hits you hard. School teacher don’t really like questions – at least most of them don’t. The education now is so much like a 3 in 1 coffee that everything is packed and teachers were to sell them over in this package. Some of them indirectly did showed their role as an educator but those had slowly become the side dishes, instead of the essence of education. I am lucky to met some who really sparks your mind but most of my school life, I have to behave like a normal manufactured kid – sit down, listen, absorb, remember, answer, score, get the certificate. Your interest, curiosity? Those are side dish, remember? And slowly, we were moulded, into what we were expected to be: disciplined, independent, obedient, efficient – anything an employer wants for employees. This is what some called corporate education. And I never really thought so much of it as I still question and reason – but on a personal level. Things remained so ‘normal’ until I started my third year in university…

Two things induced what I thought: UROPS and History. Questioning became so much more efficient, if it is extended to other people. But to my disappointment, not much people enjoyed the sentiment. I used to be angered by how my mentor question me back my questions – but at least, I enjoyed the process of me reasoning with the question. But opportunities for that became so limited when everything is on the Internet. And I started to realized there’s a problem in my document analysis where I have no idea where is the problem. This is when I found something which Internet did not have – and that was the first time I consulted the professor. And through pleasant consultation, I learned not only theories which one could find on the Internet, but understanding and logics, which is a product of one’s thought rather than a factual display on the flashing screen. Somehow, I felt learning became more interesting all of sudden. As a result, I spent my last year in my university, enjoying learning like no one else. I figured out, there were times when I was as excited as this in discovering the knowledge, but it was one of the rare occasions where I was actually venturing a field and sharing them with someone else. Learning became not a one-way thing, but like what I found out this semester – Greek learning. And then, I was asking myself, what had I been doing all these years?! Not that all teachers I met were totally corporate teachers. Not that I must stay as obedient as I should. I could still remember, during my Lower Six, due to certain low tides, I became very aggressive in learning things. I asked a lot until one day the teacher actually labelled me as the ‘problematic student’. I understand as a teacher, it is annoying to have a rambling student blurting questions all the time you stop teaching – but that incident did silence me a lot thereafter. Papa advised, “ Question – to improve, but not a blind one.” I had always had that in mind and hence am sure I was not asking stupid questions. Besides, with wonderful teachers in NUS, I had wasted two years – not utilizing my opportunity to the fullest, a shame on me! And part of my conclusion came back to me.

Yes, we, tend to take things for granted. Especially when the subject is your major, you started to think that you should understand all that, you can study by yourself, you can check the Internet – what is the need to question then? Teachers became the transmitter and everything else is yourself. The course was compacted that most of the time, you were thinking of finishing and enhancing your knowledge on that area – rather than to think out of the box. When you really is lost, you always have friends whom you could ask from. Independent learning became so independent that the intellectual exchange had shifted from between teacher and student to between student and whatever knowledge source (ie Internet, books). But for my case, I realized – I took my major for granted and that costs me a lot. Your goal was so capitalized that everything else that is important for an education became so blurred and forgotten. And it was one year ago when I found back the joy – of learning something not for the sake of grades. I find relaxation in French class, I feel happy in Science classes – but the joy now, had became so clear that I suddenly saw how dark the things had been. Partly, it was because I was doomed to graduate and hence, pressure of pulling up CAP lifted and I was free to look towards my attitude towards learning.

And I am glad to say that I am showered with such a luck to discover this at an early stage of my life. Of course, there are many factors which brought to the question why students nowadays would rather find answer themselves rather than spending some time for some philosophical talk with people. Some of them are really just shy and peer pressure played some role. I am shy at some cases but nothing come between me and my curiosity towards mankind intellects, that’s the driving force. This is a lesson learned, which did not only helped in history discipline only but I find it rather useful in scientific career. By the same token, I find it an art, to share knowledge but at the same time retaining confidential information. This is something, which a researcher, politician, intelligence agents, or even a normal worker should learn for their work etiquette. And yes, the professor seemed upset of not having students asking – what I could not change how students behave until all of us change our attitude towards learning...

Finally, Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The End is The Beginning–Or is it always continuous?

Good Friday just passed by and Easter weekend is coming on its way. And this marked the last day of Reading Week. From the KEVII graduation night till today, I admit, there are fluctuation of emotions and thoughts, coming to and fro, feeling my soul with so many things that I could not imagine. The last week of school was undoubtedly one which will make me remember school more. Not including the chance of me studying another degree, this will be my last week in my undergraduate life and I am glad to have experienced so much and these experiences had actually moulded part of me today.

That week added on with a certain importance as I was so lucky to listen to so many wise words, from teachers, seniors and even juniors. One professor shared his view on future after my oral examination, another talked to me while I visited his office on that same Thursday, another on the next day and as I started to tell others I am graduating, wise words came as well. I am so thankful to have all these. However, no matter how calm I am, how optimistic I am – mortals are still mortals. I still have to understand the fear of uncertainty when it comes to my future, especially a job. I am lucky to have settled a place to stay after graduation – that’s pretty an assurance of not sleeping on the street (although I had not excluded that possibility which I told one of the prof). However, a job – especially one that at least could allow me to embrace my knowledge – is what I needed now. Sometimes, you can’t control what you get is going to be what you want, but I am still hoping for the best – as I know I could not give up. In terms of whether things will turn out right, I believe it will. As one of the professor said, it’s me who will decide whether I will do what I wanted to do – the problem is whether it is possible to do it as planned. Yes, I wished to become a researcher, but I may need to persevere more, work harder, learn more and leave the rest to fate. At least, I am proud to have a dream which is not contaminated by greed or selfishness – I am proud as I have a dream to change the world, and make it a better place. At this time being, all the feelings a mortal shall feel: fear, worry, anxious – they exist in me, but I know I should not succumb to them. I should learn to embrace them and learn on my way to future. Just like what Papa and Mummy said, ‘If you want to be someone great, all these are small matters and you should learn how to overcome it. It’s a task for you.’

I am not sure if any of you have such a similar experience, but if you have, let’s stand up and work hard together. I am willing to take up these challenge and be a better human. These experiences are not really pleasant to heart, but it is something given by God or whatever Divine you believe in – as we know, good things do not usually comes in an obvious nice package – the key is us, to discover the good within all of them. I am sure I can do that and let’s hope for the best as we unravel our journey ahead…

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Undergraduate Testimony

It’s a rainy evening and it described exactly how I’m feeling now. Just finished a continuous assessment and the last lecture of my undergraduate life as a Life Sciences student, I felt so many emotions.

When I first enter NUS, I strongly believed that I’ll find my dreams here and learn. As roads towards the future continues, I thought, maybe what I’ve learned in high school is much more valuable. It turned out that both – were incomparable and equally precious.

Coming to NUS, means my first time studying away from home, under a different country, different authority. Though not so much of a cultural clash, I definitely realized how much home meant for me. I missed home, I missed the people, I missed the food and I missed my memory. The past seemed wonderful and now in Singapore, the past looked like the Grand Époque. I braved myself, convincing myself, past is past, the best I could do is to keep those memory with me all the time. And hence, I continued my journey. Post high school, meant the first time to have long hair. To many, it may be a small matter, but for me, it is my first time learning how to tie my hair, keep them neat and bear with it when it’s warm. I realized, it is a way I learn how to manage myself. And then, school starts and I learned a lot. Sometimes, it’s not about how much As you get, it’s not about how many facts you know – it’s about  how you grow up through the education. I have to thank the opportunities for I gained a lot through the education apart from knowledge: great teachers and friends. These people, changed my perspective, added on value as I mature with my thinking. I am glad that my passion towards Science had not diminished by augmented through the joy and sorrow. At least now, once again, my enthusiasm had proved itself worthy and determined enough.

Studying in NUS brought to me one surprise which I’d never dreamt to experience – history. Not till the extreme, yet I loathed this subject before NUS – at least, one year ago, I hated it because it’s blunt, difficult and – I never really did well in it. One year ago, through some kind of fate, I make myself to take history as a trial, in attempt to achieve a minor. To my astonishment, I did not end up hating it or finding it boring. I brought back with me, after one year, not only the hope of attaining a minor but the best experience and lesson I’d learnt in NUS. I enjoyed the freedom of thought, the content, the teachings and the classmates. I look at it now, at a total different dimension. I did not do particularly brilliant in history still, but this time, grades did not matter anymore – something had changed me. When I was nine years old, I met a teacher who ignited my dream to be a scientist; when I was twenty two, I met a group of people who made me change my mind about history. It became not just a subject – but a life lesson, which I could learn along my life. I would say, to be able to experience this, is not an ordinary gift, and I cherish it.

To my hall, I would say a hundred thank you but it is still insufficient. As an international student, hall is my home away from home. It’s the place I experience what I will not forget for the rest of my life. Yes, CCAs might played a big role, but what made it so special is the experience. I’ve no doubt at all I find joy in hall. Hall life has all kinds of emotions but these are the little things that made the memory bittersweet. I still remember I chose KEVII was mainly due to the map showed a near distance to Science and it has a special name. I was, as a first year, thrilled to find out it has a Dining Hall with High Tables and long rows of tables – blocks with their own colours – just like in Hogwarts. And I’ll soon find out the life in there is as magical as one could imagine of Hogwarts too. No one will understand how it is like until one stays in KEVII.

And finally, to my family, my full salute for all their support, love, care and understanding. They taught me wonderful things which I still keep with me and they helped me get along with my life. In the course of entering NUS, I appreciate their full support – financially and everything else. They gave me encouragement, when I’m about to fell; they gave me assurance when my confidence started to fade away; and they bear with me when I chase my dreams crazily. Their love kept me going yet as a place for me to hold on, when I’m about to lose myself. I thank my parents who always let me be their little daughter, caring me and providing me a place to snuggle up when I feel like. I thank my brother, who grew up and shared so many wonderful experiences with me. Though separated by distance, their existence had made me go on with my life as a happy and lucky lad.

In the end, I will have to stop here as I have so much to say but it’s just not enough by one post! All these will be in my heart and be part of me forever. It’s three years and I might not be graduating as a top student, but I know for sure, I am graduating as a better person than three years ago.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Cold War Debate: Not So Cold

Just yesterday, I had my round of debate in Cold War in Europe module (EU3230). Why, I felt I was so inferior at first. Many had background in Cold War and they were incredible sane hardworking history majors. Just take my group for example, all of them were really admirable good students! During discussion at the earlier stage of this semester, I usually find myself talking some very shallow things while it was their interpretation and analysis that woke me up, telling me I should not only stop at fulfilling just for the module, but really putting myself into it. During the first debate round, I was the floor. I shivered upon seeing how the fight was so intense and everything was so quick. The questions were definitely of quality and the explanations were really right to the point, showing how much knowledge one has. To speak the truth, my confidence fall right after the first debate. And when my group lose the coin toss and giving the other group the choice of choosing the motion, I knew it would be tough.

The motion came out to be:

This house believes that Khrushchev is out of his depth as the ultimate successor to Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union.

The worse came when the other group chose proposition. During the class, without any background, I was so dumbfounded by the fact that Khrushchev had been losing his marbles all the time. I can’t believe what should I do when my team was supposed to oppose the motion and support Khrushchev as not out of his depth as the ultimate successor to Stalin as the leader of the Soviet Union; when, in fact, I was going to label him as one big buffoon! Straight after getting the title, I was convinced that the first thing I need to do is to delete any thought I had and brainwash myself. The ‘programme’ started with me getting books like his memoirs and books talking good things he did and his autobiographies. In fact, in the end, I started to see good things in him and I am now totally convinced that he is doing well (that’s not really a good thing but it helped a lot!). We had meetings and decided and discussed – and I landed myself on his foreign policy on Cuban Missile Crisis. It was quite one big thing and I felt the stress actually. But nonetheless, others were getting important topics as well, all of us just need to work hard towards it!

Other than writing out the essay for my 5-minute speech, which is the expensive 15%, I need to practice it as well. Unlike in Why History, I do not want myself to succumb to such embarrassment and regrets anymore. I took my one night practice over at the staircase near my room. It was quite funny because there were people walking around. Other than that, I do want to thank Hui Min who encouraged me when I felt certain inferiority over speaking in front of history majors; and also the G3 girls who let me repeat my speech over and over again in front of them! And the time came when the debate started. It is bad to feel nervous (feeling like throwing up and increased heart rate with cold sweat…) – it is worse when you are the opposition and needs to wait till the second half of the debate to speak! We took the break for the loo just to release all the stress before our first speaker started the talk. As the third speaker, I was quite nervous but at least we did it!!! During the Firing Session, we were asked to stand up (OH MY GOSH!) and we were subjected to any question anyone in the room has. It was really an intense fight and I think it is much more than the first one (maybe because I am in it, haha). Anyway, we were asked to leave the room for the voting and returned to listen to the professor’s comment of this as a ‘first rate performance’. Seriously, I think that at least means I am not doing something rubbish in the debate. And in the end, it was announced that we won the motion! Not that I think we did extra-super-better, but I think this is a very subjective thing and shall leave the comment for the commentators…

Anyway, this is a really good experience… Sourire

And this is the Debate Essay I prepared for my speech upon Khrushchev’s Foreign Policy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

*Note: Personal particulars were removed for privacy purposes. This document is for reference purposes only.

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