Archive for May 2008

Last eight hours

May 30, 2008

No, there were no tears. My eyes were slightly moist at some point during the day but no, I did not cry. But that does not mean I was not sad or affected.

I felt so melancholic leaving my classroom this morning. It was a room I laughed, fumed and cried in. And at 1040, it would be the last time I pushed in the chairs, turned off the lights and locked the door.

Mr Chew invited me out for lunch over the holidays. The bosses left me nice cards and gifts. It was very nice of them to do so. I’m thankful they were so supportive of my decision, and that made me even more guilty for leaving the department despite all the opportunities they’d given me and all that they had done for me. Later, I hugged a few people goodbye and cleaned up my desk.

In the afternoon, I had a last meeting with the Journaling Club students. Leaving them was hard because I started with nothing. No students at all. And nobody to tell me what to do. And we now have over 20 members and a Chairman, a wonderful and charismatic girl who recently suggested to me we should start a committee, so “we can be a real Club”.

It’s so hard for me to let go because I watched the Club and these kids blossom over time. We were just starting to bond together and propel forward. I worry what the next teacher would be like. Would h/she be committed to the kids? Would s/he inspire and motivate them? Would s/he continue to develop and grow the Club or would s/he let it all fall into pieces?

For a few seconds, I thought of being as noble as LouAnne Johnson in Dangerous Minds or Erin Gruwell in Freedom Writers to put aside personal reasons and stay in school, just for these kids. But no, I was far from being so passionate.

I thought it would be easy but no, this was the first job I had difficulty leaving. The people, students and staff alike – I’d really truly miss.

Swivel chair monologue

May 30, 2008

I tolerated it. She sat on me for two years. Intially she sat on my neighbour, but somehow she changed her mind and chose me instead.

She bought me a colourful pillow friend some months into the job. Fed up with the boring blue cubicle, she went to IKEA to get some pretty cloths, some plants and the pillow to do up her space. You know, give it a bit of identity.

I have seen her weep, heard her laugh, listened as she screamed at students over the phone, eavesdropped on her private conversations with her closer colleagues and watched her typing away at her laptop and rummaging her drawer for food.

She has a little fat round butt and she loves to plonk it down on me. Her favourite is to kick off her shoes and sit cross-legged on me while hugging the pillow. Sometimes, when she is tired, she tilts back her head and shuts her eyes for a while.

Today is the last day she will sit on me. I saw her cleaning out her cubicle since last Friday. She took away my pillow friend and the jacket covering me yesterday. I feel so bare and alone now.

But in two days time, this new guy Wee will come and rest his rear on me and make this place his own. I wonder what he would be like. Would he find me a friend? Dump things on me? Push me gently into my resting space under the desk when he leaves at the end of every day?

I hate meeting new butts and getting used to their smelly farts. I wish we only had one owner during our lifespan. “Can we?”

p.s. if you don’t understand, ask me my new colleague’s name.

Just those words

May 29, 2008

This morning, MsSearch came and gave me a bracelet she bought for me. In the little gift tag, she wrote, “Go for it with total heart, mind, soul and…”

I know I had written previously about how I wish people would do away with farewell gifts and meals. But I really appreciate MsSearch’s very generous present and I feel so, so good, relieved and encouraged reading and re-reading those three words, “Go for it.” Totally.

I’ve been searching and waiting for encouragement and support from those around me. Waiting so long for someone to say “Give it your best!” rather than “Huh? Aren’t you scared?”

In the little heart-shaped links of chains and MsSearch’s flourescent pink handwriting, I found what I needed.

Thanks, Shifu!


May 29, 2008

I never liked last days.

Never liked farewell lunches, dinners, presents. Never liked the “All the best!”, “Take care!” that were uttered to me. I never doubted the sincerity of those actions and words, I just don’t like it. I think it would mean so much more to me if somebody kept me in their prayers, thought of me ocassionally, or displayed a warm, welcoming smile when they saw me again.

I’ve been thinking about my teaching journey so far. Thinking of things which I have done wrong and right, people I’ve hurt and helped. I hope that I have grown wiser and not jaded, people would remember me for trying my best and not just trying too hard.

Looking back, I don’t really know what I have imparted to my students or the impact I have on them. I don’t know what they’d remember of me. You know, after all the polishing I try to do day in and day out, I don’t know if my gems would really shine and if so, when? And how brightly? When will they realise I’m not just being a bitch, but that I want the best for them? I’m teaching them?

It’s been an extremely intense, emotionally and physically draining two years, but I’ve never felt more alive. I’ve never felt more satisfied and I’ve never learnt so much in such a short time. I will miss my colleagues and the good and horrible teachers who’ve shown me what this profession is all about.

And I have to thank my students, every single one of them, for teaching me every single day. To experience new levels of patience and to know, before I speak. To learn to keep a straight face in any situation and to stay calm during during classroom chaos. To work my brain hard, everyday.

I have more learning and discovering to do.

Without you by my side, but with you, kids, as my eventual aim.

Quick art

May 28, 2008

For those of us who love doodling and splashing around with poster colours, there is now a quick and fuss-free way to paint.

Visit Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas and simply move your mouse around to start painting, and click once when you want to change a colour. I love how easy it is to create my own artwork and nothing is more therapeutic than seeing a white canvas transform into pretty blobs of colours!

Have fun!

Leaving the zoo

May 28, 2008

Yesterday I had my last lesson with my crazy, “hyper” class, as they termed it. The Mechanical Engineering boys (and two girls) who are always so loud, active and would start their silly Capoeira or Malay dance moves out of the blue at the back of the class. Somebody would crack a joke and they would literally roll on the floor laughing.

Trying to keep them still is a feat. I almost always lose my voice. And I’ll develop a headache from all the noise and the buzz of activity.

But I love them for their passion and enthusiasm. For their sense of humour and the willingness to take on any activity I give them. To do it with pride and seriousness. And thus, I was willing to give them all the energy I could muster at the end of the day, so we could all have fun through learning.

Yesterday, being the last lesson and all, we put away the workbooks and tried the Egg Drop activity and afterward The Line Game taken from The Freedom Writers.  

Amazingly, the groups were so good – 3 out of 4 eggs survived the fall from the College’s fifth storey. Usually, only 1 egg per class would remain intact. Not knowing so many groups would emerge as winners, I didn’t prepare enough chocolates as rewards so I ended up taking them to the canteen and buying them drinks instead.

I feel the saddest leaving this class. I will miss their crazy antics. I will miss this class where a fight almost broke out in my lesson and where another boy tried to hurt himself. There is a lot of synergy yet a lot of exclusion and bullying.

I just wished I had more time to do more with them. To make them understand more about behaviours, emotions and consequences. To see them grow.

I’ll miss them, but not my croaky voice and throbbing head. Guess you can’t have everything.

What would you do, for love?

May 26, 2008

My teacher, after 20 days of train travel across France, Germany, Russia, Siberia, embarked on a 40-hour boat trip to Japan. I got an email from him to say he’s hot and humid in Okinawa, but otherwise fine. Soon, he will arrive in Taiwan and be reunited with his lady. 

Continue to read about his travels at

I’m so excited for him, amazed at his feat and at the same time, I contemplate about my own journey across the continents.

Thoughts going through my mind at the moment: Does love and happiness come easily? Or do you have to go out there and fight for it? And how hard should you fight? If things appear to be very tough, do you see it as a sign and give up? What if you made the wrong decision? Who holds the answers to these questions?

You inspire me, Gary. You are a male, bolder and balder version of me. Hell if Gary at 40ish can do wild things like these, what am I worrying about at 20ish?