HELLoh my cutie pies! (^0^)
I’ve just recently gotten back to my home sweet some last Monday, and have been so busy keeping up with dance, meeting friends and tutoring that I am only finding time to blog now, in the middle of the night. *guilty*
Do you all like my Hello Kitty passport cover? It’s so cute and I got it at Daiso for only $2! I get to put my boarding pass and cards in it too. Super cute and functional.
As I’ve said in my previous post, I went on a 20 Day trip to my favourite country (besides the hometown of course)out of the limited places I have visited, TAIWAN! I had such an amazing time there that I almost didn’t want to come home. I went from super super homesick to not wanting to leave, but isn’t that always the case?
Amazing times, amazing people.
It was really 20 days of fun and unforgettable memories. I have learnt so much and grown so much, it being my first and long time away from home alone.
I didn’t reveal what I was flying off for then because to me, I couldn’t really tell people about the greatness that is our project when our aims have yet to be achieved. But now that I’ve completed my journey, I can tell you guys what exactly I did.
Disclaimer(!): There are little photos of the benes (beneficiaries) I worked with because we signed a confidentiality agreement with the centre not to expose any of their identities so unlike most of the community service groups from my school, I am obliged to keep my memories to myself. If there are photos, they’re photos that don’t show the faces of the girls and kids.
I resided at 南台中家扶中心, which translates to South Taichung Family Support Centre, for 14 days. As the name suggests, the centre provides help and support for families – needy family, abused children and teenage girls and youth at risk. The teenage girls and children live in one block of the centre. And I went there to teach them basic conversational English.
Teaching is actually a really difficult job in itself, and teaching a language in such a short time is double the difficulty. Ensuring that the knowledge retention rate is adequate whilst actively engaging our benis was our main goal. I was in the Programmes department, so I had to take charge of a whole day’s programmes. I needed to plan the lesson, prepare the lesson materials and create suitable games. We had to toss a lot of our initial ideas into the bin and go back to the board to rethink of appropriate ways to teach conversational English because we wanted them to not only learn voacbulary, but also form sentences, converse and react to people in English. It was tough because I couldn’t really remember how I learnt English in the first place, it all came to me really quickly all at once; I was speeding through Enid Blyton when I was six. But everyone in our group did their part and more, and we came up with something that we were all proud of.
So meet the best team one could ever ask for:
Yi Hao, Tiang, Serene, Jen, Daphne, Mingz, Charmmy, Jun Han, Puay, Richard, Berwin, Val, Jiayi, Maddi, and me.
Thank you guys and girls for being such a great team. Thanks for taking care of me, looking out for me, bearing with my princess habits and my whining. Thanks for making me part of this awesome family. We’ve gone through crisis, triumphs and many mini milestones that would be a grandmother story if I listed it all here. People think that our impact there was little, but if I myself had grown so much out of this, I know that the benes feel something during our interaction with them. I am really super grateful for the opportunity to know you all and become such great friends. Just know that I really appreciate all of you. (^-^)
The group photo was taken in our living area! We stayed in a small little apartment on the seventh floor. Nine girls in a room and six guys in the other.
This is the girls’ room.
We slept on tatami mats that were frankly no much better than sleeping bags but thanks to the mandated daily exhaustion at the end of each day we all managed to get a good night’s sleep. Quite a feat considering the fact that we would wake up with red bites all over our bodies the next day. Up till now I’m still unclear if it’s mosquitoes or bed bugs. Either way, unpleasant experience getting sucked on by these creepers… Val, one of my closest friend in the project, had an anal OCD streak in her so she had to disinfect her bed with disinfectant wipes every single night. Every night when possible I would jio Jiayi and Daphne to do fitness blender workouts with me. ( I was doing them before Taiwan and am still doing them now! So proud of myself. ) And we would laugh and laugh and train our abs until we all fall asleep. Gosh I really really miss those times with the girls. ♥
My tatami bed for the 14 days!
I shared my mat with Jiayi who occasionally kicks me and I slept in between her and Charmmy, who sleeptalks rather loudly in the middle of the night. I still like my spot and I don’t mind the disturbances or else I would have moved. You can spot my Vicks which I apply every night so I can breathe properly and my rather black Peanut oops.
My vanity area hahahaha.
So because all the dressers were taken up in our room, I took over the table in the common area and Ber got so fed up then he set up a Kitty Area for me to put all my crap. You can see that I really keep to my area and am very neat okay! These are my beauty essentials for the trip and I’d blog about it later. They call me Kitty 姐 because there was this girl who loved Hello Kitty like me and she named me Kitty 姐 on the first day… and the name got stuck whether I liked it or not.
Now peanut is white and happy okay, don’t judge.
Finding the time to camwhore despite the craziness. Actually this was during the last night at the centre and I suffered a terrible tummyache so I rested at the apartment while the rest went on a delicious international BBQ buffet *sobs* But they were kind enough to buy back dumplings and fish soup noodles for me aww.
Teaching in action.
Being from prog, I had to take charge of lessons for an entire day. For the seventh day of working with the girls, Tiang and I taught them all about sports and leisure. I tried my best to teach them about relevant and interesting topics like movies, hobbies, hairstyles and fashion. So I was teaching them things like ponytail, skirt, dress, boots etc.
It was really all about flexibility not only because we had to manage our time to match their afternoon break, but also wait for each facilitator to finish their individual teaching. Besides that, we had to make sure their attention is captured so we can’t keep drilling them with material. We slotted in games after each section, and we took out some materials and added in some.
I learnt a lot I think. I had to learn how to speak up and catch their attention, while responding to their energy and how they’re receiving my lessons. I had to make them interested by giving them bonus questions (that both of us thought of on the spot that revised what we taught), and be as fair as possible with the scoring system. Basically being the leader for the day really trained me to think on my feet and make decisions fast.
With my girl 蒙兒
And other than being the in charge for that one day, I was a facilitator for the other days, staying with my group 那些年 (: My group’s ability wasn’t as strong as the other two, and they had to have a lot of coaching and individual attention. It isn’t easy juggling them and managing the group dynamics.
But I got close to Meng and we become steadfast friends (: She told me to write her as soon I got back to Singapore but I can’t under the agreement although I would love to. I miss her already. She was so nice to me, introducing me to all the good food in Taichung, and we would chat about shopping and fashion. She said Singaporeans dressed like 鄉下人 because of our three quarter pants and plain tees for the trip, so she thinks we’re country bumpkins. ): When I am actually very fashionable okay!!! *insulted* But she was very kind to compliment me on my hair to make me feel better. She’s really a sweet kid.
This picture was taken during one of the days that we worked with the children. If you know how to play piano, you can probably see that I ave no idea what I’m doing. I was playing with this little girl. She has below average IQ but she is a musical genius and she was teaching me the notes while she played on and on like a pro. There was no rhythm to what she was playing, but to me it was beautiful. She was so confident when she taught me the notes, and so patient when I couldn’t get it at first.
She got a little overexcited when she was playing with me and accidentally choked me when she wanted me to piggyback her, and I got a little traumatized so I cried. And she felt so sorry that she made me an apology card and a mother’s day card that I safekeep in my room now. After that she kept kissing me on the cheeks because she liked me so much, which I thought was really sweet.
A lot of kids were outcasting her and I think some of us were afraid to work with her, but I think underneath all that bouncing energy is a really sweet kid who knows how to respect and care for others.
She took this photo of me with our camera. You can see that my eyelids were swollen from all the crying lol I’m so embarrassed of my instinctive reaction I couldn’t stop crying at that point of time out of shock. But I still came down after some rest with a smile. (:
The children’s day was challenging as we had to keep the rowdiness down while catching the kids’ attention, which is super hard because the kids weren’t interested in English at all. Plus their levels and ages were super varied, so kid control was tough. I had to make use of the skills I learnt tutoring my p1 kid. You need to be firm but still be able to connect to the kids. It sounds easy, but it’s sure as hell not! We were all exhausted by the time each day with the children was over.
By the way, hand sanitizers work wonders with the kids. All the kids I’ve tried it with when their hands get too dirty all love it.
I think I can be an Obasan if all my life path options fails. I look the role, right?
Everyone had a duty day and on the duty day they had to clean up the house and had the option to cook. On my second duty day, I had to help out with cooking for 30 people because we were cooking for the girls and all the social workers and us of course. We were cooking some local dishes. So I dragged my ass out of bed at 9.30 and rushed to the big kitchen on the third floor with my other chefs of the day! After brushing my teeth and pinning up my hair like an Obasan so excuse my hair.
Act yi ge Chef.
Yet another challenge because I’m not a big cook at home. I’m actually quite afraid of the fire and the oil bubbling and burning me. But when I was in the kitchen, I was calm as hell and I bet no one knew I was damn inexperienced. I was shouting around in the kitchen and acting yi ge main chef it was damn funny because Richard was supposed to be the pro but in the end he trusted me with it. We all pitched in to cook the different dishes and it was super hectic because our coconut rice wasn’t cooking and we had to transfer the cookers to another place where the plugs actually worked. I had to mix the drinks with Charmmy at the apartment and we had never worked with the ingredient before everything was just done by instinct and loads of taste testing haha. But the girls loved it in the end so yay!
The Chefus! Including Charmmy who took the photo (:
Me chomping happily on the food of our labour!
And on finale day, I was the emcee. I was so proud of myself because I have problems with public speaking and have screwed up several presentations and speeches before. But the centre’s in charge actually complimented me and said I did a great job. I realised that public speaking isn’t so terrifying after all.
Another thing we did that pushed me out of my comfort zone was recording songs, and songwriting. Ber got me to help him with the lyrics of our theme song and I did, with the help of the others. Then we recorded the song the morning it was due to be presented to the girls and the centre.
I really love this project. I had to be a salesperson during the fundraising (at which I wasn’t very good), I had to plan programmes and teach, I had to cook, I had to write songs and record them and I had to emcee. So many challenges that I managed to complete and let myself grow.
I also really love my benes and my team. They are all wonderful people.
Thank you for an amazing journey.
Here’s to making even more beautiful memories.