life happens

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In the beginning of March, I thought that I could write daily for the Slice of Life Challenge this month than life happened. During difficult and stressful times, it’s ok to say no to some things so that you take care of yourself. I was not feeling like I could add any more items to my full plates. As I’m day 2 of our spring break, I am trying to write again. However, it might just be another form of procrastination for me as my to-do list over spring break is much longer than I originally imagined it to be. I’m procrastinating writing a final paper for my doctorate class, grading student work, and Marie kondo-ing my apartment as I’ll be moving out in a few months.

As I watch the news and talk to friends and family back in the States, I can’t help but be incredibly thankful for my health, living in Singapore, and friends and family that are safe and healthy during lock-downs. As anxiety levels continue to rise everywhere and Covid-19 continues to spread, I’m trying to keep things in perspective and positive. I’m thankful that Singapore has not gone to lock-down (schools have not been shut down by the gov’t), how the government has been very clear in communicating the situation, and pro-active in putting protocols in place to protect people since January.

It seems like sometimes the best thing to do is to stay off social media and news, connect with friends and family (virtually), and take breaks by going for walks.

What have you been doing to get through this difficult time? 

Slice of life challenge day 2: returning home

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Yesterday, I came home from school and saw something small at our doorstep. To my surprise, it was our Starbucks bear (dressed as a penguin) keychain waiting for our return with no note or explanation. I couldn’t help but smile that it found it’s way back home after a few months in the hands of another “owner”.  We thought that it was gone forever.

A few months ago on the elevator, my husband was joined by a little girl that lives down the hallway from our apartment. She caught eye of my husband’s cute keychain and held onto it. She didn’t want to let it go. Her helper (nanny) was only with her and unable to get her to return it. My husband took the rest of the keys off from the keychain and let her keep the bear.

We are not close to our neighbors here in Singapore. We don’t see or interact with them much, except for an occasional elevator ride when our busy paths cross. I wonder whether our bear is happy to be back home.

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Slice of Life Challenge Day #1: dusting off the cobwebs

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Yesterday, I realized that it was almost March, which meant the slice of life story challenge was starting. I remembered how dedicated I was to writing daily during the month of March and encouraged my students to participate in the classroom challenge. However, it has been a few years since I last participated. I thought for a brief moment of joining the challenge, but then, I told myself, there’s no way you could add anything else to my already full plate.

Sunday morning came along, post-workout, eating my favorite olive bread and a chai latte in a cafe by myself when my family group chat started pinging. My dad sent us a video with photos of my halmoni (grandmother) and reminded us that March 1st was the anniversary of my her death.  In response, my brother sent us a copy of the eulogy he had written 6 years ago, and while eating my bread, tears started to flow. Luckily, there were only a few other people in the cafe. After much contemplation, I decided to post on my instastory the video and eulogy to remember her and to share her incredible story.

I received messages from friends about my posts and a fellow slice of life friend asked if I was going to slice this year. I responded that I really should this year and asked if she was going to join. She said she was as well.

So here I am, with 10 minutes to go until March 1st ends (Singapore time zone). I can’t wait to share more about what has been going on since I last posted 2 years ago…

If you feel inspired, please join in the challenge with me. It’s pretty incredible what one month of writing daily can do for you, whether you consider yourself a writer or not. 

 

a chance encounter

blogging alongside my students

Yesterday, I received a message from a former colleague at the international school I used to work at in Korea. Sophie had just flown into Singapore that morning for the AMIS High School Honor Band and Orchestra Festival hosted by my school. She had let me know that one of my old students was there for the festival. We agreed to meet up today during their lunch break. I had gotten to the auditorium before her and I saw a sea of Asian students. I heard students speaking Korean, but I couldn’t spot my old student anywhere. So I went back outside the auditorium to wait for Sophie.

When she got there to meet me, she texted my student.  As this tall, Korean student walked up to us, and greeted us, I couldn’t believe it. Now he was a senior in high school, reserved, and much taller then me. The last time I’d seen him he was in 5th grade, much shorter than me, and he never stopped talking! The boys in my class that year loved insects, especially stag beetles, and they would bring them to class (in plastic containers of course) all the time. He even remembered how our class was called Team Inspire.

Sophie shared with me how HJ had been doing research on insects in a lab and really pursued this passion throughout high school. He also casually told me that he was waiting to hear back from Harvard, even though he had already gotten into another Ivy League school… This was a pretty unexpected encounter, considering that this festival was actually supposed to be held in Korea originally.

As I reflect on the work we do as educators, we’ll never truly know exactly the impact that we make on the hundreds of students we worked with through the years. However, it’s these chance encounters and connections that we keep with former colleagues and students that shine light to our journey as educators.

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through my eyes

blogging alongside my students

I was going through my blog the other day and I came across some photos from my older posts, and it made me miss taking photos. It’s not that I’ve stopped taking photos, but I’ve become more dependent on my iPhone to take photos than my dslr. Also, I was reminded that I need to finish taking the Udemy photography course I signed up for earlier this year. As I’ve been scrolling through some old posts, here are some of my favorite photos from various trips and visits I’ve had these past few years.

As I look at these photos, floods of memories fill my mind of the people I traveled with and the memories of the moments. I love how photos can capture so much in one shot.

Just curious, which photo do you like the best? 🙂

  1. Elmer’s Long Bottle Tree Ranch, CaliforniaDSC_0635
  2. Sydney,  Australiasydney-1103 3.Jökulsárlón, IcelandDSC_00764. Lavender by the Bay, Long Islandlavender-02775. Petra, JordanDSC_0892 6. Chiang Mai, Thailandthailand-03297. Siem Reap, Cambodiacfc-0580 8.Haji Lane, Singaporelangkawi-01359. Whampoa Market, Singaporelangkawi-011510. Woodlands, Singaporeoscarmaggie-0861

lunchtime conversations

blogging alongside my students

One of the things that I appreciate about my fifth grade team of teachers is that we find time to eat lunch together. Actually, when I first started working at SAS, my classroom neighbor, Crew, would knock on my door and in his way encourage me to come to lunch with the rest of our hallway. During those first few years, I had a million and one other things I had to do (and the list still hasn’t dwindled) at lunch, but I would leave the pile of work on my desk and with a guilty heart go to lunch. By the end of the lunch time, I was glad that I had made it down. The much needed break, and conversation with colleagues is always refreshing and helpful.

Sometimes we talk shop, and get ideas. Sometimes, we just share about our day, things we are looking forward to, and just get to know each other better. A few days ago, it was Monday lunch time in Singapore, which meant Sunday evening back in the States, and the Oscars had just finished. Someone asked if they knew the results of what happened, and thanks to Google, we could find out right away. We started discussing which Oscar winning movies were still playing in Singapore (The Shape of Water and 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, in case you are curious.)  We don’t always get all the Oscar nominated movies in Singapore.

One of the teachers mentioned that the film that won for best documentary, Icarus, was on Netflix. After hearing his brief synopsis on the movie, I knew I had to watch it when I got home. I do admit to having an obsession with the Winter Olympics, particularly figure skating, having grown up skating myself. I was fascinated by this documentary and it helped me understand what the whole Russian Sochi Olympics doping scandal was all about. Also, I understood the significance and reasoning behind why they were banned from representing their country in the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you watch it! I’m curious to hear what people thought of it.

Here’s the trailer:

wedding customs

blogging alongside my students

One of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had living abroad has been attending different weddings. It’s always so interesting attending weddings in different countries and seeing how similar and different they are.

When I lived in Korea, I was surprised by how quick weddings were. Usually the weddings I’ve been to in the States were pretty much a whole day affair. In Korea, you can be in and out of a wedding in 1 to 2 hours max. I remember attending my cousin’s wedding that was in a big Catholic church with hundreds of people, and my relatives told me it was ok to each the buffet lunch during the ceremony…

I was shocked. Not only was this a family member of mine getting married, but actually not going into the ceremony seemed blasphemous. It was a huge church so it’s true that no one would notice,  but it just seemed wrong. However, when we went to eat lunch, we found out that we were not the only ones doing that. We did make it back inside the sanctuary for the end of the ceremony. And then stayed around to take photos afterwards.

It was quite interesting how many of the wedding halls that many weddings took place in Korea would have multiple weddings booked throughout the day. So pretty much guests are in and out very quickly. The reception was usually just eating the meal.

When I came to Singapore, I have been able to attend a few different types of weddings ranging from ones in a Hindu temple, banquet halls, and in churches. I was surprised that during the church wedding, the bride and groom and bridal party would sit during the ceremony when the pastor would give his short sermon.

In the church weddings I went to in America, the bridal party and the bride and groom would all stand.  I totally see the logic in that, but I’d never seen that happen in a church wedding in America before. Also, I was surprised that many of the weddings in Singapore would have time in between the church ceremony and reception.  People would go home and change, and come back out in the evening for the dinner reception.

I’m not trying to say one way is right or wrong, but I always find it fascinating to see the different customs and traditions of weddings in different countries. And yes, I was just at a wedding this Saturday, hence this blog post…

What are some fascinating weddings customs/traditions you have seen?