a glimpse of 2016 through photos

This is a long overdue post, about 3 months late of my travel highlights from last year. 2016 was indeed full of adventures close and far from Singapore. I started off 2016 in Batam, Indonesia and then traveled to Hong Kong, Thailand, LA, NY, Iceland, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Melbourne throughout the year. I loved being able to go home for Christmas for the first time in 8 years since I’ve been overseas.

I’m also thankful for the friends that visited me in Singapore, the friends that traveled with me for different trips, and the friends that hosted me when I visited. Some of the highlights of my travels were conquering my fears. I was able to go rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand, get my open water scuba diving certification in Tioman, Malaysia, and summit Mt. Kinabalu. So many times, I wanted to give up during these times, but my friends kept encouraging me which made a huge difference.

Next stop on my travels: Jordan and Israel next week! 

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blogging alongside my students

the month of march

blogging alongside my students

The Month of March

Everyday a new post is up,
from 22 fifth grade writers faced with a challenge.
Small moments transformed into slices of life,
captured through photos, poems, and stories.

Everyday I learn something new,
about the lives of our students.
Reading all the posts,
leaving as many comments as I can.
When school is out,
a tidal wave of comments,
and a flurry of e-mails fill my inbox,
as new comments are posted.

Everyday I laugh, I smile, and I wonder.
I appreciate, I marvel, and I enjoy,
these slices of our daily lives:

Unexpectedly getting soaked in the rain,
six hour Irish dance rehearsals,
learning to ride a bike,
competing in lego robotics competition,
ordering the newest Rubik’s cubes,
a haiku on zelda,
poems on favorite foods and places like Paris,
failures and successes with slime.
Did you know we love making slime?

Unfortunate rope burns and big toes hurting,
making omelettes with family,
when your Spanish class turns into a jungle,
playing tennis when the rain comes,
playing basketball,
doing the daily routine,
cleaning your mind,
watching movies with friends,
and saying goodbye to close friends.

All these separate slices,
fitting together everyday,
creating the story of our lives.

2015 in review

slice of life 2014

One of the most important lessons I attained from my graduate degree in education is the importance of reflection. Every week, instead of tests (thank goodness for progressive education), we wrote pages and pages of reflections on our learning. We reflected on everything- from our journey as teachers, education theory, pedagogy, experiences in the classroom, and our graduate school classes. I definitely did see the importance in all that reflecting as an educator and in general, it’s a good life skill to have.

A fews day late, but I started reflecting on 2015 and I found it was hard to put into words accurately all that happened, so I felt that photos would be better. As I started putting together photos I felt pretty blown away at how incredible this past year has been. I had quite a few friends get married and I actually got to be there for the celebrations, many babies were born, friendships were deepened, and also at the same time with sadness as we said goodbye to a good friend unexpectedly -we miss you Crew.

It was also a year full of travel, including two trips back to NY, Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Indonesia, Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Langkawi, Memphis, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, and Siem Reap. Besides all the fun traveling, I cherished just as much the simple things like exploring Singapore, getting to know my students better, going on hikes, watching tennis, flying kites, taking photos, discovering new cafes and restaurants, watching movies, celebrating birthdays and holidays with friends, meeting new people, and being part of our church community.

As I’ve been thinking about this new year, this quote has been resonating in me:

“You and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts.” –Paul Tripp

In this new year, as I live in the little moments of everyday life, I want to give God glory even when those struggles and unexpected bumps emerge. I want a heart fixed on God. I want to be full of gratitude and not complaints. A big thank you to all of my family and friends that helped make 2015 pretty spectacular. Here are some of my highlights from 2015. 🙂

What are you thankful for in 2015? What are you hoping for in 2016? 

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lessons from flying a kite for the first time

I held tightly to the string in one hand and panda kite in the other. I started to run furiously across the green lawn, desperately hoping for flight. As I let go of my precious panda in the dark ominous sky, I continued to run, hoping not to crash into the people enjoying a romantic picnic on the grass.

Luckily, the sun had already set, and people couldn’t identify me (I hope) as the lady running crazily on the grass. I’m pretty sure my friends were laughing at me, but I didn’t care. I knew that I looked like a fool, but I was sweaty and determined. I was going to get my panda to fly. I could imagine panda joining the other flashier kites (glow in the dark kite and kites with flashing lights). So what if my panda was much smaller and not as strong.

After multiple accounts of running up and down the marina barrage, panda would unfortunately not fly. With a bit of disappointment in my face and an attitude of defeat, I handed my panda to my friends. They handed me the string to their kite that was already high in the air as consolation. I held on to it and watched my friends with panda. Maybe they would have better luck.

Then, the kind uncle, who helped us a bit before untangling our string, came over to help us again. He was definitely the expert, and I’m sure he was laughing inside at our amateur attempts to fly panda. He looked at our broken and misshapen panda kite and attempted to help us fly it.  The uncle instructed us with how to best fly panda. After quite a few attempts and an improved kite flying technique (unsurprisingly, my kite flying method was completely wrong), they were really close to getting panda in the air. Yet, even with the best instructions, there was no hope for panda. He was beyond repair. It was probably from the combination of us dragging him in the grass, and quite a few rough falls leading to broken pieces, that led to panda’s inability to fly.

In the end, there was no Disney picture perfect ending, just me taking home the broken panda. However, I did learn a few key things. First, some broken things just need to be let go of. Second, having a mentor (person who actually knows how to fly a kite teaching you) is really helpful. And third, when you are so focused and determined to accomplish something that is important to you, the fear of failure does not enter into your mind.

Some pictures from the marina barrage. If you haven’t been there, you need to check it out! It is definitely one of my favorite places to go for it’s incredible views of the Singapore skyline.

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taking a moment to listen

slice of life 2014

It was the end of a long day, my throat was hurting, I felt exhausted, and I was ready to go home. However, we still had 30 minutes of class left. As my students wrapped up typing their fantasy story drafts, I asked if anyone wanted to share their introduction. I called on a particular student to share because I was so amazed when I sat next to him and read his draft earlier on. Then, more hands went up. One student exclaimed after hearing one student’s story, “I can’t wait to hear what happens next!” Originally, I was only going to have two or three students share, but as I kept listening, and more hands went up, I wanted to hear them all.

As I listened to the stories of my students, I couldn’t help but smile. My students could write. They had voice, they had realistic dialogue, they had inner thinking, they had conflicts, they had archetypal characters, they had suspense, and they had creativity.

Most days, I’m busy beating myself up, wishing I could be a better teacher  (imagine working on a team with 13 really amazingly talented fifth grade teachers everyday), and seeing areas I can improve on. However, today was one of those days, where I just needed to sit back and listen. Listen to the voices of my 22 students, sharing a piece of themselves, in a way no one else can. I listened, I enjoyed and I smiled.

Slice of Life Tuesdays is sponsored by The Two Writing Teachers. Join us & write. 

The 5 Month Journey

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During the last week of school in June, I decided on a whim to sign up for a half-marathon. I was gently encouraged to sign up from a few colleagues of mine before hand, who were planning on the running the race in Cambodia during Thanksgiving weekend. I fully blame it on the end of the year craziness I was going through, which meant I wasn’t thinking very logically or clearly.  After signing up online, and realizing what this meant, I started to feel the anxiety. In the following few months, there were multiple times where I convinced myself that I could always back out and not run in the race. I mean I would loose the money, but it’s ok, save the humiliation and trouble.

Fast forward many months, I’m down to less than a week until the half-marathon. It’s been quite the journey, training, and pushing myself to run more than I’ve ever run. Also, training in Singapore has proven to have it’s own set of challenges, like finding a good time, which usually is early morning or late at night to run outside in the tropical climate.  I’m not really sure how I’ve made it up to this point, since running is still not something I really enjoy doing.

This past Sunday morning, I had my last long run. We ran  19.3 km (12 miles) at East Coast Park. When we got there, it was still dark at 6am. The first few kilometers are always difficult for me. This time, as I started running, I wondered why I was doing this to myself. Around 6km, I had my chocolate gu (energy gel) and things seemed to get better. As I slowly reached the halfway point, I felt a glimmer of hope that I could make it.  I started to mentally count down the number of kilometers left, and I started to think about the end and what delicious foods I would eat afterwards…

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Then, I was at about 16 kilometers, and I just felt like I couldn’t run anymore. My knee was bothering me, the hot Singapore sun was finally up, and I didn’t know how I could possibly run anymore. I kept drinking water and the second Gu I ate didn’t seem to help at all. I knew my friend I was running with was probably almost done and I had to finish. So I started to make smaller goals for myself. Run to at least to one more song, then walk, then run again until the end. I honestly wanted to cry or stop, but I knew the end was so close. That last two kilometers took all of my mental will power to keep going. As I started seeing the palm trees that lined the path towards the car park where we started, I kept running. I finally managed to finish my longest run ever, and felt ready for the half-marathon. So please keep me in your prayers as I run this coming Sunday morning in Cambodia!

Here are some photos from my early morning runs at East Coast Park. It’s definitely my favorite place to run in Singapore.

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Slice of Life Tuesdays are sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

forgetful

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These past days I’ve been living on the edge or maybe just being really forgetful. I dont know why but I didn’t have an umbrella with me when I left school. I always have an umbrella tucked in my bag. You never know when it will rain here in Singapore. Yesterday, when I left school it was getting dark and overcast, but it started to rain only a few moments before I reached my apartment building.

As I left school today, it started to rain. I secretly hoped that by the time my train ride arrived at my destination the rain would miraculously stop after 45 minutes or so. Once I arrived at the MRT(train) station, I saw people with wet umbrellas coming in. I stopped by the grocery store inside, tried to take up some time and couldn’t really tell if it was still raining or not. I continued with my stubborn attitude and decided not to spend money on an umbrella. As I looked outside at the long 12 minutes between me and the comforts of my apartment, the rain seemed to be coming down even harder.

It was too late to buy an umbrella now. I carried my groceries (a bag of chips and ice cream, don’t judge) and put my grey cardigan over my white shirt and embraced the rain. I listened to the rain. I soaked up the rain. I felt the cool rain trickle down on my face.  I finally felt refreshed.