My teen in a Neighbourhood school

One reason many parents worry for their children and push them towards excessive tuition is to cross the first academic hurdle – the PSLE. I hear parents lamenting that despite MOE scrapping some exams, it makes no difference if at the end of the day, students still have to sit for the PSLE.

When I ask them what are they worried about? The majority tell me that they are concerned about their children ending up in a neighbourhood school because of the negative influence.

I had that perception too. I guided my 3 older girls towards mission schools for their character development.

When #4 did not do well enough to enter a mission school, we pored over the grey book and narrowed down 2 neighbourhood schools which had interesting niche programmes. We checked out the open house, spoke to the HODs, asked around if friends knew of any friends with children from that school and made our decision.

The first year was a culture shock for her. Coming from an elite school, she was used to chatting with classmates about their overseas vacations, which air pods to buy and the movies they are planning to watch together. With her new classmates, the topics of common interest were limited and she wasn’t able to make any close friends.

I did feel her sadness, especially when her older sisters brought groups of friends home and she wished that she had classmates she could bond with.

However, 3 years on, she tells me that she is happy in school.

At her recent PTM, I was glad to see her chatting with friends of all races, some from her class, some from CCA and others from previous classes. Her form teacher is a lovely experienced teacher and she had good things to say about #4. She’s not academically strong, but she tries her best and is always polite and cheerful.

My birthday present

She’s been writing me cards for Mother’s Day and for my birthday and I am so pleased to see that she has become such a sensible child. She wrote:

Thank you for everything that you do for us, it must be so so hard to raise 6 children! I really appreciate all the encouragement you give me too! And how much you believe in me! I am also super proud of you and you living your dream makes me see that I can too.


She took much time and effort to knit me a beautiful bag dotted with pearls and made me a set of jewelry. Look at the bracelet! She moulded each piece from clay, baked them carefully in the oven and strung them into a bracelet. She designed earrings in my favourite colour and completed the set with a pearl ring.

So impresssed!

I admit I was worried about this child, being a teenager in a neighbourhood school. What negative influence will she pick up? Who will she mix with? I heard horror stories of kids in Sec 1 who stayed out for weeks playing Lan gaming with their classmates and skipped school and their parents could not control them.

My other kids went through the dreaded teenage phase. Of rolling eyes, bad attitude and monosyllabic responses. Some came out of the phase quickly but some were difficult to handle for years.

My fears of her being influenced by “bad company” has been unfounded. Instead, we have seen the silver lining of her being in this school. Because of what she witnessed around her, she is more appreciative of everything she has. She thanks me for every little thing. For making her a healthy dinner, for buying her a special art pen from the bookshop or for buying back flour so she can make cookies. She has also developed great empathy for those around her who are struggling.

I remember during one dinner conversation, the older girls were discussing their grad night and problems in finding the right dress.

In the midst of the conversation, she shared what was on her mind and said, “Miram’s dad is going to jail tonight. He told her to take care of herself and her mum.”

All of us froze. We didn’t know what to say. What to think. Finally, one of the girls blurted out, “Why is her dad going to jail?”

#4 said, “I didn’t ask. And I don’t want to know. But Miram must be feeling really sad. I didn’t know what to say to her when she told me that.”

On another occasion, #4 asked me for money to buy a calculator for Math. It cost more than $100 and she felt bad that I had to fork out the money. She shared with us that she had a classmate who is feeling the pinch of this extra expense as she has been taking care of herself since Sec 1 and who works during the weekends and pays for her own needs.

She doesn’t take anything for granted anymore and when she askes me for her weekly allowance, she gives me a discount and says “Mum, this week I won’t be spending so much so give me less.” Although she finds school work very hard to understand, she is good with her hands and dreams of the day she can have her own accessory line and is able to provide for us.

Having this one child in a neighbourhood school with friends who have real struggles have opened the eyes of all the other siblings.

I’ve also heard from teachers that it is not only in the neighbourhood schools that children end up with bad company. Even in the so-called “better” schools, students do get into trouble, be it in boys schools, mixed schools and even in all-girls schools.

The stories that surround our teenagers can get pretty chilling. As parents, we should aim to build our children up with good moral values, which provides them a strong foundation to know right from wrong and be able to make wise decisions and stand by the values they believe in, instead of trying to shield them too much.

We can only do our best as parents. Sometimes, despite trying very hard to raise them well, they still end up giving us endless nights of worry. All we can do is to ride out the storm with patience and love.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


{Interview #5} Professor Tan Huay Cheem – Cardiologist

Professor Tan Huay Cheem, 52, is Senior Consultant at the department of Cardiology at National University Hospital (NUH). He is also Director of National University Heart Centre, Singapore (NUHCS), and Professor of Medicine at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS. He is a visiting professor to several hospitals in China and is an invited speaker to many international cardiology meetings. He is married to a locum G.P., who spends much of her time looking after their 11 year old daughter.
This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery MBBS (Singapore)
Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine)
Membership of Royal College of Physician (MRCP) United Kingdom
Fellowship of American College of Cardiology (FACC)
Describe your job

I am a cardiologist, a heart specialist. Specifically, I am an interventional cardiologist who specialises in ‘unblocking’ patients’ ‘blocked heart arteries’ (coronary artery disease) from excessive cholesterol and fat deposits.

I do so by inserting a balloon through the wrist or groin artery to access the heart (coronary) arteries. I would first dilate the arteries (which fractures and pushes the deposits against the side of the wall) with a balloon catheter and then implant a stent (which is either a metallic or ‘plastic’ scaffold) to prop the artery open. That way, it allows for restoration of blood flow to the heart which can relieve patient’s symptom (called angina pectoris) and prevent heart attack. The whole procedure is called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).

PCI is a generally safe procedure with procedural complication rates of less than 2%. It can be really life-saving in patients with acute heart attacks. In these patients, their arteries are completely ‘choked off’ with no blood flow to the heart muscles by blood clot and fat deposuts; and by performing this procedure, the whole process of heart attack can be aborted.

This job requires me to be on duty some days where I have to be on standby for a whole 24 hours to be activated whenever a patient is admitted with heart attack. This can be very tiring especially when there are many heart attack patients who are admitted on the same day; or when they come in the middle of the night which deprives you of your sleep. In choosing this profession, I have acknowledged that this will have to be my lifestyle. My wife and family accepts it.
How did you find your passion/ area of interest?

I have always wanted to be a doctor since young. I still remember writing about being one as a young primary school student. I must have been inspired by the doctors who cured me of my illnesses when I was young. These doctors had left an indelible impression on me. To me, the medical profession is a noble and respectable one. Having become a doctor, I realise that respect from our patients has to be earned and not demanded. It is my wish that all doctors will continue to place the interest of their patients before their own, and not be influenced by extraneous factors such as financial gains or others.  

I have always thought that I would be an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. This is because I topped the subject in my class. However something happened in my life that changed my initial plan. My mother, who was very close to me, had sudden death from a heart attack when I was serving my National Service as a medical officer. I found her collapsed in the bathroom on my return one day and started performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her till the ambulance arrived. She did not make it and died shortly after.

It was a shocking experience for me and it changed my life completely. My mother was only 55 when she passed away. She was simply too young to have died! I then decided that I would take up Cardiology, and specifically interventional cardiology, so that I can make a difference to heart attack patients in future. Although I could not save my own mother, I hope to be able to save someone else’s parent or spouse. I found myself to have a knack for the field and made sure that I was well-trained in it to serve my calling. Having performed nearly 10,000 cardiac  procedures both locally and overseas over the last 20 years, I believe I have made an impact to many people’s lives.

I have been working in NUH since my graduation 28 years ago. I still have many long term patients whom I had previously operated on, under my care. While I am definitely not the richest doctor around, I am very wealthy with the showers of gratitude and thanks which many of my patients bestow on me. That, to me, is the best gift.

Professor Tan Huay Cheem
Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

My job as an academic cardiologist encompasses 4 main areas of work, namely clinical service, teaching, research and administration. I derive tremendous satisfaction in all these areas.

To be able to save someone’s life at the time when he or she needed you most gives me the most gratification. To be able to teach and train someone so well that he can treat his own patients competently is another satisfaction. To create new knowledge and to come out with new therapies to treat patients better is what I try to do in my research. And finally as a leader in the public institution, I help develop clinical programmes, manpower planning and participate in formulating public health policies, all of which are meaningful to me. What keeps me in the public sector, instead of going into private practice, is that I can be a member of Singapore’s public healthcare system which provides quality, accessible and cost effective care to the people of my country, regardless of their background.    
What does success mean to you?

I like the definition of success by American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“To find the best in others; to give of oneself; to leave the world a bit better; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived- this is to have succeeded”

I wish to be a blessing to someone every day, be it big or small. That is my definition of success. My work gives me the privilege to literally do that every day!

I owe all that I have to God. I hope to be an Ambassador for Christ, to testify of His wondrous works through my work and life.
Are you involved in any charity work?

I volunteer my time with Singapore Heart Foundation, a voluntary welfare organization (VWO) that aims to promote heart health, prevent and reduce disability and death due to cardiovascular diseases and stroke among the public. I am the Secretary General for the organization and am actively involved in promoting health in schools and the community through programmes such as obesity management, exercise for life, Go Red For Women, and cardiac rehabilitation. We also raise funds to support needy patients for their expensive treatment in hospitals.
One advice to parents

Be a good role model to your child for much of what he/she becomes later in life is shaped by you.
One advice to teens

As you pursue your dreams in life, do not forget that much of what you have is owed to your parents and the society. Learn to count your blessings and be grateful.
To be a cardiologist, it takes someone who is….. fully committed to the job with passion. Life-long continual learning is a prerequisite. You must also have three core values: empathy, compassion and effective communication skills. Take care of your patient like you would take care of your loved ones and do not allow financial gains to influence your judgement and management.
 

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Mega concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

#4 – Chong Ee Jay Cyber Wellness Educator TOUCH Cyber Wellness


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Photos that tell a story – #1’s unusual perception

After I shared some of the photos #1 took at her first photography workshop, many commented that she has an eye for it and we encouraged her to  keep practicing and see where it leads her.

Coincidentally, she did a colour test in school and scored way above her peers in her ability to differentiate colours, even when it is just a minute shade darker than the rest. Things are beginning to click. Thinking back, I realise that #1 would always point out details with regards to colour first, before noticing other aspects.

One of my close friends made an effort to meet with her and these were some of the photos she snapped on their walkabout. I really like how she is starting to show her preference in shooting from angles slightly out of the ordinary, which results in images with more character.

People
Foreign workers doing an honest day’s work, with multi-national companies in the background. It is on the back of their hard labour which our shiny buildings are built on.


Beyond
The viewer pauses to take another look at a scene which has been photographed a thousand times. We learn to look at life and problems from a different perspective.

Peek
There’s something uncanny about the way MBS is framed from this angle. A structure so stunning emerging from the rawness.


Beam-ing
You get sucked into the photo, like how sometimes you get sucked into things without intending to.


Stillness
The water. Doesn’t it look more like the gravelled road? Things may not be what they seem to be.


I told #1 I was very impressed with her shots this time round too. They are different. They get me thinking.

She replied, “Yeah. I like them. But it might not please everyone. You either like them or not.”

I love how my kids dare to be themselves.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~


{Interview #4} Chong Ee Jay – Cyber Wellness Educator

Chong Ee Jay, 36, is the Manager of TOUCH Cyber Wellness and Head of Volunteer Management of TOUCH community Services. He has conducted more than 300 cyber wellness workshops since 2007, reaching out to more than 15,000 parents, educators and youth workers in schools, corporations and the community.

He represented TOUCH Cyber Wellness as recipient of the Singapore Youth Award in 2011 – the highest accolade for youth achievement awards in Singapore. He is a highly sought-after speaker and trainer in the area of cyber wellness. He is married to a fellow counsellor working with children, youths and parents in tackling cyber related concerns. She is currently studying her Masters in Counselling and they are expecting their first child.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications:


Bachelor in Engineering (NUS)
Masters in Engineering (Bioengineering) NUS
Certifications in Social work and Counselling

Workshop for parents
Describe your job: 

I oversee the cyber wellness department in TOUCH, comprising of 12 full time staff which provides a holistic suite of programmes and services for children, youths, parents, practitioners, professionals and educators. 

I conduct parents’ cyber wellness workshops to help parents be more aware of the current cyber trends as well as to impart practical tips and teach them how to manage and engage their children more effectively in this fast changing digital age.

I also run training courses for educators and social service practitioners to empower them with practical diagnostic and intervention skill sets and domain knowledge as they work frontline in tackling cyber related issues such as gaming addiction and cyber bullying.

Besides that, I’m involved in para-counselling and counsultation, working closely with individuals and families in overcoming challenges at the home front – such as parent–child relationship issues and young parents’ parenting concerns.
How did you find your passion?

Honestly, I never thought I would join the social service sector. It all started more than 12 years ago when I got “dragged” by my university friends to do volunteer work in Mendaki by providing tuition support for low income families’ children. After a few weeks I really enjoyed my time there interacting with their children and being able to encourage them and help them succeed in their studies.

Back then, I already noticed that kids were punching away on their parents’ mobile phones (non smartphones) monochrome screen playing the then-popular game – Snake! I was very intrigued because such a simple game could keep them glued to the phone… what more in the future when phones become more high tech? That’s when the notion of cyber safety came to my mind. 

After I graduated from university, I decided to follow my passion instead of what I had studied. My parents were initially hesitant about my career path because they felt that I would be “wasting” my Masters degree and considering too that my Masters project had secured me a patent. However upon several discussions, they were agreeable to having me pursue my passion. 

I had a good friend already working in TOUCH Cyber Wellness and I volunteered for 2 months as a programme assistant in the cyber wellness enrichment holiday camp. Those two months were really eye-opening and allowed me the opportunity to work closely in mentoring the youths who had excessive gaming behaviours, as well as connecting with parents to help them better empathize and understand their children’ habits and how to manage them.

Since then, I came on board as a full time staff with TOUCH Cyber Wellness and have no regrets looking back at these past 9 fruitful years!
Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

To be able to speak hope and encouragement to many parents who are struggling and feeling hopeless in dealing with their children. I also enjoy mentoring the children and teenagers, spending time with them and educating them on positive online behaviours. 
What does success mean to you?

Success in life to me means to be able to be a blessing to someone else. This is a fundamental belief that I have held on to since my university days when I started taking my life more seriously.

Are you involved in any charity / voluntary work?

Yes, I am currently actively volunteering as a life coach to a group of young adults. I also volunteer together with my wife in mentoring a few young adult dating couples and preparing them towards marriage. 
One advice to parents

The best way you can love your children is to love your spouse. And love is spelt TIME.
One advice to teens

YOLO – You Only Live Once… So make your life count for goodness and greatness!
To be a good youth worker (or youth coach), it takes someone… who is passionate and convicted about the importance of the next generation.


{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

30 reasons why my kid loves me

I was overjoyed to receive very sincere gifts from my kids for my birthday. #3 gave me a jar which read, “A bunch of reasons why I love you”, and she filled it with 30 little slips of paper stating why. Such a darling.

You made me who I am today.

You always let us go out with our friends.

You are very kiddy. (I’ll take it as I’m FUN)

You have cool friends.


You let us do things daddy doesn’t. (uh-oh)


You didn’t stress much on studies.


You are not a typical Singaporean mum.

You don’t care about our results. (It’s the process and progress, no?)

You raised us with proper morals.


Your cooking is still edible.


You raised an amazing kid, which is me.

I came out pretty, so obviously you must be. (woah, what a one-liner)

You are better than most mums.


You let us do a lot of crazy things.


You have nice clothes, which you don’t wear.


You raised me to be independent.

You are a cool mum (ahem. taking a bow)

You made me.

Wow. I was flabbergasted.

Have my girls really grown up? 

They attempted to create an art piece with Kate, although it did not turn out as expected. They glued the crayon sticks onto the canvass and blasted the hair dryer over it. Somehow, the crayons didn’t melt as it should. In the end, they got Kate to draw some squiggly lines. Still, I like it!

When #2 presented me her gift, I was so impressed. She made the effort to print out our photos over the years, cut them all nicely, categorise them, and stick them onto the strip. She did it on both sides and it unravels beautifully.

Handmade photo album

She went the extra mile by decorating the box, drawing on every inch of the paper and gluing it on. Can you spot the ‘happy birthday’ written on it? She folded paper hearts as a cushion for the photo roll. 100% for effort!


Personalised box

So heartening to see that all the sacrifices I have made in raising them is being appreciated.

Isn’t that all we wish for as mums?


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

My daughter took these photos. I’m IMPRESSED

I took #1 along for the Fast Track workshop conducted by Canon Imaging Academy and she picked up way more than I did. In fact, I was stunned by the standard of her photographs. Looks really professional to me!

This post is written by her.

Bee

To get this image, I used a fast shutter speed. With a fast shutter speed, the camera is able to capture an image at a specific fraction of a second. Even though the bee is flying at a fast speed, the image is clear.

Art Science Museum

This looks suitable for SG50! The Marina Bay area is aesthetically very pretty and is an excellent place for photo shoots.

Panning shot

I have never tried taking panning shots but with the information I gleaned at the theory segment, I managed to pick it up. To achieve a clear image of the focus object, you pan the camera at the same speed as the moving object and the other still components will be blurred and your photo will turn out something like this :)))

Lines

My mum was asking the instructor how to make sense of the scenery when there are too many lines to coordinate. He suggested we focus on something special, like in this case, the LV logo, and choose 1 set of lines to anchor the photo. I used high aperture so the buildings behind are also clear.

Mirror image

I really like this convex mirror in the middle of a pond. With the aid of the mirror, you can see what is behind, which includes the buildings and the sky, yet also see the actual pond which is nicely captured in the mirror.

Bridge

The architecture of the Helix bridge is stunning.

Sashimi

I only managed to take the first dish before my camera ran out of battery! Pity I’m allergic to prawn, but my mummy was happily savouring it.

The next Fast Track workshop is happening at the end of June. See details below.

At the end of the session, I asked Nugene, the instructor, for some constructive criticism of #1’s photos. He said, “You can open a studio for her. She has an eye for photography.”

Wow. I told her she should pursue her interest but she dismissed it by saying that the instructor was probably trying to be nice. She thinks I’m easily impressed because I’m new to photography. Anyone keen to hire her? 🙂

Here’s 6 simple yet effective tips to take better photos which I picked up from the Canon instructors.

Fast Track Workshop

Date: 27 June 2015
Time: 10am – 1pm
Fee: $88 (inclusive of 4-course lunch)

Disclaimer: We were sponsored the Fast Track program. All opinions are my own.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore


6 simple tips for better photos

I have never taken any photos in my life. That is, before I started blogging. Given my pathetic state of almost non-existent photography skill, one of the things on my agenda was to attend a basic photography course. However, I could never find time to get round to doing it (like the many other hope to do things on my KIV list).

Finally, the opportunity came knocking on my door when Canon Imaging Academy invited me to their bespoke Fast Track workshop held at MBS. I took #1 along as she has an interest in photography. For me? I was there for the 4-course lunch at HY California, and to do something fun with my 16-year old. (not easy these days to find cool things which teens are keen to attend!)

While the rest of them got acquainted with rudimentary knowledge of the technicalities of their cameras such as ISO, apertures, shutter speed, all of which was Greek to me, I was delighted that I still managed to pick up several simple yet effective general tips which I can put into practice even while using my phone to take pictures. Here’s some of what I learnt.

1. Tell a story

I never really thought about why I took photos. Well, it was definitely to keep as memories. And now as a blogger, I have to include some photos in my posts because who wants to read a whole text without any pictures to break up the monotony, right? However, to discover that a photo is used to tell a story changed my perspective instantly on what shot I wanted to capture, and what I was trying to convey. Because as they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

#1 in action

2. Patience

Being a novice photographer, I will take many shots so that hopefully 1 or 2 will turn out nice. The instructor Alvin shared with us that it takes patience to wait for the right moment, the right expression, the right lighting even, and to be ready with your camera to snap that 1 excellent shot.

3. Remove distractions

As much as possible, try to subtract distractions in the photo. While on the Helix bridge, I simply took photos with other people walking by. Nugene, the instructor, suggested I wait till there was a break and to take the photo with no other subjects in it. It makes the photo more focused, and the viewer would not have to guess what I am trying to say.

Helix bridge adjoining MBS
4. Food photography

I learnt lots of useful tips on taking food shots. I asked Nugene what to do when the food presented doesn’t look so appealing? For example, in the beef dish below, it was 2 square pieces served side to side. He suggested we turned it around and focus on the first one and use the other one as background. Looks so much better!

Panfried beef on mash

Another question I had was what if the whole dish looks rather dull (as was the chicken dish). He suggested zooming in and focusing on a specific ingredient or colour.

Grilled chicken

5. Jump shots

People these days seem to like taking jump shots. I still haven’t figured out why. Nugene taught us how to capture them jumping all at the same time without having to jump so many times that they get tired and it shows in their expressions. He said that we should give the cue to jump, but only click when we see them lifting off, not when we say ‘jump’. Haha. Worked!

Photo credit: Canon Imaging Academy

6. Find your own style

Photography is subjective. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Some like the rule of 3s, some like the Bokeh (blur background) effect, some like it over-exposed while others like it under-exposed. He encouraged us to experiment with our cameras and to keep on practicing.


Nugene left us with the sage advice that we should not be so intent on capturing it all on camera without pausing to enjoy the moment. That is so, so, true. Especially on holidays, we are busy snapping the beautiful scenery, and when we get back, we can’t quite recall the surreal experience of being there.

#1 and I enjoyed ourselves immensely at this very unique photography course. We gained new techniques and tricks, had ample opportunity for hands-on practice with the very approachable instructors and learnt tips on food photography while sharing a delectable meal. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

These tips are just scratching the surface of what we learnt that day. Stay tuned for the follow-up post where I will showcase #1’s photographs taken at this class. I was blown away. I think I’ve found #1’s hidden talent.

Here are some upcoming sessions Canon will be holding in June. The Zoo outing sounds really good and is not too expensive, whereby you will get hands-on tips in taking photos of your child. (note: not limited to Canon users)

Family Photo Walk at Singapore Zoo

Date: 18 June 2015, Thursday
Time: 2 – 5pm
Fee: $38/pax, inclusive of 1 adult + 1 child below 15 years old (excludes Zoo entrance fee)

Compact Camera Outing

Date: 11 or 12 June 2015
Time: 2 – 4pm
Venue: Around Vivacity
Fee: $28/pax

Fast Track Workshop

Date: 27 June 2015
Time: 10am – 1pm
Fee: $88 (inclusive of 4-course lunch)

We made friends with the other bloggers and here’s a look at their posts of the event:

Claudia of The Loving Mum

Soon Koon of Lemon Film

Phoebe of BPDG Travels

Estella of So Oddly Dreamlike

Serene of xavvy-licious


Disclaimer: We were sponsored the Fast Track program. All opinions are my own.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

{Interview #2} Jeremiah Choy – Creative Director

Jeremiah Choy, 52, is the Creative Director of Sing50, a concert to be held at the National Stadium to commemorate Singapore’s 50th Jubilee celebrations. In 2015, he was also creative director for May Day Rally, Singapore Day (Shanghai) and Spotlight Singapore, a platform in cultural diplomacy in Mexico City. He will be directing ChildAid 2015 in December this year. He was an Adjunct Lecture with the Singapore Management University and was the President of the Association of Singapore Actors. He founded the Orangedot Group of Companies comprising Productions, Entertainment, Management and Talents.


This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications

LLB (Hons) NUS, Singapore

Describe your job

I am now a creative director, producer and curator. 

In my younger days, I used to be an actor, dancer, choreographer and writer. Oh, I used to be a lawyer too. 

My present job is to think of ways to help my clients “sell” a message, create an experience, or simply curate a series of happenings.

The greatest pleasure in my job is that there is no real definition of what I do. I can be directing a show in theatre one moment, auditioning for a concert the next, or writing for an exhibition. I can be going around to shop for costumes, meeting like-minded people to brainstorm ideas, be alone to dream of concepts or travel the world to do yet another production. The freedom of creativity is what keeps me going.

Tell us about your career path

When I was in primary school, I had wanted to be a doctor. That was because everyone told me that it would be a good choice. Besides, I have terrible handwriting – the sort of squiggles you see when you consult your doctor (no offence to the doctors out there).

Then came secondary school, where I had dreamed to be a violinist. But that was quickly crushed when my squealing violin playing was declaimed by the people around me.

In Junior College, I had wanted to be a doctor again. But dissecting a guinea pig with four foetuses within her made me realise for the second time, that this is one profession I was not meant to be.

So after my A level results, I decided to be a psychologist or psychiatrist. But there was no such course in NUS, so I was prepared to take up Sociology. However on my way to submit my application, a good friend persuaded me to go to Law School. He said that there were a lot of creative people in Law School. Needless to say, I was persuaded. My inner performance cells needed no convincing. 

So after National Service, I went to Law School and stayed in Kent Ridge Hall. I started dancing, singing and participated in Hall activities that allowed my creative juices to run amok. But I studied hard enough to graduate as a Law student, and eventually became a lawyer. 

Came 1988, the first production that changed my life. That was Beauty World, the musical. My first professional theatre that made me sing, dance and act (even as a chorus). I was smitten by the theatre. 

In the 10 years that followed, I co-existed as a lawyer by day and performer by night. It was exhausting but at the same time exhilarating. I was involved in many ground breaking productions by TheatreWorks and Asia-in-Theatre Research Circus.

Then came 1997, the second production that changed my life again. That was Lear, a six country, multi-disciplinary performance that toured Asia and Europe. I gave up my legal career to be in it. At first I thought, I would try going full time as a performer for 2 years. That 2 years have become 18 years.

Over the years, I have gravitated towards Events and Theatre. 

I am fortunate to be one of those people who can truly claim that I love what I do and do what I love. The best thing is getting paid for that. 

How did you find your passion?

I think the passion is inbuilt in me since young. I have always been interested in performing arts since young. Participating in drama, choirs, etc in my schools. 

Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

Meeting and working with like-minded people. Getting inspired by the immense talent around me. Having the opportunity to dream, and to make my dreams come true. That is satisfaction. Guaranteed. 

You must be incredibly busy. How do you avoid being burned out?

I always remember to stop and have my me-time every now and then. Me-time can simply mean having a little quiet moment in the middle of all the hustle and bustle around me, just switching off the phone, computer, and all things electronic and indulge in a little garden-gazing with a cup of coffee in my hands. Or just taking a moment to literally re-connect with the inner-me. 

What does success mean to you?

Success is not about being famous and making money. Success is about being happy and enjoying what you do for a living. 

Are you involved in any charity work?

I have my once a year ChildAid Concert, which raises money for the School Pocket Money Fund and the Business Times Budding Artist Fund. I really enjoy doing this concert where I meet many gifted and talented children. They are being provided a platform where they can contribute back to society through their talents.

But more importantly, it gives me the opportunity to share with them some very important qualities of being a professional artiste. That is, the constant reminder to be “HIP” –  to have Humility and Integrity and to be Professional.

No matter how great a talent the young children have, they must be able to share the stage, onstage and behind the scenes, with the cast and crew. Everyone contributes to the success of a concert. 

What does it take for young people to succeed in the Arts?

First, you must truly love the arts and believe in the power of the arts. You must have something to say. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you think that being in the arts is about being rich and famous, then you are in for a huge surprise. People in the arts work very hard. Beauty and fame can only take you so far. It is the passion and conviction that will carry you further. 

One advice to parents

You may think your child is talented. But sometimes, it is your projection on your child. Give your child the space to explore his or her own talent. Sometimes, pushing your child too hard will create the burnout sooner. I have seen many talented 4 to 6 year olds burn out by the time they turn 15 or 16. 

If your child is truly talented, he or she will find the right way of expressing it. As parents, you can help to provide the platform. But by pushing your child beyond what is necessary, then the talent is like a flower that is over watered, which will wilt in due course, choked by the over-attention given. 

One advice to teens

It is alright to explore. You are young. You have dreams. You have a lot of time to decide what you want to do. But do not waste the talent given to you. Do not squander it away. Talent alone does not guarantee you the satisfaction of success. It is a lot of hard work.

To be a good creative director, it takes someone… who believes in himself/herself. Never doubt your own dream or vision. It takes a look of hard work to be ahead of the curve. But the satisfaction comes when you are riding the waves.


{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine


~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~