Be The Change 2018


Work and life have provided me with opportunities to witness the incredible potential of the young, and yet each time I come across a new opportunity, I am amazed to witness it all over again. I find myself drawn to the incredible potential of the human spirit and to the contagious enthusiasm that people display, especially when inspired. And so for the 6thconsecutive year, I cancelled every other appointment, and rushed to be part of Design For Change, Singapore’s Be The Change Celebration (BTC). This event was held on the sunny morning of 12thNovember 2018.

For those who haven’t heard of it before, DESIGN FOR CHANGE is the largest global movement that gives the children opportunity of expressing their ideas for a better world. Oh, and they don’t stop at just expressing their ideas, they put it in to action too. This global movement has inspired thousands of children to discover that change is possible and that they can lead and inspire this change themselves.

BTC 2018 was held at an auditorium at the SMU campus. As I stood at the bottom of this auditorium, I witnessed the beaming faces of students from 26 schools.  In them I saw the future and I am glad to say that the future looks to be in good hands. I also saw the caretakers of this future, the teachers and the parents who were proud to have accompanied these young change makers.

D8498A9F-B84B-434B-8852-5643D4A65598As the emcees cheerfully navigated us through the programme, the enthusiastic crowd chanted encouragements, played interactive games, joined the flash dance and some of them confidently marched up on the stage to receive awards.

 

It was celebratory indeed! These students from various schools in Singapore had followed the Design Thinking process to make a difference to the world around them. Overall, 17 schools presented their projects.

Though every attempt needs applause and every child is a hero, here are few of the projects that were chosen by the jury.

School                                                                             Project

South View Primary School Making A Difference with the SPCA
Holy Innocents Primary School Stars in Action (Project Smile to Children’s Home)
Yio Chu Kang Primary School Blind spot
Global Indian International School Beat Plastic Pollution
Keming Primary School See Well & Don’t Fall
ANDERSON SECONDARY SCHOOL Our Upcycling Project: “Transform trash to treasures”
WESTWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL Virtual Reality: Balik Kampung Project (Back to Good Old Days)
WESTWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL Eco Flowering Filtration Pot System
Overseas Family School Windows to education: Social Entrepreneurship project for underprivileged children in Nepal
Riverside Secondary School A Conversation with Migrant Workers
TANGLIN SECONDARY SCHOOL Tackling Gender Stereotyping in the Classroom

I was duly infected by the enthusiasm that was palpable in the auditorium that day. Many congratulations to DFC Founder, Madhu Verma and the team for another successful event! This incredible event shall return next year with the belief that we can be the change that we want to see in this world. This volunteer shall return too. Till then, keep believing in a better world!

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Yours truly with Madhu Verma (Founder, DFC, Singapore & Founder, SoCh in Action)

 

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It’s Art if it Touches Your Heart


Hello, it’s been a while. And I feel like asking how have you all been, knowing fully well that the answers are limited and the medium here, quite public. Yet, I ask.

How have I been, you ask (or so I assume), so let me tell you. I have been sitting here, watching the world, doing all sorts of wonderful things, learning, reaching out, and breathing in life. Living. Living well. I have filled my world with colours, and with things that I like. And each time, I find myself deflated, I gather few more beautiful things. It’s my kind of art if it touches my heart. Offering you all a glimpse of my kind of beautiful.

On a personal front, presenting my version of Hygge 

A flower presented to me, rather shyly by a 6-year-old, my work desk where I create, I design, I write, I imagine, and I learn (doing an online course that deals with colours currently), and the last one is a picture from a fashion house that I am consulting for. All in all, it’s my happy mix of colour palette.

Next, I would like to present to you, one of my favourite artists, Ziyue Chen. There’s just something so wonderfully warm in her work, that I keep coming back for more.

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She can’t use her words, but art is heart, so just feel. Watch her here

And finally, let me introduce you to a special 2019 calendar by artist, Manas Arvind

Manas is a 17 year-old budding artist, who plays tennis, is a quiz enthusiast, and also the one who faces challenges typical to those who have Down’s Syndrome. Though painting is difficult for him (due to cognitive challenges that limit his ability to imagine or translate), he has mastered quite a few water- colour strokes with the help of his mother. This calendar (above) is a proof of his mother’s tenacity and his determination. Manas’ mom will be donating all profits from this calendar towards charity. Please pre-order now and pick the calendar (location: East Singapore) from Jan 1, 2019. This calendar can be mailed to you too (in Singapore). If you wish to support this initiative, contact +65 9617 8524 before 30 November. Please note: payment is by Pay lah! Price of calendar is $10. For local postal delivery, please add $3. 

If the art touched your heart, please support the artists.

Breathe. Feel. Live.

P

 

Stories of Art & Inspiration


Once in a while, you find inspirations when you least expect them. These little stories remind you that life is full of possibilities. All you need to do is notice.

I have always been fascinated by people who express through words, colours and artistic forms. Their stories, if inspirational, have that additional beauty, which the others may lack. This story is of Singaporean artist, Ziyue Chen, and it is indeed one of those stories that is enriched by both the person and her artistic creations.

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Community colouring of Ziyue Chen’s poster. Source: Little Events

I stumbled upon Ziyue Chen’s work while looking for a coloring piece that would bring people together for our Little Events community event. Ziyue’s work on Singapore fit the bill just right. (Available on Scribolo)

However, that piece was not where I stopped, I ventured in more to find many heart warming and endearing illustrations. Ziyue works with challenging situations, and not being able to hear is one of them. But that does not change the fact that Ziyue is an artist first and foremost.

One must look at art without bias, and the truth is that I got to know of Ziyue’s challenge much later (when I was writing an article about her in The AsianParent Magazine). Read the article here.

I would like to judge her as an artist. And that’s all. She stole my heart with the vulnerability and the warmth that make her art. I agree though that her story is indeed an inspiring one, one that needs to be told to inspire many others. It is also inspiring because her art reflects nothing of what she can’t hear. It’s about what she can see and what she can feel that matters. It reflects only of possibilities.

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Self Portrait by Ziyue Chen

And so I present to you,  Ziyue, who would like you to know that her name is pronounced as ‘Zzz yuair’ or you can call her Angeline.  Ziyue is a Singapore based Illustrator and a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. She works mostly on Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print. See her work here

Her life goal is to have an emotional connection with those who view her work. Well, it certainly connected with me! She is an inspiration, not only to those who are faced with challenges in life, but also to those who would like to follow their hearts, Ziyue Chen makes it seem possible. So from all those she touches through her art (including me), a big thank you!

Stories connect people. If you wish to connect through stories or art, do write in to me. Meanwhile, Here’s another event where art broke barriers.image1-3

Being part of the Bukit Timah Community Club volunteer’s committee has been an exciting journey for me. I would like to thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information & Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Ms Sim Ann for always being encouraging and for connecting me to wonderful people in the community. This time, it was to Jiaman who organised the community gathering at Clementi.

Inspirations, they are everywhere. Look around and find them. And if you do, don’t forget to share those beautiful stories!

Unifying Cultures through Designs


Lately, my work has been taking me in to the world of fashion and films, and it has been an absolute delight! Glitz and glamour aside, what I find most exciting is that there’s a certain amount of electric energy around creative people. That energy gets contagious, and it’s impossible not to be swept in to it. I got completely influenced as well, and loved being surrounded by the buzz of art, fashion, and films. It was beautiful to be surrounded by the swish of luxurious fabrics, the elements of eclectic designs, and eventually, by the various forms of storytelling.

What I also loved is the collaborative stance of these people; the reaching out, the merging of ideas, and the ultimate exposition of the finale. The world of art is best enjoyed with an open mind. I went in, a blank canvas, and I come out, enriched, having met people, who with their brilliance, and their collaborations, make the world a little more beautiful.

Jewellery Series: Interview with the inspiring Michael Koh of Caratell (Singapore)

Source: Sunmedia

Fashion Series: Meeting the effervescent Helen of NES by hdk (Indonesia)

Meeting designer, Helen of ‘NES by hdk’. Draped around me is the famed ‘stola’ from her latest collection. (Image: Prionka ray)

Source: IndoConnect, Sunmedia.

Source: IndoConnect, Sunmedia.

Mosaic


We understand the big events that make a difference, the events and interactions that change our directions in life. We know them because they alter our goals, they alter us, and they often alter our lives altogether. These bigger things, how can we miss them! We register them and we record them and then we recall them in great detail. But what about the littler moments, the one-off interactions, and the otherwise insignificant meetings, don’t they all add up too? For me they do.

The woman was a consultant. She had a portfolio and a job title. I had an appointment with her and we were seated in a stern and formal office. However, fifteen minutes in to the conversation, she was a woman just back from her maternity leave sharing her parenting concerns with me. I met her only once, but we were chatting away like people who have known each other for years. What started out as a business meeting wasn’t one anymore. I think we were animated conversational partners by the time we parted. I will probably never see her, but she was a happy part of my day.

This girl, barely out of her teens spoke a language I didn’t completely comprehend. So we communicated with more gestures than sentences. She was young, giggly and a tad bit over dramatic. I rolled my eyes at times, and laughed with her at other. I knew her for few months and then she went to the country where she came from. And yet I was anxious when she returned home because I worried that her journey back would not be easy. When she left, she took my hands and bowed in a show of respect. There was a lump in my throat as I wished her well. I knew I will never see her but I wish that I could.

He was my taxi driver. Not the chatty kinds, but he was the one with a kind voice and a gentle demeanor. He spoke of his grandson, the one who died few weeks ago. He spoke of him because he thought I was a teacher at the school where his grandson studied. I wasn’t, but before I could correct him, he went on talking about the grandson who he must have adored. His voice carried the love that he must have felt, a love that he still feels. He was embarrassed at having told me all this. I reassured him that I liked hearing it. I meant it. Late that evening, I remembered the loss, the pain and the little boy. I remembered him and he found a way in to my tiny prayer to whoever was listening up there.

The man was a stranger at the café. I don’t remember what he looked like, but I do remember his shoes. Those shoes were splattered with coffee, yes, from my coffee cup. I was absolutely mortified, and apologized as sincerely as I could, but those dirty shoes haunted me, and taunted me. I knew I was sloppy but I didn’t want strangers at the cafe to know such things. He didn’t sound very pleased but he did murmur something like, ‘don’t worry about it.’ But I did worry about it as I walked out, my face burning. I would rather not meet him again.

She was the lady at the post office. She had the sparkly eyes and the rotund frame. I was posting a letter to a childhood friend, and had found the most ornate envelope. She looked at it with a smile and said, ‘love letter?’ I smiled and said, ‘no.’ ‘What a pity!’ said she, and we laughed about the love letter that I didn’t send.

Everyday, I meet people I will never see again. These tiny interactions, and meetings leave something back in my life. They are like shiny, multicolored pebbles. I recall the big events of my life but very often I seem to forget these other encounters, the ones that were shorter and perhaps, of little or no consequence. But they remain somehow, through my day, and even after that. They turn in to mosaics, these beautiful, little encounters.

(A mosaic is a piece of art or image made from the assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials).