Teach Kids about Empathy


Empathy. I can’t stress on it enough, and I can’t stop talking about it. Thanks to TheAsian Parents Magazine for publishing my article. Read my original article here.

 

(Text: Prionka Ray. Source: TheAsianParents)

(Text: Prionka Ray. Source: TheAsianParents)

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Stories



Stories: 

They should come with a manual.

We should be warned before they begin.

And told exactly 

When they will end.

Stories:

They shouldn’t catch us off guard like this.

They shouldn’t leave us floundering,

Astounded,

Hanging by the threads.

Knowing not whether they unravel

Or whether they keep weaving new strands.

Stories: 

We make them, 

We break them,

We flow in them,

We float.

And sometimes we soak in them

All the weariness of this world

The tiredness of the souls

And the lethargy of many half-dreamt dreams.

Stories:

They fascinate us,

They terrify us.

Stories: 

They lure us,

They seduce us,

They gnaw at us.

Stories, stories, stories! 

Take away the stories!!!!

 

No! No! Don’t listen to me!

Give them back!

Please?

Stories:

Give me those bitter-sweet stories

Let me live in them

Let me get lost in them

Forever. 

By Prionka Ray ©

 

Bringing People Together


A community is where people reach out to each other in different ways, for different purposes, and in the process create something lasting and beautiful. There’s nothing more heart warming than people coming forward as a community, as a society, exactly as humanity should be. There’s much happening in our community as well. A quick look at few events in Singapore:

The Human Library

The largest Human Library event, termed, “Moving Foreword” took place on 27 August at Taman Jurong Community Club, and it brought 234 Readers in conversations with 42 Books and 11 Community Partners. Organised by Human Library Singapore, the event  aims to provide a safe space for conversations to occur between various groups, and in the process, create positive experiences and mutual respect amongst individuals.

Among the Human Books at this event were a wildlife rescuer, solo female travellers, an atheist, a vegan, ex-offenders and suicide attempt survivors. Care was taken to curate as diverse a range as possible as all identities naturally come with stereotypes, not just those that are typically thought of as stigmatised. A first-time Book, Rolinda, Foreign Domestic Worker, added “As a Book I come to share what I had learned; but in the end, I learned more than what I shared. Empathy begins with a conversation.”

More information about Human Library, Singapore

Click here for other community programmes in Singapore

Coming up!

Star Wars Force Friday II

At the stroke of midnight on Friday, September 1, 2017, the Force will be strong at ION Orchard with the launch of Star Wars: Experience the Force Singapore festival. The 10-day festival will take place from 1 – 10 September and will kick off with the worldwide celebration of Star Wars Force Friday II. All festival experiences along Orchard Road are free-of-charge. The festival culminates with an immersive experience over at STGCC, where an entire zone has been specially dedicated to Star Wars. The fans will be offered the chance to get up close and personal with fan-built vehicle replicas, games, releases and collectibles!  Click for more information on Star Wars Force Friday.

Bringing people together. That’s today’s theme and the need of the hour. This large hearted living has been expressed by the poet, playwright, short story writer, and essayist LeRoi Jones, better known as Amiri Baraka (October 7, 1934–January 9, 2014).

Want to do your bit? 

Direct help to Houston

Donate to North East Flood in India

Volunteer in Singapore

So, bring people together, stay united and reach out! Till we meet again!

 

Letting Go


It’s never easy to let go.

Sitting at the threshold of my now vacant house, I found myself swamped by emotions. The memories came in like tide, overlapping each other and in quick succession. I remembered the laughter that filled this place, the chatter, the stray shout of “have you seen my phone?” I remembered the sonorous tinkling of the wind chime that gave a background score to everything that transpired here. My eyes travelled to the empty hook. That was exactly where it stayed, where it was tied up, where it swayed. It wasn’t there anymore.

I looked around and remembered the frantic steps through the hallways and the rooms before each of their classical dance performances. I remembered struggling through the ornate ensemble, the elaborate hair-do and the gaudy make-up on little faces. I remembered my exasperation and, “this is the last time!” And yet after each show, I remembered lovingly folding the costume and arranging the bits and pieces back. I remembered strewn books, guitar and roller blades here. I remembered little girls that grew up. I remembered the pitter-patter of doggy steps. I remembered doggy licks and woofs and vigorous swishing of tail. I remembered the sounds of laughter as guests walked in.  I remembered lazy afternoons, the sounds of breeze, the birds at a distance, and the gentle rustling of the leaves.

The rustling reminded me that time has passed. Considerable time.

A yellowed leaf floated in gently and landed somewhere near. At another point in time, I would have picked that leaf up, an intruder to my space. This time, I smiled at it. It was an intruder, just as I was. The afternoon stretched in to the vacuous space, derived of warmth and breath. It was time to let go. I glanced back one last time, and walked away.

 

Art Review: Yayoi Kunama


(This is a guest post by our teen reviewer, Anushka)

The National Gallery of Singapore’s new exhibit showcasing the many artworks of famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is yet another testament to the seven decades she has dedicated to them. Separated into four different galleries with its own separate identity, there are sculptures dated from 1972, standing still, next to a glorious explosion of spots. It was completed this year. I personally was more affected by the many boxes and rooms that greeted me with each step.

Gallery A’s display of the Infinity Nets series is not only a perspective into the artist’s eccentric mind, but also a glimpse into history, given that their first exhibition was in 1959. The paintings lack a structure, but rather all take up a canvas in a somewhat dizzying and hypnotic manner. Kusama’s past with hallucinations throughout her childhood is an inspiration for all her artwork, but Infinity Nets is a very clear product of it.

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Infinity Nets (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

Gallery A also explores Kusama’s fascination with pumpkins, which personally, was my favourite theme. The vibrant, youthful colours conveyed a theme of innocence and radiance. Not only were there paintings across the walls, but also interactive installations, where a box is placed inside a room that seemed much like a bumblebee’s home. When I peered into the box, I was greeted with mirrors aligning the walls within, and the bulbous pumpkins aligning the floor.

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Bulbous pumpkin (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

Gallery B is the home of the famous installation where many photos have been taken. Unsurprisingly, there is a line to enter this house of mirrors, where lights are hang from above crating a kaleidoscope of types. The lights shimmer and change much like Christmas lights, the darkness illuminated by what seem like tiny colourful stars. Gallery B also introduced two video installations, however, one being R18 prevented me from seeing it. The one further along shows that Kusama’s creativity was not only explored through paintings and fine art, but also through poetry and music, as a projector broadcasts her own song named the “Song of A Manhattan Suicide Addict”, where she uses her own experience dealing with depression to get across an eerie and uncomfortable song with the familiar pumpkins behind her, a strange contrast of the youthfulness before and this sudden talk of death.

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Life Is The Heart of A Rainbow (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

In Gallery C, we are met with hundreds of paintings adorning walls, some intricately drawn and others colourfully painted the deeper you go. Once again, another room installation meets you, this one transporting us to our childhood days where polka dot stickers are covering a white room, and two sculptures of tulips are placed inside. While yes pumpkins were youthful, this seemed more innocent, and it is a weird jump from restricted videos and images into the mind of a child once more.

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With My Love For All The Tulips, I Pray Forever (Source: Singapore National Gallery)

Finally, Gallery H is a room full of stainless steel metal balls on the floor, and we are clearly instructed to not touch them, to not lie down with them, and to not interact with them in any other way aside from a glance down. The story behind this installation was one I was particularly interested in, and I later learnt that Kusama had acted as a street vendor with these balls all around her in the middle of a street, and tried to sell people passing by their “narcissism”, and it was only then when I realised these were reflective balls. It seemed a poignant way to end the exhibit; after searching through Yayoi Kusama’s mind, we ended up looking at ourselves.

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Steel balls (Source: Anushka)

 

Getting Wed in Singapore


This write-up is about weddings and all those beautiful little things that come together when two people do. Behind each wedding, however, there are many people, hard at work, trying to make the event perfect for the love birds. I truly enjoyed writing this piece. It’s about dreams, magic, love and the creative elves behind the scenes. It all seems like a fairytale in the real world! presenting a little round-up of information about wedding planners, venues etc. for those who wish to tie the knot in Singapore.

Getting Wed Singaporean Style (Source: Sun Media)

In-Group Support Group for Youth


We have a group and we call it, In-Group.

What does In-Group actually mean?

In sociology and social psychology, an ingroup is a social group to which a person psychologically identifies as being a member. By contrast, an outgroup is a social group with which an individual does not identify with.

The Famous Experiment by Jane Elliot

Iowa teacher, Jane Elliot conducted an experiment in 1968, (A Class Divided) that showed how easy it was to turn students as young as 7-year-old  into hate mongerers by targeted discrimination. Since the time of Elliot’s experiment, social psychologists have warned us of the causes, and consequences of ingroup-outgroup stereotyping. The experiment and the numerous studies after that showed us how easy it was to divide, to break bonds, to forms acrimonious groups that would stick to each other and against anyone they perceive as different.

 Philosophy behind In-Group Support Group for Youth

In-Group Support Group challenges the whole idea of discrimination based on perceived differences, and aims to unite teens and kids instead. It aims to build positive self-image and increased self-worth in kids and teens, and in turn ensure a future society that is more positive and inclusive.

Research shows that most teens and pre-teens go through issues like anxiety, bullying, stress, stereotyping, body imaging, depression etc. These arise from the very thought of being different. In fact, researcher, Yurgelun-Todd believes that a lot of teenage behavior is about avoiding the anxiety of feeling left out and not being a part of things. Though In-Group is targeted at teens and kids, it hopes to reach out to everyone in the community:  teens, kids, parents, educators, counsellors and policy makers, by raising awareness and by allowing a space to share stories, resources and solutions.

In-Group, Support Group (Kids/Teens)

In-Group is a non-profit initiative. It’s an advocacy, support group and a shared resource on stereotyping, bullying, peer pressure, anxiety and other issues faced by kids & teens. We believe shared stories not only increase awareness, but they also help build empathy in the community. The aim is to build a nurturing, supportive and inclusive society. If you would like to share your story (anonymously or otherwise), donate, collaborate or enquire about our workshops, or if you are an expert who could help us with building shared resources, do email us at ingrouphelp@gmail.com.

We are thankful to the following organisations for their support:
* The Bully-Free Committee, Singapore Children’s Society
* Tinkle Friend (www.tinklefriend.com)
* Coalition against Bullying for Children & Youth (Singapore)
* Association of Women for Action & Research, Singapore

Blog Contributors  & Writers Wanted!

We are blogging and are looking for opinions, articles, real stories, and resources (from kids, teens, parents, educators, counsellors, or anyone in the community at all)! We are looking for personal stories when things went wrong, for solutions that worked, and then those that didn’t. We are looking for some cool stuff too! Opinions, current events, music and feel-good articles (less than 300 words). If you would like to contribute, write to us at ingrouphelp@gmail.com or rayprionka@gmail.com. The articles and contributions can be anonymous if you so want, and if you don’t, then we are more than happy to publish your name.

Blog: https://ingroupsupportgroup.wordpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InGroupSupportForYouth/

InGroup, Support Group For Kids/Teens

We founded In-Group, so that we could belong. Yes, all of us. Together.

Majulah Singapura! (My Singapore)


From the HDB art to the sophisticated art festivals, from the magnificent sky scrapers to the neighbourhood parks, from the humble food courts to the gourmet delights, and from fast city lanes to the kampong style living, presenting the place I call home. Happy 52nd Birthday Singapore!

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My Singapore! Sentosa cable cars (Image: Prionka Ray)

Gardens By The Bay

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Gardens By the Bay (Image: Prionka Ray)

Orchard Road

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Orchard Road (Image: Prionka Ray)

Din Tai Fung

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Din Tai Fung (Image: Prionka Ray)

HDB Art

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My Singapore! HDB Art (Image: Prionka Ray)

Old Supreme Court

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My Singapore! Parliament House (Image: Prionka Ray)

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My Singapore! Neighbourhood Parks (Image: Prionka Ray)

My Singapore! (Image: Prionka Ray)

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Singapore Colours! (Image: Prionka Ray)

Singapore River

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Singapore River, Clarke Quay (Image: Prionka Ray)

Arab street

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Street party @ Arab Street! (Image: Prionka Ray)

Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay Sands (Image: Prionka Ray)

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Near China Town (Image: Prionka Ray)

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My Singapore! Singapore Port (Image: Prionka Ray)

My Singapore!(Image: Prionka Ray)

Clark Quay

Singapore River (Image: Prionka Ray)

My Singapore! (Image: Prionka Ray)

My Singapore! (Images: Prionka Ray)

The Orchard Experience

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If I have known you long enough or even if, you and I are recent acquaintances, chances are that I have met you at Orchard road for a coffee or a meal at some point of time. I love Orchard and I can’t get enough of it. I love its vibe, its grace and its familiarity. My personal favourites there? I like Cedele at Wheelock, Wild Honey at Mandarin Gallery, and PS Cafe at Palais Renaissance for their feel-good food and ambience. I have also developed a new fondness for the Korean dessert, Bingsu at 313. If it’s shopping, then it is Paragon, Ion, Tangs, and 313. My daughter was born at Mt Elizabeth Hospital, so a special mention of the friendly Doctors and nurses there and finally, I really like the stretch near Zara and Wheelock. That’s the place where I love to sit and watch the world pass me by. Yes, I love Orchard, and if I get to write about it, I kinda love it even more.

(Read the original article here, page 5).   

The Orchard Experience (Source: IndoConnect)

The Orchard experience (Source: IndoConnect)

The Orchard Experience (Source: IndoConnect)

And if you flip over to page 17, you will find my interview with Prita Kemal Gani (Founder of LSPR). It was a beautiful afternoon at Mandarin Orchard where we chatted with Ibu Prita. Yet another memorable rendezvous at Orchard!

Interview with Prita Kemal Gani (Source: IndoConnect)

I Gathered What I Needed


From things, tangible and intangible, I gather what I need. And then I walk under the blue sky, lighter in steps, unhindered and free. I am done paying my dues, and I am done fighting the battles. But I am done now, and as I lay down my arms, my mask, and my armour, I let the runners pass me by. They run past with their shiny badges, picking up speed. But then their road is not mine to take. Their lofty promises are not mine to make. Their goals, they weigh me down. Their shiny baubles, they blind my eyes. So, I shy away. But a few noble ones extend their hands magnanimously. I feel awed by their presence. I am dwarfed by their stature. I am grateful of this gesture, I say.

But I am done treading paths not mine, so, thanks, but I will stay.  Then they promise me a land of treasure and I assure them that I have treasures of own. Yes, those (irrelevant) gratitude notes, the (invaluable) hand-written letters and the (little) acts of kindness. They are confused by now but I carry on. I tell them of my valuable memories, my hefty faith, and my dazzlingly impossible dreams. I have indeed gathered what I need. And now I walk barefoot on this dusty road, free to believe, free to be. This race is yours, not mine, I tell them. The battles are yours, not mine. And this pace is yours, not mine. I have slowed down, and happily so. Run past me my friends, I say. I will surely cheer you on. Do share with me your stories someday. Oh yes, I will still be awed, and I will still be pleased! But if you decide to walk with me, then I will share with you, my peace.