Conversations with the Teens


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As a facilitator and a mentor, I get to speak to the most interesting minds of all: the teens! Conversations with them are always interesting. Strangely though, they are guarded with those they love the most, however, that should not stop anyone from knowing what’s going on in their minds. Here’s a compilation of things that teens wish their parents would know about them.

Dear parents,

We want you to know that…

* Times have changed: You keep telling us  about what you did when you were our age, but everything is so different now. We just can’t relate to that. So, please don’t expect us to behave the way you did at our age. We have to move with the times.

* We need help to manage the stress and pressures in our lives, even if we show that we are very independent and capable. Do check in on us from time to time.

* Give us space to be ourselves. We do need help sometimes, but that does not mean that we need constant monitoring.

* Trust us and give us few responsibilities. We might fail at times, but we will try real hard to stand up to your expectations.

*  Even “good” kids act out every once in awhile. That does not mean that we have turned “bad” now.

* We need to unwind. Please allow us some personal time to do whatever we wish to, or to ‘do nothing’ if that’s how we unwind.

* We want you, our parents, to be proud of us and accept us for who we are. Please don’t compare us to others.

* We hate to see you fight. It shakes our faith and scares us a lot.

* We do care what you think of us. Even if our peers influence us, what you think of us, matter a great deal to us. Sometimes, even more than our friends (though we may not show this to you).

* Please understand that the internet plays an important and positive role in our lives. It’s not always a bad influence.

* We will make mistakes – but you can guide us through this.

* It’s hard to fit in with people and that’s why we act out sometimes.

* We have a lot going on at school, sometimes more than you realise.

* Sometimes we can’t express our feelings when we are hurt or upset, and that’s why we find ways to release our anxiety (sometimes in ways that you do not approve).

* We love you. We may pull away so that we can establish our own identity, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love you.

(This is a teenspeak section. For mentoring enquires, contact sequelsingapore@gmail.com)

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Celebrating Partnerships & Human Links


India’s mega diaspora show, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, was held in Singapore on January 6-7, 2018. A joint effort by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and the High Commission of India in Singapore, the event celebrated 25 years of ASEAN-India Partnership, and explored centuries-old cultural, social, and human links. The theme of the PBD was “Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic ASEAN India Partnership” and was aimed at promoting closer ties between India & ASEAN and deepen the diaspora’s relations with India.

It was exciting enough for me to be part of the official ‘Ancient Route, New Journey’ writing team, but what made it even more exciting was the fact that I could (with this writing piece) have my own little symbolic celebration of partnership and human link. As ASEAN, India and Singapore celebrated their long term partnerships, I celebrated my own long term collaborations with Sunmedia and Chitrakala (Chitra Shankar of Chitrakala is featured in this article through sheer coincidence, thanks to our photo editor, Mr J).

Partnerships, collaborations and friendships are not just words that sound nice in theory, but they according to me, form the very core that sustain human success, both professionally and personally. This piece remains an ode to that.

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This article was first published in Shikhar

Bringing Families and Communities Together This June


It’s not everyday that one gets to bring people from different walks of life, and different age-groups together. However, that’s exactly what I am in for. It began with a simple idea of bringing people together through art, play, fitness and food, but it soon became more elaborate with a trustworthy collaborator. We began reaching out to more people from different walks of life. We also wanted to promote family bonding and initiate the idea of giving back to the community as a family. June happens to be special for fathers, and thus the event, Dad & Us was conceptualised. I dedicate this event to all dads, especially mine (who is an angel somewhere, watching over me).

I have always believed in collaborations, and this event proves the power of collaborations. A big thanks to all who are participating, and thanks also to Families for Life and Dads for Life for endorsing this event. So, here’s presenting an event that I am looking forward to, an event when families will stay away from gadgets (hopefully) and make memories through interactive activities.

The event will power start with Muay Thai Family Fitness. There’s also community colouring of the Singapore landscape poster by Singaporean artist, Ziyue Chen.

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Especially for the dads, there’s a stand up comedy show by a dad, and he calls it, ‘Dad’s Special’. For a little father-kiddo bonding, there’s a 2 minute Talent Showdown (happening at 11.45 am and again at 2.15 pm). Moms can cheer their home teams. It’s not a competition though, it’s just a celebration of togetherness. There’s no age restriction and the only rule is to have fun. There are shopping booths, interactive play stations, food stalls and face painting at the event too.

There’s also an awareness talk for the parents, where physicians and therapists (from traditional medicines) will talk about simple massage techniques that can ease common ailments in kids. Free consultation will be available for the day.

Parents are children’s first role models. Therefore, it is apt that families give back to the community together. A charity gift drive has been initiated to give back to those who might do with some help. Dad2Dad Charity Gift Drive will be collecting gifts for dads (transient workers in Singapore) who are away from their families. This charity drive is in collaboration with Transient Workers Count Too. 

Gift Wish List includes: International Phone Calling Cards (for them to call home), basic supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, shaving kits etc) and items of clothing (new). If you wish to contribute, head over to the TWC2 booth at the event between 11 am to 5 pm. Present also at the event will be the animal rescue awareness booth. So come over and join us!

Register for the event here

It’s on 2nd June at No 2 Stadium Walk (Waterfront), right next to Kallang mall. The nearest MRT is Stadium.

Dad & Us: Know more about the event.

Endorsed by:

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Deciphering Conversations


There’s so much that can be revealed through conversations or the lack of it. I have spent a lifetime, it seems, trying to decipher people based on conversations. The journey has not been a simple one.

When I was younger, I was shy. That meant I listened more than I spoke. I noticed. I observed. It was back then that I realised that much of the communication was unspoken: It was in the shift of the weight from one leg to another, it was in the pauses, it was in the expressions. As I grew older, my understanding changed and morphed, and often I had to correct myself in the light of new information and new understanding.

My fascination with communication led me to study it further. I moved beyond the initial university courses to expand my understanding. I took up further courses in Speech Communication Arts, where I understood communication through drama tools. And then I explored components of language, language systems, language acquisitions, and psychology of language, especially in social settings. Each new journey led me to understand conversations differently.adventure-backlit-clouds-772665.jpg

What was revealed to me at first was beyond my superficial comprehension. In simple words, I had opened the pandora’s box and I was trying to make sense of what came out. It had consequences. What does one do with the knowing? What if you get to know more about people than you had bargained for?  Do you react differently? Do you get more empathetic? And what if you are wrong? I had never thought that I will be faced with such questions. But here I was. Trying to answer it in whatever way I could. Conversations were complicated enough but online conversations and social media conversations complicated things even further. How do you know what you know? How do you trust it? After all, you can’t see the shift of stance, the glisten of eyes, and the change of tone. The navigation points needed change. Again.

Somewhere, down this journey, I looked inwards too. It is of course harder to decipher oneself than to decipher others. But it had to be done. Communication is a two-way process. If I don’t understand myself, I won’t understand others. This was the hardest part of the journey, and perhaps this one will last the longest.

Conversations are often layered and communication, usually problematic. However, it fascinates me still. I have built my entire life around it now. The questions continue: What was said? Why was it said? Why were some things left unsaid? And most importantly, what does it reveal about those we speak to, and what does our reaction to them reveal about us?

The most important learning of the journey is that some conversations will never be deciphered. Perhaps, that’s the beauty of it, knowing that one can never know it all. And yet understanding that volumes can sometimes be spoken and collective wisdom can be passed from one being to another, without conversation. According to historian, Yuval Noah Harari, this is the basis of our evolution as well.

My fascination with conversations continue, but I know that not all conversations are understood, and not all communications need conversations.pexels-photo-247195.jpeg

 

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).