Saturday, August 11, 2007

June 7, 2007

Harvard Commencement Address

by William H. Gates III

A friend forwarded me the commencement speech (see link above) by Bill Gates atHarvard.The speech blew me away and i just gotta share it in this blog.

It was an appeal for humanity. About the awful inequities in the world -- the "appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.." and how the millions of dying children and their parents have no power to save their lifes but privileged people like Harvard graduates could.

He spoke about how the barrier to change is not too little caring; but too much complexity to turn caring into action. And he offered his solutions to action before throwing some thought provoking questions on humanity which sets you pondering even if you are not the intended audience.

"Should our best minds be more dedicated to solving our biggest problems?"

"Should the world's most privileged learn about the lives of the world's least privileged?"

"Should Harvard students know about the depth of global poverty ... the prevalence of world hunger ... the scarcity of clean water ...the girls kept out of school ... the children who die from diseases we can cure? "

Even for a local graduate like myself, i think we are in so many many ways privileged and have the power to do so much more for the lesser in our society and around the world. And when you think of the millions of people just trying to stay alive, you realised how fortunate you are, to have the health and the brain, which provides you unlimited potential to pursue the many possibilities in life.

And i wonder how many of our youths and peers knew about the lives of the world's least privileged or are keen to know. Or realised how minute our problems are, when compared to these people whose dreams could be just staying alive for one more day. I am aware but do not know much myself too, but i will make an effort, by doing the first step. And that's to first really learn and see and feel the problem.

Bill Gates mentioned a message from her mom in one letter she wrote: "From those to whom much is given, much is expected." Simple words but so wise isn't it? This would be the kind of values i think our society should believe in. Responsibility, Compassion, Protection for the weaker...

He used the message to encourage the graduates to do more, to take on an issue, to not let complexity stops them, to be activists, to take on big inequities.

And he ends off by throwing an challenge, a hope, that " will come back here to Harvard 30 years from now and reflect on what you have done with your talent and your energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you have addressed the world's deepest inequities ... on how well you treated people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity. "

It was a great inspiring speech. Go check this out.


National Day Eve and Catching up with Uni Frens

Had planned to chill out with Lilian for a drink at ponggol park near my place after my yoga. I'll bring my wine and she'll bring some tibits and we can have a nice catch up by the pond. Audrey called after class to see if i had any plans too and so we arranged to all meet up together. We managed to get Boon Poh and HowKiat who stays nearby to join us too.

The five of us are part of a bigger group of friends in MPE who used to hang out together during our NTU days. After graduation, efforts were still made to catch up regularly. But gradually, everyone just got busy by the demand of work and other more important things in life that gatherings involving everyone now takes place only during important events like weddings, baby showers, house warmings..

I still keep in touch with Lilian and Audrey pretty regularly though. Lilian was not only my course mate but was also my neighbour in Hall 6 and hall 5. And we broke off with our exes right about the same time. And so, we shared alot and have lotsa spare time to hang out together.

Audrey broke off with hers around the same time too. So i guess, the 3 of us gals found much sympathy in one another and have the bandwidth to keep in regular contacts. Audrey joined me in my last company for a while too. We were each other buddy at work for a short while before we both quitted one after another. 

Anyway, it was nice catching up in a group and not the usual one to one outing. We just relaxed at the pavilion by the pond, tasting wine, munching tibits, trading stories, joking and chitchatting till 2 plus in the morning. It would be cool if the rest were there too. But one can't be too greedy huh. It's lucky we happen to be free tonight.

Our lives are moving on so fast and there is no slowing it down...

Cheers to all my friends!

Au Petit Salut French Restaurant

Had a fabulous dinner at Au Petit Salut yesterday. Excellent food, great ambience and affordable price for a nice french dinner. I'll definitely come back again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Dear Little Princess from Camp Rainbow

The little princess i befriended at the volunteer camp sms me last night.

Princess: Are you sleeping now
Me: Nope. I'm driving. On the way home from yoga.
Princess: OH
Me: Why aren't you sleeping yet? It's late
Princess: I miss you what! rabbit.

Her reply brought a huge smile to my face. :) It's nice to know that you must have meant something and had made a difference one way or another in someone's life for them to miss you.

It was 3 full days of interactions and fun we had. She was a really shy girl at the start of the camp. Yet over the course of the camp, we had so much fun that she opened up very quickly to reveal another lovely side of her. She was like the princess in our group, for she was the youngest. And all the other befrienders doted on her a lot too. After the camp, we had a few more get together sessions. Her dad remarked that she had changed alot since returning the camp, much more outgoing and confident and kept thanking me that night when i sent her home after the appreciation tea. The camp had made a positive impact on her.

Actually, the camp was a learning experience for myself too.

One snippet in my journal recorded a moment when she seemed to prefer the company of the doctor assigned to our group than me.

"...For a short moment, I turn away from her, for I couldn’t handle rejection. Why does she seem to prefer the doctor’s company more than mine? Sometimes, we have such big ego and pride, that the tiniest little act of injustice(we felt) done to us causes us silly hurts that we shut off from people.

I guess she could sense it. For she sorta shy away from me when I started playing with the other kids and did not follow her everywhere so much. And so she turned to the other befrienders, and me to the other kids whom seemed to appreciate and love my company. And suddenly there existed a wall between us. And I suddenly sensed that she was a little shy with me.

Then I quickly thought to myself, what’s really important is that she enjoys herself and I need to manage my own feelings better. And so, we begin to have fun again. :) "

After the camp, little princess smsed me "I love you.". Her sms made my day that night. When you give love, they will find a way back.

Life is too short to be little. When we rise above petty hurts and pride, and embrace them with love and understanding and compassion, the world becomes a much better world, for ourselves and the people around us.

Letter to Jean

Saw someone on the street with a splitting image of Jay today. It had been so many years since i last kept in contact with him. We have totally lost touch since i started uni while he continued his NS with the marine police. He was my senior in JC and stayed nearby. One day, we just started talking when we met while walking to school.. It was a short sweet puppy kind of affection i had for him. He had been special then. He was kind, soft spoken, Eurasian and looks alittle like the Singapore foreign soccer player Abba Saab. And he was the first person to write a poem for me. Till today, i still keep the letter in which he wrote the poem for me.

For: Zhuo YiJin

Letter to Jean,

The only moon in the dark night

The shining star twinkling bright

Such a wonderful sight

In this amazing night

Kind in heart and soul

Always to help the lesser

With efforts that you pour

To make their days brighter

Passion set inside yourself

A World. So filled with life

Enjoyment of this sacred life

As only you know how

Admiration for this gem

Long forth do i have to say

How special a person you are

Like diamonds and pearls so rare

Windows through this naked world

Provided by visions of your own

You know the value of living

Like living is what you do

Thanks for being the telescope

And the heart beater as well

For you are truly great

It's time that you know



In our journey of life, we meet countless of people who enters and leaves our life. Some leaves a mark, others are forgettable. And looking back, those who have left a footprint are those who have touched us, made a difference in our life, shared deep experiences and adventures together with us, and who had made the efforts to live in the moment and created the special memories for us to revisit. And these are the footprints that add colors and richness in our life. I hope i had left my footprints behind those who had taken the journey together with me at some point of my life too.

Ok. I'll end this entry with the attached powerpoint on life journey.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tonight I can write the saddest line

My friend shared this poem with me. Really like the way it is written. Such poignancy... " Write, for example, 'The night is shattered and the blue stars shiver in the distance.' "

Tonight I can write the saddest lines

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Pablo Neruda