Write of passage

Swineherd and sounder (PHOTO: Teh Wen Hui)
Swineherd and sounder (PHOTO: Teh Wen Hui)

It’s been a while since I’ve made the journey to the memory of young adulthood.

I think about what it was like to be 21. I remember Pooters; parties; Perth; Peer Pressure; the Panopticon. I’m reminded of the feeling of invincibility and immortality; I distinctly recall speaking and writing about it, to someone, somewhere.

I think about whether I’d like to be 21 again. Reliving the growing pains while coming of age holds little appeal. But were they really matters of great importance – or mere minutiae? If I had known then what I now know, perhaps I would’ve treated those mountains for the molehills they were.

Therein lies the paradox of growing up. When it comes to the yearning for a golden age, departure is both the impetus and a necessary condition. It is only through crossing the Rubicon of youth that we can land on the shores of reminiscence and epiphany.

In order for us to arrive, then, we must first leave.

Masjid Al-Istighfar‘s “Water for All” programme – a brilliant community initiative

I’m surprised this community initiative isn’t more well-publicised, even though it’s been running for close to 1½ years.

So I thought I’d spread the word about Masjid Al-Istighfar‘s “Water for All” programme.

The mosque on Pasir Ris Walk has two water dispensers installed outside its premises to provide water to all passers-by.

I love the idea for two reasons: First, it’s the epitome of what it means to be human – unconditionally providing sustenance to all in need.

Second, it’s one of those concepts that people will knock down a peg at first blush – then stare, slack-jawed in awe, when they realise how ingenious it is.

This project is a simple yet brilliant way of generating goodwill in the community and beyond.

For context, the dispensers are conveniently located along a park connector frequented by joggers and cyclists.

All the mosque has to do: Be there to quench parched throats and effectively meet needs.

The returns from the compassion it invests in people for the cost of a sip of water? Priceless.

Now, imagine if all places of worship across Singapore did the same.

My hope is for a non-denominational group to take up the reins and coordinate it such that the nationwide project could be sponsored by businesses, as part of corporate social responsibility efforts.

This way, companies would be more willing to donate to such a cause; it wouldn’t be tagged to a single religious organisation, which might create perceptions of preferential treatment.

If you’re interested in paying Masjid Al-Istighfar a visit, make it a fun fitness activity – it’s part of the National Heritage Board‘s Pasir Ris Heritage Trail.

Storytelling for Systems Thinkers

I had the pleasure and privilege of conducting a storytelling workshop for Residential College 4 last Friday (Feb 5, 2021) in NUS.

RC4 is one of four residential colleges in the university which offer a two-year residential programme, with the college’s focus being on systems thinking.

In the workshop, we looked at both the purpose and power of narrative in creating understanding of systems, as well as communicating that understanding clearly and effectively to stakeholders.

We also touched on interviewing and writing techniques as part of asking good questions in order to get good answers that clarify understanding.

It was a meaningful experience and, as always, a happy return to the alma mater.