Diversity: 心の扉をひらきましょう!


Singapore does not equal Merlion. A stereotype I shall fight to death.


So on June 17th, I was given the honour of giving an hour-long speech to the students on the school’s library board. They told me I could make the speech in English or Japanese on pretty much any topic I wanted.

Given my experiences within the past few years and the chain of incidents that have been happening in recent times, I decided to speak about diversity and the importance of accepting and appreciating it.

Over a couple of months, I crafted this baby with the help of my amazing Japanese tutor, my super lovely teachers at my school and friends. They dedicated a lot of time and energy to help me and for that I’m so very grateful.

I was dead nervous and I still think it was far from perfect, but I truly learnt a lot through this challenging experience. Now, I have an hour-long Japanese speech/lecture under my belt! Yus!

One thing I feared was that I’d come across as an outsider criticizing Japan, which isn’t the aim of this speech at all. However, reading through the feedback slips the students wrote, that doesn’t seem be be a problem and they got the main message I was trying to communicate to them.

In fact, it seems I had quite the positive impact and several of them have said they would rethink their view of the world. Can’t express how happy this makes me, because I honestly expected some kind of angry response to my speech.

Here’s the script I crafted (with all the help). I used this structure to help me in case I got lost in my speech or forgot what I was talking about. Enjoy.



Hi Everyone! Today, before I start my lecture, there’s something I want you all to do. On the sheet of paper I’ve given you all, I’ve written down the name of some countries.

今日のレクチャーを始める前に、ちょっとやってもらいたいことがあります。 みなさんにくばってある紙にいろんな国の名前が書いてあります。


South Africa








I want you to write down the stereotypes you have of all of them. What comes to your mind when you see the names of these countries?

この国々のこと、皆さんが持っているステレオタイプ(こていかんねん)をかみに書いてほしいです。この国々の名前を見る時、パッと出てくるイメージはなんですか? それを、書いてください。

Ok thank you!! I’ll come back to this at the end of this lecture.

はい、ありがとうございます! このレクチャーの終わりごろまたこのステリオタイプを見ましょう。

So I’m sure all of you are wondering what today’s lecture is about.
The topic I shall touch on is “Tayousei”
Eh, what’s “Tayousei”?
“Tayousei” is Diversity.
Let me explain

多様性is Diversity.

As humans, no two of us are the same. We’re all different. And by different, I don’t just mean our faces and our skin tones. We also differ in the way we think and talk. So, no two of us can be absolute carbon copies of each other. Not  even twins.


That is “Diversity”.
So, if you really think about it, everyone is diverse.
However, people who stand out aren’t really liked.
As a result, things like bullying or suicides happen on an everyday basis.

That is Diversity.
だから、よく考えたら、everyone is diverse.

Whether it be a child who’s big sized,
Whether it be a child whose skin tone differs from the rest,
Whether it be that child with a slightly louder voice ,
Or the child whose way of thinking is different from the rest…


Aren’t they quickly labelled as the “weirdo”?
Therein lies the problem.
The line, “That person is weird!” is used so easily on a daily basis…
But I think those words posses a meaning that isn’t so light.
* The Japanese word “Kawatteiru” literally means “different from others” but in my translation, I’ve used “weird” as the casually used equivalent.


To explain why these words aren’t as light as we imagine them to be, I’ve got 3 videos for you to watch.


(Play Astalift White CM)

So recently, I’ve been seeing this Astalift White CM on Youtube a lot.
What do you all think?
I’m pretty sure you’ve all seen commercials like this right?


(Show video of Trump talking)
All of you might probably know who this person is.
He’s the man running to be the president of the United States of America. Trump.


(Show video of Hitler talking)
And, this person too, you know him right?
It’s Hitler.


I’m sure you’d all be a bit taken aback if I were to compare Trump and Hitler’s videos to the skin whitening commercial. Let me explain more.


If you listen to Hitler and Trump’s speeches, you’ll realise that they’re doing the same thing. One talks about Jewish people stealing the jobs of German people. The other talks of Mexicans being murderers. In both cases, you have 2 individuals who’re rejecting groups of people who are different to them. This way of talking is extremely dangerous.


This is why I don’t take too kindly to the Astalift commercial (skin whitening commercial).  Sunburns are never pleasant. They hurt and aren’t really good for your dermatological health.


However, the message that you get from commercials like Astalift is not one about skin health or anything of that sort. It basically says “You’re gonna turn black”. White skin is good. Black/Dark skin is bad. When darker skin is portrayed in a negative light in commercials like this, how do you think people like me or sporty high schooler feel?

黒色の肌にたいして悪いイメージがあるのではないですか? そういうメッセージをCMの中に入れる時、私やスポーツをよくやる高校生のような肌が白くない人がどう感じると思いますか?

How do you think the Jewish people in Germany felt about Hitler’s speeches?


How do you think Mexicans and people of Mexican descent in America, feel about Trump’s speeches?


Alriiiight, break time! Turn to the person beside you and discuss the opinions you have regarding white skin and darker skin tones.

はい!じゃーきゅうけいTIME! となりに座っている人と、白肌、黒い肌にたいして持っている意見を話してみてください。


So, what exactly does it mean to be a “Japanese person”?


Diversity within Japan Even within Japan, there is a lot of diversity. The Ainu, the Ryuukyu, the Chinese and Koreans…but I always hear a lot of you say “Japanese culture this, or Japanese culture that.” What is this generalized “Japanese Culture”?

実は、日本にも多様性があります。 アイヌ、琉球、中国系、韓国系、ハーフの人。。。などが住んでいます。 しかし、日本に来てよく聞くのは「これはJapanese Culture, それはJapanese Culture」。このJapanese Cultureはいったい何ですか?

The truth is, even Toyama has it’s own culture. It’s so different compared to Tokyo or Kyoto and I love it.


What defines a Japanese person?
What is Japanese culture?
What is Japan?


On one hand, you have a Yamato Nadeshiko, good wife and mother, type of person. On the other hand, you have a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu type of person. You have men who look like they work at host clubs. And then, you have men who’re total geeks.

Of course you have your office workers.

They’re all Japanese people!




Even if I were to talk about Japan, on one hand, you have high end, fast fashion Tokyo.
On the other you have gorgeously, traditional Kyoto.
And you still have Osaka, Okinawa …
If we went on about how each and every prefecture is different, this conversation wouldn’t end.


If all of Japan were the SAME, I don’t think I’d have travelled to all the places. But, wherever I went in Japan, I felt like I was in a different world. It’s immensely touching. Talking to different people, living in different prefecture, you get to see so many different Japanese faces. It’s AMAZING.

日本全国全く同じだったら、私は今までこんなにいっぱいトラベルしてないと思います。どこいっても、別世界みたい。すごくすごく感動するんですよ。いろんな場所に住んでいるいろんな人に話しかけたら、日本のいちめんを見ることができます。It’s AMAZING.

My question to all of you is, why not embrace it and celebrate these differences?


“I wanna live in Toyama all my life,
I don’t really want to go anywhere else.
I don’t want to get out of Toyama.
I’m scared of going overseas, it’s dangerous.”

I hear these lines SO many times.



To tell you the truth, with that thinking, you can’t go anywhere. You can sit in your house and be a hikikomori…but even then, you can’t be 100% safe. I mean, Japan’s literally on the fault line …so IF something happened…there really is nothing much you could do.

そういう考えを持っていては、本当にどこでもいけないですよ。家の中に座っていて、ひきこもっても。。。 そうしても、100%安全と言えないでしょう? だって、日本全体は完全にプレートの上に乗っているでしょう? This is 地震国でしょう? だから、本当に何かあったら、どうしようもないでしょう?

It’s not just you.


I really want you to understand that I’m not blaming you or telling you that you’re horrible people. In fact, this way of talking or thinking is not unique to Japan. I know many Singaporeans who think like that. They hate foreigners. We call this Xenophobia. A fear of foreigners.

わかってもらいたいのは、今私はみんなをこうげきして、あなたたちはひどい人と言っているわけではないんです。実は、これは日本だけに当てはまる話ではありません。私は外国人がきらいというシンガポール人を何人か知っています。こういう人のことを、Xenophobia と呼びます。外国人きょうふしょう

So a little bit about Singapore, we are TINY. We’re just 1/2 the size of Toyama prefecture. Imagine that! SO small.


On this tiny island, we have about 6million people.


74.1% are Chinese.
13.4% are Malay.
9.2% are Indian.
3.3% are “Others”.
*I have issues with the use of “Others” in Singapore but in the Japanese translation, it translated pretty well into “People of other racial groups”.


So I don’t look like most other people in Singapore


I’m a minority.
To put it nicely, I’m a rare species.
*Wanted to say Unicorn, but whatever.


There is so much inter-race unity and I have learnt SO much about other races and cultures and languages just by being Singaporean. Singapore is just so multi-cultural and multi-ethnic and multi-lingual that until very recently, I took this for granted. My friends are so different from each other. I eat different foods from across the world, and hear a multitude of languages on daily basis. Muslim Mosques and Indian Temples stand side by side.

This is the beauty of my country.

I couldn’t explain this to you in just one lecture.




Yet, there is ugliness too.


From my Primary school days, I’ve faced racism. There have been cases when I’ve gotten into a taxi and the taxi driver asks “Oi, where are you from? Are you from India?” When I reply that I’m Singaporean, some people ask “You were born in Singapore or you just come here and get passport?” Then they say horrible things about India and Indian people to me.

小学校の時から私は人種差別を何回か受けたことがあります。 「おい、お前、どこから?インド?」とシンガポールのタクシー運転手さんに聞かれたことがあります。私はシンガポール人ですと答えても、「ここで生まれたシンガポール人か、ここに入ってきてパスポートをもらった人ですか?」と聞かれたことがあります。インド人の悪口を言います。

Let me tell you this.
My Mother is Indian.
My ancestors are Indian.
How am I to respond to harsh words like these?


Being asked where I’m from, in my own country is very sad for me.
Why must people ask me such a question?
If I am a good person, does it matter where I’m from?
Even if I’m a BAD person, does it matter where I come from?
One person does NOT equal an entire nation.


Alriiiight, break time! Living in Japan, have you witnessed any discrimination? Have you faced discrimination? Have you discriminated? You don’t have to just talk about racial discrimination. It can be any form of discrimination. Talk with your partner!



One Person does NOT equal an entire nation.
Huh? What does that mean?
(Take a deep breath)
The issue I want to talk about from now…is a little difficult.
But, I’d like for all of you to keep an open mind/heart and listen.




(Show picture of Chinese tourists climbing Sakura tree)
For example, the Chinese tourists who travel to Japan are often highlighted for their bad manners and it’s a small problem here isn’t it? As a result, hasn’t it become a sort of bad image for them that Chinese tourists as a whole have bad manners? Not to worry, even in Singapore and pretty much all over the world, many people have such an image of Chinese tourists. So I’m not just talking about you.

例えば、中国からの観光客のマナーの悪さが日本でたびたび問題になっていますね? そのせいで、中国人はみんなマナーが悪いというイメージになっていませんか?心配しないでください、シンガポールや、世界中でも、同じようなイメージがあります。

The difficult part starts here. I want to say that these Chinese tourists don’t represent ALL Chinese people.

難しい部分はここから始まります。 この中国人の観光客イコール中国の国民みんなにはならないのです。


Let me explain. Firstly, the entire Chinese population is about 1.375 BILLION. Number 1 in the entire world. And what percentage of this 1.375 BILLION people, do you think are coming to Japan to travel? According to the Foreign Ministry, it gave about 3.78 million visas to Chinese tourists (coming to Japan) in 2015. It’s a REALLY small percent. About 0.274%!!!


And even within that percentage you’re seeing only a certain group of people act that way. If you think about it, to go on holidays or trips you need money and time. Even if you aren’t filthy rich, you probably aren’t struggling to make ends meet if you are able to travel. I would go so far as to say that we are looking at all the bad habits of small, highly mediatized group of people who belong to a much huger community.

Please don’t stigmatize an entire population of a country based on the actions of a few.



Even as I say that, I want to point out that it’s not like I’m perfect. I’m not always so kind with my feelings and way of thinking. Last year when I went to the Tateyama snow walls, I encountered some Chinese tourists who spoke with loud voices and were quite a nuisance to the people around them.


At that time, I got really irritated and annoyed and would even tut at them. I’d get angry, thinking “What the hell, annoying Chinese!” This has happened several times. But, when I cool down, I always feel like I can’t group them all into one lump. Because, if I were to start thinking like that, how then am I any different from Hitler or Trump? That thought is scarier than anything else.

『なんじゃそりゃ、迷惑な中国人だ』とおこっていました。このようなことは、何回もありました。 でも、そのあと、れいせいになった時、いつも思うのは、その人たちイコール中国人と思ってはいけいけない。もし、そんな風に思ってしまったら、私とヒトラーや、トランプと同じになってしまうでしょう?前、私を差別した人と同じになってしまうでしょう?その考えは何よりも怖いです。

OKAAAAAY, break time again! I’d like for you to discuss with your partner, what do you think about Chinese people? What image do you have of them and why?

はい!またきゅうけい! 皆さんは、中国人のこと、どう思いますか?なんのイメージを持ていますか?なんで、そういうイメージを持っていますか?となりの人に話しかけてください!


The next thing I want to talk about is ROMNATICISM. It’s sort of the opposite of what we just talked about. Previously, we talked about the dangers of stereotyping an entire race of people based on the wrong doings of ONE. Next, I would like to talk about how even the “positive” stereotypes are bad.


“Half-babies are SO cute!!”
“I want to marry a GAIJIN!”
“Foreign men are such gentlemen!”
“Foreign women are super pretty!!”
“Singapore is SUPER rich isn’t it? Yagnya, are you rich??”
Nope. I’m broke.


違います。I am ビンボーです。

(Show photo of Angelina and Brad Pitt)
When you think of a foreigner, I know many people who think of someone like this! HOWEVER!
(Show my face)
A person like THIS is ALSO a foreigner.
Not every foreigner is a small faced, high-nosed, long legged white person.


(Show picture of Arianna Miyamoto)

When you say the mixed-race children are cute, what SORT of mixed-race kids are you talking about? Even though Arianna Miyamoto became Miss Universe Japan last year, many people don’t accept her as a Japanese person. As a young girl too, she was never seen as a “Cute mixed-race kid.”

ハーフの子供は可愛いというけど、どのようなハーフの子をみんな思っていますか?アリアナ宮本は去年のMiss Universe Japanになったんだけど、彼女を日本人と認めてない人は多い。若い頃も「可愛いハーフの子」と呼ばれなかった。

Overseas, there are people who see Japan as the land for Geisha, Ninjas and Samurais. “Asians are obedient and quiet”
“Oriental people are so exotic!”
“I LOVE the Japanese Geisha costume! I’m gonna be a sexy Geisha for Halloween”
There really are sexy geisha costumes like this.

海外では、日本イコールGeisha, Ninja and Samurai と思う人もいます!

It’s really strange and weird right?
I mean, you guys aren’t Geishas and Samurais who walk around in Kimonos eating Sushi all day right?


These are shallow statements that people sometimes make when they don’t understand the world deeply enough. And, inadvertently, what may seem like praise, may come across as an insult.


Alright! Discussion time! What kind of Romanticized images have you had of foreign countries?

OK, 話しましょう!今まで、海外のこと、どういうロマンチックなイメージを持っていたことがあるんですか?


So what CAN we do?

I don’t look like you. This is a fact.

No matter how much I play the Koto, or dance Nihon Buyo or do Tea Ceremony, I’m not going to become a Japanese citizen unless I get a passport change. Even then, my experiences and culture will be different to yours.



As humans, we all look different and behave different  I would never want these differences to be ignored.  Instead I wish to propose that we acknowledge and appreciate differences.


Before we start deciding that overseas in “this” kind of place or “that” kind of place, I really suggest you step outside with an open mind and heart. And, when you DO step out, the great thing is you don’t just learn about the outside world. You start learning more and more about your own identity too!


When I talk to you about Vegetarianism, when I talk to you about my culture and my country, don’t say things like “I’m so happy I’m Japanese!” When you say this to me, I feel hurt.


Just like all of you, I like my own country and I love my culture. I also like your country and your culture. However, when you say things like that, you make it sound like Japan is the best country in the world, and other countries are bad. Instead, why not open your hearts?

みんなと一緒で、私は自分の国と自分の文化も大好きです。もちろん、このすてきな日本と日本の文化も大好きです。じゃないと、たぶん2年間もここで住んでないと思うんです! でも、日本だけすごいみたいな話をすると。。。あー残念だな。。。と私が思う。 そうではなくて、みんなが、自分の心を開きませんか?

Ask questions. Ask me questions like “What kind of culture my country has or what fashion trends are like or what Japan-Singapore relations are like or what Singapore law is like.”

I’d be the happiest person to answer those questions.



Read as much as you can about the world!


Look at the paper I gave you at the start of this lecture. Look at the stereotypes that you’ve listed. I would like us all to think again about these stereotypes we have of the world around us. It’s just so easy to put things into labeled boxes.

Female. Male. Black person. White person. Asian. European. Gay. Teacher. Muslim.

But, a human being is so much more than a label.




There’s a huge danger in putting people in boxes and labeling them. I was actually writing my speech when a horrible thing happened in Orlando, America on Saturday night. A man walked into a gay club and shot about 50 people dead. He said he was an ISIS supporter. People like Trump are saying this is the reason why Muslims should not enter America.


This is exactly what happens when you reject diversity.


Many people, like the man who shot the people, cannot accept LGBT people.
They want to take away these people’s rights. People like Trump cannot accept religious diversity.
They don’t understand that Islam and religious extremists are two very different things. The world isn’t as simple as that.

しゅうきょうかげきはのひとは全然違うとわかってない。 この世界はそんなに簡単じゃないんです。

Appreciate differences and diversity.

The world is so big and colourful, don’t you think you make your lives boring by rejecting differences?



Thank you. 🙂




Iggy and Teaching…and what little I know.


So I was looking through my blog and realized I didn’t have much on my teaching methods here…so that’s my next post.

It took me a long time to get into the swing of teaching here…even now, I’m constantly searching for methods that will work out with this school.

Most of my students are in some type of sports club. They are happiest when they’re out doing thier club activities. In class, most of them aren’t the most willing learners of English because, they see English as a big scary topic with a ton of (as far as they are concerned) useless grammar points and vocabs that they’ll never use once they are out of this place. It took me almost 4 months to understand this with a LOT of trial and error.

I used to laugh at sports animes, when I saw characters failing miserably in their English test…Now I kinda feel grim about that.

That said, I’ve had BRILLIANT classes with these students…I’ve come to realise that challenging them with creative group activities gets them more motivated. That and a threat of penalty games urge them to be a bit more involved.

Some of my most sucessful activities have had little to no preperation work done…and it confuses me quite a bit…because I’ve spent hours coming up with some ideas which I personally think are amazing and brilliant, but the students look at me like I’ve lost it.

And then, I come in with activities that take me less than 20 minutes to prepare and I see the entire class hard at work. It shocked me.

Creative Writing:
My favourite exercise to date has worked across all high school levels. It’s a really simple creative writing exercise, and my students sit in pairs or groups of 4. Then, they are made to draw 1 Character, 1 Setting and 1 Object. (I write these into scraps of paper and keep them in separate folders)

Once they draw the 3 papers, I tell them, they can’t exchange what they’ve got, and they HAVE to include whatever they’ve drawn into the story. I also tell them that the best story will get a present while the laziest group will have to play my BATSU GAME (Gangnam Dance). Cue a loud “eeeeeh??????!!!!”

I then tell them that, “No, I’m not expecting perfect grammar or spelling” and that “the most CREATIVE story will win.” I go on to remind them that, it is still important to remember that this is English COMMUNICATION so while the grammar and spelling don’t have to be perfect, they still need to be understandable.

I’ve gotton some amazing results out of this activity. I’ve seen students who usully sleep in my class, wake up and come up with great stuff.

Here’s the rough template I use:



Translating Anime and J-Drama!!!:
(I also submitted this to my local team teaching book)

Target audience: SHS students depending on ability.

Objective: To give students a fun (and practical) way to use English (and their dictionaries). Also, this gives them a great taste of how actual translators work.

Materials Computers USB with anime/movie clips A paper split in half for Japanese transcriptions and English translations

Procedure: Time: 3 Lessons (50mins/lesson) Location: Computer Lab Number of students I had for this activity: 22

Step 1: Try not to look too suspicious surfing YouTube at work. I asked teachers around me for suggestions so that they’d all know I was working. Find a range of anime/movie clips and rate them from level 1-over 9000. Make sure these clips don’t come with subtitles.

I used Anpanman, Kinkyori Renai, Kuroko no Basuke, Lupin the Third, Gokusen and Shingeki no Kyojin, Shingeki being the most difficult and Anpanman being the easiest. You can use whatever is considered kakkoii at your school to make yourself The Most Amazing Teacher Ever.

Step 2: Double check with your JTE if the Japanese used is clean/acceptable and void of f-bombs. You might also want them to check if you’ve labelled the difficulty level accurately.

Step 3: Get students into groups of 3/4 and allow them to choose the level of difficulty. Alternatively, you can assign the weaker groups to easier video clips…or you can get to them to pick lots/sticks…whatever floats your boat. USB transfer the videos to each group.

Step 4: Lesson 1: Transcribing the Japanese (Ensure your school coms have clear speakers) Lesson 2: Translating the Japanese  (Ensure that everyone is chipping in for this) Lesson 3: Correcting the translated English (Walk around checking their work)

Step 5: Collect work on day 3, and announce with a big smile that the best translation will win something from you in the next lesson, cuz you’re amazing that way (and the kids would have worked really hard on this anyhow)

Additional information: I didn’t allow the students to bring this back home or use the Internet for this activity. Just because subtitled versions DO exist out there. It saves the students from having to do homework and saves me from seeing copied/google translated English.

My 3rd Year class has a very very wide range of students. But the activity produced some really surprising results and some of the kids really challenged themselves (maybe not for the purest reasons…but still…)

So this was one of my biggest worries before I came here…and I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve never really been trained in Special Needs Education…

But as it turns out, teaching here is a joy.

My school has Elementary, Middle AND Senior divisions and I see all types of students here. Some are completely wheelchair bound and are limited to blinking or small mouth movements…Some have some understanding of what is being taught if it is done at a much slower pace…and some are students with minor autism and just need to be in a class with fewer students…Also, I don’t always teach with a JTE (Japanese Teacher of English).

To date, I don’t know their exact medical conditions…and I don’t need to know. I just ask, “Can they__________?”  For example, I ask if they can write or move or walk or talk…etc. Once I understand what they are able to do, I design an activity for them.

My favourite classes are the Elementary classes. The students are SUPER adorable and seeing my face makes them happy. Who wouldn’t like that? A lot of times, my lessons with the Elementary students are about letting them hear English. My job is to just allow them to hear a foreign language being spoken.

I sing songs…make a lot of funny faces…bring soft toys…joke with the kids…make holiday cards…make slide shows of my trips and talk to them about it….play games like fruits basket…

It’s not really that difficult. Most of the time, the teachers are there to lend me a lot of support. In this case, I think my knowledge of Japanese has been really helpful. With this group of students, it’s always about being on the roll and  the ability to have fun WITH the students.

And that hasn’t been very hard for me…I’m aware that some of them have NO clue about what I’m saying…I think some people have a big problem with this…but somehow, I’m perfectly ok with not being understood all the time. That’s when I make full use of my facial expressions and I joke with the students in Japanese a little.


There’s a whole lot more for me to learn…And every idea I get, I cross my fingers before taking it to class.

Inspirational quote I read when I was super young:
A problem is not a problem as long as know that it’s a problem.
It’s only a challenge.
It’s when you don’t know there’s a problem.
That’s a real problem.

Next up: vegging.

Description of my life now: Waw…

There really is no other word for it…

Shishi Mai (Lion Dance) at Ikuji

Shishi Mai (Lion Dance) at Ikuji

Special Needs School, Gakuensai.

Special Needs School, Gakuensai.



Kanazawa Noh Museum

Kanazawa Noh Museum

Kamikochi, Nagano

Kamikochi, Nagano

Goodbye 24,620. It was nice knowing you. #UNIQLO

Goodbye 24,620. It was nice knowing you. #UNIQLO

After all those pictures…sometimes, I don’t quite know what or how to sum things up.
One one hand I work a regular 8:30-4:15 job. I teach students and I have my ups and downs.
Classes can be incredibly fun and at the same time, I have those classes that just don’t work out for me, and I learn from my mistakes.

Then, the weekends arrive…and it’s like a whirlwind of activity. Suddenly the world around me changes as a travel. This coming weekend I’ll be in Osaka/Kyoto for a show. It feels like I left Singapore a long long time ago. It seems crazy that I’ve done SO much in a span of 2 months….and yet here I am.

One day I go for photo shoots and nat geo worthy road trips…and the next day, I’m in class teaching. Waw.
Feels like being socked over the head with a ton of rainbow clouds…
Whatever hardships I face…I tend to forget it when see the nature surrounding me.
And of course, when I meet some of my amazing students.

I really try not to play favourites…and I don’t give out easy marks. But it’s hard not to smile (or burst out laughing) when you have some of these students in your class. I’ve got favourite-kun at my special needs school who’s got to be the most eager learner of English I’ve ever met. I’ve got some hilarious high school boys who seem to use English for the sole purpose of flirting (very badly). I’ve got my speech-contest-san who loves calorie mate. I’ve got papers to mark, where I get “application eigo” which looks like something right out of google translate. And I’ve got amazing JTEs and 2 amazing schools. And when I step out of the school, the wide wide sky greets me.

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. And by the time I get home, I want nothing more than a hot hot bath especially now that the temperature has started to drop. But I also feel extremely happy and satisfied. I get a sense of job satisfaction that I’ve not gotten in a long time. And again that makes me think, waw… It’s a job I enjoy.

Apart from exploring, I’ve also been shopping (FOUND UNIQLO!!!!!!!!!!!!) and found some really neat eateries. The change for me is that most things take time to accomplish over here. Just because, everything is extremely compact in Singapore. Here it takes me a good hour to catch a bus to a HUGE mall called Favore which really is in the middle of nowhere. But that’s somehow really slowed down my pace of life. If I miss something, I accept that I’ve missed it and I just wait for the next train or bus or tram to come along, because really, what else can I do?

Sometimes in a busy city like Singapore, you really do forget to stop and stare at the sky and take a deep breath. But with how wide the sky is here, I’m just always breathing better. Much less claustrophobia.

Here’s to more goodness. 😀

My Statement of Purpose

So before anyone goes on to read this, I’ll start off with a disclaimer. What worked for me, might not work for you. And for God’s sake, don’t plagiarise.

My essay is structured in the following way:

  1. Hook/Why Japan.
  2. What I’ve done with my life. (Japan focus)
  3. Language and it’s impact in my life.
  4. What I’ve done with my life. (Teaching focus)
  5. Conclusion. Tie up all points and state how my skills can be useful for JET.

This was a structure that worked for me, and may not work for others. Personally, I’m emotive when I write and was advised to name drop liberally. Much thanks goes to Amanda, Aubrey, Cher and Dad for proof reading it and giving me invaluable feedback.

The whole thing took up 2 pages, in Times New Roman. About font size, the advised me to use font size 12, but I cheated a little and made it 11.5 to sneak in a few more lines.


A Yagnya
Statement of Purpose

The slow Suriyashi (gliding steps) of Noh performers, who came to Singapore in the January of 2010, was my introduction to the elegant, meditative and distilled elements of Japan’s traditional arts. The intense performance that followed made me completely forget the hustle and bustle of the world outside. This moving experience etched itself into my mind so strongly that it compelled me to learn more about Japan.

While pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Performance at LASALLE College of the Arts, I did my thesis on differing Japanese theatre styles and as a directing student, looked to practitioners like Ōta Shōgo, Yukio Ninagawa and Hijikata Tatsumi for influences. I also trained in Noh under visiting lecturer Ms. Terai Chikage (daughter of Mr. Terai Sakae, Intangible Cultural Treasure) of the Kanze School of Noh and attended a Butoh workshop under Mr. Ohno Yoshito.
I came to understand the importance of language on my internship at Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music (ex-president Yukio Ninagawa). At Toho, I learnt Kyogen under Zenchiku Juro Sensei (Human Intangible Cultural Property) and Nihon Buyo under Fujisaburo Fujima Sensei amongst other classes, all of which were conducted in Japanese. I was also lucky to meet Ms. Aoki Michiko, producer of the Ishinha Company, and we conversed deeply about Japan’s theatre, history and social issues. Under her, I also volunteered at an old age home to teach simple English to the elderly, which was a very satisfying and memorable experience.

At that time, I did not have any knowledge of polite or non-polite forms, or how to address superiors with more respect, or even proper grammar particles; but what amazes me even now is everyone’s eagerness to communicate. After graduation, I promptly started learning Japanese at the Bunka Language Private School with the intention of collaborating and communicating with Japanese artists in the future.
My love for Japan and theatre aside, I volunteered at a reading programme at the Changi-Simei Community Center, worked at the Metropolitan YMCA Childcare and Development Centre and taught drama as enrichment at Primary and Secondary schools since my secondary school days. In order to teach drama, I attended the Train-the-Trainer course under Mastereign Enrichment Group. Every experience has been enlightening in it’s own way and I’ve adopted the saying “Every student is different.” as my personal motto. Every student has a different way of learning. Through games, songs, drawing and simple writing exercises, I’ve learnt to engage various students and to celebrate their strong points.

Using my theatre education, with its collaborative, managerial and transferable skills, my experiences in teaching, and my understanding of Japanese language and culture, I hope to excite students into further learning English – not just as a subject in school but also as a lifelong mode of communication. As a Singaporean, I have come to understand the importance of English as an international language whether in business, culture or education. While my long-term ambitions are intercultural and multilingual, my immediate aim is to further embrace the Japanese language and culture and to continue learning. As many say: the best way to learn is to teach.


COMING SOON, TO THEATRES/// Interview Questions /// Special people/// Post-placement Hustle.