Teach a Life, for Life Founder &
“You are like a ‘Nemo’ trapped in a fish bowl.” An athletics coach once said that to me. I was a school teacher and sports coach then. I didn’t grasp the true meaning of that statement until only in recent years—yearning to give through my life lessons learned.
My career began as a teacher with the Ministry of Education. I moved on to become a Sports Performance Manager with the sports associations; Venue and Event Manager at the Asian Youth Games, Singapore Youth Olympic Games and the former ESPN; and Media Relations and Strategic Communications Manager.
Now, I'm a violin teacher and performer. The experiences that I've
gained through my working life is now helping me in my work—to organise performances, to prepare traditional and new media communications, and to teach with a heart.
WHY I do
The phrase, "Teach a Life, for Life" came about after I left the Ministry of Education (MOE). I was the form teacher of the normal technical class at the school that I was teaching in. Towards the end of my 3- year bond with the MOE, an invitation came for me to work at the then Singapore Sports Council, to help organise the Asian Youth Games and to be a Sports Performance Manager. It was a tough decision to make as I've developed good relationship with my form class. Eventually, I made a decision and left, but with a sense of guilt. I vowed to myself then that if I ever return to education, I would teach a life, for life.
As a violin teacher...
After being employed for 7 years, I came to another crossroad in my life - what's next? I could not see where I was going in my career. Teaching crept back into my radar when my boyfriend then, husband now, suggested for me to return to teaching. I took the plunge and started to teach the violin, earning less than $100 a month. Savings dwindled, a friend recommended me to become an insurance agent, took the exams, received my coding, and then friends kicked me in the butt and said, "You left your iron rice bowl for nothing." The rest is history.
As a violin performer...
For many years, since my early 20s, I've always imagined myself singing and performing on my violin as I chat and share with the audience about life. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but my thoughts gave me an impression that I've already done it. After I started to teach the violin full-time, I slowly weaved this dream into reality. Now I live loop on my violin, playing and singing about life lessons learned. Next, the Vonder band, great music friends coming together to make music and sing about life lessons of people from all walks of life.
We are always in a learning mode—pick up a new skill, perform trials and errors, and keep trying till we succeed. When we fail, we pick ourselves up again, persevere and continue to search for that hopeful light to shine our paths to success.
It is a real struggle to go through such a journey. Sometimes we blame ourselves for choosing such a difficult path; and sometimes we blame others for our own predicament.
But when we self-reflect, the ups and downs in our lives, create contrasting emotional myriad of colours in our paths—some are dark grey, some are glistening white in colour. The good moments of whiteness remind us of the wonderful things that we already have in our lives. The dark grey moments, do they matter anymore?
The grey and white coexist for us to appreciate what we already have. As we begin to understand and accept their existence together, our minds are released of its heavy chains of self-entitlements, disappointments and unrealistic expectations. We learn to let go of negative emotions, become grateful and appreciate life nuances, and give back to those who need it.
The song, “Giving” is a reminder to myself that the paths that I’ve chosen may have been tough, however, I’ve been blessed by family and friends who have been there for me through thick and thin. Start giving, to make a difference in one’s life.
WORDS OF WISDOM
A simple smile today - to form a bridge of human relationship of appreciation and giving.
TEACH A LIFE, FOR LIFE Book
For more “Teach a Life, for Life” life lessons, visit Times and Kinokuniya bookstores. The book was one of the best sellers in Times in September 2014 and Kinokuniya in July 2014.
Lyrics by Eileen Chai (edited by Kevin Mathews)
Music by Eileen Chai
Good morning darkness, we rode along
Quiet breeze, running and pushing on
Sweat and tears, flowed through our inner soul
We will keep our focus now
Mondays to Sundays, we put on our gear
Each and everyday, we block out our fear
Visions of gold and glory, lift up our hope
These glistening bright days will give honour to all
Step on the podium, we raise our hands
We imagine ourselves, flying in the air
Run, jump and throw, we will do our best
We will fight with magnificence
Our minds have silenced all the darkest whispers
Our bodies beautiful despite the blisters
Final countdown that determines our fate
But should this metal medal show us the way?
Rainbow & colours, shine through the clouds
Sacrifices, not in vain
Share our journey, inspire all
Giving our lives, is what matters
Now, the dust has settled down
Celebrate the friendship that we’ve made
Bring back memories of tears and joy
We will smile with splendour
We, have climbed the mountain of excellence
We, have given hope to everyone
Reaching out to guide the next generation
Giving all because we love our nation