Sunday, April 20, 2008

The boy who talked too much.

When I was younger and still in primary school, my friends (and teachers alike) always knew me as the boy who talked just a little too much. I always had something to say about anything and everything. I am a naturally curious person and you could always see my hand flying up first in the air during lessons. Teachers would be bogged down with my questions and would many a time tell me to keep my questions to myself back then.

My natural aptitude for speaking and inclination for the spotlight has led me to naturally end up as an active public speaker, and eventually a school debater in my secondary school years. I loved speaking up and talking to people, I just did.

In college, my thirst for knowledge and aptitude for critical thinking led me to take up the new A-level subject offered in Singapore, Knowledge and Inquiry, after a very stringent selection process. Knowledge and Inquiry is a subject that throws philosophy, epistemology and the various modes of human inquiry together and forces us to look at the very fundamentals of how we construct knowledge in our everyday lives. It was in this new environment where I was given a chance to hone my writing skills and put my analytical and thinking skills I picked up through debating to the next level. I thrived doing that subject; for once, school really made me think and ponder about the nature of our reality. It made me see the world in a different light.

I continued my debating career well through college. I managed to secure a representative spot in the college’s debating team, which had only one spot for a foreign student, after overcoming stiff competition from other students, both Singaporeans and fellow foreign students alike.

To be honest, I really had no idea what I wanted to do or pursue after I was done with my A-levels. I have always seen myself as a multidisciplinary person – a renaissance man of sorts – equally adept at either arts or science subjects. I am naturally inquisitive and love learning about the world at large. The downside was that I had no idea what sort of course would be right for me - they all looked equally interesting. The many choices before me only added to my confusion.

Then a miracle happened.

I got a call, offering me a job as a teacher in the secondary school that I was from as they were short on teachers. I gladly took up the offer.

I was made to teach all sorts of subjects, ranging from English, Moral Knowledge to even Art. It seemed daunting at first, walking into a class without any teaching experience, but something inside me lit up when I first saw the faces of my students listening attentively when I walked in class to teach – my students appreciated and needed me.

I taught them not because it was something my headmistress required of me, but because I wanted to give them my all. I went the extra mile for them and they showed me that they appreciated it. I received little notes telling me how they enjoyed my lectures; comments on my blog telling me that they were going to miss me when I had to go. I was actually making a difference in the lives of my students.

For once in my life, I truly felt satisfied. It was not because of personal achievement or material gain, but because I have discovered joy in serving others.

At about the same time when I was teaching, another event changed my outlook on life – the Malaysian general elections. I was fed up with my government. I loved my country, but I hated the corruption so rife in our government; I resented the fact that students far less academically qualified than me received government scholarships while so many like me were just forgotten. I wanted change, but few believed it was possible.

“The ruling coalition is just too powerful,” they told me. This did not deter me. I made my message for change clear to my friends and family, persuading them to believe in change. It became apparent to me that whatever I am to do in life, I want to bring about positive change in the lives of others.

It made me realize – I want to serve. I want to ensure that justice prevails. I want to ensure that kids in rural areas are not deprived of a proper education. It made me see that I wanted to be a law student – a person well versed with convincing arguments and knowledge of the legal system so that one day, the boy that once talked too much can be someone who spoke out for those who can’t speak, who could stand up for those too weak to stand.

The boy that once talked too much finally saw how he fit in life's grand scheme.

*this was one of my scholarship application essays (:

Edit: *SCREAMS!* why is the law interview letter not here yet when the interviews are during the coming weekend! *SCREAMS!*


electronicfly said...

lol! by the second paragraph I was already thinking "hmm, this sounds like a CV essay". xD

shaun said...

NUS Law faculty interview letters have been sent out. The interview and test take place this coming weekend (26-27/4). Just thought you might want to know.

Cy Azhar said...

I think it takes a liiittttle longer when your mailing address is international, or it could be the Malaysian postal service. Either way, hang on tight...

PS: Go make Mr. Leong proud!

Kevin Chan said...

Guys, thanks for the information and the support! All the best to you too Shaun. Lets hope that we can make the Leongster proud. (: