I can't read Chinese!

I have to admit that this translation is really bad. Try the Google Translated Site!


What is the relationship between family income and food choices?



异彩纷呈的迪拜之行 - 第三天 - Wild Wadi Water Park(转发)

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异彩纷呈的迪拜之行 - 第三天 - Wild Wadi Water Park:   这一天是星期六,依然是本地人的周末,前一天在地球村见识到本地汹涌的人流,于是我们把计划改为留在酒店玩水乐园...


异彩纷呈的迪拜之行 - 第二天 - 哈利法塔早餐+迪拜Mall+地球村(转发)

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异彩纷呈的迪拜之行 - 第二天 - 哈利法塔早餐+迪拜Mall+地球村: 今天正式在迪拜展开我们的行程,非常开心和充实。题图当然要用哈利法塔开心吃早餐的全家福。 一早起来,每个人都非常奇迹般的在一夜之间摆平时差,睡得足足...

异彩纷呈的迪拜之行 - 第一天 - 新加坡飞迪拜+朱美拉皇宫酒店(转发)

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异彩纷呈的迪拜之行 - 第一天 - 新加坡飞迪拜+朱美拉皇宫酒店    之前我家姐姐发迪拜旅行的朋友圈,我就让她用“精彩纷呈”这个词来做形容,因为极度丰富的体验丰富加上多元文化元素的融合,迪拜真是称得上度假天堂。今天去BC上口语课,想着老师肯定会问我假期过得怎么样,结果简...






Reading Notes on Glass Sword

Glass Sword is a novel written by Victoria Aveyard. It is the second book in the "Red Queen" series. In the story, Mare was trying to gather all the "New Blood" to revenge Maven, who framed his brother and Mare into killing their father.

Different Opinions towards the revenge
The characters in the story all have different opinions towards the revenge.
Cal, the silver prince thought that:
- Mare was being a bit selfish when doing this, because lots of people, silver and red (especially silver) died in the revenge.
- Although Mare was trying to do something to make the silvers to treat the reds in a better way (like not forcing them into war, no more discrimination), she was actually doing the same thing without realizing it: asking the newbloods to fight even though some of them are not willing to (like Cameron Cole. She just escaped from the newbloods' jail built by Maven and felt the taste of freedom. She did not want to be commanded by anyone else and refused to join the Newbloods' army but was grabbed by Mare.) This was kind of like using the New bloods to do something that Mare herself wanted to do.
- Mare was seeing the newbloods' lives more important than the reds without realizing it. While she fought for time to rescue the newbloods that were going to be killed by Maven, there were millions of red kids that were commanded by Maven to join the army and fought the other country (and will eventually die as they do not have any powers). If Mare did this, Newbloods and Reds, would not be equal anymore, just like a few years ago, when the silvers differed from the reds, they reinforced the difference between their status, which resulted in the situation now which the silvers ruled everything.

Mare's parents:
- They thought that Mare would be in great danger to revenge and stopped her from going. However, they were born as reds, grew up and work in red societies and knew the difference of status between silvers and reds, therefore knew that the job of revenging and helping the reds to be equal with the silvers was very important. They compromised with Mare at last.

Mare was starting to gather the newbloods to revenge Maven. Lots of Newbloods were gathered and recued more newbloods. However at last, Mare and several volunteers were captured by Maven. Mare was taken to Archeon where Maven put a collar on her in front of a crowd of silvers.

The ending reminds me of the ending of the last book in the series "Red Queen". Mare and Cal were also captured by Maven and were brought to be executed in front of lots of silvers. Mare and Cal seemed to be losers in every book. I think it implies that:
- It is very hard for people in a lower status, with no political rights and no one supporting them, to gain respect and to change the way they are treated by people. This was like the African Americans in Slavery in the early 1900's. They were captured to a place where they have no rights and no one helping them. Even at last, their freedom were from the American abolitionists, the Civil War of the Americans.


Tabitha Housebuilding Trip - Day 6

Today was the last day of the trip. But before we left for Singapore, we went to a few Global Concerns UWCSEA had worked with. The purpose of this was to make the children more confident and not being shy because of their poor family background.

These global concerns were some non-profit organizations. They built a few schools. We were going to the schools and did activities with the kids, similar to what we did yesterday.

The GC I visited was called Indochina Starfish Organization. The school has six classes and the age of the students ranges from Grade 1 to Grade 5. The guide told us, the kids coming to this school did not need to pay, and the things they learned was 2 - 3 years behind the government's public schools. Then the school bell rings. The children began to run out.

Like yesterday, we sang the "head, shoulders knees and toes" song first. As we had the translator today, the kids soon got more familiar with us. They called us "cha". I thought it means "look" in Cambodian, but the teacher told me that it was just the abbreviation for "teacher". The children here were a bit different from the UWCSEA-built school yesterday. They were in Grade 2. They were more active than the kids yesterday and they also knew some basic English words (like eyes, hands, sun, thank you, etc) , which made our communication a lot easier.

As we showed the game to the children, they were obviously amazed and stared at our fingers. They gathered around us, trying to figure out how the strings turned into the patterns. The game was like magic to them. I played with a boy, placing the string on his finger and adjust. When we finally did the first pattern together, he giggled and shouted loudly and proudly to his friend, showing them the pattern on his finger. We did the patterns again and again for many times, and he remembered all of them. He held my hand and dragged me across the room, introduce me to his friends, as if I was his best friend now.

After playing our games, the students led us to play their games. The one that impressed me the most was Bottle Flip. It was absolutely the same as the bottle flip kids played in Singapore, except that after one person flipped the bottle and it landed successfully, he will have the chance to draw on everybody else's face or arm with a whiteboard marker. Some of the girls (from Singapore) was too scared and did not join. I was very glad that I got the chance to gain trust from the kids and know some of the local games, and the children here got to open their hearts to us foreigners. This was how we look like after playing the game ⤵

Anyways. My only regret was that I did not get to take a picture with the boy who always held my hand. I thought this would be disrespectful to him, but I did not get the chance to ask him after the games.

We headed straight to the airport after this, and then after a short flight we were back at Singapore. On the way back to Singapore, I was keep thinking about the trip. We did a pretty great job through all the process like fundraising, building houses for the Cambodians, going to the local schools, but was there any way that we could improve? Did our trip help Cambodia in the best way (especially housebuilding)?

The purpose of the housebuilding trip, according to what Ms. Jane Ritskes told us, was to fundraise for the Cambodians, and to develop a deep sense of pride in the Cambodians through letting them teach us how to do housebuilding. To us, it is surely very meaningful. But to the Cambodians, what did they get? Well, it was a good thing that they developed friendship with us and got twenty new houses, which would help their lives a lot, but was this help sustainable? Was it going to help the Cambodians to live on their own?

A better way, for example, was to teach the Cambodians how to make money. Perhaps we could teach them to make bracelets and necklaces with the materials they have and we could help them to sell it to the other countries. It might be very attractive as it includes elements of the local arts (the art of the Khmer Kingdom was very famous in lots of other countries around it before the Khmer Rouge). This help would be more sustainable as the Cambodians could gradually start to do this on their own without our help. (what if UWC do not plan to come to this village in one year? What if one day Tabitha does not exist anymore and no one comes to do housebuilding?) These were just some of my basic thoughts.

This experience in Cambodia was very memorable. I am very glad that I participated in it. It allows me to see the lives of people here. Although the assistance work we have done is very limited, everything could be accumulated. I wish people in this country can be more confident in front of foreigners, always be hopeful and rebuild their beautiful country with their own hands.

Tabitha Housebuilding Trip - Day 5

The plan for today was to work in the schools built by UWCSEA. We got into the minibuses and headed straight to this school in Svay Rieng.




Tabitha Housebuilding Trip - Day 3 & 4

Day 3
Today was the first housebuilding day. We were split into two groups, one going to Svay Rieng, one going to Prey Veng (provinces in Cambodia) for housebuilding. We set off from our hotel, carried our luggage onto the minibus. After all the preparation for housebuilding in Svay Rieng, the 3-hour-drive began.

We arrived at the small villages. Just after we got off from the car, lots of villagers surrounded us. It seemed that they have waited there, at the gate of our housebuilding site, for a long time. Most of them were smiling, some put their hands together, saying "Okun", which means Thank you and blessings in Khmer. Perhaps the children have never seen foreigners before. They were at the back of this group of people. Some of them were holding a camera or a phone, taking pictures. Others were just gazing at us curiously. I said "hi" at one of the boys. He smiled nervously and turned away, avoiding any eye contact.

Not so far away, there were the frames of the houses we were going to build on. They were made by the villagers. Actually, it isn't that the villagers do not know how to build houses or that they do not have enough people and need us to help them. There were lots of villagers who were, comparing with us, experts at house building. Without us, they could still build the houses on their own. Then why do they need Tabitha? Well, the villagers needed our fund for the materials for the houses. They also wanted to know more about us through the process of teaching us building the houses.

After wearing our sunglasses, gloves and hats, we walked towards frames of the houses. There were two kinds of jobs. One was to make the wall of the houses, nailing thin sheets of tin around the house. The other one was to make the floor -- to nail the bamboo sticks in a # shape. I chose to do the floor. Hammering a nail into the bamboo seemed to be quite easy when the villagers show it to us, but when the nails and hammer were in my hand, they did not seem to work. It was very easy to hammer onto your hand if you did not pay enough attention, and if you did not hold the nail hard enough, it would fall through the holes of the # down onto the floor.

This is how a Tabitha house looks like:

There was a local auntie that helped me a lot when I was hammering. I don't know what to say to her when I just met her, but once we all sat down inside the frame of the house, we shared a common goal, that was, to finish the house as quickly as we can. The auntie taught me how to nail, and she seemed to be so skilled at this. I need to hammer for 60 times to get a nail in (and often hammer on my hand by accident), when the auntie came she raised her extra-heavy hammer up and only need to hammer twice. Every time I asked her for help, she was friendly and helpful. Every time my nails got stuck or when the bamboo went bouncy (when it was not flat) and was hard to nail, the auntie smiled and came. After we hammered together for a long time, the wall between us disappeared. Once, I hammered in the wrong way, the nail bent and got stuck in the bamboo so deep that I could not get it out. Auntie came and made a surprised face. I started laughing. Auntie put her hammer down and laughed together.

We finished five houses by the end of the day. In the twilight, we played with the local kids. We did not understand each other's language, but we just started. The game we played was similar to Monkey in the Middle. The kids went well with us, and they were far more fit than us. When we got so tired in the end, they were still excited to play another game. Usually I only see Cambodian kids on posters, feeling that they were so different from us, but now when I got closer to them.This was when I realize that these kids were just normal kids, like us. Each of them have potential. With some support, they might shine more than you think.

It was getting dark when we left the village. The boys who played and won the Monkey game with us, this time, stood in front of all the adults, waving good bye with us proudly.
Day 4
This is the second day of housebuilding. We took the minibus for one hour to get from our hotel in Svay Rieng to the housebuilding village.

We built continuously for 4 and 3 hours without stopping. Nailing have made me a bit numb, that when I finished the last house and walked into the rain, I realized that we had already built 15 houses, three times the number of the houses built yesterday.

We built 20 houses in two days, which means that 20 families have a shelter that is safe (protected from snakes), big enough and dry on rainy days. I felt very proud of myself. When the night falls, we celebrated for the completion of the 20 houses. We made a big circle, and the 20 families that lived in our houses came up one by one. These families had 3 members on average, most of the families had more than one children and had one parent missing. Most of the villagers have smiles on their faces. We gave each family a silk blanket and blessed each other. We really did help them a lot. I wish we could give more help.

Tabitha Housebuilding Trip - Day 2

In the morning, we visited the Tabitha office, where the founder of Tabitha works. Ms. Jane Ritskes told us a brief history of Cambodia about the Khmer Rouge, and the reason why we should raise money and build houses for them. Cambodia used to be a very developed country. Its culture was spread to lots of country around it and people came here to learn. However, in 1975, the Khmer Rouge overthrew the government of the Khmer Republic. The leader of the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot started the genocide, in which more than 3 million people (25% of the Cambodian population then) were murdered. The economy of the country was brought to ground zero within 3 years. This had strong effects on the locals in Cambodia. Some people had abandoned their hope. They put down their dignity in front of the foreigners and went for begging...

The problem of poverty is very serious in Cambodia. There are lots of poor people in the country. The poorest of them, including the locals in the small village that we are going to visit, do not feel confident in front of others. One purpose of our housebuilding trip is to let us to understand the poorest Cambodians, to work hard together with them, knowing that they are the same as us, as human beings. The reason why they are poor isn't that they are lazy as they need to work more than us in order to subsist. The other purpose is to let the Cambodians in the village to feel less repel towards us. It gives them the opportunity to teach us the skills of house building - rather than being taught by the us. This develops a deep sense of pride in their hearts. I learned a lot from Ms Ritskes. We were even more excited and willing to do housebuilding.

After the visit to the Tabitha office, we headed straight to the S-21 Museum. Before the Khmer Rouge, the place was a secondary school. It was changed to a prison, and also a place where innocent people were tortured and forced to admit that they were politically opposed the country. The cells, the tools used for torturing and the image of the victims made me feel bad for the Cambodians. After lunch, we went to The Killing Fields. Different from S-21, this place was where most victims were executed. We saw the places where the victims were executed and curtly buried. The thing that shocked me the most was a memorial in the middle of the park. It was actually a glass towel with lots of levels. Each level displays lots of skulls found in S-21. On the bottom level there were description of the different ways victims were executed and there were also the clothes of the victims, some covered with blood…

I also met a begging little girl in the park.

We went to a western restaurant -- FCC restaurant for dinner in the evening. This was probably the best meal (I do not mean that I don't like the local specialties. It just means the meal that I ate the most) in the whole trip. Tomorrow we will leave Phnom Penh for housebuilding in Svay Rieng.

P.S. By the way, I also made lots of new friends. I would be staying in the same room with May and Sophie tomorrow, and I think I am getting along well with them.

Tabitha Housebuilding Trip - Day 1

In UWC, I joined a project called Tabitha that helps the locals in Cambodia to build houses. With a year of hard work, we raised more than 70,000 SGD. Our next step is to go to the small village in Cambodia and use the fund we raised to build houses for the locals there.