Monday, November 10, 2008

a little thought

6 posts later, I arrive at this final entry to my blogging endeavour. A little retrospection, with the help of a pensive mind, I shall pen down what could the last entry for this site. Or will it be?

In the first post in this blog, I’ve stated how effective communication is important in every aspect of our lives. If any, the course of the past few months has only highlighted the importance of effective communications. Through the project and the various assignments I had to complete, I had to interact with my group mates, share ideas and come to consensuses. All these activities would not have been possible had I and my group mates practice a little tact, push through ideas, or debate on them. Nothing less than practicing a wide range of communication skills all at the same time.

Now equipped with the fundamental skills of effective communication, I am feeling a little more confident when conversing with peers and superiors. Learning about the 7Cs of writing is especially enriching since writing has been one of my weaker aspects in communications. It brought to my attention the different aspects of effective writing and had helped in the process of writing my report. While the span of the module is limited to this semester, I strongly believe that the lessons taught within the classroom will be applied to my future endeavours.

While the process of this knowledge acquisition is short, I believe I have gained a little more than the usual lecture-styled lessons. The interactions between group mates during my project discussions, the blogging, interactions with the tutor have made this module refreshing. I, in the process, become more receptive to new information.

While I feel compelled to write more (especially since this is our last assigned blog entry), it will be a dire breach to one of the C’s in the 7C’s of writing.

Thank you for reading.


p.s. Good luck to the groups preparing for your presentation and to those who are preparing for the test!
Thursday, October 30, 2008


I remember clearly that in 2004, no one did something like this. Enjoy.

And with almost everything, there's a spoof that follows it.

Monday, October 20, 2008


An interesting comment from Lyon sparked a discussion on occupation on Oxy's blog. So what good is occupation supposed to do?

I believe everyone subscribed to either,

1. I work to earn myself and my family, a decent standard of living.
2. I work because I love what I do.
3. I work therefore I am. (workaholic scenario)

Apart from the last option, I certainly do feel these are legitimate reasons to be working. An occupation is a intriguing concept, almost a love-hate relationship between you and the society. So which is better reason?

My parents did not come to Singapore as expatriates. We were closer to the immigrants category, almost bordering to the illegal side. Their desperation drove them out of the country into a new land where they could rebuild their hope. My mum was 23, my Dad a little older. In the cramp seat at the back of the bus, 3 of us took a 6 hour bus journey, (no expressway then) to get to Singapore.

I was 4 and they could not afford my milk powder. Both my parents left me in the care of a nanny while they slaved for the little money they could bring home. We survived the ordeal and 18 years later, my family enjoys a standard of living most Singaporean families are comfortably settled in most of their lives. They lost nothing, except their youth, spent on work to make ends meet.

I recently told my parents I will become a zookeeper. They joked that working with animals is way better than working with any human. I told them about the "meagre" income I will be getting. They told me it's my youth at my dispense and I should do what I want to do.

No. I do not mean that everyone should follow their heart and work accordance to their passion, even if your income will never be enough to cover your basal expenses. What I suggest everyone do however, is to consider what's best for your youth.

I know that no matter how hard I work, I can never buy back my mother's youth. I could work hard to realize her dreams, but at the end of the day, would I want my children to work so hard to realize my dreams?

With graduation in a little more than 1 to 2 years time, it's time we should consider a little about our lives.

Thanks Oxy and Lyon!

All the best for your future endeavors.
Saturday, October 18, 2008


Weiren is a NUS undergraduate pursuing a bachelor degree in life sciences. His education in NUS has exposed him to various theoretical aspects biology which further fueled his passion for Biology. As an active member of the school and the community, Weiren has been involved in many activities both within and beyond campus. As the Assistant Director of a pioneer theatrical production club, Weiren spearheads many art-related projects in the faculty. He has also collaborated with his fellow peers in choreographing a modern dance segment for the Science Faculty’s entry during NUSSU’s Rag Day.

Outside the realm of academia, Weiren is currently a volunteer with the Singapore Zoological Gardens. As a volunteer, Weiren shares his passion and knowledge of animals, imparting important conservation messages to the public. Weiren is also a part-time camp facilitator with the zoo. He enjoys nature and art in his leisure. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Only at the slaughterhouse did the cattle realize the audacity of grazing.

Disagreements and unhappiness harboured through the project is subsiding into frivolity as the deadline draws near. No, I do not mean that any of my project mates aren't great people. In fact, they are nothing less than generous to tolerate my many opinionated ideas and occasional disgruntle grunts.

I’m writing this entry with relations to our near completed project. With 4 more days to submission, the team is all geared up to give the report a final coat of gloss. So naturally, to write this entry was quite like a pain in the neck. However, after reading the topic for this entry, I guess it's more or less forgivable to spend some time to contemplate on the progress of the project.

To contribute to a positive learning experience, we have to understand what we ought to learn through our project. I identified interpersonal communication as a key learning point for the project. However, with all due respect to our diligent tutors, our project groups are far too small when compared to the actual reality of the working society. Working with familiar peers certainly eases the discussion but fails to allow us to practise working with unpredictable strangers or colleagues we are more likely to face in the society.

That aside, the report provided an excellent opportunity for the team to practise our writing skills. Through the endless series of editing, commenting, polishing, my writing skills were put to the challenge. To come up with the most precise yet concise statements have always been my flaw and through this project, I was forced times and times again to write in greater specifications. Generally speaking, I learnt quite a fair amount through the project, having constantly to keep what we were taught in my minds.

Besides all the academia aspects of the project, the project benefited me in several other ways, largely related to interpersonal interactions and teamwork. My naivety blinded me of the little idiosyncrasies of individuals. The blunt me ended up creating several unpleasant moments at the start of the project. The unpleasantries bothered me and I embarked on a journey to find a problem that laid within me. I admit I can still be little intolerant sometime, but I’m working towards becoming a more cooperative and tolerant team member.

With the report near completion, we will be starting on our oral presentation. With billions information to feed the audience within the short presentation time, the challenge arises for me as a presenter to present the most crucial information to my audience. With the newly polished writing skills, I hope to deliver a concise and concrete presentation to the class.

I also aim to further improve my interpersonal skills in preparation of our oral presentation. The oral presentation would create an excellent platform for everyone to build on their current rapport to create an outstanding presentation. I strive to work together with my team to create an outstanding presentation.

While the cattle see the audacity of grazing, it's its daily effort to graze, which allowed it to reach an end where he could not possibly go without grazing.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Intercultural Communications.


With the F1 races beginning this weekend, all eyes are turning towards our city. With racers speeding up to 300 kph and herds of tourists streaming at an ever faster rate, a problem arise:

How do we attend to our visitors?

Problems arise when people from the different cultural norms come together and interact in their own comfortable ways. Sometimes, unintentional meaning may be conveyed through our actions that might result in unpleasantries for both parties.

My recent trip to the Night Safari highlighted the exact scenario. As it was a weekend, the Night Safari was packed with streams of people, trying to rush to all the attractions within the short opening hours of the park. This resulted in the typical mad rush to every attraction. The pushing and rushing are "almost" inevitable. Some aunties who refuse to be left at the end of the queue tried to push to the front of the queue with their continuous nudging and pushing have left many annoyed.

Since we have to queue for most of the more popular attractions, we were pretty annoyed by the sight of any queues. At the end of the night safari show (an hour queue before that), we were more or less relieved to find ourselves beating the crowd heading out of the auditorium. We headed to the tram station and was comforted by the sight of proper guides and stands that "guaranteed" a better formed queue compared to the ones outside the auditorium. Tragically, our relief was short lived.

Just when we were about to head into the guides, a group of Indian tourists crossed our path and cut straight into the queue.  Driven to near insanity, I firmed pat on one of the man's shoulder and told him firmly,

"Sir, you just cut my queue."

He turned back and looked at me. In that moment, I felt as if I had been swallowed up by his glare. He let my family passed, but not without throwing glares whenever our eyes met. I was highly perplexed by his actions and thought I had committed a racist act. I phoned my Indian friend and asked, but he couldn't give a definite answer.

Few days later, I realized my mistake over the net. I realized my pat on the shoulder was a taboo to them. According to one of the websites, Indians are very sensitive to touch, especially with strangers. It didn't help when I was touching him yet asserting a certain authority over him. It probably led to his discomfort and confrontational attitude later on.

The  complexity of our "multi-cultural-ness" will naturally increase, as Singapore continues to attract foreigners into the country. We have to be more aware of our little actions and words that might mean otherwise to someone with a different cultural background. Intercultural communication skills is more than just effective communication between cultures, it is also a manner of showing tact and respect. After all, on  the international arena, it isn't who we are, it's where we come from.
Friday, September 26, 2008

Prelude to the next entry.

I have decided to write a prelude to my next entry simply because I have in inkling of a feeling that my next entry might come across racist. No no, nothing overtly racist. Read on.

I did not what to change the content partly because it's based a true incident and partly because it highlighted this particular moment where we are caught in this ambiguity of racism. Intercultural miscommunication, if you would call it, is separated from racism by this fine line. What separates the two probably lies in the intent of the speaker.

Nevertheless, one must never undermine the importance of intercultural communication just because racism is never your intent. There will be many occasion when there is no second chance (as described in my next entry), and the guilt of your actions may probably live with you! Now that I have made everything clear, we can all proceed to the entry.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cynic or not?

In the light of the our green project topics, I would like to share this with all my readers.

One day, my friend and I had a short discussion on environmental issues while traveling back from a night of revision. He had watched Al Gore's "The Inconvenient Truth" and became extremely passionate about everything to do with carbon dioxide. While I, on the other hand, who have not watched the film, did not believe the story as a whole. We had a heated discussion over what is the leading cause of enhanced global warming and what we can do to help our environment.

My stand was that, maybe, carbon isn't the main culprit. He fought against my idea and our discussion only ceased when we arrived at our respective stops. That evening, he wrote on his blog about his "cynical" friend who did not believe in Al Gore's "golden truth" that carbon dioxide is heating our Earth.

Cynic (I believe it is the exact word Al Gore used in his film) or not, I urge all readers in this blog to take a step back and consider. Is carbon our main culprit?

There are many other greenhouse gases whose role in enhanced greenhouse effect are greatly understated. Methane being one of them. If I have not read incorrectly, methane is 30 times more insulating than carbon dioxide! What about water vapour, the largest contributor of greenhouse effect?

Global warming is a complicated issue and greenhouse gas alone isn't the only player in the problem. There are so many other factors that led to this problem. I urge all readers to practise restrain and think about who you call a cynic.

Nobel laureate or not, Al Gore did indeed brought awareness to the world, the effects of greenhouse gas. But never allow our vision to zoom just into carbon dioxide or we suffer the consequence of over-simplifying the problem.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Green Energy? Go Nuclear.

Emissions from coal-combustion power contribute significantly to the enhanced global warming effect. Apart from carbon dioxide, other noxious gases from coal combustion are carcinogenic and threaten the public health. I am proposing the consideration of nuclear energy as an alternate source of energy. Cleaner and far more efficient as compared to coal combustion, nuclear power is becoming a viable candidate in our quest for green energy.

There are several reasons why nuclear power is greener than the coal-combustion power. Firstly, nuclear power is much more efficient in generating power: Less than a cubic inch of uranium generates enough power which is equivalent to nearly 2000 tonnes of coal. This means lesser by-product for waste management. Secondly, waste generated by nuclear power can be recycled and remade into fuel pellets. These fuel pellets can be used to generate more energy and thus yielding even more power. Thirdly, the power generating process to harness nuclear power does not produce any form of greenhouse gas, apart from water vapour. No emission of gaseous carbon compounds also means a reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and indirectly, reduces the effect of enhanced global warming. Finally, modern nuclear facilities contain multiple-fortification that prevents any radioactive material from escape the facilities. Compare this to 10 years ago when much of these technologies weren’t available, modern nuclear facilities are safer and have less impact on the environment.

The problem with nuclear power has always been the public’s over-consciousness on the potential threat of a nuclear meltdown. With the Three Mile Island incident and the Chernobyl Incident, the public has developed a deeply entrenched notoriety associated with nuclear energy. Unfortunately, many of these opinions made are based on half facts or their own believes. To give nuclear power a fair chance to be considered as a form of green power, we must test the willingness of people to accept new information and replace their existing opinion on nuclear energy.

Hence, I seek to identify public’s initial attitude towards nuclear power. After providing a fundamental level understanding of nuclear power, I wish to survey my sample group if they would reconsider the usage of nuclear power.

My proposed research question is,

“Will Singaporeans consider nuclear power as a greener form of energy?”
Saturday, August 30, 2008

Interpersonal Conflict and Resolution

"Training to be soldiers.
Fight for our land.
Once in your life,
2 years of our time.
Have you ever wondered?
Why must we fight?
Because we love our land,
and we want it to be free,
to be free."

When Michael Chiang wrote "Army Daze" in 1987, he described a group of enlistees, their experiences in the military and how they supported each other through their basic military training. If only he knew that the real drama usually occurs after they are dispatched into various vocations, he probably would have summed up what he wrote in Army Daze in a page or two and left the rest talking about how everyone tried to "kill" each other while serving their time in the army. Testosterone is so dense in the air that you can literally smell trouble from afar. This, however, is one of the best instances to practise one's interpersonal conflict and resolution! Consider this scenario:

You were extremely angry that you've spent the last Friday working on someone else's share of work and missed the timing to go home. Thus, you were stuck in your camp for the night and had to work through the night so that it would be ready on Monday morning.

On the following Monday, you confronted him, telling him how irresponsible he was to leave the camp without completing his work. In fact, there were a fair exchange of insults and abuses. (Fair exchange and irresponsibility seems to be an understatement at that point of time.) He looked slightly guilty but insisted that he was not in the know. He defended his stand but you would not forgive him.

You would not talk to him for days and refuse to communicate with him in any matter. Your platoon noticed the problem you and this other specialist were having trouble and started taking sides. As a stand-in commander for your platoon, it alarmed you that the platoon is divided into two sides. However, you are still unwilling to forgive the other commander as your anger refuses to dissipate.

What would you do if this had happened to you? How different would you have reacted from how I did? I am all ears!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

First Entry.

One of my best friends from army, who currently resides in Melbourne, kept in contact with me through a very peculiar way. Everyday, and I really mean everyday, he would send a poke on Facebook. To some, this act would be purely irritating and many would probably ignore that little text at the side that reminds you of his “nuisance” existence. His persistent “poking” is the only way I know he is still doing well in Melbourne (makes me wonder what his email account is for sometimes). Thus, for the last one year, we have been “poking” each other every single day.


What has this got to do with communication? Well, it’s a form of sending our regards to each other, informing each other that we’re all going great, so, it’s a form of communication! Maybe not. Communication isn’t all about “poking” people on Facebook. In fact, conversing face to face may sometimes not constitute any form of communication at all, depending on the parties involved. (In fact, on many occasions, conversing face to face with a few of my friends seems to be a greater obstacle in finding out how they are doing.) Communication is an active process that involves two or more individuals who are actively participating in some kind of an exchange. A sort of give and take, if you like. Hence, if one party fails to receive or deliver, the whole process breaks down.

Communication breakdowns often lead to misunderstandings and unintended conflicts. As our social network grows in complexity, the need for effective and nuanced communication becomes greater. An effective communicator would be one that not only elevate this problem but also bring resolutions to our communication problems.

In the working society, people communicate to exchange ideas. To master the skills of communication is not only about mastering the language. It is about learning what and how to say things that are appropriate in different contexts. It’s about reading and interpreting messages. It’s about picking up visual cues. It’s about listening to your speaker. It’s about so much more.

In the context of a family, communication is vital to keep everyone in the family together. Words hold different meaning when used differently. It is important to communicate effective so has to be able to relate to members of our family better. Ultimately, communication helps to sustain the relationship among members of the family.

After going round and round about how communication is important, we're still missing
the main agenda. Me! How is effective communication important to me as an individual? What will I stand to gain if I possess the basic skills of effective communication?

I feel that the inability to express one's idea is just as tragic as the inability to create new ideas!. As mentioned, communication is a method we adopted to channel our ideas. While ideas are the seeds to our minds, it's effective communication that allows our seed to blossom into a great tree. In essence, effective communication skills will be the tool that enables us to take our ideas a step further through dissemination to the other peers or anyone who may be interested.

Translating what I have said in the context of the working environment: A brilliant presentation content wouldn't be as good if the presenters are not well equipped with effective communication skills. Just as a good piece of art is brought to life by its frame, ideas alone just isn't sufficient to bring any form of "life" to itself (how many times have our lecturers bore us with a seemingly interesting topic with that monotonic presentation?). It's is here I see the importance of effective communication skills: The power to bring life to an ideas.

Words are powerful tools. The ability to wield them brings immense power. Maybe we should all stop talking and begin to communicate with each other.

p.s. and I do not mean merely poking each other on Facebook.