News Presenter, Principal
(*Note: Grace did the English translation of Carol’s replies in Chinese and takes sole responsibility for any meanings lost in translation.)
1) What prompted your change in career from newscaster to principal? And what do you love most about the work you do now?
Many people get the “seven-year itch”. After the 7th year, I asked myself then whether I loved presenting the news, and how long I wanted to continue doing it. With this in mind, I learnt new skills and was involved in the production work of other departments. At the 14th-year mark, I was well-equipped but overworked. Coming home to 2 kids still studying in primary school, I wondered if it was indeed a good idea to leave them in the long-term care of the maid. I tendered my resignation. I love the freedom now, and have more time for church activities both locally and overseas, and the luxury of time with family.
I continue doing what I’m trained in, and without financial woes, I do as I please. When I need a break, I take a holiday and I visit my ex-colleagues to reminisce. Such joy!
2) (According to what I’ve read online) You’ve done many interviews previously, with former President Ong Teng Cheong and celebrity Gong Li, among others. Which interview was the most memorable, and why?
Mr Ong Teng Cheong was a Minister when I interviewed him, and not a President yet. I’m hard pressed to recall how it went though. (But I cannot forget how the ex-President and the First Lady seemed so in love on screen)
As for Gong Li, our filming crew took 30 minutes to get our equipment set up for the interview. She emerged from her room and allowed us to interview her for only 15 minutes. I came to understand what it meant to work with an international celebrity. The process was smooth though there was one question which was perhaps too direct – something along the lines of whether the position of female movie stars would become shaky with age. She was taken aback but did not reveal any unusual facial expressions. Of course, her subsequent awesome performance in ‘Curse Of The Golden Flower’ was a credible retort.
3) You are fluent in both English and Mandarin, so why the particular fondness for the Chinese Language (over English)?
It’s just that I’ve had more opportunities to utilise Mandarin in communication. I’ve been interested in languages since young and like many Singaporeans, I learned to speak a few dialects just by hearing them being spoken. I studied in a primary school where the language of instruction was Mandarin but my father had me transferred to a secondary school which taught in English. Initially, my grades suffered but subsequently, I got better grades and began to love the English Language. I then had a most fulfilling 3 years learning Japanese in University. Last year, I was in Thailand for missions work and spent 3 months to learn basic Thai, and could understand about 40% of the spoken language. I find opportunities to master new languages most exciting!
Watching as the younger generation here places less emphasis on Mandarin, my mission of keeping this language and culture alive gets ever more important. Whenever I meet a young person who flaunts his/her command of the English language while ostracising the Mandarin-speaking educator or elder and keeping the latter out of the conversation, I immediately converse with this young person in English. The person is usually surprised. To use language well in order to increase social cohesiveness and be a blessing to the masses should be the ultimate aim of mastering a language.
4) What is your opinion about the standard of Mandarin spoken by candidates at the election rallies?
MPs Low Thia Kiang and Sim Ann used highly appropriate Mandarin expressions, were engaging in their delivery of the speeches and occasionally used excellent phrases.
5) How would you go about helping a young student who is from an English-speaking family, and who has consistently flunked Chinese as a subject in school, gain a passion for the language?
Rote-learning will kill the student’s love for learning. There should be structure and adherence to the syllabus but we should ditch the textbooks and take lessons out of the classrooms. This could inspire greater interest in learning, and spur the children to use alternative ways to discover Mandarin’s outstanding qualities.
Grace says: Wow! You cannot begin to imagine my relief at finally being done with translating this. What a daunting and challenging task! I am in awe that Carol is so outstandingly bilingual but more so that she is such a kind and generous soul.
I apologise for any misinterpretations of what she has written. I have done my best to help my non-Chinese readers! This just goes to show that I have a lot more to learn.
A big thank you to Carol for being an inspiration and spurring us young “English” folk to start looking for our Chinese roots and getting reinitiated back into the culture. Let’s not miss out on what is rightfully ours! :)
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*This weekend, I’ll be blogging about my Batam missions trip (helping out at orphanages, painting a church, among other things) & introduce you to a group of very special people. So come back and enjoy the weekend with me!
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