NUS CSC: Chen Su Lan

Archive for January 2009

Hey everyone,

Just a little sharing about the kid I tutor, I hope I don’t bore you guys to death!

My kid is a Primary 5 girl, and she is an absolute sweetheart. Although, frankly speaking, she may not be very inclined towards academia, she has many other traits that make her a gem to me. She’s approachable, friendly and ever willing to help her friends. Sure, she took about a month or so before she finally remembered my name, but her earnestness is endearing.

Although this is only the second semester that I’ve taught this girl, I feel rather attached to her. I’ve grown so used to her mannerisms that I can sense when she is about to cry. The funny thing about my kid is that, she cries very easily, especially when she is unable to solve a Math question. At first, I used to get startled when for no reason at all (probably in the middle of a Math problem), tears would start streaming down her face and she would try to wipe her tears away without letting me see – of course, I could always see. Nowadays, when I see tears start to well up in her eyes, I will do my best to comfort her and encourage her along – I suppose that is the best I can do.

Similarly, she has grown very used to me too. When she gives me answers without thinking, or blurts out nonsense answers, all I have to do is look at her with my half-questioning, half-stern look and she will immediately take it back and re-think her answer.

An incident that really touched me was during the last lesson before the Semester 1 examinations. As I told my girl, “This is the last lesson until next year ok? I will come back next year and teach you.”, her face was a mix of shock and unhappiness. “Huhhhh… next year very long leh“, came her response, and looked like she was about to burst into tears. Quickly, I said to her, “No lah, not very long, it’s only a month. And I’ll come and see you during your Christmas performance okay?”. Immediately, her face lit up in joy and she exclaimed while nodding vigorously, “Okay! See you during Christmas!” Unfortunately, I fell ill on the day of their performance, and could not make it down, but this showed me that I meant something to her, that my presence every Wednesday was important to her. That night, I went away with a great big smile and a fuzzy and warm feeling in my heart (cliche, I know, but true!).

I know I may not be the brightest bulb on the block, but it is important to me that I never give up and keep trying for my kid. Though some sessions with her can be a challenge, especially when I have to tutor her in Chinese, or when she is tired and slower in learning, my experience thus far at CSL has proven to be tremendously enriching for me and I am glad that I can try to make a tangible difference in someone’s life.

Signing off,



Will upload asap. In the process of converting the video into suitable format.

Sorry for the wait


muahaha – as of now i have the password to the blog. which means whatever you say, i can edit it. hahahahhaa – beware!

anyway! i guess i should introduce myself first? not trying to be narcissitic here – i’m nicholas, a year one student from business. i first started volunteering at chen su lan last semester, and so here i am, arrowed to blog. but it’s not a bad thing! lol.

how should i describe my kid? he’s just well – cute and guai – a rare thing nowadays! the slightly shy and obedient type. with personal IQ slightly deficient from defending our nation, i try to help him with whatever work he has. my ineptitude shows especially in explanation of mathematical concepts and english grammar. but it has been a joy, and i really hope he has gotten something out of it 🙂

in all honesty, sometimes i wonder – just how much does our help matter? spending a few precious hours a week, with no clear structured studying method. but an incident a few days ago called for some reflection.

we had our photos taken last semester and my kid and i just received the pictures. another kid was playing around and wanted to kope the photo, but my kid was really protective. i mean, it’s just a photo, but looks like it meant a lot to him! he never said a word, but to me, it was like, “i treasure what my kor kor is doing”.

so, maybe grades shouldn’t matter as much to me?

i guess the story about the man and the starfish is really appropiate at this point. we may not be able to save all the starfish washed up on all the beaches, but in saving that one starfish, we have saved its life, and that matters to the one starfish. so maybe i can’t magically transform him into an A* student. but who knows what the act of volunteering does to him, in his heart and mind? perhaps it is as good as saying, “you’re important“. so while we are here, invest what we can in these lives 🙂 like they say – do your best, and let God handle the rest!


Our tuition service at Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home had started again. It felt so great to see the kids there. In fact, I always have this mixed feeling in every first visit. This time is no different.

To see my kid again felt like I am seeing my old friend again. Obviously, I was overjoyed. However, that also means my kid is still at the home and it makes me a little sad. Sometime, I wish he didn’t have to stay at the home anymore.

Anyway, back at our first visit… While I was still struggling with the mixed feelings, my kid had already threw me a punch and started yelling at me. Yes… that is my kid who is a little… violent. However, he is actually a very nice boy. Although he has never said it out, he is always waiting for me every Wednesday. Therefore, I always put in my effort to keep my promise that I will be there.

I truly enjoyed my time with him. I am sure many of our volunteers had different kinds of feeling at our first visit too, but they may be too shy to tell. I hope this blog will be a useful tool where volunteers can blog down some of their thoughts and share with future volunteers. 🙂 If you are interested, please let the committee know. 🙂

A CSL volunteer