Sunday, May 6, 2012

Complimentary Confusion

Recently, while having lunch with some friends, I found myself irritated by a fellow diner’s remark that I should eat up. ‘You’re too skinny! We’re going to fatten you up.’ What am I, I thought, a Christmas turkey?

It occurred to me that if – by their judgment – I was too plump, then they would not have been so outspoken with their opinion. I can’t imagine someone saying in the same cheerful way, “You’re too fat. We’re going to skinny you up!” If such a remark was made, there would probably be red-faced embarrassment all round: the person the remark was directed at would no doubt feel they’d been insulted, the other lunch guests would probably rise to their defense, and the one who had made the remark would probably be ordered to apologize. 

You’re too fat! You’re too thin! What’s the difference? Overweight and underweight are both health problems and equally serious, yet by society’s standards one is an insult and one is a compliment. This is ridiculous. Slowly, I’ve started to understand why I felt so irritated. What was offered as a compliment was actually a double whammy insult. Essentially, I was told that I look like I’m in an unhealthy weight range and then, confusingly, made to feel that I should be flattered to be told so. 

I’m always small-boned, narrow and apple-shaped since I was young. I have always had difficulty building my arms and shoulders. Despite leading an active lifestyle by indulging in various exercises like swimming, badminton, jogging, etc., my little arms have stayed little. It’s not an asset; it just means that I need help getting the lid off the jam jar. And unbeknownst to the person who made the comment, at the time I was feeling particularly proud of my arms. After a long time of push-ups, sit-ups and dumbbells, a miracle had occurred: I had biceps now! Yes, they were small, but I was proud of them. In fact, I was wearing s tank top to show them off. So, you can see why the cheery ‘eat up, you’re too skinny’ remark stung
I read an article about body images which wrote about there were two films ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘Lost in Translation’ have scenes in which a woman was told that she looked too thin. In both movies, the woman replies with a gushing and heartfelt “Thank you!” These scenes were played for laughs. It’s funny because it’s so stupid, but under all that laughter is the true sentiment of what society thinks about body image – and it’s anything but funny. 

“You look fit!”
“You look healthy!”
“You’re positively glowing with well-being!”
These are compliments. “You look malnourished!” is not. So, the next time we compliment a friend, be sure that what we’re telling them are actually a compliment.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Moment of pride with my Form 5 tuition students

The long awaited moment had finally came on 22nd March 2012 when the SPM results were being released that day and all my tuition students were getting back their SPM results. I was working in the lab doing my lab work or writing paper in the morning as it was more productive for me to write in the morning compared to in the afternoon. Suddenly, my hand phone rang and it was one of my tuition students around 11am. I answered the call and get to know their results. They call me one by one telling me their results. Guess what were their results? Among the 5 students I thought them in SPM Science, Chuan Rong (smutty guy), Seng Ei (cutie), Vincent, Chia and Pei Ru, all scored an A in that subject. I am so proud of them as all my hard work had finally paid off after teaching them for about 10 months and two weeks with all the extra classes I gave them provided with all the trial exam papers from other states. We even spotted some questions based on the trend of the questions set annually. Finally, the questions came out to be easy for them, they said after finishing the exam in November 2011.

I remember when I was first given the task of teaching them January 2011, my cousin sister (the person in charge of the home tuition center) told me that they were from Art class and were not doing well in their studies. When I met them initially, they were so cute and quite polite in addressing me. I realized that they were not that ‘bad’ as told by my cousin sister. For me, they were not receiving attention enough during school time and still wanted to keep chatting during tuition time. Sometimes, I had to pacify them so that they stop talking while in the class. However, banning them from talking would be unhealthy to them psychologically and emotionally. So, I have to talk with them in order to get along with them. They always ask my opinions whenever they are having some problems personally during tuition time. I never fail to answer them but at the same time I had to rush in teaching the syllabus as the content was quite a lot. So, I will change the topic all of a sudden after finished talking with them. They knew my style and they also started to listen to my teaching. After teaching them a while, I started to realize that my method was not effective as they were not paying attention and always feeling sleepy as it was during night time plus it was after dinner. What to do? I had to teach them by using other approaches like video teaching and photo demonstration to attract their focus. See what happens? They always feel energetic while watching the video about a subject in a specific chapter. That method helped them to master the topic of interest easily rather than just talking in front of them. Henceforth, my teaching skills improved for their wellness.

A special pattern shown from them was they won’t study hard when it was not exam time. It was so obvious when their exam was around the corner. They will ask so many questions and paid attention when I was teaching them. But, their school teacher always beat faster than me, so I had to teach them as fast as possible so that they can understand more before sitting for their test. Sometimes, I had to teach them until 10.30pm to cover more topics in the book. Luckily, I always relate what they learned to all the happenings surrounding them so that they know that everything they learned were applicable to their daily lives and able to reason whenever they observe something in their surroundings. After being with them for some time, we started to hang out by playing badminton firstly with their friends. Then, we started going to loiter around the shopping complexes far away like Times Square, Mid Valley and Pavillion KL; Ampang Lookout Point to foster a closer relationship. Besides, we started to have supper at the Mamak stall nearby the tuition center after tuition time. The most memorable moment for me when they were celebrating my 25th birthday during the tuition time and some 1 hour wasted on that. But, so touching for me and I saw their sincerity doing everything in life.

Since then, we always hang out together during some occasions like Christmas Eve’s countdown and year-end countdown and their birthday celebrations. Most of my friends and juniors were so amazed that we still can be with each other for many occasions even though our gap was 8 years. I think I shared one some important characteristics with them like sincere in be-friending others, righteous in helping others and not looking down others. Besides teaching them, I also learned many things from them as they were more Internet-savvy compared to me. I always spoke foul languages with them so that I could get along with them easily and we always had a good laugh after sharing all the silly and smutty jokes. Some of their friends who saw our outing photos in Facebook reiterated that I was not looked like their teacher at all due to my young look, Oopps….Haha, still looked young now, that’s why I like to be with the younger ones so that I look young always.

Sometimes, I did scold them when I was unable to endure their noisiness in class, interrupting the class. Luckily they understand it and accept their mistakes. See, they were good human beings if compared to those so-called intelligent ones in the Science class who are spoilt brat for me, being pampered lavishly by their parents. I remembered one occasion where they helped me to regain my dignity in front of my cousin sister. Initially, I was teaching 3 groups of students, namely Form 3 History and Geography and Form 5 Science. Compared to them, those form 3 students were a few times noisier than them and I had only an hour to teach them in each subject respectively. After enduring them for some time, I broke down finally and yelled at them, scolding their disobedient attitude. Since that time, my cousin sister asked me to stop teaching them the two subjects. I suspected some of them stabbed me in front of her. She even asked my form 5 students about how I teach them and they were telling her the truth of whatever they knew that time. I was glad that I was still able to teach them as I like being with them. That’s why I said they are good compared to the others. They don’t have sanctimony attitude.

I will write more in the next blog post about them. It is quite lengthy up to this point now. If you want me to write about them, it will be a never ending story from me due to the happy memories with them. Just wanted to say something here, perhaps not seen by others. I love them so much and they are all my brothers and sisters in life. I will never give up on them if they want to learn something even from the first day I met them. That’s my promise for them. I will keep it as I am a man of word. Stay tuned.