Priorities in life

So we’re in the papers today. I hope this doesn’t start another influx of questions like, “So, you did law, har. Which firm you at? Eh? How come you not lawyer? Isn’t the pay very good?” because that pisses the heck out of me – and people really have been saying that since I graduated.

The other thing I want to comment on is another Life! article by a Raffles Girl (note to non-Singaporean readers: Raffles Girls’ School is our country’s top secondary school for girls, at least for academic performance, as she says). She also wrote something about my own school, SCGS (another school usually in the top 10) which I felt would give readers the impression that we are shallow social climbers who are only looking for wealthy husbands.

Singapore Chinese Girls’ School girls are said to marry well – because they mix with the right crowd. But if you’re not from the right kind of family to begin with, life can be tough. Or so some SCGS girls say.

I have no idea who her SCGS friends are, but in defence of my schoolmates may I say that most of us are actually quite down to earth. In my ten full years there, I do not recall any girl being ridiculed or ignored for not having enough pocket money, or having a father who is a lorry driver – not even while she was out of earshot. I would like to believe that our teachers and principal imbued us with a fair amount of values, and that we are turning out as the Kim Geks that they wanted us to be. And that is what the writer said she wanted in an education!

Personally I abhor the thought of rubbing shoulders with people from high society just because they are famous. I find that insidiously fickle and shallow. I value friendship, not bank accounts, looks and status. Not to say that my ‘bestest’ friends are poor, stupid and ugly ;-P but I am sure they know what I mean. If you thought about each of your oldest friends, you’d have a fond memory or an endearing personality trait in mind. If the first thing that comes to your mind is: my friend X is so-and-so’s daughter/niece/sibling, then I’d say you don’t really know the person, and you’ve got the wrong idea about friendship.

I’ve digressed a little. I do agree with the rest of the article that academic achievements aren’t everything. Many other qualities in a person can go unnoticed or are undervalued, such as honesty. Why tell the teacher she gave you extra marks, when that means lowering your score? Should we also get ‘integrity points’ along with our extra-curricular activity points?

I also notice that many children don’t have time nor energy to explore the world beyond their syllabus, because it already is too much to cope with. Their schoolbags are almost as heavy as they, and everyone looks like a little Ninja turtle, as a friend of mine calls it. We start wearing spectacles before our age hits the double digits, and many of us have had tuition, outside of school hours. Living on a tiny island, surrounded by giants, we know that human beings are our only resource. Something’s got to give. And I think it has.


  1. deb

    I strongly agree with you, Van.
    I don’t doubt that there are ‘rich’ girls who ‘mix with the right crowd’ and ‘marry well’, but what people fail to see are the humble, down-to-earth and kind souls that these seemingly-tai-tai schools have produced.
    If there’s anything I’ve learnt at SCGS, it is honesty, diligence and respect for your elders and your peers. So what if there were certain elite groups? They didn’t form the majority of the school. If so, I’d probably be eternally condemned. I had many friends (including myself) who struggled even financially. It’s not what we have materially that makes or breaks a kim gek. It’s the ability to look beyond these superficialities and be a family regardless of your language, race, religion or social status.
    I’m not tai-tai material (far from it, in fact), neither am I wealthy. But what I take from my SCGS education is far greater than what money can buy.

  2. Yi

    Her article was a sterotype of girls from girls’ schools.
    What kinda wife or person you’ll be doesn’t really depend on which school you went to. It’s really up to the person to become whom she really wants to be.

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