2020 signifies our second year as Tampines Meridian Junior College. Last year, my message was about building lives and hearts here together with our new college. And as we look back, we have indeed done much “building”. Perhaps, one significant milestone would be the official inauguration of our College Anthem in October 2019 with both pioneer cohorts (Class of 2019 and Class of 2020) singing it the very first time. And now, we start the school year of 2020 with much pride, with the singing of our much-loved homegrown anthem weekly.
As an educator, we have that privilege to see our students, cohort after cohort, grow. While the primary and secondary school teachers get to see more of the students’ physical transformation, we in college, see much less of that in the two short years the students are with us. But when we talk about growing up, we are also referring to our students’ growth in terms of intellect and maturity, and becoming responsible and contributing young adults. And that, educators at all levels, have the unique and awesome responsibility to not just see but play an important part in leading and guiding our charges.
For as long as I have been Principal, I have always used stories in my message to illustrate our focus and theme for the year. So, in the typical Ms Yoong’s style, and since it is 2020, I have selected not 1 but 2 short stories this year.
(both stories are edited from http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/stories.html)
The first is entitled, “Every bucket counts”.
It is a story about a King who decided to go hunting. When the villagers heard that their King was in the neighbourhood, they were greatly honoured and threw a big dinner for him and his court, killing a number of sheep in his honour. After dinner, and after the King had gone to rest, the villagers came together and wishing to show their generosity, they agreed that they would each contribute a portion of milk from their best goats to fill up the huge goatskin bottle they had placed outside the King’s door.
Given the goatskin bottle’s great size, each of them said to himself secretly that he might just as well dilute his contribution of milk with a good quantity of water without anyone noticing. To the extent that, in the morning, such a thin liquid was poured out for the king and his court that it had no taste but the taste of meanness and greed.
The second story is entitled, “The obstacle in our path”.
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
A peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
These 2 stories serve to remind us some valuable truths about life and our responses to what life gives to us as challenges and opportunities.
The questions we should ask ourselves would be:
(1) Do we do the good and the right things only when it can be seen or observed?
(2) When challenges come our way, how do we respond? Do we complain, put the blame on others, expect someone else to do something OR do we take up the challenge to do something to make the situation better, and in so doing, serving not just ourselves but others as well?
Our theme for 2020 is “Be Better”. TMJC wants to “Be Better” in 2020.
This theme is chosen because of who we are and who we are to become. Firstly,the theme speaks of discontentment. We stand on the shoulders of 2 established institutions, TPJC and MJC and we know we are richly blessed with the heritage of two lovely and beautiful colleges. We do not start from nothing. But that said, we do not assume either. We know the future is for us to create for ourselves. Secondly, “Be Better” is a rally call for action. It is not a command. It is something we say to ourselves and not a shout at ourselves. We are committed to ‘be better’ daily.
So “Be Better” is not about living in the past or that which is to come. It is about the present, that we choose and work on ‘being better’ now - always being the better version of yesterday. And each day, we ARE the better version.
It is not outdoing others, but outdoing ourselves. We decide for ourselves and we outdo ourselves:
(1) in doing the duties and tasks assigned and
(2) in being by caring for ourselves and in caring for and serving others
So my dear students and potential students reading this, I end with this quote; “Every day is a day you can be a better person than you were yesterday.” I know you understand and will reflect on this theme, personalise it and make it meaningful in the year ahead of you.
Ms Pamela Yoong
Note to potential students: Join us if you want to find that “better” version of yourself… trust me, here in TMJC, you will = )
updated on 6 January 2020