To me, the most interesting skill I learnt in this course is blogging, as I had never seriously blogged before, and had always assumed at the back of my mind that famous bloggers just happen to have the knack for it. To be sure, the first few posts took quite a while to execute, as I had underestimated the planning and editing rigors required to make each post compelling.
One of the hardest skills I developed was gauging the balance between relating facts and crafting story lines: strategically-placed facts ground each story to a realistic setting, while sensitively-phrased stories infuse color and engage the reader’s imagination. Synchronizing these two elements is key to transforming a post from a rambling diary entry to a pulsating magic carpet; from a self-centered, one-dimensional account, to a reader-centered, adventure portal. Indeed, my first few posts started out as five-hundred words paragraphs, and took quite a while to shrink to the requisite word-count. I was once again reminded of the chore of maintaining a journal. Thankfully, with each subsequent post, I was exposed to a wider range of blogging techniques and approaches through my classmates’ and others’ blogs, and was thus able to nurture greater enthusiasm for blogging (and thus write more quickly).
If there is one regret I have about my blogging, it is that I had not adequately experimented with the myriad functions available in WordPress,as they could have made my blog more interesting, and perhaps enhance my posts’ effectiveness. Perhaps I may have over-concentrated on developing blog-writing skills.
Does any of you feel that way too?
I am extremely relieved that oral presentation is over. Feels like I am alive again.
One of the areas which I feel I could improve upon is my engagement with the audience. On the one hand, it has to do with lack of preparation: I had changed my slides on the morning of the presentation, and had to do last-minute changes to my script (in the car, and in my head). I was very anxious about not having the time to rehearse and time myself on the final script, and I felt myself just churning out the information during the presentation, rather than properly constructing a dialogue-like performance with the audience. Although I am sure that nervousness is something that any performer is battling against, I am still rather discontented with the fact that I am still afraid of getting nervous.
A few years ago, I had been highly recommended by a friend to an events-organizer, and was consequently hired to co-host a company’s 40th anniversary dinner. The main problem was that it was my first professional gig, and I had to translate everything to Mandarin – not my strong suit. To my consternation, I became so nervous about working with a seasoned professional, and meeting professional expectations that I completely messed up my part; forgetting simple words, and even missed the obviously easy-to-translate things. It was terrible. I fought to control the nerves, but that only made it grow even stronger. The most disappointing aspect was of not being able to prove that I am so much better than that performance. So till today, managing the thought of getting nervous itself is a challenge.
I just returned from a field trip to Cambodia. We were divided into groups of three, and each group was joined by a student from the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), who performed as translators. The most challenging time was the 3-nights stay at a floating village on the Tonle Sap, during which we had to collect all the necessary data for our written and video assignments. Surprisingly, the translation process yielded very similar experiences for every group.
Firstly, English is not our translators’ first language, which presents a significant barrier for communication both on a day-to-day, and fieldwork basis. Overall, both RUPP and NUS students had to simplify ourselves quite significantly, which meant that bonding became a slow process, because conversations were restrained to more superficial topics. This loss of nuance became more sharply felt during the 3-nights home-stay as both interview questions and responses became significantly simplified. The most common scenarios were: 1) interviewees’ long, detailed explanations were reduced to one short sentence, or even a monosyllable; 2) translators refused to ask certain questions, either because they did not understand them, or felt they were not important. Some groups’ translators spoke very limited English, which meant that the groups had to translate themselves to their translators even before the latter could translate anything to the villagers.
While everyone got off on the right foot since the very beginning of the trip, some groups did get into quite delicate situations during the stay at the village. Given that it was a high-stakes situation (50% of our grades depends on the data collected), sometimes it became quite a challenge to stop tempers from fraying. I wonder if there is an effective technique to address such situations besides maintaining patience.
However, given that nobody generated any major offense towards our hosts or translators, I consider this trip to be an good achievement. To me, this success in intercultural communication rests heavily on mutual patience, respect, and willingness to learn.
48 Carpmael Road
(+65) 8501 6623 (Hp)
9 September 2012
Whiz-Ed Management Centre
449 Ang Mo Kio
Dear Sir / Madam,
Thank you for taking the time to review my resume. I am applying for the Full Time Tutor position because I am looking to use my degree in Geography, in combination with my training in English Literature, in an alternative way to a traditional teaching position.
I have had opportunities to work with, and motivate children and young adults during my time as a Training Assistant at Adam Khoo Learning technologies. In addition, my exposure to the demands of professional consulting as an intern at CDM Smith has fueled my desire to nurture young minds to realize their fullest potential, and gain the confidence to pursue their dreams. I am seeking a career which will allow me to continue working with people in many different ways. I hope you will find that I am qualified for the position you are trying to fill.
If I can provide you with any further information on my background and qualifications, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you. I can be reached at 8501-6623 or via email at email@example.com.
Again, I appreciate you taking the time to review my resume.
About ten years ago, Grandma still lived with my family. Her lifelong dream was to own her own house, and to clean it. The problem was, each time she gets on the verge of owning a house (e.g. one of her kids was about to buy her a house), something would happen to abort the plan (e.g. civil unrest; the relative she was living with was moving to another country; etc). In other words, Grandma never had a proper house to clean for herself; it was always someone else’s house. Still, on some level I understood that cleaning was for her a meditative exercise; an activity which afforded her a sense of ownership over her living space. For the most part, however, it was absolutely beyond me how anyone could stay sane cleaning everything, everyday, without fail.
Grandma’s philosophy to this was, “Houses need to be cleaned as much as humans need to eat everyday”. Maybe she meant that in a spiritual sense, but to this day, I still could not link survival to dusting the ceramic shepherdess. Back then, however, I felt like I was reasoning with an outdated mule. Grandma had made it her business to inform me that in my family, I represent my generation in house-cleaning, and that if I do not clean, the house will fall into shambles. I pointed out that that was unavoidable given that we were living in the same house with brothers who have absolutely no concept of “clean” or “tidy”. Plus, Grandma never asked them to clean anything. Then she said, “It is unreasonable to say that they are obliged to clean just because they are part of the family. The responsibility is yours, and that is final.”
What would you do in my position?
When I was younger, I assumed that having good communication skills meant being able to get along well with people. Then, I went for my first internship, and for the first time experienced the full rigors of “civility at all costs”, where “I understand where you’re coming from” had to be used in place of “I think you’re wrong”.
Although it took a while to learn to produce and interpret such codes on a two-seconds basis, I was eventually able to appreciate the motivations for maintaining such professional veneers of civility; in an environment where large sums of money and companies’ reputations are at stake, we cannot afford to offend the wrong person, or allow a poorly-phrased sentiment to affect important decisions. Even seemingly minute elements, such as the opening and closing lines of emails, and executing thank-you-for-working-with-us phone calls help to protect against bad impressions, and do contribute to an overall sense of reliability in the recipient.
Thus, good communication skills mean more than getting the message across; they are to me powerful tools which enable individuals to shape relationships and situations towards a desired goal. To that end, the materials and activities in this course train students to code and present different types of professional messages to different types of audiences, and in turn learn to identify and relate to the various professional scenarios that they will encounter in the future.
In the process of following your blogs, I had a few laughs, especially at the pink pig on Tasha’s page. Reminds me of my grandpa, peeking in though the doorway just before we got punished by grandma . Somehow that is very funny.
I have blogged a few times, and am thankful to say that this blog will bounce longer than the other ones. This can all be explained by the diary experience. When I was a child, I had tried a few times to keep a diary, because it is a fantastical idea to document your own life. Unfortunately, writing well is like ballet: the more effortless it looks, the harder it is to do. So what happens is, by the time I get past three sentences (very long for people below ten years old), the emotion I was trying to describe had already petered out to oblivion, and I am nowhere near finished conveying it.This is of course demoralizing, and after three entries, I declare myself cured. A few years later, I will be confident that being a few years older equals better ability to handle the challenge. Then the same process happens. Now, I have accepted that I am not a diary person.
I think I shall set aside some savings, and wait until I’m old enough to fill a book with funny stories, and then get someone to write it down.
Before I go, just some things about what I like to do: go to a cooking channel on YouTube, click “Play All Videos”, and keep it as background noise while I work. I also like handicrafts, and long walks.
And Norah Jones.
And some funny K-Pop.