Recently I met with a good friend who told me that after having helped out at my wedding, she had decided she wanted to send her future children to ‘Chinese education’ schools. It was a conversation that has got me still thinking.
She witnessed a warmth and a kind of closeness and sense of community among Zibin’s friends and my friends that she says her parents had with their friends (her parents were both from Chinese schools), but that she had never seen among her friends and schoolmates (RGS & RJC). It was something I had always felt about the difference in cultures between say St. Nicks and RGS (at least back in my time as student), but it was quite a different experience hearing someone from ‘the other side’ state the same sentiment so emphatically. (Of course, I think Zibin and I are really blessed by really fantastic friends who went so much out of their way to make our wedding day wonderful! Not all that is due to being Chinese-educated :P)
I don’t know how to describe that ‘X factor’. I remember when I was in Sec 3 and visiting junior colleges for the Council Investitures, I was struck by the same thing when I visited Hwa Chong. There was an intangible spirit and energy I felt even as a guest, a sense of warm welcome to a vibrant community. That one visit convinced me that Hwa Chong was going to be my first choice for JC.
It is the same when you visit homes of friends or have friends visit your home. Friends who have parents that are Chinese-educated tend to be the ones who will greet your parents upon arrival and thank them before departure. Parents who are Chinese-educated tend also to be the ones who are hospitable and warm to their children’s friends. This is not a rule, of course, but by and large, it has been a trend that I’ve witnessed many times over.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been helping out at a close friend’s wedding and among her group of helpers were a few St. Nicholas girls and other friends from work and university. I felt immensely gratified about the kind of things that my fellow SNGS friends noticed and raised as points over the course of the rather haphazard planning process.
What kinds of things?
– Respect for the elders
– The importance of expressing gratitude
– Consideration for others
– Acts of service
I was also touched that my two juniors (who are only 1 year younger than me) really treated me and the others who were older than them with respect. Sure they joked and teased us all the same, but there’s a deference without distance that is heart-warming and humbling. I couldn’t help feeling so proud of them for their graciousness.
All in all, it’s been a week that’s made me feel grateful and proud to be brought up and taught the way I was – the Chinese-Ed way. :)