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It’s the end of the year and everyone is compiling their top 10 lists of 2021.
So here are some of our favourite stories that appeared on The Pride this year!
It’s not a single story that stood out for me this year. It was a series of stories.
I had the great pleasure of working with a tight team of content producers behind our video series Portraits of Kindness. It is not easy working in such a high-stress environment, creating video content on a tight turnaround.
Through this seven-episode series, we learned about a woman who supports single mothers, an adult with ADHD who works with special-needs children because he knows their struggles, a homeless shelter manager who learned life lessons from her residents and a Singaporean PR who volunteers with migrant workers because he remembers the kindness he was shown when he first moved to Singapore.
We also meet a rugby mum who mentors youths through the rough and tumble of life, a volunteer who learnt the true spirit of giving from migrant workers and an ex-convict who talks about his struggle trying to leave his gang “brothers” behind.
In a nutshell, this is the reason why we run The Pride, to tell stories of positivity and to call out negativity — to inspire us that any effort towards improving the lives of others is never wasted. To remind ourselves that being kind and good and empathetic is always rewarding, in ways that last.
And talking about things that last, if you like our stories, check out the first edition of Stories of Kindness. This carefully curated collection of 40 stories from those published on The Pride will give you a slice of how Singaporeans overcame the pandemic, together.
I have always wanted to share the importance of being kind to others because we only know what they let us know. Whether it is a friend of 15 years, or even our own family members, sometimes we do not really know what they face behind their smiles.
That’s why I’m so glad that my first story for TP revolved around that topic. “Being strong isn’t about staying silent; there is courage in speaking up” was about how Edi Prasetyo Nugraho, an Indonesia lecturer, went viral on TikTok after a video appeared of him continuing to teach classes while undergoing treatment for kidney disease.
Everybody is fighting battles that we know not of. Knowing this, it does not hurt to be kind and show a small gesture of kindness to those around you.
For those who are going through problems, it’s not a bad thing to talk about it to others, be it close friends or family. In fact, quite the opposite — it’s a sign of courage to dare to be vulnerable!
For those who have loved ones confide in you, sometimes all you need to do is to listen with empathy instead of trying to solve the problem. Having someone who is willing to listen to our pent-up emotions is already a huge relief.
It’s definitely Uncle Romeo’s story for me!
Although my time with him was brief, I learnt more than just about his collection of musical instruments. His passion for music and enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge with others reminded me to stay grounded in life.
He also shared with me that it’s never an easy task to take the first step in learning a new skill — but with perseverance, it can be done.
This year, I started writing for The Pride. It’s always an uphill task for me to write. My inner imposter is always battling against two thoughts: I can’t write and I have to try to write.
But Uncle Romeo reminded me that I should persevere and believe that my writing skills would improve over time, just like how his musical ability improved over the years.
I’m glad I had spoken with this kind Toa Payoh resident and been able to spread his positivity to others and to myself, through writing about him.
Thank you Uncle Romeo for inspiring us in our everyday lives!
My favourite story this year would have to be the first article that I wrote: “Is HBL NBD? How can we help our children with mental health struggles? — on the challenges that younger Singaporeans face when it comes to studies and achievements.
No, it’s not a shameless promotion, but the reason why I chose my own story is that it’s a piece that I hold close to my heart.
It is the first time I told my story to help others who faced the same demons that I fought. It was not easy to open up. I wrote and deleted so many words because I wasn’t sure how to tell it. It was only with much encouragement and support from my friends that I managed to finish my story.
After it was published, I had people reaching out to me, telling me that my article touched their hearts and that they felt guilty that they were not spending much time with their children. My article was a reminder for them on what was important, they said.
When I heard these comments, I felt a sense of fulfilment, and I’m glad that I dared to tell my story.
Once a upon a time in Tokyo, I was with many others in a line patiently waiting for my train to Harajuku. A young lady stepped in line next to me. She was dressed in a red kimono and zori sandals. She had a perfectly measured silk sash, and her long black hair was swept off her face with a clutch of decorative pins. She also had a little embroidered purse from which she briefly retrieved her iPhone, texted someone and neatly tucked it back.
I was struck by the contrast between her traditional appearance and the modern train station with its non-stop flow of people — the neon billboards and its sleek and always punctual modern trains – it could not have been more dramatic.
Yet this is normal and very “Tokyo”. Japan is known for its deep-rooted traditional heritage sitting comfortably, at times contrastingly, alongside its thirst for modernity.
I have always admired and embraced that. Besides fashion, Akira Kurasawa and music, I was also heavily inspired by the Japanese work mindset, the kaizen (or continuous improvement) process during my entrepreneurial days.
Kaizen is where employees at all levels of a company work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process. In a sense, it combines the collective talents within a company to create a powerful engine for improvement.
Japanese culture is traditional and modern, cool and serious.
Modernisation is important in our drive to be a more prosperous society. However, some may see it as a clash against tradition.
I believe both should and can coexist. It is how we can be greater together.
My favourite story of the year? “Tradition vs modernity: Of kopi gu you and Dalgona coffee”
I’m going to be biased, but my favourite story this year has got to be the article I wrote on the elderly auntie who sells knick knacks at the ICA building. Not only was it easy to write, but the experience of meeting her and chatting with her also changed my perspective and made me empathise with the struggles seniors face on a daily basis, especially during Covid.
Madam Dai’s bubbly energy and perseverance despite her obstacles in life inspires me. My editor visited her twice after The Pride published her story and told me that she was elated to hear her story made it to the front page of Chinese daily Shin Min Daily News!
She also shared that people started dropping by to have small chats with her. Hearing that touched my heart, knowing that kind strangers are accompanying her and brightening up her day. I made a trip to the ICA building one morning to visit her too, but sadly, she was not at her usual spot. I hope to see her again soon!
My favourite story on The Pride this year is: Overworked and unseen: “Until you’ve stood for hours without a break, you won’t know just how tired you can be”
It resonated with me as in the past, I’ve juggled two part-time jobs while still in school and trying to find time for myself to do the things I enjoy — exercising and dancing.
2021 has been a year of growth for me, finding myself and my purpose. I have interacted with and learned from multiple people in such a chaotic and challenging year.
I recalled how the year started, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how I’ve changed from January; morals and values have shifted and changed.
Finding a balance between work and self-care has been tough. But like what they always say, tough times don’t last, tough people do.
I started contributing stories to The Pride this year. Twelve stories have been published under my name about the lives of people whom I might never have encountered otherwise.
One story stands out for me – the one about 74-year-old ballet teacher Madam Shen Zhi Hua.
I know Teacher Shen, as we students call her, from ballet class. I confess to being a mediocre dancer and I do feel a little bad about inflicting my two left feet on her. But she took on the challenge with gracious equanimity and somehow managed to wring a little bit of movement out of my gracelessness!
During weekly lessons with Teacher Shen, it became clear to me that her story was one of inspiration. She agreed to an interview (in Mandarin, another challenge for me!) and what a treat it was for me to learn about her life beyond the dance studio.
She taught me more than just how to dance — from her life, I’ve learned how to live long and live well. When I grow up, I want to be like her.
I’ve also learned that we all have a story to tell.
We may think that we’re ordinary folk leading ordinary lives doing ordinary things. That may be the case most of the time, but if you take time to dig a little deeper into what lies beneath, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by treasures you find.
Another year has come and gone. If you asked me to describe 2021 in one word, I would say “uneventful”. To be honest, I felt like I didn’t achieve anything.
But thanks to this writing assignment, I went back to look at all the stories I’ve written for The Pride this year — and realised that it has been quite the journey.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I spoke with local deejay Charmaine Yee who talks about seeing life through her autistic brother’s eyes and interviewed SKM’s new chairperson Junie Foo, a CEO who advocates for more women in leadership.
I had a ball chatting to children on video about their innocent and honest perspectives of growing up in a mixed-race family.
But my most memorable story would be a piece I wrote for International Women’s Day because writing it reminded me that strength is not about achieving success in your career or having it all together in life. It is about accepting yourself and defining your own strength.
Last month, I took the opportunity to spend two weeks in Iceland. One of the activities on our itinerary was a glacier hike. My husband had planned to go on the 3-hour hike by himself as I wasn’t sure if I could do it with my chronic pain condition. But I told myself not to be afraid of what could go wrong and to focus instead on what could go right.
Long story short, I did it! And we were rewarded with the most amazing views on a perfect day. After the hike, my husband asked me how I felt and if I was okay.
I remember on the return hike down, looking up at the glacier and the tiny people on it, realising that just moments ago that one of those tiny people up there was me! And I remember saying to my husband: “I feel like anything is possible.”
And daring to move mountains.
That is how I hope to start the new year.
Other stories you might like
What about you? What’s your favourite story on The Pride this year?
Also, If you have your own story of growth to share, or an experience of kindness, whether as a giver or a receiver, share it with us. Your story may help to lift others up and inspire them to be greater!