When and how did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
I knew teaching was a career I wanted to try my hand at since secondary school. I was inspired by my form teacher who, in spite of my quiet and reserved nature, believed in my capability to be a student leader and entrusted me with responsibilities I didn’t think I particularly deserved.
Looking back, I now see the impact his belief had in me. I hope to be that teacher for my students—to identify their potential and help them grow in their own unique way.
If you weren’t a teacher, what do you think you’d be doing for work?
This is hard, but I think if I weren’t teaching full-time, I’d be running my own café or restaurant; it’s at the top of my bucket list. It will be a self-sustaining establishment where I grow all the produce in a small garden.
Tell us more about your experience foraging abroad.
When I was studying in Edinburgh, my friend introduced me to foraging. During spring and summer months, she would take me through various woodlands, excitedly point out a variety of fruit, mushroom, or plant, and recommend ways to harvest and use them. Foraging has taught me to appreciate and respect the land which grounds, nurtures, and sustains us.
The top three items I love looking for are elderflower, sweet cicely, and chicken of the woods.
Elderflower trees send out bunches of small, cream-coloured flowers in the early summer which can be collected to make an absolutely divine cordial or syrup.
The leaves, roots and seeds of the sweet cicely plant can be used as an herbal remedy for asthma and coughs. In particular, its leaves and seeds have a slightly sweet flavour reminiscent of anise or liquorice, which I absolutely adore.
Chicken of the woods is a variety of mushroom, named after its resemblance to chicken meat, which makes it a wonderful meat substitute—it’s delicious!
What did you miss most about Singapore when you were studying overseas?
I definitely missed the food the most! Food is a crucial source of emotional memory for me, so being separated from all of my favourite foods made it hard at times, especially when sourcing for the ingredients to make them myself was not always possible.
How has it been adjusting back to life in Singapore?
It was hard initially. Coming back after over two years, I only had a week to acclimatise to everything back home—the weather, living with family again, and re-orienting myself on public transports—before starting my job as a secondary school teacher.
One time, I delayed a bus during the morning rush hour because I had forgotten which of my EZ-Link cards still had money stored in it, and I thought it was a good idea to bring my entire collection of 11 cards onto the bus to test them out. Imagine my embarrassment when none of the cards worked and the bus captain said, “You know you can use your debit or credit card, right?”.
But I’ve been spending time with family and meeting many old friends over the last few weeks, and they have been incredible in helping me adjust to life back in Singapore, so I’m looking forward to 2023!