When and how did you decide to become a teacher?
Approaching my ‘A’ Levels, I was hit with the realisation that I had to decide what I wanted to do after junior college.
At the time, I felt that everything I had achieved was very much thanks to some dedicated teachers in school. They managed to focus my haphazard energy into productivity, and fostered creativity in my co-curricular activity. What’s more, they took me seriously and invested time and effort in providing me with much-needed guidance.
Some of my teachers I call my friends today; that made the choice to step into teaching an obvious one for me! To occupy a similar place in my own students’ lives one day would be an incredible honour.
You did your undergraduate and Masters degrees abroad. How has it been adjusting back to life in Singapore since graduating?
I’m still coming to terms with it as it hasn’t been the easiest. What I enjoyed the most about my time abroad was the independence and freedom to figure myself out; to decide which parts of myself I wanted to keep, and which parts I felt weren’t so much who I wanted to be anymore.
I find it difficult to articulate, but in Singapore, it can feel like some of the people we meet in primary school are the same people we see through to university, so it can feel like who we are and what we are like is decided pretty early on in life. It’s like how we tend to revert to an older version of ourselves when we meet old friends. For me at least, if my friends have known me for years (like my best friend Crispin who wanted me to mention him), it can feel like there’s a version of myself that exists in their heads, and sometimes I reach to be the person they expect me to be.
Now that I’m back, I feel like a puzzle piece trying to fit into its old shape that was left behind four years ago. Even the smaller things, like no longer having my own room, or not knowing what to do or where to go on a weekend really makes it feel like I’m learning to live in a new place all over again, which is weird for someone who spent most of their life growing up here!
On the other hand, it’s been nice not having to think about what to cook for every meal, and seeing friends that I hold dear. Small things like these assure me that it’ll get better with time.
What’s one thing you’ve learnt about yourself in the past year?
I grew up thinking I was very extroverted, but I’ve come to really enjoy alone time. Who knew spending time visiting a café or store on my own, or even reading alone at home could be so incredibly restorative?
I’m hoping that as my life picks up here, I’ll continue to be intentional about carving time out for myself.
If you could give one piece of advice to 18-year-old Reuben, what would it be?
Oh man, 18-year-old me was quite a piece of work. I’m not sure he would’ve listened, but I’d tell him that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that vulnerability is not weakness.
Tell us more about your hobbies, and what you enjoy most about them.
I have lots of hobbies, one of it being fishing. The kind of fishing I do is slightly different to what one might traditionally think—instead of casting out organic bait in wait for a fish to bite, I use artificial lures to mimic baitfish and entice a bigger catch. It’s more engaging since I’m in constant contact with the line; the thrill is intense!
I first fished back in 2008 on my last holiday with my dad, who has since passed. That underlying connection to my father is what kept this hobby so close to me. Aside from that, I enjoy being outdoors and in nature; fishing allows me to be wholly present without distraction or worry.
What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
Fly fish for salmon in Alaska, hike the trails of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, and visit the Amazon River in South America!
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