Finally, after 10 years …. Light at the end of the tunnel

I've come this far, jumped this high .... Please, please show me the light!

I’ve come this far, jumped this high …. Please, please show me the light!

Finally, after 10 years …. Light at the end of the tunnel

There’s a timeline in my vision  ….. 2013 is the year my The Unique Classroom will go places. Don’t know how, don’t know where, but I know it will travel. I took baby steps in 2004 in but yes, it was more to get out of a helpless situation, more to find myself again. Didn’t help that my partner was the retired Director-General of Education …. Think he and I expected everyone to come knocking on our door, but no, connections don’t work when you are no longer in your position. I ventured again in 2007 to Hanoi, at the behest of again, a retired senior government officer, whose wife was in education, and who, again, knew next to nothing about running a business ….. Scary part was, he thought what he needed to do was to invest and everyone else did the running for him. Of course, the “everyone else” was me! But truth be told, all these failures taught me a lesson ….. Never have a partner who is from the civil service, because they know next to nothing about running a business 🙂

So now, 10 years later …. I feel it in my bones that I can do it! As I discuss with Robin and Winston, I know finally my licensing is going to happen. I want to get a licensee by May 28, 2013. Where would he/she come from? Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia? I’m priming for any of these countries. I know I can find one. Come on, you can do it, Ms Catherine Khoo!

And yes, now to find an investor, a partner, a licensee ….. someone who also cherishes the same dream as I. To build the next generation of thinkers and writers. Who believes in my vision: One Child. One Story. One Dream Fulfilled. Okay, Lord, you have led me so far ….. I believe you will give me an answer. I believe I have reached the end of the tunnel …. Maybe a few more steps, so please, please, show me the light.

The Healing Power of Conversation … And 5 Things To Do Before I Turn 55!

The Healing Power of Conversations and Five Things To Do Before I Turn 55

How did Pauli and me celebrate Chinese New Year? Never thought it would be so heartwarming, so much of an eye-opener to me. Invited Raymond and Johnny for a Chinese dinner, and yes, celebrated both their birthdays for them. Raymond said, “This is our reunion dinner,” and it made me feel so connected with them. Both did not go back home …. in fact, Johnny worked in Cha Time and he made bubble milk tea, my favourite. Raymond’s working in the rural area, he’s a nurse and loving his job, and he is going to buy alpaca and buy farmland ….

But the conversation that ensued as we sat around eating the tiramisu cake (and I must say, it’s one of the best I’ve ever tasted! Raymond and I agreed it must be the weather, or maybe, it’s natural ingredients 🙂 ) the conversation lasted three hours …. But it’s honest-to-goodness sharing which I do not get back home. Tell you why …. Johnny’s from Hong Kong and same age as Pauli, Raymond’s 30 and reminds me of the child I could have got … Yeah, 1983, would be his age …. Three of them reminded me of when I was their age …. Full of dreams and wanting to do so many things, but worried about the future. The common factor linking them is a country that is overcrowded, that has forgotten what it is like to stop and smell the roses, coz there are no more roses and stopping is not recommended for economic growth ….. And the question on their lips but never asked, “What has gone out of the window in pursuit of material gains?” They like it here, and sometimes I think life is like a deja vu, our ancestors came out of China to seek better pastures for themselves and their children not so long ago …. Now our children are doing this for themselves.

It’s a bit different now, coz with so much gadgets (I thank the people who invented the Internet 😀 ) you can communicate so easily. And my advice to every young person who is reading my blog ….. Go out and experiment and experience! When I was your age, I had the same dreams, hopes and plans. The world is a scary place if you feel it is scary. It is a place of opportunities if you just follow your heart. Don’t be afraid to explore, for only then do you learn. More important, whatever you do, have compassion ……. Just as one famous human rights activist, I forgot her name, said, “Live simply, so others may simply live!” So simple words, yet so profound.

So I’ve made a list, 10 Things To Do Before I Turn 60. But then, that’s almost seven years away, and life is too short to plan so long. So, I’ve made a shorter one. Top priorities …. Top 5. Yes, 5!

1/ Sell 10,000 copies of my book Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! And have it translated into five languages. (5,000 per year quite do-able, considering I turn 55 in Dec 2014)

2/ Establish ( now, be very careful of the word, establish) okay, ensure, no, plant the seeds sound better, plant the Young Author Scheme and The Unique Classroom in 3 countries ….. Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. (in no particular order). Why Australia? Met the people from BBX and have this funny feeling there’s a reason why Pam came to Adelaide in 2006 and Pauli is here. This year is the 8th year my kids are here. 8 is a magical number for me! Strange too, when Pam first came, I had dinner with 2 boys from Bradford (used to be called Alexandra Lodge) their reunion dinner in Chinatown, and this year, I also had dinner with two boys who used to stay in Bradford. And Raymond came in the same year as Pam. Uncanny! And yes, my dream to nurture a Booker Prize winner …. Maybe Asian Literary Prize …. That’s more do-able.

3/ Do book tours. (Must be more specific). Okay, my imprint. I’ve decided on Witty, Wicked Women, logo www, and the first book under this is Love! Live Dangerously! And Have Fun! …. Ooh! I love exclamation marks! Makes everything so zesty! I’m going to do workshops around this book first. I also have the Amazing Journeys Travelogue (gotta start putting it together …) Cambodia, next Dharamsala. Promised Jinpa. Why workshops? Family bonding …. Parents and children to understand one another, to communicate …. that’s really my life’s mission. I feel so happy when parents and their children are happy doing things together. Let’s see where the Amazing Journeys will lead to ….

4/ Write 3 more books.
I Can Write. So Can You! (Must finish this by mid March …)
Ordinary Lives. Extraordinary Struggles.
Tips for Mothers with Children Studying Overseas (working title only. As an afterthought, yes, would include views of their kids as well, so more balanced)

5/ This is actually the fulfillment of my father’s and brother’s dream. My father planted it in me, my brother kept it growing in me …… Do my Phd in Creative Writing. Why not? First, I want to write a novel about women and why they write …. Too broad, gotta narrow it, but yes, it has got to be a literary novel …. And research is involved, and lots of reading …. I just love it. It’s also the fulfillment of my own dream …. One I had since 13 ….. Waited 40 years to see it come true ….

Life is indeed what we make of it ….. It’s good to build castles in the air, because it’s where they should be. Now put foundations under them! Look out, world! Life begins at 53!

One child. One story. One dream fulfilled! Part 1

I love what I do. I love to create. I love to create a world where every child has the right to dream and write. I want to teach children to create, then to sell their creation to the world!

Why? Every vision and mission starts with a quest. Why do I want to do this? Why, when my kids are grown up and my duty is done? It boils down to two words: fulfillment and legacy!

When I mentor a child, when I see the light sparkle in his eyes, the aha! Moment, that’s when I feel fulfilled. His learning moment makes my day. Legacy. The word means a lot to me. When I leave this world, I don’t want my kids to remember me as a mother. I want them to remember me for helping other children achieve their dream. I show my kids how to aspire because I am their mother. I show other kids how to aspire because I believe every child has the right to dream. The dream to write!

Building the next generation of thinkers and writers is my dream. My goal. It’s a big, oversized dream but it can be achieved. How? By first building the foundations.

Education. It’s another big word which means absolutely nothing if there is no measure of learning. How do you measure that? We learn everyday, or do we? What do we learn, how do we learn? And how is learning tied in with creativity? Can we learn to be more creative?

That’s where my Young Author Scheme comes in. Can you teach a person to be more creative? That’s what I’ve been asked. Actually, no. You can’t teach a person to be more creative. My contention is that all children are creative. They just think they are not because adults think they are not!

The Young Author Scheme reverses this self-prophesizing thinking. It gives the child to start realizing this, that, yes, I am creative. And how do I know that I am? Because I can think, I can write, and yes, I can author a book. Why? Because these are my ideas and I am free to explore these words together to make a coherent story. So belief + craft = a well-thought out story. (The craft part I teach.)

Concept: Creative Education begins its journey with the Young Author Scheme. I started in 2003 with this one belief, that kids are creative and they can write their own story. After that what next? To me, writing a story is not sufficient. How far can it go? Wouldn’t other people want to read it? Wouldn’t other children want to read them? Wouldn’t other parents want to also want their kids to write their own books? Most important, wouldn’t it be great to publish them, have them available in bookstores and create a belief, a business on the premise (which I’ve proven) that Kids Can Write!