I had the privilege and honour of being invited to share my entrepreneurial experience to a group of highly positive and driven individuals a few months back. And as I recall the the scene in which I was approached was invited appeared comedic in retrospect, I can assure you that it came as much as a surprise as it was unnerving…
I was sitting alone by myself close to midnight at the National University of Singapore… minding my own business (literally… I was working!) as I sought to clear the never-ending stream of emails… when out of the blue, a lady decked in a red dress, and long flowing black hair crept up to me. Gingerly, she asked, “Excuse me… are you Gary?”
At that moment, I wasn’t sure whether to run or jump. For some odd reason, I sat where I was. (It must have been because I was still clearing my emails on my Mac!)
Summoning my strength, I replied in my calmest voice, “Yes. And you would be…?”. I was pleasant and cordial, as I usually am *winks*… but secretly and silently, I hoped she would disappear. Then again… maybe not!
A smile broke out on her face (oh no!), and before I could bolt, she exclaimed excitedly, “Really! Wow! I didn’t expect to see you here!”
I had half the heart to tell her that neither did I, but I let it slide.
By then, we had shook hands, I knew she was human.
Apparently, this lady in red had chanced upon my blog… and had been hoping to invite me as a guest speaker for an event she was organizing *whew…* for the Vietnamese community in Singapore.
It wasn’t the first time I’d attended a Vietnamese-organized event, and I saw no reason not to extend my affinity with this group of extremely pleasant people.
And so, I agreed. Never mind that I had been scared off half my wits, or that the event was only 8 days away. I thought I could contribute, and we had a date.
It’s been months since the talk, but I still could not get it out of my head. And why should I?
Although it’d overran, and I suspect that at least 15% of what I spoke about was lost in translation… it was still an extremely successful and heartening sharing. Not only was the event a great networking opportunity, it also gave me greater insights into the lives and aspirations of the hard-striving Vietnamese community.
And it was through that session, that new friendships were born, and aspirations were ignited… and through a mere hour, lives were changed forever.
A recent participant (a local Singaporean girl) commented that it’s a great to work in the line of education, because “When one teaches, two grow together- both the teacher and the student”.
Incidentally, that was also a quote by Robert Heinlein – an American Science-Fiction writer.
Like how one Chinese pioneer remarked, that “Money is only useful when it’s used”, “Knowledge is best appreciated, when it’s shared”.
It’s for moments like these, when ideas are shared and lives transformed that reminds one of the beauty of education and empowerment.
I am heartened by the transformation, and encouraged by the passion the audience had for education. Above all, I’m driven to give more.
I may only be one man, and my efforts are limited. But so as a candle may be small, it’s light still fills a room.
Join me lighting up the emptiness. Let us be the light unto the world, one flame at a time.