Living Moments (Part 13)

by Patrick Liew on April 18, 2012

On April 13, 2012, I took a trip down a memory lane in my life. I was invited as the Guest Of Honor for Anderson Secondary School’s 42nd Speech Day and Prize Giving Ceremony and it felt so good to return back to m…y alma mater.

While driving to the school, I had goosebumps all over my body. I felt like a little boy going to school for the first time in his life.

Shortly before reaching the school, I saw an accident. As I was still early, I stopped to try and offer my assistance.

I was surprised to discover that the owner of one of the vehicles was Mrs Khosa who taught me English while I was in school. She was all smiles when she saw me and quickly assured me, “The representative of my insurance company has arrived and everything is in order. I know you are the VIP today. Please hurry along”.

Our teachers have done so much for us, much of which have influenced and shaped us throughout our lifetime. It is sad that after graduation, we moved on and many of us never quite find ways to continue to show our appreciation to them, let alone repay our debts of gratitude.

When I reached the school gate, i was elated to see a banner hanging outside the school with my name on it. I was more surprised to see that the principal and a welcoming party was standing at the porch waiting for me.

I wanted to drive to a carpark lot but i was ushered to park right at the front of the school. Two members of the national cadet corp stood besides my car and gave me a ceremonial salute.

Later in the evening, I told my daughter that I was stunned for a moment. I did not know whether I should return the salute or shake their hands. 

Those of you who have seen my playful side would probably expect me to hug them suddenly or pinch their cheeks and say something like, “Oh! You look so cuteeeee!” No, I did not do it. :0)

The principal walked me to the registration table and asked me to write a few words on the guests book. I wrote, ‘Eternally grateful to my alma mater’. 

I wished I could pen more words to describe how thankful I was for everything the school has done for me. I dared not even imagined what would become of my life if not for the school’s character development programmes and the values that they has inculcated in me.

I was given a package of souvenirs, which included a handmade thank you card. One of the teachers offered to carry it for me, an offer which I found hard to accept even though I eventually did. I knew in my heart I was just a kampung boy who was given many privileges and opportunities to, if i may humbly add, do well and do good in life.

I was given a short welcoming performance by a group of student-percussionists. They played on plastic pails and other simple things that could be found around the house and it was an impressive and engaging show. 

Who says Arts and Cultural Performances cannot be done with common materials that we oftentimes take for granted. Truly, there are beauty and wonder all around us.

By that time, I was feeling uncomfortable that the Principal was still walking besides me. I was mindful that he must be very busy and there were many more important things for him to attend to. 

He insisted on giving me a personally-guided tour of the school. And since I still have a somewhat ‘regimented’ fear for principals and teachers, I accepted his kind offer even though in my heart I felt like a burden to him. 

I never imagined when I was a student of the school more than 30 years ago that I would ever be accorded such a reception. To cap the honour, I was not even an exceptional student both in terms of academic results and extra curricular activities.

I am so grateful to our Creator for all the blessings that He has given to me. I cannot but be thankful to all the people who have walked with me and supported me on the journey of life.

The principal was very proud to show me the achievements of the school. I was not at all surprised as I could tell while walking around the school that he and his team have taken great effort to build a centre of educational excellence. 

I could tell from observing small little details that they have endeavored to create a stimulating learning environment. They have not only tried to deliver the lessons in accordance with the Ministry’s stipulated curriculum, they have also done different different things to expand the students’ potential and help them think out of the box.

For example, there was a room where they hung a bicycle upside down. The idea was to get the students to see life differently. When they travel on the journey of life, they have to come out with creative ways to overcome challenges and develop better solutions.

My visit to the School’s Heritage Centre made me very proud that Anderson has grown leaps and bounds in terms of its infrastructure, staff, students and programmes. It made me feel confident that we we will produce a much better generation to lead Singapore to the next level of growth. 

Once again, I felt very thankful that we have an amazing government that is forward looking and competent. They have invested wisely to ensure that our country is at the cutting edge of educational developments and this has helped us to become a model to educationists all over the world.

One of the highlights of the tour was the visit to the library where I was welcomed by a group of librarians. As a former librarian, I tried to tell them how privileged it was to serve in this position.

It has helped me to cultivate a lifelong love for books. As long as I love to read, I know it will help prepare me to handle challenges and live a better life.

Last year, I donated a small sum of money to help to renovate the library. It was a small token of my appreciation and I did not expect anything in return.

It came as a surprise and a joy that the school had erected a plague outside the library to honour my small little gift. They also crafted my company’s name on it, an unsolicited gesture and for which, I was more than grateful and thankful.

As I later scrolled through a few photos that I took of the tour, there was one that stood out from the rest. It was a doodle on the white board in a classroom, a room that would be used by teachers and students to conduct the-not-usual lessons and discussions. 

I would never know who were the students who drew the design and wrote my name on it. I wished I could thank them personally because they brought tears to my eyes and made an alumnus happy.

Undoubtedly, the drawing would eventually be erased. I would be forgotten. Life would move on.

What will never be forgotten, for me at the least, is that I will always be grateful and indebted to the government, principals, teachers, staff, and countless other people who made it possible for me to receive a good education.

I will always remember that I constantly carry virtual batons with me, batons of responsibility and obligations to help educate the generations that come after me. I will have to pass these batons and inspire others to do the same.

When we do that, throughout the ebb and flow of life, there will always be hope and achievements for a better future.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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