Thoughts from the Founder
Last month, Joseph Schooling, a fine young man of 21 years old, made history by becoming Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medallist. Singapore, our tiny country, stunned the world as Joseph Schooling beat other world champions at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
While the entire nation was filled with pride and inspired on so many different levels, I was captivated and deeply touched by the story of his journey to glory. In 2009, Joseph’s parents sent him halfway across the world from Singapore to study and train in the United States when he was just 14 years of age. With a dream of becoming the world’s best swimmer, it was a path that the teenager had pleaded to embark on. It wasn’t an easy journey, but his parents supported his ambition wholeheartedly and made immeasurable sacrifices, including giving up their family time and using up all their savings. Yes, underpinning the culmination of years of hard work was his parents’ steadfast and unwavering belief in his dream that pushed him to go for the gold. I shudder to think what would have happened if his parents had insisted instead that he follow the academic route and not pursue his dreams.
In a society that has come to focus on the practicalities of life and on academic excellence above other achievements, it is admirable and inspiring how his parents were fully committed to supporting his dream.
For me, Joseph’s story is a poignant reminder of the magnitude of children’s dreams and the importance of parents in taking part wholeheartedly in those dreams and ambitions, however unlikely the dreams may seem.
As parents, we all have the tendency to be over-protective of our children because we do not want them to fail or get hurt. Often, it is hard for us to silence our inner sceptics when we hear their seemingly impossible dreams. Throughout my journey of motherhood, I recall vividly the many times I had to consciously remind myself to trust my children to make the right decisions for themselves, to let go of them and let them learn through their own experiences.
From my interactions with children, I have also learnt that no wish is too big or too small. A moment spent examining a caterpillar in the garden can be as important and magical as a day spent at Disneyland. Seemingly small things can shape a child’s aspirations, hopes and unique perspectives.
Joseph’s story strengthens my belief that when we genuinely listen to our children, share their enthusiasm and go out of our way to play a part in their dream, they will be motivated to work hard and excel as they pursue their goals. Together with the ceaseless support from parents and teachers alike, let us help our children to understand that to achieve their goals, they have to have conviction and the courage to persevere when they stumble or fail. Only then will we have children who will follow their dreams, tread the unknown and make a difference to this world.