Thursday, January 26, 2012

Travel Industry Boom

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Leadership Training with Cheng San Toastmasters Club

Immediately after I completed Advanced Toastmaster Bronze (ATM-B) qualification, then VP Education Simon Low told me that it was time for me to start taking up roles in the meeting especially as speech evaluator. I have been enjoying delivering prepared speeches for the past ten months and I agreed that it was pay-back time. I did not know that I would be gaining much more by participating as appointment holder in meetings. After attending the evaluation workshop conducted by Albert Chan, I started my debut as evaluator. It was fun as I learnt different aspects of communication including the listening, observation and delivering impromptu speech skills. The first evalution I did was very challenging and fearful. I worried about many things, about offending the speaker, accuracy of evaluation, not having things to say, and many others. As usual, the butterflies came back and challenge my decision. More and more I got used to the feeling and I improved my evaluation skill.

On the second year in the club, I took up the challenge to be VP Education. Even before the term commenced, I started club visiting just to get to know other Toasmasters. With evaluation skill, my visit was welcomed everywhere. I got to know many new friends. I learnt to give favour so that I could get favour back from those people to visit our club as evaluators. When I became President, I shared the visitation routine with Seow Hwee Ling as VP Education. I felt so proud when I announced that I came from Cheng San.

In April, then Area Governor (AG) S1 DTM Stanley Goh asked me if I was interested in serving as AG. At that time, I was also serving as Assistant Area Z1 Governor when Marshall Lee was serving as Area Z1 Governor. I thought I wanted to focus on attaining my Advanced Toastmaster Silver (ATM-S) the next that I rejected the offer. I thought my live had been so busy with Cheng San TMC that I wanted to slow down and to spend more time with family. I thought that was all there was to Toastmasters. Little did I know that more challenges and discoveries awaited me few months after that.

Just before the new term started for me to become the Immediate Past President (IPP), DTM Patricia Lum (the newly elected Division S Governor then) called me to serve as her AG. She told me she needed my help to cover Area S5. With much hesitation as Cheng San TMC was not in S5, I accepted the challenge and I became Area S5 Governor. The reason was also that I completed my ATM-S just enough time to contribute another point to Cheng San TMC.

I started the area with 4 clubs. With the help of then Division Advisor DTM Kan Kin Fung, we managed to charter a new club, Woodlands TMC few months later. Being involved in division provided me with more activities and definitely more fun in Toastmasters education and leadership journey. I was involved in various Area, Division and District activities as organisers, supporters and participants. Having had to visit more clubs than ever, it opened up my horizon even wider on how our people were running their clubs. Those were really different experiences than what we could gain from our own club alone.

While serving as AG, I managed to put in time to complete my Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATM-G) qualification. Along the way, I obtained my Competent Leader (CL) qualification after serving the VP Education term. I also completed the Advanced Leader (AL) qualification after completing my AG term and High Performance Leadership program. It means that I was eligible to apply to become Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) just three years after I became a Toastmaster.

Along the way, I was actively involved in setting up of various clubs in different locations. I took part in various speech contests and delivered speeches in various occasions as District Official (Area Governor). I think I have grown up quite considerably in those three years. After my AG term, I took on the appointment as Assistant Division S Governor when DTM Stanley Goh served as Division S Governor 2004/2005.

Involving and participating fully in the Toastmasters in both the communication and leadership tracks were the best way to get the most from my membership as a Toastmaster. I thanked all members and mentors for providing me the chance to learn and grow.

Sugeng Sanusi (Shi Song Jun), DTM
Past Area S5 Governor 2003/2004

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Personal Journey with Cheng San Toastmasters Club

I used to do presentations both in school and at work. Everytime I had to do one, I always felt very nervous. The butterflies in my tummy just did not want to co-operate. I thought maybe it was in-born and I had to live with the butterflies. I also remembered people telling me that I spoke very fast during presentation. I thought that was also in me to speak very fast. I did not know that all those could be changed with some efforts. I did not think much and just followed the flow.

I first understood what Toastmasters is all about in 1999 when I attended a public speaking course conducted by People Associations for the grassroots leaders. I started to realize there was something I could do to improve my skill in this area. I heard of the term Toastmasters before but I did not pay much attention due to wrong perception. I archieved the name in my mind so that I could find a club when I had the time. The time did not come.

When I joined a new company in January 2000, I had to attend the company's orientation. In the program, Wesley Wong (our Past President) came to introduce Lucent Toastmasters Club with meetings at Chai Chee office. I was so interested. There are few problems, though. I stayed in Yishun (North). My office was in Science Park (South West). The meeting was at Chai Chee (South East). It made a perfect triangle on top of Singapore map. For the time being, I kept the tought in my mind again with the intention to find a club when I had the time. The time did not come.

2001 came and I was still struggling with my public speaking. I was sitting in front of the computer in office one day when I had some free time. I thought I would try searching for Toastmasters Singapore in Google. Interestingly, I came across the Clus Hoping List maintained by DTM Augustine Lee (Past District Governor and Past International Director). The website is still alive until now. I was amazed. Looking through the list, I short-listed few clubs nearer to my place. I thought I would start visiting them one-by-one to decide which club to join. But, I was too busy. I put the idea in my mind to do when I had more time. The time did not come.

Finally in May 2001, I told myself I had to do something. Looking through the list again, I short-listed few clubs nearby my home, Cheng San, Ang Mo Kio, Teck Ghee and Nee Soon East. I thought Nee Soon East should be ideal as it is the nearest among all. However, the nearest meeting date was at Cheng San. And, I knew I did not want to wait further. Besides, Cheng San Toastmasters Club (TMC) website was the most impressive (thanks to then webmaster Albert Chan). I called the listed VP Membership (Roy Yeo), but no answer. I then called VP Public Relations (Eugene Tan). He was very friendly and invited me to come to the next meeting on 9 May 2010.

I was so excited and anxious at the same time when the time came for me to visit Cheng San CC. I did not know what to expect and I realized I knew nobody except Eugene (through phone). I found the sign below the staircase leading to the meeting room at the second floor. The moment I opened the door I still remembered vividly Simon Low warmly welcomed me at the door. I knew he did not know me before and I believed Eugene did not inform him about my coming. But the warmth and the atmosphere of the room were so intoxicating, I really felt at home. He started introducing me to other members and then Club President Lawrence Lim.

The meeting ended at 9pm to be continued with Annual General Meeting (AGM). I was told politely that I could stay if I signed the membership on that day. I was so attracted with the club that I wanted very much to see what would happen during the AGM. Then VP Membership Roy Yeo quickly brought me to the CC office to register my membership so that I could sit in the AGM. When we returned, the meeting had started with report from President. The membership was reported at 47 with my entry that day. After that, I saw Christopher Goh (Past President) came up as the Returning Officer to lead the Executive Committe (Exco) election. Wesley Wong was elected unanimously to be the next President.

Under the mentorship of Simon Low (then VP Education), I booked my first project speech on that night for the next meeting. My first project was not easy to prepare although I was only supposed to talk about myself. I spoke about the four A's at home. Just before my turn, I really regretted my decision to join the club and agreed to deliver my first project the next meeting. This time the butterflies did not give me any chance. I could feel the earth shaking and my legs turning into jelly. I almost could not walk from my seat to the lectern only located five steps away. I was not sure why the world suddenly turned so fast that I thought I might have to cancel my speech due to medical condition. Nevertheless, I forced myself and started speaking. I could still feel the ground tremor while speaking. The 5-minute speech felt like five hours. Finally, I limped back to my seat after the speech. I thought that was the worst speech Cheng San TMC members must have heard in history. I was lucky as the evaluator was so kind and offered so many words of encouragement sincerely. I was overjoyed and decided to embark the journey seriously.

The following one year was the best time for me. I started in full gear with new project speech in every meeting. I completed Competent Toastmaster qualification (CTM) in 5 months and Advanced Toastmaster Bronze (ATM-B) qualification in another 5 months. I volunteered to be VP Education in July 2002 with Sheeja Pillai as the President. The term started with a huge drop in membership due to the 911 incident causing economy crisis afffecting our members. We lost many members due to this. Our membership base shrinked to danger level (below 20). Meeting attendance was also very low to the extend that we did not have enough people for complete meeting appointments. With resolute and able leadership of Sheeja, we insisted in starting meeting on time and continued to march on to keep the club alive.

After few months as President, Sheeja stepped down and resigned from the club due to personal reason. Economy was tough and her mother's health at that time was not too promising as well. We had to accept the loss and re-form the Exco. After an eventful Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), the members gave me the honour to be the next President and I was so lucky to have the service of Seow Hwee Ling as the VP Education for the remaining half year term.

With the full support of Cheng San CCC Chairman, Leslie Yong, BBM (then Cheng San CCMC Chairman), the club managed to raise the club membership and meeting qualities all the way to achieve President Distinguished Club status for the term 2002/2003 with nine goals. We may have achieved this distinction before, but to me it was really meaningful as we struggled and succeeded in the effort post-911. We recruited many enthusiastic members who have contributed very much to the glory of the club until today. I am always indebted to people like Nancy Lim, Cliff Teo, DTM Kevin Ong, Richard Yin, DTM Manivannan, Henry Tan (current CCMC Chairman), Patrick Tan, Roger Hoo, Suanne Hoo and many others. They supported fully and wholeheartedly the team effort to revive the club. Our membership shot up to match the level we enjoyed when I first joined the club two years back. Until today achieving President Distinguished Club has become a tradition. We obtained the status for the past seven years in the running.

Looking back, I saw that we have a healthy club rejuvenation in place. The tradition is continued by all the Presidents after that: Seow Hwee Ling, Simon Leong, Hsieh Cheng Lin, Ronald Lim, Esther Lim, Goh Shu Ling. I am looking forward to the successful completion of Daniel Kwek's Presidency. I wish all the success to Cheng San Toastmasters Club for the 20th anniversary celebration.

Sugeng Sanusi (Shi Song Jun), DTM
Past President 2003

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Earthquake is Natural Disaster

Natural disaster is defined as the effect of nature that is hazardous and affecting human activities. Earthquake is a sudden shaking of the earth. The vibrations vary in magnitude from mild to very serious and destructive. Earthquakes by themselves are rarely disastrous. It is usually the secondary events that trigger disasters, such as building collapse, fires and tsunamis.

The exact time and place when an Earthquake will occur normally cannot be predicted. Using historical and past data, seismic agencies around the world can compile and predict earthquake within a certain period of time and over a large area.

Earthquake after-effects are normally avoidable with better building construction, safety systems, early warning and evacuation planning. We just need to be more vigilance and plan for the worse. With strong infrastructures, We also need to prepare the people so that they know what to do when tremors occur.

It is important to stay calm and not panic if you are indoor. Stay away from items made of glass or anything that can fall and hurt you. It may also be advisable to take cover under a table. Do not use a naked light just in case there is a gas leak. Do not use the lift if you are in a building. Use the staircase, instead. Evacuation is only necessary when there are visible signs of structural defects (new cracks, etc).

If you are outdoors, remain in the open until the tremors stop. Try to stay away from buildings and overhead electrical cables. Try to avoid trees as well if possible.

Once the shaking is over, check your surroundings for injured people and dangerous conditions. Turn off gas only if you smell gas. If you are trapped, try not to move too much to conserve your energy and not to kick up dust. Tap on pipe or wall or use whistle to alert rescuers or others. Shout only when it is really necessary as you need to conserve whatever energy and strength you still have. You won't know how long you have to wait before help comes around.

Experiencing natural disaster can be very stressful and depressing. Apart from handling rescue effort, it is also important to take care of the psychological aspect of the victims. Another consideration also includes the health and epidemic issues of the quake-affected areas. The effects will be felt soon if not well taken care early. These areas are normally neglected when everyone is busy with rescue and relief efforts.

Buddha Board = Zen Board?

There is a renewed interest in Buddha Board lately. So, what is Buddha Board? It is also called an aquadoodle. It is simply a special canvas board using marker filled with water. Using the water marker, you can draw whatever you like on the special canvas. The drawing will appear but fade and go away slowly leaving you with a blank canvas again.

The concept is very useful and practical both for children and adult. The children love to play with the board as it is easy to draw with water marker and the canvas will self-clean. For parents, there is no worry of cleaning up and it is very eco-friendly.

For adult, the Buddha Board can be used as an expression of art that will disappear momentarily. It is all about living in the moment. We have to live in the NOW. It is effortless for children, but as an adult we need to practice and train the NOW habit.

Life is stressful for many people. We think about the uncertain futures. We worry about what is coming along. We also regret of what happened in the past, both the near past and the far past. Letting go the mind from the past and future and keep reminding ourselves to live in present and focus on now is a good idea.

From the Buddha Board, interested people can explore further the concept of Buddhism. In actual fact, the Buddha Board was developed from Zen Buddhism. Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism. It is also called Chan in Chinese. Chan is derived from the Sanskrit Dhyana which means meditation.

Looking at the function of Buddha Board that encourages living in the present, it is very similar to the practice of meditation that also cultivates the mind with continuous awareness. Zen's emphasis is on experiential wisdom. It means we have to experience the wisdom and awakening, rather than relying on theorical knowledge and study of religious texts alone.

Most of the awakenings in Zen Buddhism happened with unpredicted twists. The enlightenment of the Zen followers happen in very simple, mundane settings and sometimes only realized long after the events have passed. It is interesting to pay attention that it can happen to anyone anytime. We just need to let your mind be ready and not have any prejudice thoughts. The same thing is also applicable when you are drawing with Buddha Board. Let your mind play along on the canvas. The realization may just appear and happen unnoticed.

I don't claim that playing with Buddha Board alone can lead to enlightenment. However, Buddha Board can be a good starting point for people who would like to start meditation or cultivating the mind with conscious awareness by watching the ever changing thoughts in the our mind.

May all sentient beings be happy.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Qui docet discit

Today I explored Latin motto, Qui docet discit. It means "He who teaches, learns." This really resonates with what I believe.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Web Log Ping Service

There are many web log ping services. This service is used to help us to notify the directories on the changes we do on the web log. Among the few reputable services are the following:

1. Ping-o-Matic!

2. Google Blog Search

3. BlogFlux

4. Pingoat

5. King Ping