Saturday, August 1, 2009


Having gone through both the Western and Asian educational system, I’ve notice that in countries like Taiwan, students are involuntarily encouraged to memorization. On the contrary, institutions in places like the United States highlight the significance of originality. Perhaps these systems are reformed and are different due to cultural backgrounds but can one really distinguish which one is better than the other? How many times have I been asked as a toddler to memorize the famous three hundred poems of the Tang Dynasty? How many times have I been asked to produce a five-paragraph response on a prompt for various examinations? Maybe it’s because I’m biased, having been withdrawn from a memory-based environment at a rather young age, but I must confess that I enjoy latter much more.

It’s been said too many times before – everybody’s got a story to tell. Whether you’re the president or a refugee, the wealthiest man or a poverty-stricken homeless, the top-of-the-chart musician or a struggling artist, the best-selling novelist or a day-care supervisor, the most celebrated actress or an anorexic model, there is always a tale to tell. When people say that there is no school like the old school or that lyricists of the past wrote more insightful and “deep” content, I beg to differ. In every melody, every beat, every stroke of a brush, every word on a chalkboard, every look on a catwalk, and every wave in a campaign, there is a life-long story behind it. What’s ‘meaningful’ about it is how we decipher and digest these messages and experiences for our own keepsake. Maybe we all have a book of our own without our knowing (as once suggested by a great writer – you know who I’m talking about) but what I often dream of is having access to those index cards and reading everyone’s stories. Yes, everyone’s. Stalkerishly creepy? Perhaps. But it would be purely fascinating to flip through every page. I hope that we all find freedom in whatever it is we enjoy doing and through those means, tell our own stories!

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