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Vol 2 Issue 6 /

SGD 7.50 ISSN: 2010- 1376

3 Award-Winning Stories To Inspire You Breaking Boundaries in Cambodia

Giving More Than What They Have

YRC Investigates: Singapore’s Unsung Heroes

CORE 101 Great Gifts for Trying Times

Parents Ask, Teens Answer Teaching Kids to Pay It Forward

Isabelle Lim Bears Her Inspirations for Writing

Building the Next Generation of Thinkers & Writers3 Vol 2 Issue 6

Managing Editor Catherine Khoo Editor Carlo Venson Peña Circulation Manager

Nannette Cruz Designer

Lim Soo Yong Editorial Assistant Shantha Lakshmie d/o Sithanandar Contributors

Jimmy Lee, Tan Sok Ngin Illustrators

Adeline Lim, Gibson Les Paul Michelle Hogg, Shaun Sager YAC Core Contributors

Kenrick Lam, Bryan Lim, Dejoy Shastikk Kumaran For advertising and sales enquiries

6336 8985 Education Subscription Agent

EmitAsia 6372 0330 Email: Website: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publisher. Call 6336-8985 for back issues. Printed in Singapore by Fuisland Offset Printing Pte Ltd Cover and additional photos by

Carlo Venson Peña

is published by Experiences & Experiments Pte Ltd 442A Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427655

The holiday season is just around the corner, and in as much as we would like to swerve away from the flamboyance of the season, it could not be avoided. But more than the gift-wrapped boxes and the overflowing food, the season should also remind us of its true meaning – the spirit of giving. Capping this year’s series is YRC Magazine’s take on the spirit of paying it forward, whilst giving back to those who have done more than they should, and have taken that extra mile to help another fellow human being. In YRC Investigates, which debuts our Young Author Club CORE, we look at unsung heroes in Singapore who silently but unnervingly help the disenfranchised, the needy and the neglected; while in Breaking Boundaries, we read more of Jieyun’s selfless work in Cambodia and how her team’s dedication is slowly changing lives there for the better. We feature three stories as well – Part 2 of Tat Wei’s abridged story of magic and friendship, Isabelle’s sojourn of two sisters, and Nihal’s dark tale of curses – all with the values of giving back, helping out and pushing the envelope further. We also reflect on the sense of giving back in Different Strokes; visit teens in the US, in Email From; and listen to what kids have to say this time, in Bright Sparks. As we come to a close for 2011, we embrace the coming year with high hopes and optimistic expectations for improvement and interactivity with you, our readers. So here’s to a great 2011 and a holler to a brighter 2012! For more information about the YRC Magazine, subscriptions and contributions, please email info@ or send enquiries at books@ Happy reading!

Vol 2 Issue 6




Featured Author

YRC chats with Isabelle Lim, author of The Jade Pearl Story, and looks at how her heartfelt story is reflective of her life and perceptions about the people around her.


Chains of Fate (Part 2) by Lee Tat Wei

In this second part of Lee Tat Wei’s magical saga, find out how our protagonists deal with the “Circle of Chaos.” Will they succeed in ridding the world of evil magic?

17 Jade Pearl Story by Isabelle Lim

Singapore has just come out of World War II, Jade Pearl’s mother has mysteriously died and her father is penniless. She is later taken to the Chu family to work as a maid and her sister, as a child-bride. A marriage is held, plots are uncovered, and a deep, dark secret is exposed.


30 The Curse by Nihal Hameed

There was an unexplainable mystery going on in Thiruvakkrai. Muthu finds out that his grandfather has been cursed! He runs to his uncle who happens to be a police chief and Muthu doubles up as a detective. Will the curse be solved?

departments H E D U C AT I O N H

42 YRC Investigates: Singapore’s Holiday Heroes

Unsung and silent, Singapore is also home to a handful of heroes whose year-round volunteer work culminates during the holiday season. YRC talks to one umbrella organisation that helps women and children survive domestic violence and get back their lives.

51 The Real World

She is no man in a red coat and downs a white beard, but she has given children from hers and its neighbouring country a gift far better than toys: she gave them an identity.

62 Parents Ask, Teens Answer

In an era when teens get everything that they want, how do parents inculcate the value of giving back and helping someone out of the rut?


7 51

67 Resources

Take your YRC Magazine experience a step further by trying out these classroom activities and exercises!


41 Health Matters

The holidays have arrived, and so you have eaten tons of food! Overeating during the holidays is a serious predicament that you don’t want to get tied up in.

52 Email from USA


A 14-year-old lad talks about how he’s learnt to give back to others through community programmes and projects he and his friends started.

54 Writing Tips

Fancy to win a prize this holiday season? Enter our writing challenge and find how winning a prize can help a fellow man in more ways than one.

61 The CORE Speaks

Thoughts spurting from the depths of the Core, read on to find out what this group of young authors have been brewing for the season!


47 Breaking Boundaries in Cambodia: A Primer


Now that Jieyun has settled in Cambodia, she and her team slowly build the learning centre that they’ve planned to bring forth in the village. What challenges have they faced?

57 Different Strokes

The spirit of giving is translated in myriads of ways. Peek at resident YRC photographer Jimmy Lee’s take on giving back and ponder about how you can help someone in need.

59 Bright Sparks

In this season of giving, what do you think does a child need the most? Zero in on what children feel about given circumstances and how we could be pushing them too hard for comfort.

65 Events

What’s keeping YRC busy now? Mark your calendars for these upcoming events under Janus Education and Experiences & Experiments!

57 Vol 2 Issue 6


Featured Author “Whaddup!” “Ryan Gosling all the way! You too??” *Fist Bump* “She has this incredible economy of words.”

“Writing is my emotional catharsis...”

Text by Shantha Lakshmie d/o Sithanandar Photos by Carlo Venson Peña

All of these vernacular from a student at one of the top JCs in Singapore, 17-year-old Isabelle Lim is surprisingly a bundle of old-school and newage personality. Her enthusiastic acknowledgment in embracing similarities in conversations with people with a fist bump, thoughtful demeanor whilst t h i n k i n g o f re s p o n s e s t o questions, tendency to go off on a tangent in responding to aforesaid questions, make for a delightful interview chat as YRC Magazine sat down with her as 2011’s final Featured Author. Isabelle joined the Young Author Scheme as a Primary 5 student from Mayflower Primary School and created the Jade Pearl Story, which touched on the issue of child brides, a surprisingly mature topic for someone so young. Reminiscing on how she got started with her love for English and writing, she relates a touching story of how ‘Aunty Sally’, her house-help who has been with the family for 21 years, painstakingly taught her how to read. From the Lady-Bird series to Enid Blyton, Aunty Sally invested time and effort in cultivating a love for books in Isabelle. In no time, she started reading everything she could get her hands on, “to make up for lost time!” Vol 2 Issue 6



Lee Tat Wei, 13

Magic & Fantasy

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) Chains of Fate was my first venture into writing long stories. Usually constraint to the no-more-than-five-page stories in school compositions, I think that the Young Author Scheme really provided me a platform to be free and creative to craft my own story of any length. Chains of Fate is about the adventures of Zack, Terra and Drake and their conquest to rid the Circle of Chaos. All three characters are bound to the prophecy; the nobles of Heaven and the Underworld have come together to stop the “Circle of Chaos.” Up till this day, I’m very proud of what I accomplished using this Magic & Fantasy genre, since I don’t normally write these types of stories in primary school. I’m actually thinking of writing its sequel!

Chains of Fate Written in Pri 5, ACS Primary (Barker Rd)

The Heavens and the Underworld Why? Why was the situation like this? No, it was too much for him. First, it had been the destruction of his town, and now his realisation that he had caused thousands of deaths when he was Titanius. How could this be? “Why? Why? WHY!?” Zack screamed into the air. He was seating near a small cliff, placing his knees at his chest and wrapping his arms around his legs, holding both of his hands. Tears trickled down his sad face as he tried to calm himself down. But how could he? After the destruction of his town, he thought that he found his place in the magic school with Drake, Terra, and Gandeth. But why now? He found out that he is THE destruction. The cause of the war within Earth in the first place. “NO!” Zack screamed. Suddenly, he felt the vibrations of his shout as he looked below the cliff. The earth was cracking. Was it because

Illustrations by Michelle Hogg

of his scream? “Oh no! This earthquake, it’s caused by my shout? Argh… Titanius’ – no – my power caused this… The creatures are going to get affected,” Zack said to himself. Suddenly, the earthquake stopped. “Zack, don’t worry. I dispelled the earthquake,” came a voice behind him. Zack turned around, relieved that the earthquake was dispelled. He saw a tall lady about his age and height, with red hair and wearing bronze armour. It was full-body armour, with a neck-guard, shoulder-guards, armguards and leg armour. “Who are you? How did you know me? Wait. I’m Titanius. Who wouldn’t know me?” Zack said as he stood up. “Hi, I’m Selene of the Fargrove. Our people heard about you,” the redhead said. “Fargrove forest, you’re an elf?” Zack asked. “No, I’m a ranger there,” she replied.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the length of the story, YRC has decided to create a two-part abridged version of Chains of Fate. To read the full story, watch out for the full version of the story in the Anthologies in November 2011. Vol 2 Issue 6


Underworld, and when Drake got close to a cloud, instead of rain, hail would come out. “IT’S A HAILSTORM!” Drake could hear these cries below him. He was the bringer of despair, along with him come cold, depression, sadness, that was the Just Desserts for doing the forbidden. He had learnt the forbidden magic, the power to freeze time, the ultimate forbidden. He raised 12

his hands and looked at it. He scoffed. He wasn’t some Hero of Justice. He was a bringer of despair. He landed on a mountain and his wings shattered, and all the plants there withered with the cold he brought, even the waterfall froze. He cried, but as quickly as his tear appeared, it froze. “Stupid cold,” Drake said as he cleared the ice that formed near his eyes. Ice formed on


Isabelle Lim Su Xian, 17

A si an Tal es

Raffles Institution (JC) My experience under the Young Author's Scheme was a largely enjoyable one. I remembered having consultations with Ms Khoo where she'd give us advice on how to go about writing our stories and little inspirational talks. The process however, was very independent and as much as it was painful to constantly have to toil over one story, it was endlessly satisfying to finish it and call it my own. At the time, I was reading a lot about Singapore history and wanted to write something about the local past. The idea of child brides came to me sort of out of the blue and was just fascinating, so I decided that my story definitely would deal with that!

Jade Pearl Story Written in Pri 5, Mayflower Primary School

Chapter 1 The cool night wind blew into the rickety little shack and swept up the dead leaves on the dank wooden floor. But they were not the only dead things. A body, a woman’s body, was lying on the floor. Her hair, damp with humidity, fell over her stark white face. A scent hung in the air, the scent of death. Her eyes were wide open, as if calling for help, but apparently, no help had come. The village was in an uproar. Everyone came to see the body. Some were mourning and weeping; others were searching. Their eyes were combing the place for any four numbers they could use to get a shot at winning the lottery. But amongst all these people, someone was missing. My eyes went wild searching for him, but he was not there. Many other people were missing too. Wang-ma, Old-Chu and his entire family, who were well known for poking their noses into other people’s business, were missing too. No one had come to investigate. To see whether

Illustrations by Adeline Lim

there was an unnatural cause of death, or worse, murder. Hour’s passed, but still the missing people had not come. Then, I saw him. My father. “Jade Pearl,” he said to me. “We will sleep at Wangma’s house tonight.” I did not understand what he meant by that then. But I do now. I lost my mother that night, on February 2, 1948. I was only eleven, and my sister, thirteen. We were all living in a small village in Singapore. We had my mother’s funeral a few days later. It was a simple ceremony, with only my sister, my father, I, and a few close neighbours. Lying in a poorly crafted, cheap coffin, my mother still had the beauty to melt men’s hearts. The wake went on for three days, and by then, my father had already exhausted what little savings we had on the funeral expenses. The Taoist priest who had come on the second day had left, leaving burnt incense paper and a rather big hole in father’s pocket. During the funeral, it was like all the tears that had been bottled up inside of me had

Editor’s Note: Due to the length of the story, YRC has decided to create an abridged version of Jade Pearl Story. To read the full story, catch the full version in the YAS Anthologies. Vol 2 Issue 6



Magic & Fantasy


Nihal Hameed, 10 Townsville Primary School Besides enjoying school, I also love to write as I have the freedom to express my thoughts and feelings in words. One amazing experience I have with writing is that I am able to feel how the characters in my stories feel. I guess being a bookworm has also helped me to learn new words and techniques which help me in my writing. I always remember that, ‘A Good Reader is a Better Writer!’

The Curse Written in Pri 5, Ang Mo Kio Primary School

Here Comes Muthu! Thiruvakkrai was a beautiful farming village situated along the west coast of Southern India. People worked very hard there. There were about 100 huts made of straw and mud. The villagers had to take care of their delicate huts, particularly during the monsoon seasons. One of these huts belonged to Muthu and his grandparents. Muthu was a sixteen-year-old Indian boy. He was a burly-looking boy with a sharp nose and closely-cropped hair. His honeycoloured skin and charming smile attracted many young girls in his village. Muthu lived with his maternal and paternal grandparents as his parents worked in Singapore to earn money for their beloved son so that he could have a good life when he grew up. Muthu’s grandparents loved him dearly. His paternal grandmother was a plump woman in her mid sixties and his paternal grandfather was a frail-looking man in his late seventies. Interestingly, the physical appearance of his maternal grandparents was the direct opposite of his paternal grandparents. Nevertheless, they all love Muthu dearly, and Muthu also adored his grandparents. Muthu was always able to 30

Illustrations by Adeline Lim

share his happy and sad moments with all four of them. Thus, Muthu lived a happy and contented life. However, not everything was well as recently there has been some disturbing and strange “happenings” in his small rustic village.

The Mystery There was an unexplainable mystery going on in Thiruvakkrai. The villagers did not know what exactly was happening but people seemed to be disappearing all the time! As there was a huge, spooky-looking cave sitting right in the middle of the village, most of the people thought that there might be an evil power in the cave haunting the village. Nobody knew when and how the cave was formed, except for a very old man who lived in the smallest hut in the village. He was slightly queer and was not fearful of the cave that resided right beside his house. When he looked out of his window, he could actually see the entrance of the cave. Although he knew every single detail about the cave, he did not want to reveal its secrets to anyone.

YRC Investigates

Text by Shantha Lakshmie d/o Sithanandar



olidays are brilliant, for very obvious reasons, and other less-obvious ones. Apart from relaxing and rejuvenating, it is a time for reflection on our lives and everything else around it.

In that manner, we decided to look at an organization that gives back to society, but has not always been in the limelight for its efforts. The Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) sits unassumingly on 95 Waterloo Street, with its colorful mural walls bordering its compound. The vibrant, homely exterior belies the true nature of the work they do, helping women who are victims of physical and psychological abuse.


Breaking Boundaries ... Learning without borders

Jieyun, her colleagues and the kids

It has been a few months since I reached Cambodia. A short stay here for a week and knowing that you’ll be home after that is indeed different from the experience of being here for the long haul. But the adjustments were not exactly overwhelming though I must say, really interesting.


e moved into our new place very soon after I reached. I’m so thankful for my team members who were here two weeks earlier than me and they put in great effort in search for a house to rent. After searching hard, we shortlisted three houses and eventually chose one, which is our current home. This place is a cosy home, only with the exception of many insects and pretty frequent blackouts. It’s amazing to see the number of insects in the house. Even as we try to clean up frequently, somehow many insects still appear. They range from small to big spiders, cockroaches, and even millipedes and centipedes! There’s another interesting insect which the locals call them “Gecko” here. That’s because this gigantic lizard makes an adorable “gecko, gecko” sound. Vol 2 Issue 6



e welcome environmentalist teenager and inter national student Prashanth Ramakrishna in this issue for Email From… Read on and discover how schools in his part of the world teach children and teens like you to contribute to society.


sha nt Pra

School in merican ina anghai A Ch h S i, a L: h O g O n a Sh SCH Pudong, rade 9 LEVEL: G Soccer, Y: Rugby, RT/HOBB Dance O P S E IT FAVOUR Culinary Arts, I have, ion that one passflict Resolution. is t n e m ct on on The envirer is Peace and aC long term proojenly the oth o working on but the idea is lly ls , I am a ing this issue s and is not fu concern eginning staged yet. in its b develope


Email from... the USA



How important is giving back/helping *others to you? Through the past few years, I have developed passions regarding giving back to others, or in a broader sense, the world, one of which, is the environment, specifically plastic pollution. I began my environmental story in 7th grade, when I created a 10-year growth projection of the Great Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive soup of plastic existing in the Pacific. I soon after decided that showing people our world’s problems was not enough; I had to take action. So I started the “Bottle Boat Initiative” in 8th grade. Together, with my team, I built a boat made out of entirely recycled materials; for flotation we used nearly 900 recycled two-litre pop bottles. The boat would later be sailed down the Detroit River. The event was covered by local news stations and newspapers. The “bottle boat” really made people question if they were leading a “green” lifestyle. In addition, I gave presentations to youth to educate them about plastic pollution. In total I have presented to over 1,000 students, and have spoken at three environmental summits ranging from regional to international. Giving back to the community is not just something that is important to me; it is my way of life. I seek out all opportunities to help whichever community I am in, whether it be big or small. I have also volunteered at homeless shelters, at food distribution centers, and at schools with impoverished children.

I Can Write, So Can You by Catherine Khoo

Sure, Sure, the the holidays holidays are are coming! coming! It’s It’s time time to to throw throw away away the the books books and and have have fun! fun! But But hey, hey, how how about about spending spending time time this this end end of of the the year year to to write write that that book book you’ve you’ve always always wanted wanted to to write? write? Game Game for for it? it? Yes, Yes, it’s it’s simpler simpler than than you you think. think. Just Just follow follow these these 88 tips tips and and you’ll you’ll be be writing writing in in no no time! time!

Writing Tip #1: Put off editing. Each of us works at writing on two levels: a creative, unconscious level and a critical, conscious level. The unconscious produces creative and powerful words and images. It makes surprising and original connections. It shuts down if the critical “editor” part of your mind goes to work too soon. If your English teacher’s voice runs through your mind as you write, if you worry about spelling, grammar, or how to sell your book while you write, you are writing with a dull pencil. There are many books written on how to unlock your unconscious and let the writing flow. Here are just a few ideas * Brainstorm words or images about your topic. Don’t stop to evaluate their worth. Keep writing down ideas. When you can’t think of another word, wait a while. Often the most powerful idea will surface after you have cleared all the less valuable ideas out of the way. * Write a page or two with your eyes shut. It doesn’t matter if you can’t read what you’ve 54

written. You are giving your mind permission to make “mistakes” and just get on with it. * Write with music in the background. Experiment to find the style that you like. I prefer baroque or classical music. One of my young authors needed Justin Bieber. * Give yourself permission to be emotional. If your writing begins to move you, experience the full emotion. Before your writing changes others it would change you. * Edit your work only when you have drawn deeply from the well of your unconscious. Spelling counts. So does good grammar. They support vibrant writing. They do not create vibrant writing. There are a great many correctly written lifeless sentences. The best writing comes to life, and then is refined just enough to make it crystal clear. First, give it life.

Writing Tip #2: Write what you know. Given the chance, what do you talk about endlessly? What drives you to seek out information? What are your passions? When you write what you know, you write with authority.

Janus Events

Y O U N G C R E AT I V E S F O R U M ( Y C F )

All the entries have been received, and we are growing closer to the short-listing ceremonies of the Young Author Awards (YAA) and the awarding ceremonies of the DigiTales Awards (DTA), happening at the auditorium of the Woodlands Regional Library in 12 November. From all the entries in the YAA, 48 gifted students will be chosen from the lot of hundreds to once again vie for the coveted title of becoming the 2011/12 Young Author Awardee. These short-listed finalists will then undergo a weeklong intensive writing workshop with veteran author Catherine Khoo, and will join Janus Education in its social responsibility causes for 2012. On the other hand, winners for

The year is almost over but we’re not done yet! Here is a roster of activities that we have for the last few months of 2011.

DTA will be featured in and will also get a spread feature in the coming months at Young Reader Club Magazine, on top of the prizes that are in store for them, courtesy of the event sponsors. Running from 10am to 4pm, the YCF also features writing workshops by Ms Khoo, the launch of the YRC Magazine and Young Author Scheme book apps on the iPad, iPhone and Android tablets through SingTel and Epsilon, as well as lucky draws, freebies worth $100 and a chance to win a YAS scholarship. The YCF is endorsed by the Media Development Authority, the National Library Board, National Book Development Council of Singapore and Singapore Book Publishers Association. This year’s YCF is sponsored by Nanyang Optical, POPULAR Bookstore, Pizzahut, ODM Watches and Brand’s Alpha, with official digital imaging partner, Canon; official education partner, EmitAsia; and official digital partner, NewsMaker.

Vol 2 Issue 6



ring W r i t e rs !

Do you love to read and write? Do you want to learn more? Sign up for our unique workshops! Aspiring Writers & Illustrators Scheme (AWIS)

Draw and write? Yes! In this programme, your child will discover the creative writer in him. This is an intensive introduction to composition writing. Aspiring writers will also learn the art of illustrating from a professional artist. Pri 1 to Pri 2

Young Author Scheme (YAS)

Children have a wealth of emotions. How do you draw them out? The first of its kind in Singapore, YAS trains aspiring young authors and nurtures their writing skills. Learn from veteran author Catherine Khoo! Pri 3 to Pri 6

Young Comic Artist Scheme (YCAS)

This programme will develop your child's potential in writing his own story, not in words but in comic form. Each child would be given a chance to improve his talent and ability in expressing himself through drawing. Pri 3 to Pri 6

Reading into Writing

This is a unique combination of three bestselling programmes to help students understand and grasp the nuances of English. The Reading Detective is an exciting new approach for students to read and comprehend stories and reports, predict word meanings, link ideas, and learn to question what they have read. Pri 3 to Pri 5

For workshop schedules and other information, please contact Janus Education at: T: 63368985 E: 442A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427655 Vol 2 Issue 6


YRC 10  

Young Reader Club Magazine Nov-Dec 2011 issue The issue looks into the season of giving and teaches the value of paying it forward. Read th...

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