The Effect of Inter-marriage on children

I never knew that inter-marriage can cause problems for my children until they were about 8 or 9 years old.  My son came home one day and bombarded me with questions: What am I?  Am I a Singaporean or an Egyptian?  I don’t look either.  What is my race?  Why must we follow father’s race?  He looked upset.  Obviously his friends must have triggered all these queries in his young mind.

I tried to explain things in as simple as possible to him.  He understood, but apparently he felt lost.  He is neither here nor there – that’s what he said.  I wanted to tell him that there are many people like him all over the world.  I wanted to assure him that there is nothing wrong with being a mixed child, nor should he feel unwanted.  For one thing, I myself am mixed.  So are many of his cousins, aunts and uncles.  In fact, I feel proud and unique of being mixed.

See, my whole family including extended family and in-laws is made up of many different races and there’s a lot of intermarriages in my family alone.  Like I mentioned, I’m a little bit of Chinese, Indian and Malay.  I have 1 Arab sister-in-law, 1 Thai sister-in-law (but divorced) afterwhich the same brother married an Indonesian (presently now living in Indonesia) which makes 2 Indonesian sisters-in-law, 2 Malaysian Malays brothers-in-law, 2 Malaysian Malay sisters-in-law and 2 Pakistani brothers-in-law. (I have a really big family). I have a niece who married a Pakistani (again??) and a nephew who married an Indian.  My sister’s sister-in-law married a Belgian while another sister’s sister-in-law married an Austrian, now living in Korea.  And there’s me, married to an Egyptian, and now living in Egypt.  So I really don’t see why my son is feeling left out or feeling sour of being mixed.  It doesn’t matter where you stay or what your race is.  What matters is what is inside one’s heart.  What matters is a person’s morality, values, ethics, attitude and behavior.

At age 20, my son still makes comments on how his nose is so ‘Jewish’ (yes, his Egyptian father has some Jewish ancestors) or how so unEgyptian he is.  I reiterated my words to him that each one of us is unique in our own different ways.  We shouldn’t admire one race over another or try to follow others just because we think their race is better.  There is no one better race.  There is not even a such thing as pure race.  Those are the words of Bill Nye and many anthropologists, sociologists, and other scientists.

Everybody is a mix of something.  Our ancestors travel a lot too.  They got into intermarriages too.  So, how can you be so sure that you are a true Chinese or American or German or British or Emirati?  You can’t.

Please watch this beautiful video.  Hope it opens up your mind.  It makes me tear every time.




Winds of racism are everywhere

When I came to Egypt, I thought I will forever get away from racism.  Living in Singapore as a minority race has its downside, although, technically, my race was the original inhabitants of Singapore.  Nevertheless, the Chinese were often given priority and considered as the better race.  The minority races like Malay, Indian and Arab are looked down and not given better privileges compared to the Chinese.  Though I personally do not face many problems, I’ve seen other minority races being bullied, laughed at and mocked at, ever since my primary school days.  I sympathize especially with my Indian friends, who, because of their color and the way they speak, they often become the objects of jokes and mockery and sinister remarks.

When I got married to my husband, an Arab, an African, an Egyptian, all in one, I felt the real pangs of racism.  He faced it in his work, when he went shopping or when he went to government offices for some official procedures.  People treat him differently, negatively different.  I feel for him but he braced it all for fifteen years.

My son too, faced racism when he was in primary school and later on when he went to Secondary school.  My children took up Chinese as a second language, to help them blend in the Singaporean society.  But he was often ridiculed because of his mixed race and the way he looks.  See, he doesn’t look like any of the Singaporean’s races nor does he look like an Arab. (I’m mixed myself – a little bit of Chinese, Malay and Indian – from both my paternal and maternal grandparents).  So he hung out with the minorities because his Chinese friends do not accept him in their circle of friends.

In Secondary School, it was much better for my son.  The students are more accepting but because of prior perceptions from their parents and society, at times, my son became the brunt of their jokes and silly remarks.  He would come home sometimes, frustrated and solemn.  I have to repeatedly tell him to ignore silly remarks and talks from immatured people.

Surprisingly though, my daughter didn’t face any problem at all. She mixed around with anybody and everybody.  Maybe it’s because of her personality that she is easily liked by the people around her.

When we came to Egypt, I thought all these thoughts and ideas of racism will go away like the wind.  But I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  On the first day of their high school in an international school in my town, they came home depressed.  My daughter cried, saying she had no friend and nobody came to talk to her or wanted to sit with her.  I cried in my heart but I told her to give it sometime for people to warm up.  Maybe they thought she couldn’t speak Arabic and their English is not very good, that’s why they shied away from her.  I told her if she had nobody to be with during break, she could always come to my staffroom and sit with me (I am a teacher at the same school) or she could go to the library.

Few days later, things got better for my children.  My son hung out with the boys in the class during break just like they were old friends.  Maybe because his Arabic was more fluent than my daughter’s but he definitely blended in very well.  My daughter found comfort in a few friends whom she got to know while sitting at the library – the book lovers.  I was really glad for both of them.

But one day she came home to tell me about an incident in the class.  It was an English lesson and the teacher, a Brit man, divided the class into groups and they were supposed to discuss an issue.  My daughter, being the one who is better in English, led the discussion and suggested an answer.  The others, being not so proficient in English, discussed in Arabic but accepted her answer.  When the teacher asked for an answer from each group, none gave the answer expected by the teacher, including my daughter’s group. And because of that, one of the girls in her group called her a loser.  The thing is that the teacher didn’t say it was a wrong answer.  It was just not the answer he expected.  But her comment of the word ‘loser’ hurt my daughter and me so much that I had wanted to see the girl the next day to ask her what exactly she meant by that, when during the discussion itself, she and the rest never really discussed, but mostly kept quiet because they couldn’t understand the question.  And during all the English lessons, the only ones participating in the class discussion with the English teacher were my son and my daughter (they were in the same class – not twins – but a result of a transfer-in case for non-Arab speaking student).  Why the hell did she call my daughter a loser when at least, she racked her brain to answer the question or participated in class discussions while the rest didn’t.  Just because she is not a pure Egyptian, but of mixed race, and she can’t really speak Arabic fluently, that she is a loser and unworthy of their friendship?

As they progressed to Grade 11 and 12, my children proved the pure Egyptians their worth. The other girls realized my daughter’s ‘real value’ and started making friends with her.  The proud girl who called my daughter a loser left the school at the end of Grade 10 to be homeschooled.  At the end of Grade 12, my daughter came out as the school’s valedictorian. She is definitely not a loser to me, neither to her friends, nor to her teachers.


This wasn’t an isolated case.  I’ve seen a Chinese boy, in this same school, being bullied and interrogated by the boys in his class during break time.  I had to break the crowd and reprimanded the students for ‘terrorizing’ the Chinese boy, who, by the way, was the highest achiever in the class.  But because he doesn’t have sharp nose, or big eyes with curly eyelashes or curly hair like typical Egyptians, he was looked down upon by his classmates and being derided.

In another class, an Indian boy was also isolated and ignored by his classmates.  They refused to allow him in their groups, they refused to share books with him, they ignored him and spoke rudely to him.  And truth be told, this boy fared better in his exams than the rest of them and was the champion in the Spelling Bee Competition for Grade 7.

So the winds of racism blow in all directions of the world, not just in the West and it’s not just restricted to adults, religion or Africans.  Children too, face racism and it’s more hurting to them than to us, because, unlike us, they are more fragile and may not be able to cope well.  We, as educators, have to try to educate our students that there is no one single superior race.  All of us are equal and we shouldn’t treat other people badly or lowly just because they are different from us.  At the school levels, we have to initiate the winds of change.  Through stories, through activities like the racial harmony day, international day, through performances and songs and food, we can all bring a paradigm of shift in the minds of the present and future generations.   Bigotry is one of the biggest crimes of humanity and we have to stop it.




The movie ‘Unstoppable’ starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine is one of my favorite movies of all time.  It is about a massive, unmanned locomotive, laden with toxic chemicals, that roars out of control.  An accident would annihilate human, animal and plant lives and cause an environmental disaster on a huge scale.  This movie was inspired by true events, on the real-life CSX 8888 incident.

It’s got a good plot, it’s exciting and full of thrills and surprises.  It’s a good movie to teach students about heroism, dangers of toxic chemicals, inherent environmental disasters, perseverance, quick thinking and teamwork. It also shows that experience is as important as book knowledge. In dealing with such eminent danger, the safety of human lives take precedence over money, power and authority.

A must-watch movie.





Why do people like to blame others in times of crisis?  Why do people blame others for things that do not happen as per their liking?  Nobody is in control of anything.  Nobody is in control of what happens today, or what had happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.  NOBODY.  So why blame others?  Yes, people make mistakes.  But that doesn’t mean he and only he should be blamed for what happened.

Why must we always search for scapegoats?  Why must we point fingers at others?  We point one index finger to another person, four fingers point towards us.  So, we are also partly to be blamed.  But do we blame ourselves?  No – it’s always others’ mistakes.  We are faultless.  We are flawless.

Finger pointing

That’s not fair. That’s not fair at all.  To always blame others means we think so highly of ourselves, that we don’t make mistakes.  That we are infallible.  That’s ‘bull’.

No one person is responsible for anything that happens.  There will always be a second, third, fourth etc…. party who is/are involved.  Because we are social beings.  We are connected and interconnected with each other.  What one person does, it will affect another one, two, three or more people.  That’s how life is.  We don’t live individually.  When we make a decision, it affects more people than we know or realize.  When we make a decision, it’s also based on many other interconnected reasons, which involves many other people than we know.  So, when a crisis comes up, is it because of one individual’s mistake?

Come on people, in times of crisis, why don’t each one of us take responsibility and help out? Instead of blaming others, ask ourselves “what did we do to contribute to that crisis?”  Offer a kind word, a helping hand, a pat on the person’s back, or a hug, instead of shouting, cursing or hurling vulgarities.  Tell that person ‘it’s okay’ or ‘I’ll help you out’ or ‘I think I’m partly to be blamed’ instead of ‘I told you so’ or ‘Why did you do that?” or “Why didn’t you do that?”

Seriously, if you stop blaming others in times of crisis, your family, your social, and your work lives will be much more harmonious and peaceful.

“I know I’m guilty of this sometimes.  And it’s a reminder to me more than to other people.”




Sanctuary is a place where you can carry out a clandestine love affair with whoever or whatever you are comfortable with.  Some people’s sanctuary is a book, poetry, prayer place, a secluded corner etc etc.  When I was very young, my sanctuary was the beach just beside my house.  I lived in a small, peaceful village at the edge of Singapore.  Across the sea was our neighboring country, Malaysia.

I love to go to the beach early in the morning, late at night or late in the evening.  I love the smell of the sea, the sound of the waters, the gentle touch of the cool breeze on my skin and hair, the beautiful sunrise or sunset or the clear blue sky with intermittent sights of seagulls and other water birds.

I carried out a relationship with the beach – talking to the seashells, closing my eyes and feeling the touch of the breeze on my cheeks and listening to the song sung by the sea and hearing the water lapping at the shores and smiling at the sun or the moon.  I felt restless whenever I was away from it and it was the first place I’d visit when I came home from school.  It was the first place I’d bring my friends when they came over even before going inside my house.  I was always so proud to show my friends or relatives my ‘lover’ and sure enough, they fell in love with it instantly.

When my dad died when I was 10, I sought sanctuary at the beach.  It was more to reminisce the times I’d spend with him at the beach, watching him fish, mend fishing nets, repair his boat, construct or paint boats,  (he was a carpenter and fisherman).  He was a quiet person and was not much of a talker but I enjoyed the times I had with him anyway, just by watching him work and seeing him smile at me as I played with the tiny crabs or being chased by the waves.

When my mom died when I was 14, I again sought sanctuary at the beach.  It was no longer to enjoy its beauty. I went there to cry, to let out my sadness of being an orphan at such a young age.  I went there to vent out my anger as I threw stones or pieces of wood into the water or kicked the sand with my feet.  I went there to tell my lover how much I missed my mom, how much I missed talking to her, missed looking at her face, missed hearing her voice and laughter and her presence.

I moved to the city when I was 17 years old.  I left my lover without saying goodbye.  I just left.  I didn’t see it for the last time before I left.  I didn’t and don’t know why.  Over the years, whenever I went back to my old village to visit my stepsister, I’d visit the beach, my ex-lover.  And all the memories came back.  And I’d shed a tear or two.  But most of all I’d say thank you to the beach, for being there for me during my growing up years.

A few years after I left my old house, the government resettled the whole village and paid the residents compensation.  The place was rebuilt and redeveloped into a new housing estate, filled up with high-rise flats, shopping centers and recreation centers.  My lover was gone.  The beach had totally been given a new face lift.  I couldn’t recognize it anymore.  But deep down inside me, I could still remember everything about it, the smell, the sight, the touch, the taste, the sounds and the memories that come with it.  These memories will forever be etched in my mind and nothing can ever replace it.



Titus watch

The watch is ticking. 

Time is running out.

I have to stop running,

And start breathing slowly in and out.

When was the last time I read?

When was the last time I hang out?

When was the last time I really sleep?

When was the last time I feel the draught?

I want to do something for ME?

To travel round the world and be gay.

And I have to start planning soon you see?

Because my biological clock is ticking away?




Slow and Steady Wins The Race

The above idiom is usually said when we want to encourage a person to be consistent in whatever s/he is doing until s/he reaps the rewards.  That is to say, we will tell the person to do things slowly but consistently and one day s/he will succeed in whatever s/he is doing.  So, you can be as slow as a tortoise or as slow as a snail but if you are persistent, you can still win the race.


Is that ALWAYS true?  Definitely ‘NO’.

That will not work when you are doing time-based activity or when you are pressed for time.  In these activities, speed is very important besides quality of course.  You’ll be working against the clock or you have to work with clocked speed.  Taking an exam, taking part in a competition where there is a time limit, or submitting an assignment within a due date.  If a person follows the idiom ‘Slow and steady wins the race’, then definitely s/he will lose out or even fail.

In other cases, ‘faster is better’ or the ‘early bird catches the worm’.  So in this case, the snail with its slowness, will never get to eat any worm since it will only reach its destination in the evening.  (I think snails are herbivores btw).  In what cases can we attribute to this?  Examples of such situations are getting a new iPhone, being early to take advantage of promotions or sales, or simply to get that particular ‘person’ that you admire so much.  If you plan out your strategies slowly, somebody might just grab it first and you’ll be left biting your lips.



I want to be carefree.

To be free of problems and worries.

But the world doesn’t let me.

It fills me up with afflictions and agonies.


I want to be carefree.

To feel nonchalant, insouciant and disinterested.

But some incidents don’t let me.

They make me agitated, frustrated and intimidated.


I want to be carefree.

To walk around freely and enjoy life.

But some chowderheads don’t let me.

They caused tribulations and lots of strife.


So what do we have to do to be carefree?

Will someone please tell me how?

Can we just call the angel or a fairy?

Who can destroy all felons with a “POW”?


Only God knows when we can be carefree.

Because He created this world with a plan.

He will make things right and eliminate the felony.

And bring peace as far as the eyes can span.



Mom Versus Dad

My grandniece posted this post on her mother’s Facebook.  I found it funny and so true.


However, with regards to my own children (I have a son and daughter), my husband will be like the ‘mom’ too.  He is very protective of his own children and myself too.  Until today, including myself, whenever we reached home from somewhere (outing, school, grocery, etc) and he’s not at home, we will text him that we are home.

Many of my teacher friends in Singapore would be surprised that I have to text my husband whenever I want to go off somewhere with them after school – for lunch, for visiting, for shopping.  Nevertheless, they still respect me and never mock or tease me about it.  And I respect them for that.  It’s not so much about freedom for women or that he should be more broad-minded and liberal and that he is exercising his authoritarian status.  It’s just that I feel good letting him know where I am going and approximately what time I will be home or with whom I will be.  I just don’t like him to be worried unnecessarily just like the same that I don’t like to be worried about him.

My children find it ‘suffocating’ and they want to be carefree.  They always say why they can’t have more freedom like their friends.  And why can’t we (my husband and I) be more carefree like their friends’ parents who let them go out anytime, anywhere and come back anytime they like.  They sometimes feel embarrassed when they have to call us if they are going to be late or divert from their plans.  I told them that if their friends are truly good friends, they should respect them and their parents and their personal family rules.  If they laugh or mock them and show no respect, then they are not worthy of their friendship or anybody’s friendship.  I also told them if they want a more carefree parents, they are free to leave and find their own carefree parents.  I reminded them of the ‘carefree parents (my son’s friend’s parents) who allow their 14-year-old son drive the family car early in the morning with 3 other friends in the car, racing with another group of friends in another car (all do not have driving license) and had a terrible accident when both the cars collided against each other and that friend almost died.

I explained to them the rationale behind it but somehow, I know, they still don’t like it, especially my son.

So one day, I decided to try an experiment.  I had a meeting in school one day and I went out of the house without telling them (it was last year’s summer vacation).  I went out quite early and they were still sleeping (didn’t I say it was summer vacation so they wake up late?).  Normally I would tell them that I have school the night before, just to prepare them.  But, that morning I left without informing them anything at all – my husband knew of course.  I didn’t even leave any instruction for their lunch.

During the course of the day, I received countless calls and text messages from both of them, asking me where I was and what time I would be back.  I ignored them all.

Towards the evening, when I reached home, it was my son who barged me with persistent questions – Where were you?  Why didn’t you tell us?  Why didn’t you pick up our calls or answer our texts – and so on and so on.  My daughter was there too but she was just saying, “Yah, why you never tell us?”

I only looked at both of them and with a smile on my face, I said, “Now, do you understand why we want you to tell us when you’re going out or going to be late?  Do you understand the rationale of it all?  Do you know how it feels like to be worried sick?  Do you know how it feels like not knowing where your son or your daughter or your mother is and not knowing who to call or what to do?”

Both of them smiled at my answer and said, “We know mom.”



Depth Versus Width of Knowledge

Is depth better than width or the opposite.  I mean, when it comes to knowledge, is it better to know one or two things in-depth or better to know a little about everything?

For me, I prefer width over depth.  Knowledge is like an Eden, a garden – isn’t it better to fill up your garden with a variety of beautiful flowers rather than 1 type of flower? More variety of flowers give more color and textures to your garden and hence enhance its beauty.

To know one or two things very well but useless in other things doesn’t sound very smart at all.  Take the case of a savant – or some people call it ‘idiot savant’ – a person affected with a mental disability (such as autism) who exhibits exceptional brilliance in something (such as mathematics), however useless in simple things like eating or dressing himself.  However, this is the extreme case where that person has no control over his brain.  I’m talking about normal people.

To know more about everything can help you a lot in this diversified world.  It allows you to be able to adapt to different situations or help solve simple problems.  It assists you to manage your life without too much dependence on other people.

There are two types of people who should have breadth of knowledge rather than depth.  A teacher and a mother.  Suffice for me to say that to be a teacher or a mother, a person must have knowledge in almost everything to help him/her educate and raise a child so that the child is able to know the basic foundations of life, and to help him to be able to go out there in the big world AND survive.

However, we also do need people with depths of knowledge in various subjects and areas.  These are the people who can help solve serious problems that crop up in the world.  These people, nevertheless, cannot work alone.  Such people have to come together and pool their deep knowledge to think strategically and make important decisions or invent something that can improve the lives of many people or save the world from certain dangers.

That is why in today’s education system, Depth of Knowledge (also known as D.O.K) was introduced into the curriculum.  This concept was developed through research by a senior research scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education research, Norman L.Webb in the late 1990’s.

Webb identified 4 distinct depths of knowledge levels.  Level 1 includes basic recall of facts, concepts, information, or procedures. This knowledge level has to be taught to all students and it is an essential learning component.  Level 2 includes skills and concepts to enable a child to solve problems using multiple steps.  Level 3 includes skills in strategic thinking and reasoning.  This level prepares students to analyze and evaluate complex real world problems and try to predict positive outcomes.  Level 4 includes skills in investigative and application to help solve complex real world problems that have unpredictable outcomes.  These people are very useful in our society and can work together for the betterment of human lives.

Like one blogger commented, ‘How can someone who knows a little about a lot learn a lot about a little to be more useful in the community?’


So, with this brief description of mine on the topic of Depth Vs. Width of Knowledge, what are your thoughts?  Leave me some comments.