Saturday, March 31, 2012

GNIE: Ugly side of group loyalty

The week before last, my classmate AP was worried about her grades as she ranged from borderline pass to borderline fail for most of the assessments. Thus, she made a 1-to-1 appointment with the teacher to discuss her chance of making the grade. Somehow, somewhere along their discussion, the teacher advised AP to withdraw if she thinks that she would not make it.
Update on 25-Mar-2013: For an idea of why the teacher may have suggested to AP to withdraw if she did not think she would not make it, please see the following extract from the Georgia "Foreign-trained nurses still fighting to qualify" by Travis Lupick on May 27, 2009 at 2:02 PM.
"In China, Wu worked as a nurse for more than 20 years. She and her husband knew it would be difficult to secure professional employment in a western country. [... snip ...] In September 2008, after taking English classes and working part-time as a caregiver, Wu enrolled in Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s registered-nurse reentry program. [WD's note: This re-entry program is the GNEA program -- a predecessor of the GNIE program.]  [... snip ...] 
Wu was told about halfway through the program that she was one of the two percent who would not succeed. [... snip ...] 
Wu has since appealed Kwantlen’s decision, asking for the F on her transcript to be changed to a W, signifying a withdrawal from the program. She said this will make it much easier for her to gain future employment as a nurse in B.C.
Wu claims that Kwantlen treated her unfairly. She said the nurse reentry program was more of an “evaluation” than an education, and alleged that she was not given the opportunity to withdraw from the program, as several of her colleagues were."
This caused a furor amongst fellow classmates who are AP's countrymen (i.e. from the same country of origin). 2 of AP's countrymen, IJ & LP, were incensed with the teacher for suggesting to AP that she withdraws. Last weekend, one of them made an impulsive comment on FB, to which I advised in a reply comment to chill and to focus on how to help AP make the grade instead.

At school last week, IJ & LP tried several times to cajole me to share their displeasure with the teacher and to join their plans for revenge* against the teacher. Based on my understanding, they have the support (or silent "consent") of classmates who are their countrymen by default, as group loyalty is part of their culture. Note: I am not from their country of origin, but am somehow accepted as part of the group. Their opinion of the teacher had switched from "neutral to satisfied" at the beginning of our course to one of "extremely dissatisfied" now. From my observations, there were 2 main triggers:
  1. Being forced into discussion groups mixed with students originating from South Asia (some of whom IJ & LP disliked intensely), instead of being allowed to form groups consisting exclusively of their own countrymen and/or people that they like.
  2. Hearing from AP that the teacher had advised her to withdraw from the course.
They want to show support for AP to continue with her studies. I want to give AP morale support too (actually I also gave AP some guidance in the recent assignments and helped her to strategize on how to pass). However, I would draw the line on their petty revenge plan*.
*The revenge plan: The teacher had mentioned on the 1st lesson that we can snack during class, as long as it is not french fries from a specific fast-food joint. The reason, she joked, was that she is controlling her diet, but could not resist the temptation of french fries from this particular fast food joint. Thus, IJ & LP plan to bring in large packets of fries from that particular fast-food joint in the last class to irritate that teacher.
IMHO, their revenge plan is laughable, in both its scheme and purpose. However, it makes me sad because IMHO the teacher in question had not done anything wrong with respect to professional teacher-student relationship.
At one point in class (when the teachers were not around), LP exclaimed, "You cannot bully a xxx. If you bully a xxx, all xxx will be upon you", where xxx refers to people from her country of origin.
Part of the purpose of the GNIE training is to get us accustomed to the Canadian culture and values -- including non-discrimination regardless of ethnicity, language, or country of origin, etc. It seems that the non-discrimination aspect of GNIE training is lost on LP and also IJ. That, to me, is the ugly side of group loyalty, blind support for a fellow countryman, regardless of right or wrong -- by insisting that AP should pass regardless of her actual performance, disregarding that the school has its own standards to keep, and CRNBC has to maintain patients' safety as its top priority.

I count IJ and LP (as well as AP) amongst my friends in GNIE. IJ and LP are good people at heart. They care deeply for their friends. I am sad that I am unable to get them to rise beyond their group loyalty to see the bigger "rational" picture and shift their stand on the matter. However, I am glad that AP's action taken over this week (including her performance in the recent assessments) has pushed her grades in the right direction and she stands a decent chance of making the grade.


[Addendum on Tue 10-Apr-2012]

Today is the last school day of this semester. The above mentioned revenge plot was not carried out today. Somehow my classmates cooled down and have re-focused their energies into doing well at the final exams. Oh, happy day!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


A relative (through marriage), on the maternal side of the family, visited Metro Vancouver recently. She updated me about the happenings, back in Singapore, at my mother's side of the extended family since my maternal uncle's death. None of what I heard surprised me. Since young, I have discerned that despite my mother's blind loyalty to her so-called "perfect" family, her family was (and still is) "多事非" [literary: "many rights and wrongs", i.e. many conflicts of interests]; including manipulating siblings, their offsprings and maids in their games.

It occurred to me that one blessing of migration for me is 耳根清净 [literary: "roots of the ears are quiet and clear", i.e. "peaceful and unaffected"]. Like my dad and my late-paternal grandfather, I only wish to live a simple, contented life.

Contentment, thank you for visiting me once again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My childhood cultural sights and sounds of Singapore

Reading Gintai_昇泰's blog entry about a Malay wedding that he attended suddenly reminded me of familiar cultural sights and sounds from Singapore. Sights and sounds that I grew up with, and thus were somehow comforting at a subconscious level. Stuff that I would miss if not for the blessing of Youtube.

Cantonese opera

During our pre-school years, our Cantonese standard was not good enough to understand what the performers were singing in the classical Cantonese opera performances held during the 7th month Ghost Festival in Chinatown streets. Nevertheless, the colourful costumes, drama, and clear good-vs-bad storyline were captivating. My sister and I used to mimic the operatic gestures using my grandfather's long pyjamas pants as "water-sleeves" [水袖]. I spent many hours copying the intricate head-dress of the female characters with pencil on scrap paper.

Malay kompang

Those were the days of life in a HDB estate. Malay weddings were often held at the void deck (i.e. empty ground level of a HDB apartment block) and often had a kompang team. While I may find it noisy when I have to study, I would nevertheless be moved by the rhythmic beats of the kompang team. Sometimes the kompang performance would morph into a dikir barat performance, and their choral voices are mesmerizing. Occasionally there would also be a lovely bevy of ladies dancing the joget.

Traditional Indian Hindu dance

The precise movements, gestures and expressions, colourful costumes and synchronized dance steps of the traditional Indian Hindu dance fascinated me since young. Once my primary school class had an outing to the (old open-air) National Theatre to watch several performances. During an Indian Hindu dance performance, while many of my classmates were bored and distracted themselves through chit-chating, I was engrossed with it.

Some aspects of this old Singapore life is gone now. E.g. Street-side Cantonese opera and the open-air National Theatre. Thankfully the kompang is still an integral part of a typical Malay wedding. Although now that I'm in Canada, I can only access all these via Youtube.

Friday, March 16, 2012

GNIE: Workplace bullying

My recent experience of workplace bullying and the responses made me think...

"Nursing in Canada" is to "Nursing in Singapore"
as "Heaven" is to "Hell".

My emotions are not fully settled yet. Nevertheless recent events give me hope against my greatest fear of nursing as a career.

Random thoughts on a roller coaster day

Some random thoughts on a roller coaster day (yesterday).


At a queer theatre pre-show.

A refugee said, "The gays are generally more kind (sic)."

I suggested, "Perhaps it is because they have suffered (prejudice) too, and that makes them kinder."

She interjected, "It's not always the case. Some people bully because... (of having been bullied before)"

I interjected, "Yes. We can only try."

She replied, "You're so kind."


At my part-time work and other social occasions, people often ask me, "Look at WD, you're always so happy. How do you do it?"

My usual reply, "I am not always happy. I just don't hang out with people when I'm not happy. Why share your misery? [Doesn't the world already have enough problems?] So I try to be happy."

"You are always smiling. Wish I were even half as happy as you."


If you knew all the tears* that go into building my smiles, would you still envy my life?

[*Note: Click herehere and here for some examples.]