This was another humbling experience.

And on hindsight, now i realise an opportunity which I am glad we had taken up.

Very often the things we resist against reveal things we don’t yet know about ourselves. And even more often, they reaffirm the things we already do know about ourselves.

In this case, being invited to prepare the F&B department in our workplace for an internal singing competition. Unlike coaching the lovely adorable and sometimes perhaps eventerrifying (but i love them strongly, passionately, all the same) kids in schools for a performance or recital, these are full-grown adults who belong to an organisation. There were also guidelines to work with, but as you would expect adults have double the crust for us to break into. There is just more guard, and more ‘red-tape’ if you will.

If you know me at all on a personal level, you’d know i’m terrible at lying, even on what you would call a diplomatic level. I’m in fact, completely useless at it. Which is why, i often prefer to work or collaborate people who don’t need me to offer any part of that. I enjoy honesty, and really prefer the hard truth so that we can move on to the objective bits. If at the end of the day, we have differing views, at least we could just smile and move on to find another collaborative partner.

This was difficult to turn down or to say yes to. I love choreography, and helping people get creative, but i also recognize the difficulties that may pose.

But we said yes. So here we go.

And despite the difficulties we faced (as predicted), the warmth and fun we had out of the experience would continue to make our experience in this city memorable for a very long time.

Though there was more coloured tape to work with, the lead singers were very creative and contributed many great ideas that really worked well. I also learnt to have more faith even when i was certain it was a dead-end.

I wrote new lyrics to the verse in Mambo Italiano illustrating the man from out of town arriving in the city of Qingdao, drawn by the seafood etc. You get the picture. It was funny. Required some visual enactment which was very well-presented by our manager, Ryan. The rest of the mandarin lyrics were tweaked by Grace, who also holds a managerial position in the F&B department. (All hidden talents as you observe)

It had also been a long time since i choreographed anything, and coaching a group of 20 adults whom you work with is not exactly a familiar exercise. :) But it was fun when everyone got down to it.

Since there was a bit of a hoo-haa on the Qingdao Lobster costing 38Y, i had an idea to give the prawn-mascot, in this case, the bar manager, Albert, whom we later found out was a closet dancer. :)

Our manager himself turned out to be a huge Stephen Chow fan, and took to our song suggestions, comic visual presentations very positively.

青岛大虾@Shangri-La, Qingdao China

青岛大虾@Shangri-La, Qingdao China



We didn’t win the competition. The Mass Communications department hired a professional choir conductor and accordionist. It was Fwah-level. But i think we had the most creative and fun presentation. They were non-professionals and with all the events they were running that week, we are most proud of them, and most humbled by their dedication to the performance.

It was an opportunity to get to know them intimately. We were part of the group, and we witnessed as a result, the ways the Chinese over here work. Their teamwork is unparalleled. And their hearts warm and innocently full of hope when faced with pressure and that intimidation of ‘failure’.

Rehearsals can be intimidating

Rehearsals can be intimidating

As a Singaporean-Chinese, I’m well-acquainted with the one-dimensional view that unfortunately, my own kind may often have of the foreign Chinese. Having the opportunity to coach and befriend Chinese from various parts of China, I’d always felt embarrassed when my peers offer myopic and often self-indulgent statements about them. Now that we are living here, I have made real friends, had real conversations, experienced their work attitudes and their simple and warm hearts, and received their generosity and hospitality. It is no longer intangible. I cannot be quiet.

Truly it doesn’t matter where we come from, or where we go. What matters perhaps, is for any one, to occasionally step out of their comfort zone, of their own community (if there’s a chance) to adopt a slightly more ‘aerial’ perspective. Though there is none who could safely assume a ‘neutral’ position, but we can imagine Someone who does. Then, perhaps in the few moments of this neither too acidic or alkaline position could one find the courage to welcome, to embrace the alien, from on the other side.

Spot the difference.

Spot the difference.

Spot the difference.

Spot the difference.

Categories: Qingdao