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Ching SC, 37 years of age in 2020, is a National University of Singapore PhD candidate and tutor in architecture. She also serves on the Singapore Muay Thai Federation exco and is Pink Dot's social medial manager and Prout’s Queer Trivia Night co-organiser.

For more than 2 years between 2009 and 2011, she worked from 12 to 14 hours a day, and would only knock off around 2 to 3am. However, she still felt terribly guilty because her colleagues would often work till 4am or sleep in the office. That was when she had just graduated from the University of Melbourne with a bachelor's degree in urban planning and development as well as a postgraduate diploma in urban design, and just returned to Singapore. She was working in a master planning firm as an urban planner and designer.

She began to feel drained and uninspired at work and decided to pursue a masters in integrated sustainable design programme at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Due to her outstanding performance, her professor and dean encouraged her to pursue a PhD, and also work on master planning projects in China and the Maldives. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore, she was unable to carry out fieldwork but refocused her energy on finishing up her PhD dissertation that was its final stages. She also assisted her professors with teaching, from modules on environmental planning to urban planning in Singapore. Since Chinese New Year 2020, all lessons had been conducted via Zoom.

After leaving the gruelling job, Ching found endless possibilities while doing her masters in 2013. The first was to look after her physical health. In the past, she had no time to exercise, and her fitness level was deteriorating. As a result, she picked up muay thai in a women’s muay thai gym and became an assistant trainer thereafter. She confided, “My family never let me learn any martial arts when I was young, now that I am older, I can finally pick up a form of martial art as a way of inculcating more self-discipline. I love Muay Thai, and I love helping the women-led gym and other women get stronger through Muay Thai."

In 2014, she joined the NUS Muay Thai Fight Team, and eventually became their vice-Ppresident and team manager, but had to stop muay thai due to injuries in 2018. With her experience in organising tertiary level muay thai competitions, the Singapore Muay Thai Federation invited her to join the exco to head the student body, even though she had already stepped down as the team manager of NUS Muay Thai by then.

Ching is also concerned about citizen participation. Since late 2013, she has been a member of the organising committee of Pink Dot SG, in charge of social media accounts. This task is not only time consuming, but also required her to be constantly up-to-date with current affairs and social issues. She learnt how to effectively use social media to educate and create awareness about LGBTQ issues. Ching pointed out that even though Pink Dot was a once-a-year event, social media work was ongoing all year round. As Pink Dot could not be held at Hong Lim Park in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was be live-streamed, which still required a lot of planning and outreach online.

Apart from her work with Pink Dot SG, Ching also co-organised Prout’s Queer Trivia Night with her partner and also her buddy, since 2019. The event was conceptualised at a period where the majority of events for the LGBTQ community were parties. The refreshing format created widespread interest in trivia and now it became a monthly event open to the public, drawing up to 200 participants at each Queer Trivia Night event. Ching said, “We hope to create a community space that it was not clubbing-related or fuelled with alcohol, but a space to allow LGBTQ folks and their ally friends to be their authentic selves in public, where they can pick up new knowledge in a fun and educational event. At the moment, we are unable to hold the event in person, but we have been holding virtual Queer Trivia Nights via Zoom.” She could often be seen as the event's resident quiz master and part of the Katong Queers team.

On the surface, Ching’s multiple “jobs” may have no connections with each other, but she was able to utilise the skills picked up from one on another. For example, being a muay thai trainer allowed her to project her voice loud enough during tutorials in the university, and to better capture the attention of students. The experience from organising Pink Dot also helped in organising tertiary level muay thai competitions. All these experiences contributed to her being resilient, responsible and able to multi-task.

To accomplish a task well required time. Ching lamented that “the greatest difficulty was to decide when to put down one task and focus on another”. For example, her busiest period would be between April to July, preparing for Pink Dot, which reduced the time she has for other commitments.

No matter how busy she is, she believes in “not overthinking, just go ahead and do it”. Being involved in causes outside work can give meaning and enrich your life. For example, finding the time to care about social issues, reading up on various news and sources, allows one to become an “informed citizen”. Finding time to help others, will also make one more empathetic to other people’s feelings and situation. Participating in many activities has helped me focus less on my problems, and concentrate on helping the community.”

See also[]

References[]

  • "平衡生计与心灵;斜杠人生" ("Balancing livelihood and mind; Slash(/)lives"), Lianhe Zaobao, 31 May 2020[1],[2].

Acknowledgements[]

This article was written by Roy Tan.

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