We sat down with Ethan Wong, a speaker at the Singapore Homeschool Convention 2020, to gain some insight into his topic and his experience preparing to be a High School Day speaker. Ethan will be sharing with five other High School Day speakers on the 17th of April.
Daniella Ng: Hi Ethan, thanks for speaking with us this evening.. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and the other speakers on the 16th of April, what can you share with us about the topic you chose and why?
Ethan Wong: I chose to speak about not knowing how well I did compared to my peers because it was an issue I had struggled with a lot while homeschooling, and I felt that I didn’t really have the help I needed in dealing with it.
I really wanted to share this with others in the hopes that it might help homeschoolers out there realise that they aren’t the only ones struggling with it–and hopefully help them deal with the anxiety that comes with not knowing how well they’re doing compared to the rest of their peers
Daniella: Is this your first time speaking to a wide audience?
Ethan: Yes, I’ve never spoken to a wide audience before. This is my first time participating in anything like the Homeschool Convention.
Daniella: How did you feel when you were invited to be a speaker?
Ethan: I felt quite surprised for a while–and slightly flattered–that Aunty Dawn would ask me to speak. However, I was also a bit fearful as I didn’t know what I was going to speak on or what the homeschool convention was about. I met Aunty Dawn for an afternoon and she explained it to me, helping me greatly. After that talk with her, I knew what my topic was going to be.
Daniella: Due to the COVID-19 situation, the convention has moved online. What are your thoughts about this?
Ethan: I was disappointed that we weren’t able to hold it live as I felt that there were a lot of valuable and insightful lessons that can be gained through a live audience. I am, however, happy that Aunty Dawn and the convention team were able to host it online. Big props to the team for still keeping it online.
Daniella: Are things more difficult or complicated now? How so? What are some benefits you’ve seen?
Ethan: I think one of the benefits is that the speech is recorded so we can do multiple takes should there be any mistakes. However, when I was recording my speech it was slightly difficult as I had planned my speech for a live audience. There were a few audience cues in my speech, so not having an audience in front of me live and giving it to a camera instead was awkward.
Daniella: In your speech you’ll be addressing some struggles you’ve experienced as a homeschooler. Could you tell us about some of these struggles? Have you overcome them?
Ethan: The main struggle was not knowing how well I was doing compared to peers and other normal school students. I took the American system, so I couldn’t convert it to what other people were doing in Singapore. I was afraid that I was lagging behind.
The other struggle is anxiety: I don’t think I ever got rid of the anxiety, it was something I carried through my entire homeschooling life. But my anxiety definitely pushed me to work harder because I was always afraid I was behind. I would work harder than I normally did in order to be on par with my peers. It also forced me to be more confident in my own abilities.
Daniella: Can you tell us for how long you’ve been homeschooling? If you began with mainstream schooling, why did you decide to change to homeschooling?
Ethan: Since Primary 1. The most important thing was flexibility when it came to my schedules, I managed to take the subjects that I wanted to take.
Daniella: Did you ever see your homeschool journey leading you to where you are?
Ethan: I would say no. To me, homeschooling was very new and my family and I didn’t know many people who had graduated or were doing what we were doing. For much of it, I was just stabbing in the dark and hoping something would stick.
Daniella: Which curriculum did you take?
Ethan: I used to do The Potter School, but afterwards I did seven different curriculums; most were American but there were 1 or 2 British based curriculums. I took the SATS and advanced AP.
Daniella: Could you give us a sneak peek of what we can expect when we listen to your speech? What do you hope the attendees will learn from your speech?
Ethan: I think you can expect a very honest review of my experience dealing with anxiety and my views on it. I would like the attendees to know that this is a problem that a lot of my friends and I have had to deal with. There isn’t a cure or solution to it, but this anxiety has made me a better person.
Daniella: Your choice of topic is absolutely poignant and very much relevant. It must take a lot of courage to speak so openly about your personal struggles, I am sure your audience will greatly benefit from the authenticity you’re bringing to the table. Thank you for your time, Ethan! Have a great day ahead and I’m looking forward to seeing your speech at the Homeschool Convention!
Editor’s note: High School Day will be held through Zoom, all ticket holders have been given details.