Spotlight’s Senior editor, Jessica Shepherd, spoke with Grace Suryani to hear about her Keynote topic and what we can anticipate to hear from her. She shares about her experience with homeschooling and why she was inspired to share about her topic this year. Grace’s story will be shared on the 16th of April with the Singapore Homeschool Convention 2020 Keynote Speakers.
Jessica Shepherd: Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with us about you and your topic! We’re all excited to watch the keynotes and hear what you and the other speakers have to say. My name is Jessica Shepherd, and I will be interviewing you today. Since Acceptance is the topic you have chosen to speak on for your keynote speech, can you give us a brief overview?
Grace: Due to my background, I struggle a lot with acceptance. And during homeschooling I discovered that I still continued to struggle with it. I hope by sharing my struggles and small victories, I can help other homeschooling parents to accept themselves first then move on to accept others.
Jessica: It is often discussed among homeschooling parents of the difficulties of teaching Chinese as a topic. It’s been mentioned that you have a passion for Chinese History and dramas! Do you teach these to your children?
Grace: Hahaha that’s a difficult question. We are Singapore Permanent Residents so it’s not mandatory for us to take PSLE, hence we don’t have the pressure to learn a mother tongue. Currently my children speak Bahasa and English. My eldest isn’t really into language, so I don’t push. But she likes stories so sometimes I tell them ancient Chinese History. My second child likes languages, so I let him play duo lingo everyday and he’s not bad at it. After two weeks, his Chinese is much better than my husband!
Jessica: You stated that you grew up in Jakarta and moved to Singapore after marriage. There are some people who look at homeschooling as an option when they move around to different countries with which they are not familiar. What is it like homeschooling your children in a country in which you were not born? Will you be sharing about this in your keynote on Thursday? Can you give us an overview?
Grace: Homeschooling in a foreign country was actually my first idea for my script, but I choose not to pursue it because I’m still trying to figure it out, haha. My kids are third culture kids (TCK); children that grow up and are raised in a culture other than their parents’ or the culture of their country of nationality for a significant part of their early development years.
Did I face many issues? A big YES. First of all, English isn’t my forte. My pronunciation has an accent and I’m still learning proper grammar. When I first came to Singapore 10 years ago, my Chinese was way better than my English. At that time, we were a young couple with a limited budget, so taking an English class wasn’t an option. Instead, I practiced my English at the Hawker Centre. I only needed to say, “Wah today is so hot…” and all the aunties would happily engage me in a lengthy conversation–free singlish class! After my eldest was born, sometimes we took taxis, and again I used the same tactic: Talked with all the friendly and talkative Taxi drivers with exactly the same statement: Today is so hot. Bonus points, Singapore Taxi drivers sometimes also gave me free local history lessons, Power lah!
Second, my children from time to time sometimes felt that they were a bit different–not completely here nor there. Most of our homeschooling friends are local Singaporeans, but we go to an Indonesian Church where all their Indonesian friends go to public school. I always tell them that it’s a privilege to be able to see many things from different angles. For example, in Singapore when you cross the roads, you need to wait for the traffic light. In Jakarta if you wait for a traffic light it’s no use. When you are in Singapore you have to follow Singapore’s rules and customs. But when you’re in Jakarta you have to follow the locals’ rules and customs, if not, you won’t survive. Last year, when we went back, my children experienced a lengthy black out: no electricity, no water, no air con for 2-3 days. I guess I was the only Mom in Jakarta that was so happy that my children experienced a black out, haha! For me, it’s important to teach them to be resilient and adaptable.
Jessica: How are you feeling about the Homeschool Convention moving online this year to combat COVID-19 and protect its participants? It proves to be a unique experience this year!
Grace: Honestly, I feel relieved. Not that I don’t enjoy companionship and meeting face to face with others–it’s actually harder for me to speak in a recording and to do The Village facilitation online–but this COVID-19 is really no joke one lorh. Currently I also help as a volunteer with an Indonesian website that provides education, verification, and information about COVID-19 to Indonesians (www.kawalcovid19.id), so I’ve received many heartbroken stories from the doctors and nurses: many young doctors and nurses have already died in Indonesia, and since no medication or vaccination is available, the best thing that we can do to help the government and all our brave and beloved doctors and nurses is by staying at home.
I’m so proud of the Homeschool Committee who are trying their best and are working so hard to adapt to many changes in this year’s Convention. It’s not easy for any of us. The first thing I will do when we are allowed to hug others outside our household will be to give everyone a long hug!
Jessica: Thank you for your time, Grace! We’re excited to hear from you and the other keynotes, and soak up the full Homeschool Convention experience in the midst of these uncertain times. We’ll see you at the convention!
Editor’s note: The Keynote sessions will be held through Zoom, all ticket holders have been given details.