SINGAPORE: Some 700 students from across 11 Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) schools took part in an interschool forum on Saturday morning, featuring some of the schools’ notable alumni.
Themed "Women as Agents of Change", the forum included Singapore’s former Ambassador to the United States Professor Chan Heng Chee, who is now Ambassador at Large for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The questions from the students were candid.
"What is it like to be a woman in a man’s world?" asked one student.
"What X—factor do you have that makes you stand out from everyone else?" asked another.
The answers from Professor Chan were also candid.
"My staff in Washington say that they don’t know how I keep myself so energetic. But I love my job, that’s the main thing. You get energy from the work you love," she said.
Students said there was much to learn from Dr Chan’s experience.
Goh Ying Ting, a Secondary 3 student from the St Theresa’s Convent, said: "What she told me just now is something to assure myself that as long as I work hard, I’ll also achieve success, just like her."
Hannah Tamondong, a Primary 5 student from the CHIJ Primary Toa Payoh, said: "It inspires me...it shows me how much IJ (Infant Jesus) girls can achieve. It motivates me to do well so that I can achieve as much as they have when I grow up."
Dr Chan was pleasantly surprised by the response. "What astonished me is that at my age they think I’m a role model. And they told me that they found the talk inspiring. That’s very heart warming for me, because it means I can still be useful and go on with my work."
The students also got to hear from other successful alumni, like Trina Liang, the president of UN Women, DBS Wealth Management managing director and Nominated Member of Parliament Tan Su Shan, and Singapore Member of Parliament Fatimah Lateef.
Leeah Betts, a student from the CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel, said: "I learnt that time management is very important, so that we can plan our daily life. Without time management, we’d be in the wrong spot, like our school timetable, we’d be in a history class when we’re supposed to be in an art class."
The inaugural forum was organised as part of celebrations to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Infant Jesus Order.
This is the first time that such a forum has been organised to engage students from across all the CHIJ schools.
Organisers say the forum is just a step towards building a strong CHIJ identity and alumni network.
They hope to make the forum an annual event in the coming years.
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