Understanding one’s cultural roots
66-year-old Mdm Rosalind Tan had taken many courses in subjects she was interested in when she was younger, including French, Korean, calligraphy and music, so much so that "learning became a habit".
As a Peranakan Chinese who studied Malay as a child, the retired realtor, who has two daughters and three grandchildren, had no qualms in enrolling for Mandarin lessons in 2015 because she became interested in tea culture and tea appreciation after joining a tea club at the community centre.
Tracing her family roots
For Madam Tan, who reads books about China's history and of Tang poetry, the interest in her Chinese roots is also deeply personal.
In 2011, Mdm Tan played a leading role in the discovery of the long-lost graves of her grandparents at Bukit Brown Cemetery, through a process that involved tracing her grandparents' death records.
She finds it meaningful that she can understand the Chinese inscriptions on the joint tomb of her grandparents, such as one which mean, "Don't forget the graceful sounds and good reputation of your ancestral home."
Mdm Tan says: "These are words of wisdom from ancestors to descendants. I'm more aware of my actions now as they reflect my family's values. I hope such ancestral teachings can be passed down through the generations.”
Furthering her interest in language
Her growing interest in Chinese culture prompted Mdm Tan to continue her journey of learning Mandarin. Since 2018, she has been taking classes for several years at NUS, subsidised by the National Silver Academy. She found these classes to be very useful, as the trainer has provided examples in terms of the local context. Mdm Tan has taken six Mandarin courses in total, and remains more enthusiastic than ever to take her Mandarin proficiency to the next level.
As a full-time volunteer guide in different museums, Mdm Tan has now gained the confidence to speak to the visitors in Mandarin. She tries to speak Mandarin as much as possible and hopes to be of a good role model to her grandchildren, who are now studying Mandarin as their mother tongue.
"Now that I have learnt Chinese, I understand my roots better. Besides that, learning Mandarin can also help to keep my mind stimulated, boosting my intellectual wellness," Mdm Tan stated.
**Special thanks to Mdm Rosalind Tan who accepted our interview, we wish her all the very best in her lifelong learning journey.
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