Overcoming the odds: From a learner to a mentor
Mr Chow Voon Yake’s learning journey wasn’t always a smooth-sailing one. Born at Mersing, Malaysia in the 1930s, Mr Chow spent most of his childhood through the tumultuous years of 1940s, during the Japanese invasion of Malaya, which inevitably delayed his education.
After the war ended, Mr Chow had to help out with his father’s business and could only get to study when he was free to do so. It was only till four years later when Mr Chow’s family became more financially stable and they had moved to Singapore. Even by then, Mr Chow faced difficulties as he got rejected by his dream school. Despite that, Mr Chow never gave up and re-applied to his dream school a few years later and successfully got in.
It was through these hard-earned learning opportunities that had led Mr Chow to cherish and work hard for every learning opportunity that he had.
Never stop learning
A retired accountant for more than 30 years, 85-year-old Mr Chow is one of our oldest National Silver Academy (NSA) participants. In 2018, Mr Chow found out about National Silver Academy through one of our NSA partners, En Community Services Society (ECSS). He then attended a NSA course “Self-Care TCM Wellness” by ECSS to learn more about Chinese medicine. Mr Chow is now more familiar with the various concepts of Si Shen and Bei Qi, and knows the herbs he can consume to boost his health, based on his body constitution.
Even after retiring from accounting, he went on to take up a Computer Accountancy course, achieving his certification at 64 years old. “Even though I am not really doing accounting anymore, I still believe in honing my existing skills,” Mr Chow explained. Mr Chow also took up courses to learn how to use his iPhone and speak Malay language.
Since retirement, Mr Chow has been leading a vibrant and active third age. While he was learning the TCM course at ECSS, he grew to like the environment and people whom he had met over there. Now, he frequently participates in their volunteering activities. He was also awarded with a Silver Heart Award in July 2019 for his volunteering contributions.
A learner, a teacher
Mr Chow is a self-taught harmonicist. He was taught how to play a harmonica during his time in primary school. Recently, he decided to pick up the skill just by himself again. During a gathering, Mr Chow performed in front of his secondary schoolmates and a few of them had asked him to teach them the instrument. Since then, they would visit his house regularly every Wednesday to learn. Mr Chow had also performed at various events organised by ECSS such as the Racial Harmony Festivals. In August, Mr Chow was invited by his alma mater, Chung Cheng High School, to join in and play the harmonica at their 80th Anniversary Celebration.
“One of the most precious moments in our lifetime is retirement, we should make full use of our retirement time to do things that we enjoy,” Mr Chow said. He enjoys what he is doing every day and believes all seniors should spend their third age in a positive and active manner.
**Special thanks to Mr Chow Voon Yake who accepted our interview, we wish him all the very best in his lifelong learning journey.
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