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Interview with a Poet, Nora Toh (CLAS ’15): Words that will Stay and Move You

What words move you? Do you seek wisdom or do wish to be moved with the beauty of artfully muthcrafted works of art? Do you want advice or do you want inspiration. If you said yes to any of these, then you need to read Nora’s interview.

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nora with mother
Nora Toh (CLAS ’15) with her mother

Can you give us a bit of background about your family and what it’s like growing up in Singapore?

Well, I have the most amazing parents in the world & I love them very much. I’m an only child, but I spent my childhood with four other cousins so it wasn’t too lonely. It’s funny; Singapore is such a concrete jungle, but the house I grew up in was tucked away in an undeveloped corner, a jungle five minutes away from the sea. My cousins and I used to catch ladybugs and spiders in the jungle, and then cycle to sea – stuff you wouldn’t typically associate with a Singaporean childhood. The older I got the more time I spent in the city though, and I love the city life. There’s something about its bustle that gets me excited!

You attended the secondary school the Wall Street Journal has called the best in the world: Raffles Junior College (note: in Singapore a Junior College is a secondary school. Is it the best? Why or why not? How high is the stress level?

Hmm, I don’t know. I haven’t been to any other high school so I don’t have anything to compare it to. It is definitely a very, very good school though. It gave me a great foundation for college, like pretty solid academic writing skills. While I do think the stress level tends to the high side, ultimately it really is a matter of managing expectations.

Did you push yourself to get accepted to this school or was it also with the help and encouragement of your parents? How would you describe your parents’ approach to learning for you?

My parents are amazing. I’ve already said this, but they truly are. Their approach towards my learning is to let me do whatever I want, as long as I commit to doing it well. I think my mother initially wanted me to be a doctor, but as soon as she saw that my interests tended towards the humanities (I am hopeless at science) she was fully supportive of me pursuing that field. I really appreciate that, especially since I know they get put in a spot when their friends ask them what I’m going to do after I graduate. Even when I have doubts about what I’m doing, they never doubt me. They’re so excited that I get to do what I love… I seriously couldn’t be more blessed.

 

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