My 2016 Review

As usual I would write a review (as in 2014 and 2015) but I decided to make it public. Therefore I published the following note on Facebook:

      “If you cannot multitask, think of how you drive”.
      This is the quote I wrote for myself to start the year, which turned out to be more flexible, yet not less rewarding than the previous ones–in a different way as detailed below.
Part I: Malaysia, Jan 1-Aug 31
      “Bang!” Post A-Level break started with the sudden breaking of the cozy train of PSD scholarship. That we were so oriented to this presumed path years ago and that nobody saw this coming made the hit especially hard for us. Nevertheless, it’s also the hit that led me to realign my viewpoints–and see my growth : to see things from other perspectives, and to avoid overlooking hidden benefits and drawbacks merely because of names. In retrospect, that’s attributable to the dramatic shift from dreaming so hard to get an offer from a desired university, to the learning of dream finally came true, then finally to the letting go of them for another alternative that’s equally excellent yet relatively unknown. It’s also glad to notice how my comrades, victimized by the breaking aforementioned, survived and settled down happily like I did.
      Having stayed in my student seat for a good 13 years, I successfully turned the table to impart the knowledge to those who needed it through various platforms: the Malaysian IMO training camp, IOM Butterworth Math tutoring, and private tutoring. The jittery of having unfinished lecture handouts due in hours was still fresh in my mind; so was the disappointment of (one or two) students’ under-performing and chronically lackadaisical mindset. Nevertheless, when I saw the progress of students (albeit just a little), and the improved attitude and engagement under my teaching, I felt myself finding where I belong to.
      During the Bagan Ajam Toastmasters Club AGM in June, all but the top post was filled. I sheepishly said, “I would like to be part of it but…I have only two months left (before leaving to Waterloo)”, “never mind about that, even 1 month is good”, Will’s reply. That began my 81 days of temporal presidency. Late night supper-style discussion then added itself into my routine as the team as I tried to figure out how to execute the Housewarming party, 10th Anniversary Dinner, and the speech contest from scratch. Amid the lost and fear of not beating the deadline in the sprint, I could only assure myself that “everything will be fine, don’t worry.” Thankfully, with the power of my committee, this happened every time. The reward went beyond that as I met so many other experienced Toastmasters who volunteered to give educational talks, as well as those from other clubs.
      Back in college, traveling anywhere beyond the Sunway city was a luxury. Thankfully my family compensated this with 8 golden months of hanging out around and exploring the beauty of our home city, Penang island. The aromatic and authentic food, the antique and exquisite murals, the modern mall experience complemented with movies, and the unique family bonding made me enjoy every moment of this type.
      The extension of our trip experience to coursemates and teachers in Sunway and elite mathematical/coding group (following the talk by Prof. Loh, the leader of the winning USA IMO team) made it even more meaningful. Complementing my traveling experience was my developing of love towards traveling in the Electric Train Service (ETS) and becoming part of the city advancement through the boarding of dynamic Light Rail Transit (LRT) in the Klang valley, allowing me to relish in my traveling solitude.
      Also noteworthy was the exploration of competitive programming in C++. Parallel to my adventure in mathematics was the addiction in solving problems and the immense satisfaction when my solution was accepted by the judging server. Nevertheless, the overcoming of human’s limitation in handling big data and performing fast computations is what I appreciate of programs, and I believe that mathematicians feel the same way too. 🙂
Part II: Canada, Sept 1-Dec 31
      The day on which I parted with all my loved ones for my dreams, exactly like the lyrics in Olivia Ong’s “梦想起飞”. I never wanted the day to come, but it came.
      From the day I ‘experimented’ math and programming contests, and cracking my brain over the assignments, I knew that the life here was going to be tough. Adding to the pressure was my mingling with bright people who were either Olympiad medalists in Informatics or seasoned Hackathon participants who already developed innumerable apps. But this was precisely what justifies my choice in the beginning of the year. In addition, the shortcomings of my midterm performance reminded me on how much more things for me to explore in this educational environment.
      Soon, Term 1A ended with an exclamation: the finals that gone slightly outside our expectation. What we cared more, however, was the chance to take stay away from all academics as winter break started. Time finally permitted me to relish in mini-traveling to Kitchener, playing games, and chit-chatting for hours with new friends. Time slipped past us amid our enjoyment; only few minutes left before 2016 ended.
      “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” The screams of my Malaysian friends and I engendered vitality for the ‘firework-less’ countdown in Waterloo, ending my year with a blast.
      Should I stop here? Yes I should, with heads up for the following year! But let me end this with acknowledgement first:
   To everyone with me during my college decision making process, my path was made clearer because of you. To my principal and colleagues in IOM, you empowered me the skills of facing children and getting their mindset well right from the beginning of the life. To my IMO coaches and organizers, your invitation for me to help in training reminded me of how much I love mathematics. To my team in BATMC and my gurus, I could never imagine how wrecked my two months would be without you. To my Sunway trip mates to Penang, your effort of coming over from far rekindled the joy we had back in college. To computing / math trip mates, you indeed opened my eyes through the conversations. To my 5 professors, O(mg)=O(W) squad, and classmates in UW, your insights made my learning process much enjoyable. To my other Malaysian friends in UW, you guys gave me a really meaningful ending of the year. Finally, to my dad, mum and sis, let’s spend tons of months and years of golden moments again in the future

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