Round Two at Ngee Ann

I was back in Ngee Ann as guest speaker for the second time (the last time I spoke there was December last year.) This time I was speaking to about 60 students; some are in second year, some are in final year. What puzzles me is they are actually engineering students, but they are also taught on web publishing and some programming stuff. Maybe that’s why the course they are taking is called “Multidiscipline Engineering”.

I was hoping to see a bunch of young women and men who are eager to hear what I had to share with them, because after all, what I was talking about is not what they can find else where, or by reading some books, or attending some classes; what I was talking to them, was what I had learned in painful way, after hitting so many walls and making so many detours at so many dead end roads in the past 8 years — about designing a useful website.

Instead what I got was a bunch of kids who showed up in the lecture hall because it was compulsory to attend the talk. While I appreciate the lecturers’ effort in making this happen and how much they respect my time, I was more upset to see the kids doing their own stuff when I was doing my talking.

Before the first 10 minutes was up I had already hit my anger threshold (and I don’t understand why people still comment that I am a patient person). I was going to tell the students to get out of the lecture hall.

That was what went through my mind in the first 10 minutes. But in the eleventh minute… (yes I like to write in dramatic fashion, what, you don’t like it huh?)

But in the eleventh minute, I decided to contain my anger and to keep the session going, for many reasons. First I didn’t want to put the lecturers in the spot (叫人难做). Secondly I didn’t want to waste my effort of putting together the keynote (I slept very little the night before). And more importantly, I wanted to overcome it.

So I chose to give them a piece of my mind. I told them what I was going to share in the next two hours is going to help them become a better web professional should they choose to become a web professional when they finish school, the choices were between becoming better or continue to be useless like they are now (of course I did not say it this way, but in a really subtle manner; then again I doubt they actually got the message.)

The good thing is, it did help! (Victory!) I managed to get some attention.

And as I went on with the presentation, I could see they are paying even more attention, especially when I told them some success stories on the internet, particularly Facebook story, Google story, also the story of the lady who earned her first BMW by selling clothes on taobao.com, and the story of the guy who made 10k a month by selling pirated VCD online (not like I encouraged them to do the same, but the emphasis was on “anything is possible” when they have the skill to make things happen on internet.) But strangely no one question how much I make (which is a relief, whew.)

The presentation finished right on time, I could see the students were more receptive compared to the beginning. And the biggest relief came in, when Mrs Ang (the lecturer who championed the initiative) showed me the stack of feedback forms filled up by the students before they left, showing almost all of them agreed they had learned something really useful from the session.

Now I can give myself a pat on my back.

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