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Beyond a Story – Liu Wei Lin: Singapore and Taiwan are both my homes


“What’s meant to be will always find a way." - Trisha Yearwood

This was first written and shared on Blogger - 24 May 2020. Sharing it here on my website, one year later.


As many of you are already aware, I have always enjoyed listening to stories and penning down moments. Since I embarked on my Journalist career a few years ago, I have been wanting to keep a collection of feature stories of my loved ones. It was after much deliberation, I finally had time to think through on how I wish to start this project this year.


Fast forward to my third story being published today, I (secretly) shared with a few closer friends that I was really excited to write about my upcoming interviewee's story.


She is Wei Lin, my senior whom I affectionately address as 学姐. I am delighted to share that there's an improvement for this piece, because the entire thought process, crafting and execution of the post took less than 1 month. -Yayyyy -


I felt that it was going to be a huge step for me, because I was interviewing someone more senior than me. I was very worried at first. Wei Lin accumulated twice the amount of experience I had when I as a Journalist, thus I thought it could be seen as displaying one's slight skill before an expert. Yet, she humbled me with her honest sharing, and I felt like I learnt even more about her as an individual, as I pen down this piece.


So here we go!


Beyond a Story #3 – Liu Wei Lin: Singapore and Taiwan are both my homes


"Hi, I am Weilin. I have travelled 115 thousand miles,

just to be together with my loved ones."

Picture taken on 13 April 2019, Wei Lin's last day at work.


My bosses, editors and many colleagues may all have known that I unofficially (or officially) acknowledged Wei Lin as my Senior (学姐) since I started first day of work at Singapore Press Holdings, on 30 May 2016. Just in case you were wondering, we don't really carry such a happy smile on our faces on a "usual" working day, because there's just so much going on.


Time had never on our side, while we work tirelessly in the newsroom. And yes, the newsroom is where news - the stories - are gathered, written, put together, edited and lastly, assembled for the newspaper, then sent out for print.


Whenever it is nearing the daily deadline, the newsroom bustles with activities; the ringing hotline, the loud blasting of screens - television, monitors and laptops - for occurrences of breaking news, the frequent screaming from editors, the flustered colleagues typing ferociously on their keyboards, the footsteps hastened too; nerve-wracking and tumultuous.


When I first joined the team as a 22 year - old fresh graduate, a few senior journalists had left within that same period of time, thus I was thrown in at the deep end.


Picture taken on 14 July 2016, our first photograph together, with one of our interns.


It was Wei Lin who guided me along, sharing tips and her experiences with me, when things were tough. In fact, I think she will probably not forget that I followed one of our intern out for my first - ever assignment and she was still so amused to hear my trying - to - find - the - wild - boar - at - Punggol experience.


Probably because of the nature of this job, we often have to file our stories, at almost any random place our stories takes us. All is intense and there's no time to lose. It was not unusual to see a journalist standing/sitting down at a corner. Interestingly, it does seems like we can write almost anywhere, as long as we can find a quiet space to do our work.


"Throughout the 5 years, I had the chance to cover different beat - local crime news, politics, business, education, health etc. I realised the stories that I have covered, do affect and impact the people in the community. Offering accurate and bite-sized information that is relevant to the readers' daily lives brought me great sense of achievement."


Picture taken by Wei Lin's sneaky colleague back in 2015, during the intense Elections period.


Fun fact: Wei Lin (right) was quickly filing her story on her mobile phone and her photographer Ah Guan 前辈 (left) was also sending photographs back to the newsroom, for breaking news.


During our three years working together, we literally fought countless of battles and put out many fires. Indeed, I was very thankful that we are both in the same team, growing stronger and making a positive contribution in society, with our pen and paper.


Wei Lin grew up in Singapore. However, since she was young, probably while she was still an infant, her parents would take her to Taiwan twice a year to visit her maternal relatives.

"The biggest plot twist that happened in my life, was the day my parents decided to send me on a flight to Taiwan and study in a local high school. I was 15 years old, rebellious and immature. Fast forward, I completed high school and university, in a flash. Before I even realise it, I lived in Taiwan for 10 years - no longer rebellious and immature - but learning to adjust to life after college."


Picture taken on 9 August 2017, we went to watch the National Day Parade together, for the second consecutive year.


Naturally, Wei Lin returned to Singapore after graduation and started searching for career opportunities. That was also when she discovered her passion for journalism and joined the national newspaper.


"Fate as we know it, after 5 years of working in Singapore, I eventually married a Taiwanese and yes, I moved to Taiwan.. for the 2nd time."


And so ... Wei Lin travelled rather frequently between Taiwan and Singapore, probably each time 1918 miles to be exact, just to be together with her loved ones. In case you were wondering how she has already travelled 115 thousand miles, please do the math. :D


"In my 30 years, I travel to and fro Singapore and Taiwan regularly. If I put it in numbers, I probably travelled to Taiwan more than 60 times in my entire life."


Picture taken on 8 October 2016, during Wei Lin's pre-wedding surprise in office.


We all love and appreciate Wei Lin really much, so colleagues in office gathered together to surprise her because she was flying to Taiwan to get married!


As part of the surprise that day, I was tasked to buy a balloon (the one you see in the picture). As it was my off day, I chose and bought this "I am getting married" balloon from Clementi and changed 2 trains (from the green line, to circle line and red line) to bring the balloon back to office.


It was an interesting experience, because passengers on the train thought I was the one getting married, and a few of them actually came up to me to wish me a blissful marriage. I accepted the blessings with an awkward smile, but my heart was full of joy. And yes, I later on shared those funny moments with Wei Lin over lunch that day.


Picture taken on 1 December 2017, to celebrate our heart works covering the Presidential Election earlier on in September.


Perhaps it was fated, that Wei Lin will join the company; for she recounts that when she was a kid, she will often pass by Braddell Road, then she would always look up and start to observe this "big blueish building - Singapore Press Holdings".


"I'd imagine a HUGE ‘printer’ inside, printing piles and piles of newspapers, waiting to be delivered to every household. It has always been my dream to step inside and take a look. Of course, I realised things which I have imagined aren’t real, that very moment I stepped into SPH @ Braddell for my first job interview."


For Wei Lin, becoming a journalist in the Chinese language newspaper was unexpected, and it changed her life.


Picture taken on 2 April 2019, a farewell dinner for Wei Lin.


"People always ask me, 'Is it challenging to write in Chinese? How did you learn how to translate news report from English into Chinese?' For me, being bilingual was a natural process. Growing up in a predominantly mother-tongue speaking family, I conversed in Mandarin with my family at home, but when I am at school, I had to ‘switch’ to English. I guess, the home environment is the key factor."


Just as we publish this story in the midst of this pandemic COVID-19, Wei Lin is unable to travel back home to Singapore and visit her loved ones, whom she missed dearly. She often video calls her parents and sister, to find out how her two adorable nephews are doing. Please allow me to share this fun fact - I once observed that Wei Lin has more pictures of her two nephews, compared to pictures of her and her husband!


Wei Lin is a virtuous wife, she prepares meals for her husband even after a long day at work. To document her recipes for two, she started an Instagram account called 'lensinkitchen'. Followers can see many interesting dishes which she has beautifully prepared for the family.


"I have to admit that I am a person with limited hobbies. Cooking is one of my favourite things to do. Starting an online account to share the recipes has been on my mind for the longest time and I finally put these into actions this year."


Screenshot captured from 'lensinkitchen' Instagram account.


"As I am still relatively new, I do hope to recreate more traditional recipes and make them easier for beginners to try out at home."


To ensure that her food is pleasing to the eyes and appetizing, she spends extra effort to make sure that everything is beautifully plated and complements with catchy, creatively curated captions. If you are interested, do follow Wei Lin on her journey as she feeds the man she loves with good, healthy food.


Wei Lin is adventurous, spontaneous and fun-loving. Other than being my constant source of guidance at work, Wei Lin has been an older sister to me; we have shared many (exciting and thrilling) learning moments, together.


In 2017, we tried indoor skydiving just a few days before I turn 23 years old, and I conquer my fear of heights. It had always been her dream to try skydiving, but since we probably won't get a chance to do this overseas together, so I asked if she wanted to do it indoors as I was given complimentary tickets due to work.

Pictures which we have taken over the 4 years we've known each other.

You can probably notice the changes from our hairstyle.


Also, I charged all the way from Jurong to Hougang early in the morning for a 5km run, whereby Wei Lin and I ran while we each held on to a durian, excitedly. This happened just because I casually asked Wei Lin if she was interested, after I interviewed the organiser and told him that I will definitely be there to show support. Although it was our off day, we were so glad we started out bright and early to keep fit together.


We had the special opportunity to unleash our hidden artistic talents and painted our favourite plants during an art jamming session, just because our editor happened to have a pair of complimentary pass to give away.


In 2018, Wei Lin and I went to the Prudential Carnival and I won a minion for her. Initially, she had been the one trying out the bowling game, but was not able to secure a strike within 3 tries. I rarely play bowling, so I honestly had no idea where my confidence came from but I told her this before I had my hands on the ball, "If I win, I will give you the minion", and yes, the rest is history. Till date, I am still wondering, perhaps the deities heard us, because we went to the temple to pray for (my) love beforehand; thus blessed with the extra good luck in acing the games?


Last year in October, I embarked on my first solo trip and flew to Taiwan to meet up with Wei Lin. I even stayed at her apartment, and finally met her husband (whom I addressed as 学姐夫). It was pleasant meeting him in person, after hearing about their love story! I got to admit, I was perhaps too huge a light bulb, hehe.


Picture taken on 9 October 2019, during breakfast @ 甲上烧饼.


Although it was only a short 5 days trip, we explored many places in Taiwan together, ate loads of good food and created many fond memories. It was certainly nice to catch up with her physically, instead of our usual texting and sometimes mailing of letters, which could sometimes take weeks to arrive.


"Now, I am working as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Taiwan, and my students are between 3 to 9 years old. English is not their primary language, therefore I have to teach them in both English and Mandarin. Although I am no longer pursing my career in Journalism, but the similarity between these two jobs is this bilingual proficiency which I possess."


-


"People often become fixated on their 'desires', and neglect what is before us. I believe, if we let go of our mental struggles, we will be able to see that every event in life has the potential to teach us something and it will lead us to what’s meant to be." - Liu Wei Lin

- On a side note, Wei Lin and I celebrate our 4th year of friendship in May 2020! :) I was supposed to fly to Taiwan in June to meet her, and I already booked my plane tickets since early February this year. However, the COVID-19 had other plans for the world.

Picture taken at at Tamsui District, New Taipei, Taiwan. 淡水老街


Although we can't celebrate together for now, but here's your present - lengthily written and specially chose all these photos which I have taken for her over the years. Thank you for being an inspiration, my motivation at workplace, my listening ear and my personal tour guide when I flew solo to Taiwan last year in October. Happy 4 years of friendship 学姐! :D


--


Beyond a Story - Thank you for following me on my writing journey :)


Just in case you haven't read the previous stories and eager to find out more:


The very first person, also a very important person whom I have decided to kick start this series with, is to feature my dearest sister Stephanie Ow Jia Min. I first shared the idea of featuring Stephanie in my blog on 21 June 2019. Took me exactly 9 month to finish and publish that post.


Click to read about her story here: Beyond a Story #1 - Stephanie Ow: Music Is My Vision


And yes, I am very glad it didn't take me as long to complete this second one, for my inspiring colleague Shannen, whom I met last year at my new work place. The entire thought process, crafting and execution of the post took about 2 months, or probably slightly lesser.


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