The end of my Final Year Project is near. After spending five months at an A*STAR lab, I have gained tremendous lab experience and I am truly grateful for working with some of the most interesting and passionate people I have ever met.
Sometimes I feel like I have a guardian angel looking after me. My guardian angel, quietly nudging me along my path in life, giving me sweet memories, wonderful experiences, and getting the chance to meet some of the most generous and kindest people I have ever come across. This guardian angel of mine, protecting me, giving a life full of comfort and happiness, and allowing me to be surrounded by good people. Really good people. The past five months, doing my project in the lab and writing my thesis is one of the moments in my life that I will never forget. It can be mundane at times, day in, day out, doing the same thing again and again. But somehow the daily rituals and routines gave me a sense of calm and serenity when I’m doing my work. Furthermore, the people whom I work with in the lab, my colleagues, are truly the ones who really make things interesting. They gave me so much more than just an advice or two. They inspire me. They inspire me to be a better person. A kinder person. A generous person. A person with humility.They act as a mirror to really reflect upon my actions and they are truly my role models during my time there.
But there is one, my mentor who far surpasses all the compliments I could ever give to my fellow colleagues. Never have I worked with someone who is extremely kind and generous. At first, it was hard just by trying to talk to him. He rarely made small talk while I was under him in the lab. But even then, if you try to talk to him nicely, he will reply in kind. He is extremely patient, always willing to answer any questions that I had while in the lab. He never fails to take the time to make sure that I understood. He is an extremely private person. And being myself, who is naturally shy to ask someone of his or her private lives for the sake of knowing the person just a little bit better, makes it even more difficult to know him that well. I think my only regret is not being able to know more about his private life. Like what are his hobbies and passion? What do you like or dislike? What kind of music does he love or hate? All these, I never got to know, because I was always afraid that I might be going too far for him to be comfortable sharing.
But despite all these, I dunno if it was by some sheer coincidence or some twist of fate. Or perhaps, it might truly be a guardian angle gently pushing me down the right path in my life. The project that I undertook for my FYP wasn’t my first choice. In fact, it was my third choice within a list of project I was interested in. The school had the final decision making powers to allocate a project for us to do as part of my FYP fulfilment. I remembered the first time I was in the lab. I arranged for a meeting with my supervisor to know more about him, the project and the lab that I would be working in. But in the end, the supervisor of the project grilled me through a series of questions as if I was going through a formal interview. It was nerve wrecking. Furthermore, my future mentor was there as well. He was so stern. I remembered his stare, so intense, I could feel his eyes boring through my soul as I replied as calmly as possible to the queries the supervisor direct at me! It was the most nerve wrecking interview I had ever experienced. Mainly because I did not expect the outcome of our meeting to be like a full blown interview. I was hoping that the supervisor would show me around the lab and the colleagues that I would be working with, just like all the other supervisors I met prior to this one. But it was different, and in the end, after 20 minutes of questions and answers, I wasn’t given the opportunity to be shown what the labs looks like or where I would most likely be working. My mentor who was there throughout the interview never said a word. In short: It was a disaster.
But fast working 1.5 months later, when the allocation project results were released, I was given that project, the one that I dreaded the most. It wasn’t about the project that I dreaded the most. Rather, it was the supervisor and mentor that I would be working with. I initially thought that I would not be able to work well with them after that harrowing experience during the interview. But life is full of surprises and after five short months, I think I can confidently say that I wouldn’t trade for another FYP project. And it was all because of my mentor.
All I can describe is that my mentor exudes a sense of quiet confidence and intellect. He broods often, but if you are brave enough to interrupt his brooding by asking questions, he will never show any sort of irritation or annoyances for interrupting his brooding. He check on you often, making sure that my project is on track and on time. He is overly concern about my wellbeing, without showing it, sometimes to point of ignorance. But he knows. Because he cares. And that is one aspect of him that I respect him the most. How could I ever repay such kindness back to him? How could I ever show my appreciation that I have for him, other than just saying a sincere thank you?