I was introducing my students to Reader’s Digest to inspire them to read, when a student suddenly held up a copy with Obama on its cover and asked, “Teacher, this person in the photo looks like you!” And I looked closer and was pleasantly surprised to see my family’s story in that issue. That was in 2008 when we were interviewed by Reader’s Digest and over the years that followed, the magazine got “lost” in our dusty shelves. Until I decided to pull a few copies out to read to my students.
It was a piece on “How To Raise An A+ Student” and ironically, our family was chosen when our kids were not even in the school system! Our piece was aptly titled “It All Begins With Books” and our photo has our home library as the backdrop.
‘A slim, even-tempered 12-year-old, Amrita Soon of Kuala Lumpur, has accomplished things that would make any parent proud. She won a computer when she finished second in the Pavilion KL Young Inspirations Award last year and received a distinction for science at the international educational assessment conducted by the University of New South Wales in Australia. But there’s one thing that truly sets Amrita apart. She and her 11-year-old sister, Samanta, are being educated at home….’ A home that is filled to the brim with books!
‘This book-centric approach is on the mark, say education experts. “It is of crucial importance that parents – both father and mother – take time to share books with their children, preferably at times when they are not stressed,” says Assistant Professor Linda Gan of Singapore’s National Institute of Education.
And the piece ended with a quote from me: “We let them learn using their natural talents and potential.”
‘From the way Amrita and Samanta are performing, it’s also about helping them discover all they can be.’
Fast forward 11 years from then, here is an update on our kids’ progress:
Arian Soon (15 years old), finally started reading at 10 years old, bypassing all the early readers and jumping right into fantasy books, young adult novels as well as the classics. He has been quietly working on his novel(s) and novellas, and short stories. He plans to be a published author before his teenhood expires!
Arian also practises intensively on the piano. He first started playing-by-ear at about 10 years old, with music from his favourite anime series, and even attended masterclasses with his anime pianist idol, Animenz! This phase lasted for about a year or so, until he discovered the music of Frederic Chopin (also from an anime series based on the life of a boy pianist). And from then on, there was no looking back – it’s full on classical piano now!
Samanta Soon (22 years old) had to choose between her two loves of her life: swimming or dancing. After much struggle and consideration, she decided to hang up her swimming gear and put on her dancing shoes instead. And she subsequently danced her way to the top spot in Malaysia’s biggest dance competition – the Astro Battleground! Her team won the championship in 2016!!! From there, Sam proceeded to go into teaching and performing and now, she is also doing choreography and has just become a certified Pound fitness instructor! She wants to spread the love of doing fitness together as a community and to have fun staying healthy!
Like her older sister, she also sings and writes her own songs. Her main love has always been music, and she is working towards self-producing her own songs one day – it would be her dream come true!
Amrita Soon (23 years old) has had a very interesting path so far – having professionally released 2 albums and travelled 3 times to the music city, Nashville, where songwriters are made and discovered! What is there to do now? Well, according to this tireless singer songwriter, there are lots more to do still – like going on a music tour to promote her new album (Familiar Strangers https://open.spotify.com/album/0CQIE73g3bRZ84Q5VxvsyZ?si=lEfIo3eQS8OYV3Xje7nO5g and going back to Nashville again, to get more inspirations for her new songs! Her song, Familiar Strangers, was Number 1 on a country radio chart in Nashville!!! What a feat that was! And oh, she also recently released her very first Mandarin song 安东尼 – https://open.spotify.com/album/27rar2bIHMIssK31cRYAUT?si=NKOpZh6SSlePWX253nPOvw which was premiered in Nanning, China early this year!
Oh why don’t you hear it from the horse’s mouth! Here’s her story told at a TedX event last year: https://youtu.be/FhDFiJxwbuY
And our story is still unfolding …… ☺️☺️❤️