Extract from The Star
Newspaper, Sunday October10, 2010
By TAN EE LOO email@example.com
Making friends is easy, but keeping a long-lasting bond
requires unconditional acceptance.
FROM the moment they met on the
first day of school 51 years ago Lee Siew Har and Yeap Meng Chee were
inseparable. They were both seven years old
and it was a happy first encounter as they threw caution to the wind
and chatted incessantly oblivious to the sea of teary-eyed faces around
them. What is even
more interesting is
that the duo, who had never asked for any special seating arrangement
from the time they were in Standard One (Year One) at the Methodist
Girls School, Penang, right up to Form Five, had always been seated
next to each other.
Lee and Yeap viewing an old album. They have remained best friends for
over 50 years.
We never pestered our teachers
about sitting next to each other, but somehow we did for all of 11
years ... and there was never a dull moment, shares Lee, a language
instructor. With so much time spent in class
together, it was only natural for them to want some breathing space
to do their own thing, but that was not to be. In fact, they could not have
enough of each other and signed up for all the same after-school
activities like cycling and swimming. They even pursued photography,
together. While they were close in school,
the girls also mingled with others and made their own friends. When we made new friends, we
would embrace them and often we had one large circle of friends, adds
Yeap saying that they also had friends in their respective
then: Lee (fourth from left) and Yeap (right) with friends in secondary
Over time, they
with some friends, kept in touch with others and found new ones. Also,
their families have become closer as a result of their friendship, adds
Lee. These days, the women, now 58, go on holidays together and enjoy
eating out. While the bond between Lee and
Yeap is a classic childhood friendship, child experts are now saying
that having a best friend can lead to bullying or social exclusion. There have been concern over
cliques where groups of friends gang up together and end up bullying
socially weaker schoolmates.
Hong Tiang, Cheng Hoon, Chooi Imm, Siew Har, Siew Im, Meng Chee)
This according to a news report
by MSNBC has led educators in the United States advising children
against having one best friend. Instead, they
to have as many friends to prevent them from overly depending on just
one friend. This is to prevent them from being totally devastated
should that friendship turn sour.
(left) has been Judith's tower of strength and support.
concerns are not
entirely unfounded, parents don't want their children growing up with
superficial friends who are around only when things are rosy. As famous American television
personality Oprah Winfrey once said lots of people want to ride with
you in the limo(usine), but what you want is someone who will take the
bus with you when the limo breaks down. Children should expand their
social circles as they grow. They, however, must also know the
difference between a true and fair-weather friend. The process of developing a
close rapport with another person will empower children with confidence
and a sense of security as they come to understand the importance of
having a true friend who would stand by them through thick and thin,
especially in today's mercenary world. People who have
known their best
friends since childhood opine that allowing children to explore and
develop close friendships could have a positive impact on children's
social, emotional and academic developments.
good old days: Despite the distance, Judith (right) used to tutor Chan
over the phone.
have as many
friends as possible. If they end up in cliques or having a best friend
... well that is not a bad thing either, says Judith Chan, who has
known her best friend since she was nine. She adds however that a best
friend is someone a child can confide in. It is through close
friendships that one will learn about trust, betrayal,understanding and
tolerance, which are in fact values and skills that one will require in
Going the extra mile
Only a best friend would go
the extra mile for a close pal. Just ask Chan Mun Yee, 29, who
was fortunate to have best friend Judith Chan tutoring her years ago. Both the girls were at that time
studying at SK Abu Bakar, Mentakab, Pahang. Chan was struggling with
Mathematics in school so Judith offered to help improve her grades.
Even after moving to Kuala Lumpur because of her father's job posting,
Judith would tutor Chan by calling her from the public phone near her
Chan returned the favour by
teaching Chinese to Judith, who grew up in an English-speaking family.
to each other
resulted in hours of talk time on the phone, showing that distance was
no obstacle to their friendship.
rapport: Syazana, Suloshini and Woo love being out together.
Chan, now a
lecturer, describes Judith, 29, as the big sister in their
friendship, saying that her friend had never turned her down or made
excuses when she asked for help. We would spend hours talking on
the phone about school, homework and, sometimes, boys, quips Chan. She's truly my best friend,
says Judith, proudly adding that Chan is the most important person in
her life after her husband and family. It may seem like I've
sacrificed a lot, but it is Chan who has given me great emotional
support, adds Judith, a career adviser. The trust that both friends have
was evident during Judith's pregnancy two years ago, when Chan was a
tower of strength and support. You can have many friends, but
in your time of need, you can only rely on perhaps one or two good
friends, she adds. Children can have best friends
without alienating their other peers, as Syazana Amran discovered. When she was in
school, Syazana's mother often encouraged her to socialise and make
friends. I had a large
circle of good
friends, but I built a strong rapport with Suloshini Jahanath and Woo
Yi Lei, who were and still are, my closest friends since primary
school. We have lots of friends but at
the end of the day, you should know whom you can count on, says
Syazana, 27, a marketing executive. Having a friend whom you can
trust means you can let your guard down and be yourself.
I like the fact that we are
completely comfortable with each other and there is unconditional
acceptance, says website programme officer Suloshini. Woo says their friendship had
kept them sane and together during major exams.
(right) and Kayla have a keen interest in animals.
Sharing the same interests
love for animals, dancing and singing brought Farischka Sabrina
Subahan and Kayla Janice Osfild Kean together. In school, we always hang out.
It's good to have friends or you'll just sit there by yourself and
watch others play, says Kayla, nine, who has known her best pal since
kindergarten. Kayla also knows how to cheer
Farischka up when the latter is down. I often break into a smile when
she puts on one of her funny acts, Farischka says. Although Kayla is happy to have
Farischka as her best friend, she believes it is equally important to
make new friends. Being in an international
school, there will be a time when either of us might move away, so it
is good to have other friends too.
As Lee sees it, respecting your
best friend's personal space and time is the key to a successful
friendship. We must cherish our best
friends, but we must also respect their ties with others.
Only then will
we expand our circle of friends and learn from them, she adds.
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