I went to the Ministry of Education Language Centre (MOELC) yesterday, for the first time in 10 years, since I graduated. MOELC was where I first studied Japanese, and it was through the lessons where I started to develop a unyielding passion for Japanese.

Thanks to Singapore’s excellent education system, I was bestowed with the chance to pick up a third language after graduating from primary school. It was the start of the J-pop boom in Singapore in year 2000, and so I chose the language I could relate to the most- Japanese, amongst French, German, Japanese and Malay.

But little did I know that casual decision would change my entire life.

I went to Japan for the first time, through an exchange program at MOELC, and the seed of my dream of studying in Japan was sowed then. It motivated me to work hard. Then, only one junior college offered Japanese at A-levels, and that was Raffles Junior College, the best JC in Singapore. I had no alternatives, and so I worked towards it. Thankfully my efforts were paid off and I managed to enter Raffles JC.

My dream came true in 2008, after graduation from JC and serving 2 years of National Service. I entered Waseda University and the rest is history.

I returned to MOELC yesterday, after exchanging emails with the Head of the Japanese Department regarding my book, and a possible sharing session with the current students. Surprise, surprise… the current Head of the Japanese Department was my Japanese teacher in secondary 4.

We met for the first time in 10 years, and we talked about my decision to study in Japan, my life in Japan, my experiences on Japanese TV, volunteer work at the tsunami-affected regions, my traveling experiences, and of course, my book.

They were really cooperative and agreed to hold several sharing sessions with the current students studying Japanese at the end of February. I guess my main aim would be to raise their motivation and interests in studying Japanese, and hopefully consider furthering their studies or working in Japan in future.

I was overwhelmed by nostalgia as I stepped into the school for the first time in 10 years. That was where I took the first steps of my journey to Japan.

It is time to give back.