“I’m turning 30 this year, but I really do believe you’re only as old as you feel. I like to think that I still have a deep sense of wonder for the world around me as messed up as it can be sometimes and I hope I never stop marvelling.

What am I curious about? Well, I’m curious about people and their stories; their lives, and why they do the things they do. I’m especially interested in people whose lives are very different from mine.

I’ve always felt very boring middle-class, Chinese, Singaporean. I grew up in a very sheltered environment, which I’m thankful for in many ways, but it’s also shielded me from the realities that others face. And the truth is, most people’s favourite topic is themselves, so I’m usually quite happy to listen. *laughs*

I don’t think there’s a lack of empathy in Singapore. I just think many of us are afraid of breaking social norms and taking the initiative to get to know people who are different from us, or people who can’t benefit us in some tangible way. But I think that’s slowly changing, with movements like Human Library.

Also, people often criticise social media for isolating human beings more and more, but I think that if used in the correct way, and balanced with real-life interactions, the online world is a great way to meet new people, build communities, and actually feel less alone.

What have I learnt about people? I discovered that, while our backgrounds and beliefs and life stories may be vastly different, we all have the same needs for love, acceptance and connection. Underneath it all, everybody just wants a big hug and someone they trust and love to tell them ‘Hey, you’re ok.’” – Vann, 29

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