Old photographs of Mdm Chu from ages 13 – 16, wearing various costumes and rocking it out on stage. Image by Chu Siu Lin
Having lived in Hong Kong since she was 18 years old, Mdm Chu began wondering about her birthplace. She came back to Singapore in 1994 to find her roots and settled on our shores for good. Here, Mdm Chu continued to teach at the People’s Association for 8 years, preparing and choreographing performances for the annual Chingay parade.
One morning, during a walk to explore the Bukit Batok neighbourhood, Mdm Chu stumbled upon NTUC Health’s Day Centre for Seniors (Bukit Batok West) where she was then referred to our Active Ageing Hub just upstairs.
“It was love at first sight,” said Mdm Chu when she described the moment she walked through those doors. Mdm Chu began her journey with AAH as a participant, trying out different activities like K-pop dance, yoga and English language lessons. To her, the Active Ageing Hub was an oasis – a caring community of fellow seniors all eager to learn new skills, and importantly, a second home where she felt embraced by the emotional support from her new-found family. “Everyone is a big family, everyone comes together to learn all kinds of things,” she said. When Mdm Chu was encouraged to volunteer, she decided to bring her passion for Chinese dance to her fellow seniors and felt grateful that she received the support to begin teaching classes soon after.
Above: Mdm Chu singing at a National Day dinner and variety show in Bedok. Below: Mdm Chu poses with a local dance troupe. Image by Chu Siu Lin
Despite the glamour of having travelled across oceans and putting on costumes to perform on glitzy stages in the past, Mdm Chu admits that she once felt lonely, even purposeless. Looking back upon those days when she was a dance instructor, Mdm Chu also recalls feeling the pressure of teaching dance for a living and having too many students. But today, volunteering with the Active Ageing Hub has brought her more fulfilment than she ever had before. “I don’t feel lonely anymore. I’m now emotionally supported by the community that cares for me.” In return, Mdm Chu expresses her honour at being given the chance to contribute back to society at her age through the dance lessons she teaches. She encourages her fellow seniors to take lessons at their own pace and reminds them to have fun in the process. “I’m happier teaching here than I used to in the past,” said Mdm Chu.