Luck Joo, 86, was a Chinese primary school teacher in her younger days. At the age of 10, she travelled from China and was educated in Singapore. During the Japanese Occupation, she was forced to learn Japanese and had little exposure to English which she said limited her career choices thereafter. After the war, she resumed her education at an institution for teachers. Graduating in 1950, she taught till the age of 33 when she retired.
She assumed the role of a full-time housewife and mother to her four children. Her only son is now living in the US and returns home to visit every three years. The grandmother of two stays close to one of her three daughters but prefers being independent. Once, she took a taxi on her own to see a doctor and only informed her daughter later. She is happy at the NTUCHealth SilverACE@Redhill centre as she is able to mingle with those her age and share common stories and experiences. As her husband passed away in 2010, being surrounded by people does ease her feelings of loneliness. Luck Joo is thankful for the kind assistance of the centre’s staff. She does her bit to help as well, recounting an effort to pacify a difficult peer once.
She speaks fondly of the troublemakers amomg her students; her class was a rowdy bunch. As a teacher at that time, she was allowed to mete out punishment with a cane, but Luck Joo preferred other methods – one of the ringleaders in her class remarked, “It’s a cane, not a gun. Why should we be scared of it?” He was later expelled for being disrespectful, but Luck Joo remembers him vividly.
Another memorable incident involved a girl who had her lips taped by an English teacher, which led to complaints by her parents to the principal. This unruly and disrespectful girl was also caned by Luck Joo. The girl eventually changed her ways after a tense confrontation with her.
Recounting an incident with a triad member’s son, Luck Joo tells of the father’s loyalty to the teachers. The son was reprimanded by her for talking in a test and he rebutted with strong defiance. This led to a meeting with the father. Upon hearing of the incident, the father slapped the son for not obeying the teacher’s instruction. Eventually, the son cried and apologise to her.
In many ways, a teacher’s job is never done. From the accounts of school to her aide for the centre’s staff, Luck Joo is an educator through and through. She is also a lover of calligraphy and drawing. However, due to her age, her eyesight has deteriorated and she is unable to resume her hobbies.
Accepting this, she looks forward and is contented to be at the centre, enjoying the planned activities.