From their first meeting as students and teacher, this School of Chemical & Life Sciences (CLS) class of 2002 has since developed a firm friendship with their lecturer, Mr Ho Thiam Aik. They are now good friends, meeting up frequently to celebrate special occasions and the bond they share. Here, ‘Ho and Co’ share some of the most unforgettable memories from this unique friendship.
Ho Thiam Aik and his Class of 2002 alumni - a warm friendship filled with fun and laughter
Mr Ho has become a close friend to many of his students over the years, so it’s little wonder that he is an Alumni Representative of the CLS Alumni Relations Committee, where he makes it a point to form strong relationships with students both during and beyond their poly years.
“I have always believed that it’s vital to have good rapport with students so as to better motivate them and encourage two-way communication. It’s also very heart-warming that doing so has enabled the building up of many strong friendships,” says Mr Ho.
His CLS Diploma in Chemical Engineering class of 2002 is a prime case in point. They have plenty of memories built up from their years of friendship with Mr Ho!
#1 The Question to Always Remember
Mr Ho is not without a sense of humour. He is in fact downright hilarious at times. The first sign his classes get of this is when he introduces himself.
“Mr Ho has a presentation deck to introduce himself,” explains Winnie, recounting her first encounter with him.
“There is this one slide that we will always remember. He told us that his name is Ho Thiam Aik, H T A, which also represented what we had to do if we were unsure during his lessons – Have to Ask!”
Winnie and the rest of the class took his advice one step further. When they had a class chalet in 2000, they all agreed: Have to ask Mr Ho to go!
#2 The Time of 18 Bronze Men
Not one to miss out on fun and sun, Mr Ho readily accepted the class’ invitation to join them at their chalet in Costa Sands Resort in Pasir Ris. A far cry from his persona of a lecturer and tutor, Mr Ho showed his class he was fully capable of having a good time outside of lessons. He even gamely joined in with the rest of the boys to re-enact movie poses of the famous 十八铜人 shi ba tong ren (18 “bronze men”) of Shaolin folklore! Even now, just the mere mention of the occasion is enough to send the entire group into peals of laughter. Check out their awesomely hilarious pic!
#3 The Night a Couple Missed (Because They Missed Each Other)
Ho Thiam Aik (front, sitting) and the boys in his class posing as the 18 "bronze men"
By the time the class was to graduate with their Diploma in Chemical Engineering, their friendship with Mr Ho had been forged to the fullest. So much so that during the CLS Dinner & Dance at the Fullerton Hotel, their celebrations and chatting lasted all the way till the crack of dawn! A grand time was had by the whole group, save for two notable absentees – April and Daniel.
You see, while the group had been growing close as friends over the years, love had also blossomed between some of them, namely April and Daniel, and Selena and Kun Ye. Today, both couples are happily married with young children! On that night in 2002, April and Daniel decided to enjoy the beautiful riverfront view away from the group, choosing to spend time with each other instead.
#4 The ‘Birth’ of the Godfather
Following graduation, some of them decided to take a holiday together in Bangkok. It was there that Mr Ho came to realise just how much his ex-students value the closeness and rapport they share. “When we were there, they suddenly started calling me Kai Ye, which is Cantonese for godfather,” says Mr Ho. More than a term of endearment, the group’s dubbing of Mr Ho as their godfather represented the depth of their friendship. “We became much closer as friends from that moment,” says Daniel, who was the first one to address Mr Ho as Kai Ye.
#5 The Trip Up Australia’s East Coast
The group stayed close following their poly years. Though they moved on to further studies and working life, their ties of friendship stayed strong. In fact, when some of them were in Australia pursuing their degrees, Mr Ho even paid each of them a visit, dropping in on them in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland. And what a reception he received! “They went out of their way for me. They would bring me around, let me stay in their apartment, even cook for me,” says Mr Ho. He also shares with pride how the trip revealed just how much his ex-students had matured.
“When I was teaching them, they were still quite mischievous and playful. But when I visited them in Australia, I was very impressed with their maturity and dedication to their studies. Kun Ye even graduated with first class honours.”
Plenty of Memories, Plenty More to Come
Ho Thiam Aik (fourth from left) at the wedding of April and Daniel
Fast forward to the present day. ‘Ho and Co’ have since shared numerous special occasions, from wedding dinners to housewarmings to baby showers. They laugh and joke together like only good friends can – with a wealth of happy memories between them, each one as special as the other. Indeed, there is no one particular memory that ranks topmost in the groups’ minds. Instead, as Bryan so eloquently puts it: “Every time we meet is a good time for all of us!”