Special Feature: The Special Interests of Teachers in RI

By , , ,

Featured Image: Credits to Ms. Sharon Seow

Rafflesians have always had numerous interests and passions. But while we are immersed in our own recreational activities, have you ever wondered about our teachers?

Let’s take a peek at some of our teachers’ lives outside of school and the hobbies that they pursue.

Who? Mr. Justin Yap

What subjects does he teach?

Mathematics and Research Education

What is his hobby?

Mr. Yap likes to create original video content which he uploads to his YouTube channel, SG YAP.

Mr. Yap and his GoPro camera

How did it all begin?

Mr. Yap shared with us that his hobby originated from his primary school days in the early 1980s, when his family purchased an old vintage Canon Super8 film camera in the 1970s and a VHS camera in the 1980s. He had the chance to play with both cameras on family outings, and since then, he developed an interest in videography. During his secondary school days, Mr. Yap had even been engaged by couples to film wedding videos. Today, he films his videos using a handphone and GoPro camera.

How does he pursue his hobby?

Due to his heavy workload, Mr. Yap does most of his filming during the holidays. With the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Yap could not travel around as much as he hoped and he adapted by reusing his old videos and adding CGI effects to make new content. Check out one of his creations here! This gave him new opportunities to be creative and exploit new filming and editing methods to improve his audience’s viewing experience. Over the past few years, he has made many new friends all over the world when his viewers commented on his videos or emailed him.

What are his hopes for the future?

Currently, Mr. Yap is trying to reach his goal of 100,000 subscribers to get the Silver Play Button.

Who? Mr. Bryan Tan

Students brewing a cup during the GAPSem Coffee course run by Mr. Tan.

What subjects does he teach?

Geography and Social Studies

What is his hobby?

Mr. Tan is a coffee connoisseur.

How did it all begin?

Mr. Tan’s interest in coffee began when he started drinking the bittersweet beverage in junior college and university to get his caffeine intake. Gradually, his interest in coffee grew and he wanted to drink tastier coffee.

How does he pursue his hobby?

When asked about what his hobby meant to him, Mr. Tan replied that it was, “Knowing that coffee is more than the caffeine it contains, appreciating the aroma and taste of the coffee you drink, being willing to expend time and money to explore coffee shops to discover beans and brews that you like, and making an effort to grind your beans and brew your own coffee at home or work.”

Mr. Tan believes that having an interest in coffee does not only mean drinking fancy coffee (which is simply coffee that is more expensive and supposedly tastier), but it is also more about having the knowledge and a more developed palate, which allows him to appreciate a greater variety of coffee.

How often does he pursue his hobby?

Rather surprisingly, this unique interest is one that is casual, cheap and also not time-consuming. Mr. Tan takes a few minutes every day to brew coffee at home or at work, and he spends around $20 a week on a bag of coffee beans that gets delivered to his home, which is what he primarily drinks. Satisfied with the quality of the coffee he brews himself, Mr. Tan rarely splurges on fancy coffee outside.

With his immense passion in coffee, Mr. Tan has also been running the GAP Semester Coffee course since 2013, so Y4s, you know you will be in for a treat!

Who? Ms. Sharon Seow

Photo credit: Ms. Sharon Seow

What subjects does she teach?

Social Studies and History

What is her hobby?

Ms. Seow loves wildlife photography.

How did it all begin?

Ms. Seow shared that her hobby started in 2020, when her firstborn began to take a greater interest in wildlife, especially bird watching. When she bought a camera to aid in identifying the birds, that turned out to be life-changing. Over time, she grew to love the activity, which “allows [her] to breathe in fresh air, soak in the serene ambience, listen to the sounds of nature and see the expressions of the wildlife as if [she] was just next to them”. Nature has become her respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

How often does she pursue her hobby?

As with all students, how often she engages in her hobby is, too, constrained by her commitments in school. She is able to pursue her hobby perhaps twice a week during the holidays or twice a month depending on her workload and the weather, amongst other factors.  If she does not have enough time for a long photography session or to go to her favourite locations which are quite far away, she does 1-hour sessions in a nature park or reserve closer to school or her home. 

What does she enjoy most about her hobby?

Wildlife photography is a precious bonding activity that Ms. Seow shares with her nature-loving son. These outings have become exercise opportunities for both of them and an effective outlet for stress relief. In addition, Ms. Seow shared that nature photography is like a good book as it opens her eyes to a different world. The greatest draw about it is the thrill of spotting hidden wildlife among the lush flora. According to Ms. Seow, the sight of an eagle soaring reminds her of how small she is in the grander scheme of things, and how interconnected all living things are on earth. Observing nature reinforces her belief that there is beauty everywhere, and this also teaches her to be alert “because there is beauty if only we care to see”.

Check out these stunning photos she took on her excursions!

Having read about the unique and special interests of our teachers, are you now inspired to take up some of these new hobbies?


  • Toh En Rong

    One of my favourite pastimes is reading, and being the old-fashioned me, it is no surprise that my go-to books are the readily available variety of books and encyclopaedias sitting on the bookshelves at home. Books keep me alive alongside Disney, not to mention food – glorious food! Armed with a highly annoying stubborn streak of defiance, I am actually a gentle giant inside which rarely shows. I am a perfectionist to a fault, and have the habit of nit-picking over every single detail in an attempt to deepen my understanding, earning me the trophy of the most inquisitive boy in the class. This is me – the infamous En Rong! *Evil laughs*

  • Chew Zhen Yuan

    The only reason I exist is for food.

  • Nithilan Balachander

    Nithilan is a humorous fourteen-year-old who loves writing. He has a severe phobia of heights, and is probably on his phone browsing Reddit at the moment.

  • Leonard Koh