For the Oasis Team, 2020 is the year where magic happened. Though we’ll remember Covid-19 as the first thing that comes to mind when we think of 2020, if we delve deeper into the granular parts of our lives, we can find something that made us happy, despite turbulent times.
For us, it was Oasis, by KrASIA, a platform we created earlier this year in October. It was truly a wonderful period for our team, in which we managed to meet and connect with interesting leaders and contributors. In our bi-weekly meetings, we often share experiences on the insights we’ve gained, and how it has changed our perspectives with every interviewee we meet. So, in accordance with “2020 in Retrospection,” I’ve decided to approach our team to ask them their thoughts on building Oasis, as well as their own personal reflections on the year:
- What was an impactful moment you’ve had while doing an interview?
- What was most memorable about 2020 for you personally? And what are you looking forward to in 2021?
Emily Fang, Community Lead in Singapore
One of my very first interviews was with Christine Wang, Head of Asia at Lufthansa Innovation Hub. She was very open and vulnerable with me, which was refreshing. Her father passed away when she was young, and his death taught her to live life with depth because our time on this earth is not guaranteed. She showed me that vulnerability is a strength and I really admired her pursuit of trying all the things she wanted to. Her fearlessness became a quality I wanted to encapsulate myself.
Personally, I was a bit depressed about my birthday this year as I was spending it away from my best friends and family in the US. I’m based in Singapore right now. Little did I know, my best friend in San Francisco planned a Zoom video party for me, and all my closest friends back in the West Coast coordinated to be online. They even had a Jeopardy game based on my life. It made me realize how much warmth and friendship I’ve cultivated throughout the years, and how being intentional has led me to these rock-solid friendships. I realized how loved I was, and that even with so much distance, these were and still are my people.
Joanna Ng, Community Coordinator in Singapore
Since I’ve only done two interviews with Carmen Low, founder of afterglow, and Green Renaissance up to date, it’s really hard to pick one. I connected with both thought leaders on a personal level, and after each interview, I left feeling more inspired than before. With Carmen Low, one of the pieces of advice I hold closely till now is “Do not close off any doors that you feel might not work – success comes in many different forms and ways.” On the other hand, Green Renaissance taught me that listening is the best way to connect with anyone, and this was immensely important and helpful to my job in Oasis when I work with our contributors.
Personally, 2020 has been a rollercoaster year. I started off feeling rather depressed about my future, but as it turns out, sometimes things come to you when you least expect it. It was the year where I managed to clinch a full time job despite troubled times for fresh graduates, but also a year where I understand myself a lot better now and learn how to enjoy the small moments in life. I’m thankful for our contributors who grew with me along the way (especially our regular contributor, Surer, who met me on my first day of work) and also my loved ones who encouraged me during the darkest points of life. In 2021, I would wish for nothing more than to give back to these people who have been by my side.
Julianna Wu, Reporter based in Beijing, China
In my interview with physicist Yangyang Cheng, we discussed how early-year defeat from school scores can easily kill off a child’s interest towards science. But she added that the essential requirements to be a good scientific researcher are curiosity, persistence, and resource support. I suddenly was able to forgive myself for not earning good scores in my physics classes in high school and also came to forgive the teachers who discourage students with bad academic performances because they thought it takes “talents” to study science subjects. I just failed the tests, it didn’t mean I’m less smart than other kids. Curiosity and persistence, these aren’t something that can be shown from a school test.
On a personal level, I received a lot of recognition from friends, colleagues, mentors, and in general strangers on my infographic and reporting work this year. Some reporter friends even told me they cited or took inspiration from our pieces. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the stories I published help people’s decision-making and worth-sharing! This positive feedback make me realise our KrASIA team are doing something valuable and influential.
Sara Mandagie, Reporter based in Jakarta, Indonesia
2020 is definitely a year to remember. It’s a year of how we should keep thriving even though we are stumbling. A year or adapt fast or we might not be able to survive. This year, in Indonesia to be more specific, obituary news comes more often than ever. To me personally, some of my family and friends can’t get through the year, so indeed, a lot of personal reflection comes to mind. One of them is how to appreciate living souls even more, including mine too.
Personally, there is always a silver-lining or at least a takeaway from each interview I’ve done. I find It’s always wonderful to hear a message that we can all resonate when it comes to the human side of the story. Because after all, we are all similarly human.
AJ Cortese, Reporter based in New York, USA
Talking to Tiffany Yu about people with disabilities in the workplace was very powerful. It made me realize how often I take my non-disabled status for granted, and prompted some introspection. I think the social side of tech was also very relevant, and I like bringing out that side of things. Hopefully, as we build a more advanced society we can make sure that is also a more inclusive society for others.
Personally, it was all about the election in the US this year. Although it was a terrible grueling process, we got through it. That leaves much to look forward to in 2021 and beyond, because trust me it cannot get much worse. Though we are still a divided country, hopefully we can begin the healing process we desperately need, and support allies on the world stage. So while 2020 was a difficult one, hopefully it foreshadows a brighter future.
Stephanie Li, Reporter based in Myanmar
While I was interviewing Pwint Htun, who is the founder of Mobilizing Myanmar, I felt very inspired by her story and aspirations towards her home country and the world. When asked about her piece of suggestion for the young generation, she said, “it’s okay to experience fear and doubt, but don’t let it stop you. Go out and accomplish things that make this planet better.”
This year I embarked on a new journey in Yangon, Myanmar. After I graduated from university in December 2019, I went straight to Yangon for a news internship in January without knowing what was really ahead of me. By the time the internship was completed in March, Covid-19 hit Myanmar badly. I got the chance to leave the country, but I chose to stay. Fast Forward to now, I am here with the KrASIA team, bringing interesting tech and human stories from Myanmar to the world. I would say that the most memorable moment for me was the day I entered Yangon in January, not because of how special the day was, but how this day seemed to mark another journey of my life. Though there are many times that I feel dispirited, I look around and see what I have — what’s more to life, if not love and hope.
Taro Ishida, Startup Community Lead in Singapore
Listening to Jo Tyndall, New Zealand’s high commissioner to Singapore, talk about working to design the Paris Agreement was truly awe inspiring. Realising you are talking to someone who has done something with truly global and historical impact was a great moment and one that I would not have had without Oasis.
Also, I went to visit Vikram Bharati at Draper Startup House where we sat to have a general chat about all sorts of topics. During this conversation, we discussed content ideas and how informal founder chats are something that can be interesting for the startup community. He spun some ideas and seemed very keen to get something going. The next day he had filmed his first episode of “Unscripted” and uploaded it to Youtube. It was great to see someone get an idea and just push through with it, really showing his entrepreneurial side.
Joanna Ng is the Community Coordinator at Oasis, by KrASIA. Her time in Shanghai has broadened her horizons and inspired her to share personal stories of not only herself, but others as well. When she’s not hearing stories, she’s usually pursuing her passions in the Chinese Language and Culture, and writing her thoughts on the world reflected in her eyes.
If you’d like to contribute an article to Oasis, you can apply here.