Hello! I am Wan Aliff, the latest addition to Jurong Frog Farm. I am currently an NIE undergraduate under the NTU-NIE Teaching Scholars Programme and on a track to be a Science/Mathematics teacher. As part of the BUILD (Building University Interns for Leadership Development) programme, I will be serving a 2-month internship at JFF with the objectives of learning leadership and operational skills from an industry apart from education as well as to value add to the company through means such as projects.
It’s only been my second week here and already it has been one huge experience. Set in a remote, opposite end of Singapore, it takes me about 2.5 hours of public commute if I am travelling from home. However, there is no reason to complain as the foreign workers on the farm wakes up diligently at 6 am every single day to wash and feed the frogs. Who knew running a farm could be this busy? Every single person on deck is responsible in ensuring that the farm runs smoothly.
Initially, I had some trouble memorising the content as well as delivering tours for preschool students as I wasn’t used to interacting with students of that age group. I had the privilege of having Zheng Xun and Jackson to occasionally provide tips for improvements during the tours. Although I had some experience conducting tour groups at the Sports Hub last year for older students, this was a completely different experience. During my first few tries, I made many assumptions based on the content given to me. For example, once I was telling the pre-schoolers that most of the tadpoles do not live to be an adult frog due to cannibalism which was not entirely true. Zheng Xun, the Froggy Guide who was observing the tour was quick to correct me and explain that tadpoles die for many other reasons too such as diseases, predators and often naturally.
Once, I had the chance to try out deboning the frog for a day. It took an entire day to completely debone them for me as compared to the workers who can do it in half a day. It left me with sores and aching legs and by the end of the day, I crashed on my bed and slept dead as a log by 9pm in exhaustion. It got me to reflect however. Not all jobs are ever pleasant. There I was silently complaining of the stench and the back-breaking work but at the end of the day someone must do the work. This had only been a day’s work for me and I could only just imagine the workers who had to debone the meat for the past few years. Also, I would not have been able to complete deboning the frog by the end of the day without the help of Jen and the director of JFF, Chelsea. Yes, that is right, sometimes even the boss must get her hands dirty to get the job done. To run the company, you must understand what each of your workers are doing. This was a very valuable lesson for me.
What I was really impressed thus far is the passion by the people working here for the farm. From young we were taught that Singapore’s economy had to evolve from agricultural to manufacturing and now towards high-value added technology to stay competitive. Little emphasis is thus given to understand the small agricultural scene here. The struggle to remain relevant and to preserve this rich heritage of Singapore is evident through the daily operations on the farm. You need passion. You need innovation and you need perseverance to keep a farm running in Singapore. Jurong Frog Farm is open come rain or shine through weekends and public holidays. The people here are always ready to welcome anyone to the farm with a smile and I think that is what makes the place a magical one.