Name: Andrew Loh Zhu An
Date of Birth: 2nd June 1987
Nationality: Malaysian

andrewlza[at]gmail[dot]com

SMK Damansara Jaya 2004

Swarthmore College 2010


From the Andrew's Heritage Dictionary:

Andrew (AND-roo)

1. noun. common name.

2. adjective. smart, dumb, intelligent, retarded, clever, stupid, bright, dull, witty, tounge-tied, shrewd, stuttering, slow, quick-witted, moronic, autistic, lively, outspoken, eloquent, dense, daft, idiotic, foolish, thick, spirited, sharp, vigourous, rude, arrogant, pompous, bloated, ostentatious, boastful, inflated, direct, brave, cowardly, gullible, free, free-spirited, burdened, depressed, optimistic, pessimistic, defensive, creative, innovative, irritating, annoying, impossible, infuriating, shy, loud, displeasing, norm-challenging, harassive, irksome, troublesome, vexatious, worrisome, provocative, impatient, pleasant, diplomatic, unreserved, trouble-making, short, defiant, fickle, shallow, timid, audacious, brainless, indoctrinated, indoctrinatory, proud, exploitative, zesty, humourous, anal-retentive, rebellious, lame, innocuous, dangerous, explosive, spontaneous, adaptable, stubborn, pig-headed, nervous, offensive, pestering, useless, ironic, paradoxical.

Usage: You're so Andrew! [Interchange with any of the above definitions]

And yes, I did look at the thesaurus.

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Quotes
"How many times have you chickened out?" - Qu Hsueh Ming

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last." - Sir Winston Churchill

"Affirmative action is something the good don't need and the bad don't deserve" - A wise man

"The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation's greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us." - John F. Kennedy

"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." - John F. Kennedy

"I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." - James A. Baldwin

"Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is but a broken winged bird that cannot fly." - Langston Hughes

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." - Sir Winston Churchill

"Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?" - Alfred Lord Tennyson

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." - John Calvin Coolidge

"We will either find a way or make one." - Hannibal

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte

"For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

"War begins in the minds of men, and it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must first be constructed." - UNESCO Constitution

"The proper study of mankind is man." - Alexander Pope

"My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death." - Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens): A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

"Patriotism is to support your country all the time and your government when it deserves it" - Mark Twain

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - George Bernard Shaw

"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

"Democracy is a system ensuring that the people are governed no better than they deserve." - George Bernard Shaw

"If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all." -- Noam Chomsky

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

"When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom." - Thomas Paine

"I sense a learning: that much dumber people than you end up in charge. Look at the way things are. I'm no fucken genius or anything, but these spazzos are in charge of my every twitch. What I'm starting to think is maybe only the dumb are safe in this world, the ones who roam with the herd, without thinking about every little thing. But see me? I have to think about every little fucken thing." - Vernon God Little, Act II



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Saturday, May 20, 2006
Divine Intervention

*Warning*: Andrew high = post bad English. Comprehendo?

I dyed my hair. Now I look like a gangster/Ah Beng. :D I look better when wearing glasses now, though. The silver frame complements the chestnut brown hair.

My mom screamed. Tee hee.

Tonight was the awards presentation night for the Impac Dublin thing. Mom + Pn. Koh = Entourage moi. Grand Plaza Park Royal. Don't you guys think Park Royale would have have been a much much much much much better name though? Sounds so much more aristocratic, more high class. Royale. French is always cool.

They started introducing the 10 Consolation Prizes, then the 9 Merit Awards, then the goody goody har har yummylicious Grand Prize. This is a time when you don't want them to call your name. Not good.

I was holding my mom's hand when they called out the 1st Runner Up.

OMG x 9999. I won.

It didn't sink in. I had the three Es = I was euphoric, ecstatic, elated. Yay me.

OMG x 9999. (Pretend you guys feel the excitement la.)

I drank the entire glass of white wine then, lol. *Gulp*.

I get to go to Ireland with my mommy and attend the World's Richest Book Prize and shout Malaysia Boleh once our very own shortlisted candidate wins the International IMPAC Dublin Book Award. And I get 1000 bucks.

SMKDJ gets an LCD projector. Now my kids can watch VCDs and DVDs. Yay them. After I leave school, mind you.

I think I spoke well at the ceremony. :D

Thanking session:

GOD. MUACKS MUACKS. Now I know why I didn't win the ESUM Public Speaking Competition. Because the International Competition in London was the exact same night and I wouldn't have won had I not attended the ceremony. Yay 1. Diiiivine Intervention. ;)

I learnt that I was a writer as well. Yay 2. (I already knew I can speak, so ESUM was not much of a growing experience.)

My MOMMY gets to go too. Yay 3. (She forced me to write the essay) If it was ESUM mommy stay at home. Now she go to Ireland. Yay 4.

The STAR for extending the deadline. I wrote the essay on the extended deadline itself. :D

HSUEH MING for introducing me to the competition last year. Yea. I never would've known about it had you not brought your shortlisting up in casual conversation.

Pink Pau Su Ann, fellow nocturnal person, who read through my essay on the extended deadline and gave me a thumbs up. She's a national finalist as well, people. Confidence giver, she.

I'm taking Su Ann and Hsueh Ming out. I think. Char kuey teow or chicken rice. :D They get two packets if they're nice. :D But seriously, any nice places to makan? How's La Manila, Taman Megah sound? Their Cordon Bleu is suberb.

My kids are going to get a kick out of seeing their teacher with chestnut colored hair in the Star. XD

And yea Sam and Grace: I'm wearing your brilliant orange tie from Teachers' Day. ;)

-------------------------------------------------------------------

And for the Essay itself:

If I could change the world

I will change the world.

Those five purposeful words abound in my dog-eared collection of old examination essays, debate speeches and college applications. Along with overused clichés like "I will make a difference", "I will serve my country" and "world peace", these phrases transform my pieces into soaring, emotional, inspiring compositions that touch hearts, rouse spirits, gain marks, score As, and win competitions. Teachers and judges look out for these particular expressions; after all, we all love to hear determined, motivated young people speak out about their lofty, admirable ambitions and goals in life. We all fancy calls to action; written with flair, spoken with eloquence.

If only I meant what I said.

I lied.

To convince my audience, I put on poise, conviction and confidence. I acted like I really believed that I could change the world. To them, I was passionate, zestful, and true; to myself, I sounded hollow, insubstantial, and fake. I was a petty actor; one who could convince everyone but himself. I could deceive everyone, but could not afford to fool myself.

I really don't know whether I can change the world or not.

Honestly, I think I want to change the world, but to say that I will change the world is a complete lie. It makes a feel-good, but nonetheless dubious statement that is left hanging; its veracity unjustified. I fear that I cannot fulfil this prophecy, for I am unconvinced of my own abilities. I fear that I cannot walk my talk, that I cannot live up to my word.

I am doubtful of myself.

After all, I am but an average 18 year old who wants to have fun, friends, and good grades. I am no genius, no superhuman, no Olympic medallist, no prodigy, no wizard, no whiz kid extraordinaire. I cannot fly, go back in time, solve Fermat's last Theorem, cast magic spells, play Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, or recite the Periodic Table from memory.

Am I destined to do great things? I think not. Much less change the world.

But there is this nagging feeling that persistently irritates me. Without fail, my conscience reprimands my intellect for being so cold and pragmatic. There is something in facts and statistics and practicality that my heart despises. It hates the realism, the pessimism, the dearth of hope.

My soul cries out: it exhorts me to re-examine my outlook! Enough of 'logic'! It entreats me to ignore the constraints and limits of common sense, as just for a while. Enough of 'reality'! It tells me not to take into account that I'm not competent or capable enough. Enough of being 'rational'! It begs me to indulge my senses in youthful optimism, in hopeful idealism, to set my mind free, to wish, to dream, to imagine!

It dares me to ask the question - "If".

If I could change the world, would I?

That is the question.

It is a question worth contemplating, worth examining, worth meditating upon.

If I could change the world, would I?

If I had the power to – perhaps?

Even against violent, vehement, vicious opposition? Even if I was ridiculed and mocked and jeered at? Even if the odds were stacked against me? Even if no one had done it before? Even if facts and statistics and practical common sense dictated that I had absolutely no chance of succeeding?

Charles Stewart Parnell did! He laid the foundation for Irish unity and Home Rule which spread nationalistic fervour throughout the British Empire, influencing Gandhi and Nehru towards their own pursuit for independence. Rosa Parks did! She refused to give up her bus seat, and her non-compliance ultimately led to the triumphant civil rights movement of America.

Society, at that time, condemned them for being indolent and rebellious. But despite threats against their lives, liberty and property, they chose to do what they knew was right.

For centuries, talk of going to the moon was pure laughingstock. Yet the small step for Neil Armstrong was a giant leap for mankind – mankind has succeeded, despite cynicism, despite infinite problems, despite the odds. Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire defied orders to withdraw United Nations troops and as a result saved at least twenty thousand Tutsis from brutal death during the Rwandan genocide.

Oh, how I wish that I too could leave my mark in history as they did!

Ah, they took the road less travelled! And somewhere ages and ages hence, we tell great stories about these exceptional men and women who chose to take on the less popular, irrational path, and how that has made all the difference.

And what a difference they have made.

Interestingly, all of them were just normal, ordinary, imperfect human beings.

The only thing that made these ordinary people great is the one thing they had in common: they never stopped believing in themselves and the righteousness of their cause. They knew that their causes were greater than themselves; that they were at tipping points of sorts; that they could indeed change the world, despite their imperfections. They stayed true to themselves, and against all odds, they never, never, never, never, never gave up.

Perhaps that is all it takes to change the world – to just listen to our hearts, and never give up.

If I could change the world, would I?

I would.

Because after all, perhaps it isn't as impossible as I imagined it to be.

But can I really change the world?

I want to think so.

If being normal and imperfect didn't stop Parnell and Gandhi and Armstrong and Rosa Parks from changing the world, why should it stop me? I will change the world, and the shackles of reality will not weigh me down.

I want to dream! I want to become Prime Minister and speak out against discrimination and oppression! I want to imagine! I want to revamp our exam-oriented education system and expose our children to learning for learning's sake! I want to fight poverty, to cure cancer, to resolve wars, to battle corruption, to educate children, to nurture lives! I want to give hope to our world!

Perhaps changing the world starts from small dreams that grow and grow and grow.

Then again, maybe I am already changing the world through my seemingly unimportant actions. Maybe I am already influencing classmates by speaking out about socio-political issues. Maybe I am touching lives when I volunteer at the nearby special needs children centre.

Maybe butterflies which flap their wings in Brazil really do cause tornadoes in Texas. Maybe solitary raindrops do cause ripples to travel all over the surface of otherwise serene, peaceful ponds.

It is a hauntingly beautiful concept: that I have the power to shape and mould my future. That through whatever I do, no matter how seemingly insignificant it might be, I will be able to influence humanity, someway, somehow.

Perhaps I didn't lie after all.

Perhaps I was telling the truth in my examination essays, debate speeches and college applications.

Perhaps I really will change the world.

 

(1,173 words)





Posted at 01:06 am by andrewlza

lyl
May 20, 2006   02:37 AM PDT
 
congrats.
liz
May 20, 2006   07:42 AM PDT
 
omg! congrats!
JC
May 20, 2006   09:16 AM PDT
 
Congrats! That was a good speech you gave. It became obvious that your debating skills came into play when you started to *ahem* lengthen it though. :)
peiling
May 20, 2006   09:51 AM PDT
 
hey dude, i told ya u're so gonna win right?? =)

so happy for you =)
the bloghopping one
May 20, 2006   11:39 AM PDT
 
omg, bloody hell man, that wasn't even a story! you didn't even need fiction!!! congrats!!! loved it! i actlly had the same idea in my essay, but it couldn't even squeeze through the top 20. oh well. congrats again!!
HweeChing
May 20, 2006   01:37 PM PDT
 
You know, I always write about changing the world for the better in my essays.

Like the one I just wrote for my english 119 exam just now.

Hahhahahha I never really thought of whether I'd REALLY wanna change the world, cos to me all of what I was writing was just to make myself sound mature. heeheee.

But now.. you've given me something to think about. It was a damned good essay. I think I've learned quite some thing from it.

And I TOLD you you'd at least get top 5. SEE I WAS RIGHT! MUAHAHAHAHAHA.

Congrats. :)
andrew
May 20, 2006   02:13 PM PDT
 
thanks everyone!!! ahah yea hwee ching u were right! as was pinkpau.

and OMG YES I LENGTHENED IT SO MUCH. iwas like, ok, just finish the essay! repeat the same message in different words. 1000 words to go. do the saem. 900 words to go.

i was given free rein to be verbose here. ;)
Hsueh Ming
May 20, 2006   06:04 PM PDT
 
Bragtime.
andrew
May 20, 2006   06:12 PM PDT
 
oh yah.
Ren-To
May 20, 2006   09:18 PM PDT
 
=( Is it really on the star and hwat day was it? ><
yaowen
May 20, 2006   10:48 PM PDT
 
I really really love your essay. ;)

Congrats!
andrew
May 20, 2006   11:09 PM PDT
 
thanks, and it's coming out tomorrow - sunday star.
Yi Ching
May 20, 2006   11:26 PM PDT
 
Congratulations. I am jealous ... ><
Calypso
May 20, 2006   11:34 PM PDT
 
One of those essays I read and I feel that 'punch'. Congrats on winning the competition!
Ethan
May 21, 2006   07:57 AM PDT
 
OMFG. That came from you? I'm amazed. Congrats though. Oh yeah, my mom mentioned the idea of you coming back to read it out. Haha
adeline
May 21, 2006   11:33 AM PDT
 
congrats mr.andrew!! sunday's star page 14!!!
andrew
May 21, 2006   02:46 PM PDT
 
i knooow. i will - and the kids are going to get a kick out of my chestnut brown / red under flourescent light hair. :D
Zhi Wei
May 21, 2006   04:23 PM PDT
 
hey dude! you don't have the slightest idea of my existence, but I'd seen you writing for The Cicak before quite a few times (unless there are more than one Andrew Lohs around haha)... I saw your name shortlisted (I participated too, but unfortunately... lol) and today, your face was in the paper. anyway congratulations!

wonderful essay by the way (obviously!)... I really loved it. You truly deserve to win!
juzblue
May 24, 2006   04:54 PM PDT
 
Wow, congrats!!
sue ann
May 25, 2006   10:21 PM PDT
 
heya teacher !! =p
so sorry 4 da really really late comment.. coz my comp juz repaired oni >< hehe..
now exams lerr.. so cant go *ahem* blitz.. =Pp keke..
newayz... juz wanna say congrats for winning !! ^^
u dyed ur hair ! keke..
nice nice... =D
andrew
May 26, 2006   03:13 AM PDT
 
thanks y'all!
Anonymous
January 15, 2007   09:22 AM PST
 
Well, i dun noe you...
But you seem to be a great achiever...
And could you please tell me your way to such great essays...
PS: I am really jealous... X-(

Thx...
Johnny boy~
February 27, 2009   09:56 AM PST
 
What an essay! Reading it gave me mental goosebumps, I am truly inspired by the length and breath of your ambition and passion. It is rare to find a young Malaysian who resides in his heart instead of his head. In the end, all we need to change the world is to dare to dream dreams and believe that we will one day realize them.
Thank you for being an inspiration and having the courage to believe in dreams and dreaming.

P.S. I'm WELL jealous of your near-perfect prose;P
 

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