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

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"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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Sunday, March 11, 2007
A Literary Adventure

blog

Joint Statement

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Thank you for inviting us to the launch of the fifth IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians. It is unfortunate that we are not able to make today's ceremony: both of us are currently studying in America. Joyce Tagal (winner, 2003) is a sophomore at Yale University, while Andrew Loh (winner, 2006) is a freshman at Swarthmore College. We have no doubt that being winners of this national essay writing competition were huge factors in our admissions into our prestigious schools, and would like to thank all of you once again for this. 

We still vividly remember our visits to the emerald isle of Ireland. Joyce remembers her chance encounter with Pierce Brosnan at Dublin's best hotel; Andrew, his visit to Eire's own mini-Versailles, luscious Powerscourt Gardens. We reminisce about stately, romanesque Dublin Castle, the blue-green River Liffey, and the splendidly ornate Book of Kells. Until today, Ireland still remains one of our favourite world destinations, even though we have both been to many other countries.  

But what is closer to heart than the mere "touristy" activities are the lessons that we have learnt. In Ireland, both of us met people who have made careers out of writing: despite the risks, despite the odds.  Our interactions have not only broadened our horizons, but have also deepened our realisation that there is more to life than just boring old jobs. That it is important to live with passion and self-actualisation, and by this principle we have mapped out our college paths. 

We may not be award-winning authors in the future, but winning this competition has given us courage. Courage, not only to write, and write well at that, but also courage to be ourselves. Courage to write, not because we have to, but because we want to. Because we have stories to tell, lessons to share and points to make.  

We dare to write for a purpose. 

It is this, we believe, that is the most important contribution of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians: it has given the youth of Malaysia courage. Courage to express themselves; freely, unhindered, bravely. For there has always been an Malaysian underground writing scene, due to the rigid and conformist syllabus in school. The dearth of mediums for which to express ourselves has manifested itself in the burgeoning of blogs on the Internet; our thirst for writing evident in the sheer number of participants in competitions such as these! We are glad that there exists this award that recognises Malaysian talent and individualism – and are infinitely grateful to all who have made this possible. 

We also wish to highlight inkyhands.net, an online literary magazine for Malaysian youth by Malaysian youth. Headed by Elizabeth Wong, herself an IMPAC Dublin finalist, this student driven project, like our very own competition, aims to challenge the youth to take up their quills, promote creativity of expression and improve the literary scene in Malaysia. See how quickly this competition has begun to yield results?! 

To all participants, we wish you the best of luck. Remember that writing is not only a process of self-expression, but also a process of self-discovery. We have no doubts that the 2007 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians will be nothing less than a smashing success. This is a great learning opportunity: Have courage, take heart! Write for a reason, write because you want to, write for a purpose, and you will not labour in vain.  

With high hopes,

Joyce Tagal and Andrew Loh.


article IMPAC Dublin article plus photos

Impac Dublin Essay

A Literary Adventure

By ANDREW LOH ZHU AN

WINNING the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians last year came as an absolute surprise to me – I was already more than satisfied to be shortlisted. 

I had never really thought of myself as a writer before but I have now become more confident about exploring a new, exciting field of study. Nevertheless, I was thrilled when I won as it meant my mom and I were going to the emerald green isle of Eire!  

We arrived on June 11. The first thing I liked about Ireland was its cool, rejuvenating, I-can-hardly-break-a-sweat-even-if-I-run weather.  

We were taken to the posh Morrison Hotel, where we resided for our entire trip. This centrally-located four-star hotel overlooks the River Liffey, which runs through the heart of Dublin City, or Atha Cliath in Irish. 

Andrew (right) with John, Britta and award winner Toibin.
Dublin delights 

Atha Cliath is a pleasant-sized city: not too big, not too small. Home to about 1.2 million residents, it is the capital of Ireland. A lot of its buildings still retain their original facades, and the city is a fusion of romantic cobblestone streets and Georgian and Edwardian architecture.  

I believe that there is a cap on a Dublin building's height at four or five storeys – there aren't any skyscrapers in Dublin! This policy preserves the city's cultural and historical atmosphere – ancient structures with their flying buttresses, soaring steeples and Romanesque columns seem more prominent this way. 

Tourism and immigration have given Dublin a very metropolitan, multicultural feel. Mom and I tried to guess what ethnicity the people we met on the streets were (Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Polish!), with varying degrees of success. 

Dublin is also an extremely walkable city. Everyone walked everywhere! There are traffic lights and pedestrian crossings at almost every junction, and even the waiting periods at these intersections are soothingly short.  

The perfect weather definitely made it easy – I couldn't resist going out for a stroll in such conditions. (It never once rained when we were there – Mom claimed that we brought the sun over from Malaysia!) Truly, the best way to explore Dublin is on foot.  

I got to meet the other Young Writers from the United States – John Raithel and mom from Rhode Island, and Britta Bell and dad from Connecticut. John had won for his story Perimeters and Britta, for her poem Keeping My Father.  

We trotted to Trinity College Dublin for a walking tour and an exhibition of the famous Book of Kells. 

The Book of Kells is an ornate, colourfully illustrated medieval manuscript produced by Celtic monks. Intricate artwork and stunningly complex decorations interweave with lavish calligraphy to create an awe-inspiring, breathtaking, almost sacred sight, even to the casual observer.  

We then went over to the IMPAC office to have an enjoyable, light, getting-to-know-you session with the illustrious judging panel for the International Literary Award. (They wouldn't tell us who won!) 

Literary giants 

Did you know that no less than four Irishmen have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, namely William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney?  

Not forgetting literary giants Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, Ireland has contributed disproportionately to Western literature.  

Because of Ireland's literary heritage, the world's richest book prize – the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is held there. 

It was there, in Dublin City Hall, where we were among the select few to learn, firsthand, that Colm Toibin had won the award and the ?100,000 for his tour-de-force, The Master. He was the first Irishman to win the award since its inception. 

Later, Mom and I went on a walking tour of the city, where we visited, among other Dublin landmarks, the all-imposing Dublin Castle, historic Temple Bar, refreshing St Stephen's Green, and a few ornate, antique churches.  

We also attended the celebration dinner for Toibin, where we ate to our hearts content and received complimentary autographed copies of the winning book!  

The Young Writers and their parents were escorted to the IMPAC office to meet the newly-crowned Toibin. It was very nice to get to know him personally; Colm was very humble and down-to-earth.  

We chatted with him about what it meant to be a writer, and about his experiences as one. His advice: take note of anything that motivates, touches, enrages, discourages, inspires, frightens you. Anything at all – for it is your personal experience you draw on when you write. 

Next, Judge Eugene Sullivan, the chair of the judging panel and former chief judge of the US Court of Appeals, took us on a tour of the Irish Supreme Court – the Four Courts.  

There we witnessed a civil hearing, saw some dangerous criminals in handcuffs, talked to an Irish judge, and took in some legal trivia from our affable guide.  

Did you know that toilets in courtrooms have a form of ultraviolet lighting to make it next to impossible for people to locate their veins, thus deterring them from committing suicide in the heat of legal action? Now you do! 

Football World Cup 

On a free day, Mom and I went on a bus tour to the south of Dublin, where we saw dramatic changes in scenery from the flat, sandy beaches to the east and the alternating green hills and rocky mountains to the west. 

We went to Powerscourt Gardens, which is this gigantic, hauntingly beautiful, aristocratic estate to the southwest of Dublin. Its main mansion is said to be based on Versailles, albeit on a much smaller scale.  

Here we could see endless miles of evergreen forest stretching into the misty horizon. There were also the vast seas of emerald plains for which Eire is so famous for, and that very site was where the movie Braveheart was filmed!  

The entire delegation also went to a couple of readings held for the Dublin Writer's Festival, where we listened to several accomplished, internationally acclaimed novelists and poets present an eclectic selection of their work.  

That afternoon was also quite an experience, catching the World Cup live from a hotel room in Europe! 

The nights I had were reserved for hanging out with John and Britta – chatting and joking, alternating between school, life, politics, other deep stuff, and nothing much in particular. I had my first pint of Guinness. It wasn't bad, but comparatively, it's staggeringly thicker than other beers. Surprisingly, even in Guinness' birthplace, beer was quite expensive: ?4 for a pint (500 ml)! 

We finally left for London after six days. 

I wish to thank IMPAC for making the trip possible and its staff in Dublin: Linda and Tana for taking care of us so well, and Chris and Gorpin for taking us out so often to make sure that we'd get at least one good meal a day!  

My trip to Ireland was immensely fulfilling. I definitely see myself going back again. Now, if only they'd change the age limit this year? 

Related Stories:
Win a trip to Dublin


From last year:

The REAL article

A free trip to Ireland for two, a seven day stint at one of the most happening cities in Europe, and a chance to meet the winner of the world's most lucrative literary award – not too bad a reward for listening to my mother and staying up late to write an essay on the extended competition deadline itself!

Winning the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Young Malaysians 2006 came as an absolute surprise to me. I was already more than satisfied to be short listed. Before, I never really thought of myself as a writer; but now, I found confidence to explore a new, exciting field of study. Nevertheless, I was nothing less than thrilled when I won: my mom and I were going to the emerald green isle of Eire!




Dublin Seascape

Day 1

We arrived on Sunday, 11 June. The first thing I liked about Ireland was its weather; its cool, rejuvenating, I-can-hardly-break-a-sweat-even-if-I-run weather. Oh, how I relished the wonderful, perfect breeze bringing life back into my tired, jet-lagged frame. I instantly knew that I was going to like the place.

We were taken to the posh Morrison Hotel, where we were to reside for our entire trip. This centrally-located four-star hotel overlooks the River Liffey, which runs through the heart of Dublin City, or Atha Cliath in Irish.


River Liffey (a bit the dirty one. can see green mold, hehe)

Atha Cliath is a pleasant-sized city; not too big, not too small. Home to about 1.2 million residents, it is the capital of Ireland. A lot of its buildings still retain their original facades, and the city is a fusion of romantic cobblestone streets and Georgian and Edwardian architecture. I believe that there is a cap on a Dublin building's height at four or five storeys – there aren't any skyscrapers in Dublin! This policy preserves the city's cultural and historical atmosphere – ancient structures with their flying buttresses, soaring steeples and Romanesque columns seem more prominent this way.



Cobblestoned streets

(Look reeeally carefully and you'll see that the streets are strewn with cigarette butts. Dublin is as dirty as Malaysia, but it doesn't feel that way, because of the perfect weather and breeeeeeze.)


Georgian architecture (think red red red brick)

Tourism and immigration have given Dublin a very metropolitan, multicultural feel. Mom and I tried to guess of what ethnicity people we met on the streets were (Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Polish!), with varying degrees of success.

One thing about Dublin: it is an extremely walkable city. Everyone walked everywhere! There were traffic lights and pedestrian crossings at almost every junction, and even the waiting periods at these intersections were soothingly short. The perfect weather definitely made it easy – I couldn't resist going out for a stroll in such conditions. (It never once rained when we were there – Mom claimed that we brought the sun over from Malaysia!) Truly, the best way to explore Dublin is on foot.



Four/five storey cap for buildings.

 Day 2

I met the other Young Writers – John Raithel and mom from Rhode Island, and Britta Bell and dad from Connecticut. John had won for a story he wrote entitled Perimeters, and Britta, a poem called Keeping My Father. We trotted over to Trinity College Dublin for a walking tour and an exhibition of the famous Book of Kells.

Trinity College Dublin



Trinity College Dublin

The Book of Kells is an ornate, colourfully illustrated medieval manuscript produced by Celtic monks. Intricate artwork and stunningly complex decorations interweave with lavish calligraphy to create an awe-inspiring, breathtaking, almost sacred sight, even to the casual observer. Striking hues of green, red, purple, gold, pink and blue belie their true age. In the days when paints were painfully expensive and hard to obtain, surely the monks didn't spare any expense in its creation: pigments were acquired from all over Europe; the extraordinarily costly semi-precious blue lapis lazuli was imported from Afghanistan!

We then went over to the IMPAC Office to have an enjoyable, light, getting-to-know-you session with the illustrious Judging Panel for the International Literary Award. (They wouldn't tell us who won!)

 

Day 3

Did you know that no less than four Irishmen have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, namely William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney? Not forgetting giants Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, Ireland has contributed remarkably, disproportionately to world literature. And for this Irish literary heritage, the world's richest book prize – the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is held there.



Poet, Dramatist, Wit: Oscar Wilde lived here


Dublin Coat of Arms. But check out the irony: Flaming castles and obendientia in Dublin.



John, Britta, Me

It was there, in Dublin City Hall, where we were among the selected few to learn, first-hand, that Colm Toibin had won the award and the 100,000 Euros for his tour-de-force, The Master. He is the first Irishman to win the award since its conception.



John, Britta, Colm Toibin, Me


Colm, Me



Actually I won lah.

Later, Mom and I went on a walking tour of the city, where we visited, among other Dublin landmarks, the all-imposing Dublin Castle, historic Temple Bar, refreshing St. Stephen's Green, and a few ornate, antique churches. We would also attend the celebration dinner for Colm Toibin, where we would eat our hearts out and receive complimentary autographed copies of the winning book!

 



Mom and I, Christchurch Cathedral Dublin



I like the pic mah.




Dublin Castle

Day 4

The Young Writers and their parents were escorted to the IMPAC Office to meet the newly crowned Colm Toibin. It was very nice to get to know him personally; Colm was very humble, very down-to-earth. We congratulated and chatted with him about what it meant to be a writer, and about his experiences as one. His advice: take note of anything that motivates, touches, enrages, discourages, inspires, frightens you. Anything at all – for it is from your personal experience that you draw from when you write.



Rubbish!!! Mala = Bag in Irish.

   
The Four Courts

Next, Judge Eugene Sullivan, the chair of the Judging Panel and former Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals, took us on a tour of the Irish Supreme Court – the Four Courts. There we witnessed a civil hearing, saw some dangerous criminals in handcuffs, talked to an Irish judge, and took in some legal trivia from our affable guide. Did you know that toilets in courtrooms have a form of ultraviolet lighting to make it next to impossible for people to locate their veins, thus deterring them from committing suicide in the heat of legal action? Now you do!

Day 5

Today was a free day. Mom and I went on a bus tour to the south of Dublin, where we saw dramatic changes in scenery from the flat, sandy beaches to the East and the alternating green hills and rocky mountains to the West.

We went to Powerscourt Gardens, which is this gigantic, hauntingly beautiful, aristocratic estate to the southwest of Dublin. Its main mansion is said to be based on Versailles, albeit on a much smaller scale. Here we could see endless miles of evergreen forest stretching into the misty horizon. There were also the vast seas of emerald plains for which Eire is so famous for, and that very site was where the movie Braveheart was filmed! C'est magnifique!



Powerscourt Gardens, like Versaille, no?

Powerscourt Gardens: Braveheart filmed here! (Like golf course only)




Sculpture by some Italian sculptor



Powerscourt Gardens Central Lake




Japanese Gardens at Powerscourt



Look REEEEAAAALLY CAREFULLY (Very funny one!)



Inspired by a pepper shaker.







Pretty.

Day 6

The entire delegation went to a couple of readings held for the Dublin Writer's Festival where we listened to several accomplished, internationally-acclaimed novelists and poets present an eclectic selection of their work.



The harp: a symbol of Ireland

That afternoon was also quite an experience, catching the World Cup live from a hotel room in Europe!

The nights I had were reserved for hanging out with John and Britta – chatting and joking, alternating between school, life, politics, other deep stuff, and nothing much in particular. I had my first pint of Guinness. It wasn't bad, but comparatively, it's staggeringly thicker than other beers. Surprisingly, even in Guinness' birthplace, beer was quite expensive: 4 Euro for a pint (500 ml)!



Statue of Guinness founder in St Stephen's Green!!!


We left the next day for London.

I wish to thank IMPAC for making this trip so enjoyable for me and my mom. Thank you so much for your flexibility and generosity. Also, another huge thank you to the IMPAC staff in Dublin: Linda and Tana for taking care of us so well, and Chris and Gorpin for taking us out so often to make sure that we'd get at least one good meal a day!

All in all, my trip to Ireland was immensely fulfilling. I definitely see myself going back again. Now, if only they'd change the age limit next year…



Pleasepleaseplease.


Posted at 01:57 am by andrewlza

 

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