Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
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I Believe That Dreams Can Come True Part1 (Singapore)
We bring you the interviews with “I Believe That Dreams Can Come True”, the global-scale project by little girls.
Two Singaporean girls, Tay and Val, embarked on an around-the-globe journey. They didn’t choose to take any public transportation. They decided to travel around the world by tiny, little bicycles.
They set out on a journey with no end in sight in order to talk to people about the importance of dreams. They plan to see old and young people all over the world, hear their dreams and share them with other people in other countries and continents.
They hope that with each step they take, each story they share – one person is “gently reminded” about his/her dream.
(Val) We left Singapore on March 30, 2010. So we’ve traveled for about 110 days in Taiwan and Japan since then. When we need to cross oceans, we take a plane; when we need to cross mountains, we take buses or trains.
People are different. They look different, their languages and cultures are different, even what they eat is different. But what is within is the same. There is one common thing that makes people happy – and that is their “Dream”.
(Tay) When we started this project, no matter where you were, we knew everyone had a dream. No matter who you are, you have a dream. Dreams connect everyone together.
So even if I’m in Japan, I tell you dreams of Taiwanese people. You would be able to understand. Even if we have very different dreams, say, I want to be a teacher and you want to be a doctor, you would recognize that there is something beneath very different dreams. It is the same passion that connects different people, different dreams, different aspirations together.
Val (left) & Tay (right)
An old man’s passion
(Val) Many people have cycled around the world, but what we want to do is not just travel around the world by bicycles. We want to walk into people’s lives, talk to them and ask them about their dreams.
A Taiwanese old man loves trains enough to start his own “train restaurant” and then at the age of 65, is still not shy to announce, “I have one more dream, and I want to pursue it. I want to cycle to all the train stations in Taiwan and take a photo at each of them!”
Coming from Singapore, which is so similar to Japan, you would understand that our priorities in life are jobs, income, cars, houses etc. But when this old man came along and shared his story, his passion with us – it was a wake up call. It made us ask ourselves, “What are we doing with our lives?” That wake up call gave us the courage, the motivation, the push to want to join him.
(Tay) Yes, and Val did not know how to cycle at that time. I don’t think she thought about that when she volunteered to go with him.
(Val) Right. I didn’t know how to cycle. But I knew I had a promise to fulfill. Then to us, a bicycle has become a “symbol” of this old man.
(Tay) His spirit, his passion, his reminder
(Val) Living in one’s dream was something that came naturally for the old man. It’s like you drink water if you are thirsty, you eat if you are hungry, you sleep if you’re tired. On the other hand, it’s not natural for urban people to pursue their dreams. Many people forget them without realizing it.
So we tell people about his dream when we show them our bicycles. Then we can share his story with people. That’s the first reason why we travel by bike.
The second reason is… if you drive from Tokyo to Yokohama (about 35km, 22miles), it takes an hour. On the other hand, it’ll take a whole day by bicycle but you’ll see many things. You’ll see how children go to school, how people go to work. We can stop by a local restaurant and see what people eat. So we can go into their lives and learn about that country more easily.
And last but not least, for a very practical reason – We are on a 5-year journey with very, very limited budgets. So cycling is the cheapest mode of transport for us!
Leaving journalistic career
(Val) We quit our job to commit to this project. We used to own a TV production company.
(Tay) Previously, our dream was to tell many kinds of stories to people in Singapore through TV documentaries. We tried to do it and finished a big project. Then we traveled to Taiwan to recharge our battery and met an old man there. That instant, our lives changed.
(Val) After the trip, a TV station called us and asked, “Can you make one more program?” It was really difficult to say, “No” because rarely do new companies like us get opportunities like that.
(Tay) But on the other hand, we had an opportunity to fulfill a dream.
(Val) So we made a decision and told the TV station, “We won’t be able to make programs anymore.” Then we closed our business completely. No company, no money, nothing.
(Tay) TV station people are concerned about money; they want something which generates a big return. But as a story-teller, I am concerned about the message of the program – what is it that the program wants to tell its audience? And it’s always difficult to balance between the two. Of course I know TV stations also are companies and they have to chase profit.
(Val) It takes money and time to make a good program. But the station wants us to be fast and cheap. So when you’ve got two story-tellers like us who insist on not compromising the message, the integrity of the program for “fast and cheap”, you end up sinking all your resources, the last bit of money you have, into the program.
(Tay) So after the project, you get two tired souls with very little faith left in the industry, in TV, or in anything else for that matter. But an old man comes along, and a new door opens! We realized we could take this project global, through the internet. And even though it meant we had to bid familiar Singapore, our families, friends and businesses goodbye; it wasn’t so difficult once the decision was made.
After six months of preparations in Singapore, we flew to Taiwan to start cycling with the old man. But a week later, his mother passed away. In Chinese culture, the funeral period is very long. They spend 14 days for only a funeral. And you cannot leave your hometown for 100 days. You must be close to graves during the period to mourn one’s death.
We didn’t have 100 days to wait. So we continued the round-Taiwan cycling journey on our own.
Adults around kids say, “Join a highly-reputed company”. They get lost
(Tay) We decided to pedal very small bikes to go around the world in order to share the reason we started this journey, to share the reason we are here and share an old man’s dream, his daughter’s dream and many people’s dreams with others.
(Val) For example, I move from the old man’s house to a town. I meet people there and I tell them about his story. At the same time, I hear their dreams. Then I move to another town and tell people about the old man’s dream and dreams of people whom I met.
We’ve already been to cafes, schools, universities, elementary schools and told people about stories which we collected. At a cafe in Taiwan, people raised their hands, stood up and told us their dreams.
(Tay) When you listen to your heart, you listen to your dream. Then you stand up and tell everybody about it. From that moment, your dream is seconds away from coming true. We share people’s dreams on our website and more people visit it. Then they share their dream with others… it’s like a snowball.
(Val) When you tell people about your dream, first of all, many people hear you. Second of all, you hear yourself. Then the most important thing is that your heart hears you. When your heart hears you, you have already taken one step closer to your dream.
(Tay) Also if you think what makes you happy – dancing, singing, studying, whatever – you will find your dream and go in the right direction to fulfill it.
But in fact, many people, especially kids, get lost because adults around them say, “You have to join a highly-reputed company to earn a large salary”.
(Val) When we talked to students of the University of Tokyo (one of the top universities in Asia), a girl said, “Thank you!” Because she remembered her childhood dream. About 40 students shared their dreams with each other and at least one girl remembered her dream. For us, that one girl who got reminded is enough.
(Tay) I asked them, “Which kind of thing is inside the treasure box in your heart?” If you find it, that’s your dream. While they were drawing their dreams, they were connecting with themselves. They were reminded about what they loved and what the important things to them were.
Dreams come from the bottom of your heart
(Tay) What makes you happy is what comes from the bottom of your heart. And it’s pure. But over time you forget it because of much stress, money making, deadlines, etc. However we hope sometimes you remember your childhood. When did you feel happy?
In Japan, we’ve collected tons of drawings which we want to share with many Japanese people. Not only with kids but also with adults.
(Val) Plates are put on our bicycles which say, “Please draw your dream!” in Japanese. We showed plates to people in many places in Tokyo. Then young and old drew pictures of their dreams and messages for kids! Moreover they talked to the video camera!
It says, “Please draw your dream and tell about it for the camera.”
So we believe that people want to share it when they know something. And they encourage each other.
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