The Elim Chew Story
Driven by Purpose, Destined for Change is a heartwarming, candid and frank biography of one of Singapore’s most prominent entrepreneur and multi-hyphenate, Elim Chew. Elim shares her lesser known familial histories, pangs of growing up, days of being wild, history of retail icon 77th Street, social enterprise, youth mentorships as well as her latest love, fishing.
Through the book, we get a deeper understanding of who multi-hyphenate Elim Chew really is, get to share in and learn from her community leadership,
business experiences, unique perspective on life and a whole lot of Singlish. She also provides insight into newly independent Singapore in the 1970s as well as an insider’s glimpse into pop culture in the rocking 1980s and 1990s. You will also get to know more of Elim’s hair-raising past, present motivations and future visions.
The book is written with reflections, take away lessons, engaging entrepreneurial tips and activities for anyone who wishes to be Driven by Purpose and Destined for Change.
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About the Author
Nha Ca, meaning a “courteous, elegant song” or “canticle” in Vietnamese, is the penname of one of the most famous South Vietnamese writers of the second half of the 20th century, whose real name is Tran Th Thu Van. She was born in Hue in 1939 and spent her youth there before moving to Saigon where she became a popular and prolific writer and poet. Initially her works focused on love but starting from the mid-1960s in many of her works she began to describe the fighting, atrocities, and suffering inflicted by the war that was ravaging her country. The most significant and famous of these works is Mourning Headband for Hue, which describes the experience of Vietnamese civilians in Hue during the Tet Offensive. This work was one of the winners of South Vietnam s Presidential Literary Award. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Communist authorities put Nha Ca into a prison camp where she remained from 1976 to 1977. Her husband, the poet Tran D Tu, was jailed for twelve years. In 1989, a year after he was released from prison, the couple and their family received political asylum from the Swedish government. Later they moved to the United States and now live in Southern California, where they publish the Vietnamese-language newspaper Viet Bao.Born and raised in Leningrad, USSR, Olga Dror received an MA in Oriental studies from Leningrad State University in 1987 and later pursued an advanced degree from the Institute for Linguistic Studies in the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. She worked for Radio Moscow’s Department of Broadcasting to Vietnam. In 1990 she immigrated to Israel, studied international relations at Hebrew University, and worked for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its embassy in Riga, Latvia, from 1994 to 1996. She continued her study of Vietnam and earned a PhD from Cornell University in 2003. Now an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, she is author of Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History and editor of two volumes on Vietnamese and Chinese religions. Her current research concerns the identities of Vietnamese children during the war in Vietnam.”
These are the reflections of a nonagenarian polymath describing the shift from a fifty-year-long career as a world-famous chemist to a subsequent twenty-five-year immersion in “science-in-fiction” and “science-in-theater,” which is virtually unique among contemporary scientists.
On the eve of the Great War, they had the world at – and watching – their feet. If God is in the details, they were divine. Vernon and Irene Castle were the world’s first true celebrity couple. He was the son of a pub landlord from Norfolk, she, his wife and dance partner, a New York doctor’s daughter. He was tall and slim, as poised as an elegant evening out, a template for the Hollywood idols who would follow. In a staid age, she was a glorious, modern beauty, with her haired cropped into a ‘shock’, a disdain for crippling corsets, a love of a martini and a good time. The Castles taught the world to dance to an altogether different tune, bringing social dancing out of stuffy ballrooms and into dance halls, night clubs and restaurants. For the first time, they made dancing in public respectable – and fun. Convention was discarded, fashion and style established. As a result, the couple lived and tangoed through torrential showers of stardust. When, in 1939, Hollywood filmed their story, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers played, and danced, the title roles. Together, they beat the censors and made their vibrant dancing acceptable for all. In the fashionable quarters of New York they opened a dance school and night clubs to which Society flocked. They broke the rules by touring with black musicians, and led the way forward to the Charleston-galloping Gatsby Generation. They enlightened and enchanted from London to Paris to New York, spreading a breathless joy, as though their music had one note, and their dances one step, too many. Launching one racy dance craze after another, they taught the world to dance – and often dress – the way we do today. Adored and acclaimed, they were stars long before the celebrity constellations grew crowded. Yet the whirlwind story of perhaps the most influential dance team ever is also one of tragedy. Their timing, so perfect in everything else, saw Vernon Castle, at the height of their fame, return to England to enlist in the Royal Flying Corps; he saw action as a pilot on the Western Front, winning the Croix de Guerre, while his wife made special appearances to support the Allied war effort. And then, in February1918, he was killed in a flying accident in Texas, while training American pilots for war. Irene received a last note from him: ‘When you receive this letter I shall be gone out of your sweet life. You may be sure that I died with your sweet name on my lips – be brave and don’t cry, my angel.’ She and many others did cry, for as far as the world was concerned Vernon and Irene Castle could have danced all night, and for ever.
About the Author
Douglas Thompson is the acclaimed author of more than twenty books, many of them bestselling biographies, including working with Christine Keeler to write her own revealing memoir. A biographer, broadcaster and international journalist, he is a regular contributor to major newspapers and magazines worldwide. Douglas is a director of one of Britain’s major literary festivals, and divides his time between a medieval Suffolk village and California, where he was based as a Fleet Street correspondent and columnist for more than twenty years. His most recent work for John Blake Publishing is Stephen Ward: Scapegoat, a study of the rakish charmer at the centre of the Profumo Scandal.
Christo Brand was a South African farm boy, born into the Afrikaans culture which had created apartheid to persecute black people and claim superiority for whites. Nelson Mandela, also raised in a rural village, was the black son of a tribal chief. He trained as a lawyer to take up the fight against apartheid on behalf of a whole nation. Their opposing worlds collided when Christo, a raw recruit from the country’s prison service, was sent to Robben Island to guard the notoriously dangerous terrorists there. Mandela was their undisputed leader. The two of them, a boy of 18 and a long-suffering freedom fighter then aged 60, could well have become bitter enemies. Instead, they formed an extraordinary friendship through small human kindnesses. Christo, a gentle young man who valued ordinary decency and courtesy, struck a chord with the wise and resilient old freedom fighter who was prepared to die to liberate his people. The African tribesman in Mandela meant that family was a priority for him, yet he had been sentenced to life imprisonment. When his mother died, he was refused permission to go to her funeral. Mandela, the oldest son whose responsibility was written in blood, wept with shame and despair. Christo was to witness that despair many times during his years as Mandela’s prison warder. When Winnie secretly brought their tiny granddaughter to Robben Island it was Christo who risked his own freedom to put the baby in Mandela’s arms. Their friendship was sealed by many such shared moments. And the bond of trust between the two men extended beyond Mandela’s prison years. As President of South Africa, he called for Christo and gave him a job in the archives department in Parliament. He invited Christo and his family into his home and advised his two sons on their careers. A few weeks before his death, Mandela made another call, to say goodbye. This book tells the story of their friendship in Christo’s words for the first time.