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Humanistic Youth Centre, a part of growing up

“Daddy, what word rhymes with herbal tea?” Pangzi asked. I knew it was coming. High time to visit the Tzu Chi Humanistic Youth Centre.

“When you’re no longer a baby, you reach puberty and become a youth,” I explained. “The Humanistic Youth Centre is where youths gather and learn new things. You may come more often next time on your own.”

This month, the Humanistic Youth Centre in Yishun is running an exhibition named Cyborg Thinks. It’s a collaboration between the youths of Singapore and Korea, exploring the links between the cyber and physical worlds.

“What’s the difference between a baby and a youth?”

“When you’re a baby, you play games. In fact that’s all you do if you’re not eating or sleeping.”

“How about physical differences – does puberty turn me into someone else?” he probed.

“Oh, you get taller for sure,” I said, avoiding other discussions this conversation might lead to.

“What else, what else?” Pangzi clearly wanted to know what I wasn’t prepared to tell. I thought he’d be better off Googling or watching how-to videos from YouTube. In any case, I heard sex education had started in his school.

“Well,” I continued carefully, “you’ll make more friends. See this exhibition? The result of cross-cultural exchange among international friends.”

It was our first time at the impressive Humanistic Youth Centre, which was near Northpoint City yet not half as crowded. There’s enough to do for youths here who wanted a quiet place indoors away from the prying eyes of their parents. With eateries overlooking a nice lake, this was practically a hotspot for dates.

“Daddy, will I have a girlfriend when I grow up?” Pangzi asked, eyeing an amorous pair who were obviously not concentrating on their school work.

“Probably, but you need to go get them,” I said. “They don’t come to you automatically. Unless you happen to be me.”

“What do I do with girlfriends?” he asked.

“Make art? Make music? Lots of things you can make together,” I said honestly.

“What did you make last time?”

“A four-piece industrial galvanator designed to extract rain-induced emulsion from an assortment of epoxy-generated fortifications.”


“You’ll understand when you become a youth.”

We left the Humanistic Youth Centre after a last look at the exhibits. At the rate he’s growing up I’m sure he’ll be back soon.

“Daddy, you haven’t stopped playing games… does that mean you’re still a baby?”



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