Episode 55: Teaching Workshops after Covid-19 with Jasmine Sing
Although South Korea did not formally implement a lockdown, South Koreans were encouraged to practice physical distancing and to wear masks in public spaces. Most of their economy is back to "normal" and we thought it would be interesting to speak to Jasmine Sing of Merremade about how she went about re-commencing her in-person workshops in South Korea, as it would be equally relevant in other countries once the physical distancing policies start to loosen up.
If you want to know more about Jasmine, be sure to check out Episode 15 where we first spoke to her about the paper flower industry in Asia.
First, let's learn a bit about Jasmine:
1. Tell us about yourself, Jasmine!
The Asian with big dreams, and the brain & hands behind Merremade. I am born and raised in Singapore but moved to South Korea 7 years ago. Still trying to learn & adjust to this not-so-new environment. Every day is an adventure and I have so much I want to achieve. I am usually a funny person. I like to think differently, act differently, and speak differently. I am also quite ambitious and dream too big at times :)
2. What products and services do you provide under the name Merremade?
Merremade is mainly based in South Korea and I conduct regular courses, one-day workshops and work on commissioned works from time to time. I also travel back to Singapore to teach and work on projects/collaborations. I’m looking forward to venturing into international projects too.
3. How has the Covid-19 lockdown affected your business?
I was in Singapore when Covid-19 hit Asia and the project I was working on was canceled. I flew back to Korea and the situation got worse. Everyone was in panic and very worried about what would happen. All my scheduled classes were postponed to much later date. And thankfully, I was able to resume my classes 2 months later (in May). During that 2 months, I was lucky to still have income from my online course. I spent that whole period working on things that I had procrastinated on and of course experimented with many new tools, materials, ideas that I had for the longest time.
4. How have you had to adapt your business in light of the Covid-19 lockdown?
Surprisingly, there was no lockdown in Korea at all. But people were advised to work from home and stay away from crowds. Everyone was going online for everything. So, in the earlier stage, I focused more on my online course and connecting with my followers and students. Is online platforms. When I was able to resume my offline classes, I followed the precautions and measures that were set for public meetings.
5. You recently began offering in-person workshops again. When did you decide it was an appropriate time? What challenges do/did you face?
Honestly, I wasn’t ready to have the classes any time soon. I was skeptical and worried even now. Students were waiting for me to resume classes and always checking on the dates. The drop in the number of Covid cases helped me decide to start my classes again. At that point in time, we were looking at less than 20 infected cases per day. It was progressing really well but we can’t let our guards down isn’t it?
I sanitise the entire room (yes, including the doorknobs and all my tools before and after workshops. I also prepare sanitisers and extra masks just in case. My classes are held in smaller groups (maximum 3pax) now and we practice social distancing. The biggest challenge is not knowing if anyone is carrying any virus including myself. We are all risking at this moment to have any face-to-face workshops. But these small measures, gives us peace of mind. Not just for myself, but also for all the participants in the same room.
6. Tell us about the International Crafts Design Association and its designation.
It is a private association registered and approved by the Korean government. The purpose of the association establishment is to promote the development of craftworks in Korea. Having a registered association, I’m able to issue official certificates to prove that the student has completed the full course and is capable of teaching what she/he has learned.
The course consists of general paper flower fundamentals, basic to intermediate skills. They will learn up to 10 different types of flowers and a few types of foliages. After which, they will take a written test and once they pass, they will receive the official certificate. They will then become certified Instructors under ICDA and be able to teach what learned from them.
7. What made you decide to implement certification of completion for your workshops?
In the beginning, I didn’t think issuing a certificate of completion was necessary. However, in Korea, having a certificate plays a big role if you want to teach. It is a kind of recognition and people acknowledge that you have gone through the whole training to become a certified instructor.
8. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I may not be the best person to go to, but if you need any listening ear/advice, do drop me an email. I’m willing to share my experiences. We are in this together. Have faith and we can get through this together. Stay safe!