5Qs with Community Builder and Radio Deejay – Emily Teng

Our 5Qs series is a chance for you to get to know more about folks in the Singapore Global Network community, where we pose 5 questions to exciting individuals to find out more about what they do!

By SGN | 6 Nov 2020

Photo credit: Nigel Lau of Ig’s Production Singapore

Community builder, radio deejay, nature explorer, food connoisseur – Emily Teng is a lot of things! 13 years ago, she founded Blessings in a Bag, a global community organisation to help underprivileged youth through creating alternative learning experiences. Named by Facebook as one of the world’s most inspiring leaders, she joined 115 change-makers for its 2018 Community Leadership Program. Recently relocated from Singapore to the San Francisco Bay Area, Emily dreams of creating a cookbook featuring her favourite recipes from her mum and grandma back in Singapore!


What is your favourite place in the San Francisco Bay Area?

I enjoy road-trips, hiking, forest-bathing, and exploring the outdoors. My deep appreciation for nature helps to keep me grounded on what is essential and immerse me in quiet reflection that often leads to clarity as I walk amongst the trees.  

One of my favourite places is the drive through Pebble Beach, Carmel and then on to Big Sur. Simply stunning!

Though shelter-in-place and wildfires have curtailed hiking time with my husband and dogs – I connect with nature in other ways like watching the hummingbirds and squirrels on my deck and tending to my garden in our new home in Marin.

Emily and her husband, Mark, are both nature lovers spending most weekends exploring new trails.

What is your favourite food in the Bay Area?

I appreciate access to fresh produce and farmer’s markets.  I also really love the diversity of food options.  A few of my favourite food spots include:

Foreign Cinema in the Mission District, San TungPho Huong Que in Oakland and Duc Huong Gio Cha in San Jose for Vietnamese food, PPQLush Gelato in the City and HarborviewRitz Half Moon Bay for dining with a view!

PPQ is where Emily and Mark had dinner as friends before becoming a couple.

What is the most exciting thing that you do?

The steep learning curve of building community through my non-profit, Blessing in a Bag, led me to a very adventurous path, one that makes each day an opportunity to show up and serve with joy.  Most times, I won’t even know the impact of my work (and that’s okay!), but I keep my North Star of love, growth and service in view.

With a new season here in the Bay Area upon us, I still lead the non-profit remotely, but I also spend time to connect and support global change-makers, visionaries and servant leaders to own their superpowers and make a meaningful impact.  Taking all I’ve learned in the social impact space over the last 13+ years, I’m now able to support people to make them feel less alone, to start where they are and to help realise their dreams.  

Every day I get the opportunity to lead with love, help people create, celebrate, live a life that matters, and nurture inner leadership. 

The multi-hyphenate in me means that no days of the week are ever the same. It’s certainly an exciting adventure!

One of Emily’s favourite memories is being flown to Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley to connect with 115 other visionaries doing meaningful things in their communities around the world.

What do you miss most about Singapore?

I miss my family and friends, along with mum’s home cooking. She would wake up early to shop at the Tiong Bahru markets and make everything from scratch – chicken rice, laksa, fish head curry and more.  I also miss taking my parents out on meal dates at various restaurants. 

As for friends, they say you are the 5 people you choose to surround yourself with. I’m so grateful to have crossed paths with so many inspiring people growing up in Singapore who love me to be who I am today – most of them working towards a better world. 

Some of Emily’s fondest food memories created by her mum in Singapore!

Tell us a fun fact about you

I love thrifting. You never know what gem you will find and I’m pretty intentional about what I purchase. Knowing that I can support a good cause, shop with sustainability in mind and acquire less stuff overall makes me feel awesome! 

P.S. Blessings in a Bag has its version of a thrift store.  It’s called Jumble Sales stocked with brand new and like-new items.  You can shop online or visit in person.  100% of proceeds make programs accessible for more children and young people. 

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