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SIF’s special SG50 edition of SIF Connects! Singapore saw programme alumni and Friends of Singapore (FOS) from 20 nationalities gather in Singapore to reconnect with the Singapore community, while sharing their insights and advice on what’s next for Singapore in the years ahead.

Minister Tan discussing the insights and advice from FOS at the SIF SG50 Dialogue, together with SIF Chairman Ambassador Ong Keng Yong and American FOS and visualiser Tim Hamons.

SIF’s special SG50 edition of SIF Connects! Singapore on 3rd and 4th December was truly a triple celebration of friendships.

We were delighted and deeply honoured to host more than 100 programme alumni and Friends of Singapore (FOS) representing 20 nationalities – this being the largest number of FOS participants and nationalities since the launch of our biennial reunion in 2011. Our FOS returned and regrouped in Singapore to reconnect with fellow programme alumni and members of the Singapore community, and to update themselves on the latest developments in Singapore.

SIF Connects! Singapore also celebrated the blossoming of deep and enduring relationships between FOS and the Singapore community. We were heartened to host SIF programme alumni from the early 1990s, who had returned to rekindle their ties with their Singaporean programme peers and also their local host families from their exchange and immersion in Singapore – some of whom had kept in contact for the past 20 years.

Several of our FOS brought with them young undergraduates for the experience, seeding the next generation of FOS. We also had with us several programme alumni from India, Malaysia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States, all of whom now volunteer as SIF representatives to grow FOS communities in their home countries. Above all, our FOS were in Singapore as loving critics and critical lovers, to share their insights and advice at the SIF SG50 Dialogue with FOS finale on what’s next for Singapore in the years ahead. Alongside Singaporeans, our FOS freely shared their views and ideas on how we could collectively shape the next chapters of the Singapore story.

The third celebration of friendships was in the collaborations between Singaporeans and FOS in effecting positive change, enriching lives and building a better world together – from SIF’s Singapore International Volunteer (SIV) corps, to the SIF-Indonesia Bright Foundation (IBF)-Indonesian Professionals’ Association (IPA) collaboration in education, which jointly organised the inaugural study visit for IBF scholars in conjunction with SIF Connects! Singapore. Further, there was the gathering of citizen ambassadors and FOS collaborating in the arts and culture, social innovation and entrepreneurship space to bring about arts and businesses for good, respectively.

 

The visualisation summarising the insights and advice from FOS on What’s next, Singapore?

A major highlight of this edition of SIF Connects! Singapore was the SIF SG50 Dialogue with FOS featuring the SG50 Economic and International Committee Co-chairman, and Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. Themed “What is Singapore; What’s next, Singapore?”, the dialogue was held against the backdrop of the second edition of Singapore: Insights from the Inside, and continued from SIF’s series of overseas SG50 dialogues with FOS earlier this year in Bandung (June), Kuala Lumpur (September), Washington D.C. (October) and London (November).

Our FOS encouraged Singapore to be more creative and innovative to create value (and not merely value-add), and to leverage our cultural vibrancy and diversity to connect with communities – east and west of Singapore, as well as to build on the current good people-to-people ties to deepen relationships with world communities. Minister Tan built on the well-meaning advice from our FOS with the suggestion to build a “gateless community” – one where there would be frequent conversations and exchanges to promote learning, foster greater cross-cultural understanding and build “a sense of us”.

 

ShiOK! smiles and the thumbs up from FOS and Singaporeans alike at the close of SIF Connects! Singapore.

We look forward to reconnecting with you at the next SIF Connects! Singapore in 2017.

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