Celebrating Friendships for a Better World

SIF Connects! Singapore saw over 100 international participants rekindle longstanding ties with the Singaporean community while gaining new insights of the country’s culture and social innovation landscape.

Singaporeans and Friends of Singapore alike reconnect at the biennial ShiOK! Nite reception, bonding over Singaporean cuisine and their shared aspirations to build a better world.

From 30 November to 1 December 2017, local and international participants of SIF Connects! Singapore embarked on an immersive programme to showcase Singapore’s past, present and future. Participants visited a vibrant mix of historical districts, social enterprises, water conservation sites and residential project, Punggol Eco-Town. At the end of the two days, many shared that they had acquired new knowledge about Singapore’s arts and cultural heritage, as well as its approaches towards social innovation and urban sustainability.

 “The best thing about this visit was that it showed a very good mix of many different aspects of Singapore – the arts, the culture, the urban planning, its self-sufficiency and water [management], and how Singapore is achieving it. [I have] learned new perspectives on the way Singapore is planning ahead and how some individuals are making an effort to make Singapore a more inclusive society,” shared Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Representative in Mumbai Ms Kavita Choudry, after a visit to Dignity Kitchen, a social enterprise that provides hawker training for persons with disabilities.

“When you think about Singapore, you usually think about buildings and manmade structures but actually, it is such a green city. Not just in terms of architecture and engineering but literally, it is green. I find it very, very amazing for such a small city to have so much nature in it,” said SIF-ASEAN Fellowship alumnus and Filipino participant Mr Alman Dave Otanes Quiboquibo during a visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Malaysian Ms Lee Sue Yee viewed Singapore as a small yet strong nation that was constantly on the move despite facing many challenges such as land and water scarcity. Fellow participant and SIF Representative in Bangkok Ms Kanlaya Kampan shared similar sentiments: “I’m very impressed with how Singapore has developed to achieve their current standard of living despite their limitations in size and natural resources.”

Held in various cities annually, SIF Connects! is a platform where global programme alumni, partners and friends of the SIF reconnect and foster new friendships. The biennial local edition successfully concluded its 2017 programme at ShiOK! Nite graced by guest-of-honour Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth.

The evening’s programme quickly grew loud and festive as guests mingled and networked over a sumptuous buffet of local cuisine while enjoying performances by home-grown artists. One of the evening’s highlights included the recognition of 14 individuals comprising, Singapore International Volunteers (SIV),  partners and programme alumni. These award recipients have long supported the SIF in its efforts to connect, collaborate and effect change in world communities. Over the years, they did so by sharing their ideas, skills and experiences in areas such as arts and culture, business and livelihood, education, healthcare, and the environment.

Guest-of-honour Parliamentary Secretary Mr Baey Yam Keng joins on stage for a commemorative group photo with award recipients recognised for their contributions to support the work of the SIF over the past few years.

Mr Baey presented the annual Long-Service Awards to five SIVs for their dedication in volunteering overseas through the SIF for the past five years. They are Mr Allan Tee, Ms Betsy Ng, Mr Brian Lim Song Hong, Mr Muhammad Yusof Mohd Ya'kob and Mr Seluasundram s/o Nagalingam.

“When I was informed that I will be receiving the Long-Service Award by the SIF, it came as a pleasant surprise. I am very thankful and humbled by this recognition. There is no doubt that this award will be a source of motivation for me to continue volunteering overseas with the SIF and making friends with other communities,” shared Mr Yusof, an SIV for the SIF’s Water for Life (WFL) programme since 2012.

For the first time this year, the SIF also presented new Special Commendation Awards to recognise those who have contributed their time and talent to support the work of the SIF. The ‘Global Citizen Award’, which recognises individuals who have partnered the SIF in multiple programmes across various areas, was presented to Ms Annie Yeo for her contributions to WFL, Young Social Entrepreneurs Programme and the Arts for Good initiative. The ‘Citizen Ambassador Award’ was presented to Dr Akhileswaran Ramaswamy for his work in Volunteer Cooperation, Dr Esther Joosa for her work in Cultural Exchange, and Mr Keith Chua and Mr Kevin Teo for their work in Good Business.

“I sincerely thank the SIF for nominating me with the Global Citizen Ambassador Award. As the first recipient of this award, this is truly an honour! I am grateful to be given the opportunity to work closely with the SIF on various fronts over the years. Their work in bringing world communities together to make a positive impact has inspired me to see the importance of building enduring relationships. I look forward to continue fulfilling my role as an active and responsible citizen ambassador for many years to come,” said Ms Yeo.

Our friends from Indonesia performing the Tari Saman, a traditional dance originating from Aceh, North Sumatra at ShiOK! Nite.

It was also a night to celebrate enduring relationships with international friends. Recipients for the ‘Friends of Singapore - Gotong Royong Awards’ – Mr Andy Holley (Germany), Mr Christopher Davies (United Kingdom), Mr Mochammad Nunung Kurniawan (Indonesia) and Mr Taweesak Kritjaroen (Thailand) – specially flew down to join the event. Cultural performances by Indonesian and Thai friends ended the evening on a joyous note.

Look up #ShiOKNite and #SIFConnects on Facebook and Instagram to view more photos shared by this year’s participants. Also check out the winning entries of our inaugural ‘Picture a Better World’ Contest which showcased the work of our Citizen Ambassadors.

Join our mailing list to be the first to know if SIF Connects! will take place in your city. We look forward to reconnecting with you in 2018. 

 

Participants learning about the Singapore story through interactive exhibits which display the country’s history and future plans at the Singapore Discovery Centre.
Participants taking in information about Singapore’s innovative approach to transforming a former landfill site into a park at Lorong Halus Wetlands.
The Singapore International Foundation’s cultural ambassador Mr Sun Yu-li (extreme right) introducing the Art of Sustainability exhibit to guest-of-honour Parliamentary Secretary Mr Baey Yam Keng (second from right) at ShiOK! Nite. The exhibit showcased works of art that reflect the possibilities of sustainable urban living.
Guest-of-honour Parliamentary Secretary Mr Baey Yam Keng (in white) checks out the winning shots by our Citizen Ambassadors in the ‘Picture a Better World’ photo exhibit at ShiOK! Nite. The photos captured precious moments between the SIF’s Citizen Ambassadors and their overseas friends working together in SIF projects over the years.
Local actress and comedian, Ms Selena Tan, entertaining the crowd with a musical performance at ShiOK! Nite.
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