Sharing the Singapore Story: Our Hopes, Heart and Soul
Six Indian journalists immersed in a week-long visit programme to discover the Heart and Soul of this little red dot.
“In my last two visits (in 2005 and 2011) to Singapore, I saw several sides such as its tourism potential and plans and its efforts to improve the art and culture scenario of the country. But this visit was probably the most comprehensive in giving a 360-degree view of Singapore and its people. My impression of Singapore as an extremely efficient and thoughtfully run country was much strengthened. At the same time I found it very impressive that Singapore is doing so much for sustainability and inclusivity. It was a more humane and warm Singapore that I saw this time, and I shall think of it as a country that takes very good care of its citizens in a host of ways that are truly admirable,” shared Ms Shrabonti Bagchi, Culture Editor at FactorDaily.
“There is a huge cultural diversity in the country and the way they are maintaining harmony in various communities is both interesting and intriguing. The way the world is largely polarised based on faith and ethnicity, I found Singapore completely untouched by it,” added Ms Anuradha Shukla, Assistant Editor, Business World.
These were some of the views following a Journalist Visit Programme (JVP) organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). For a week in February, the SIF hosted six journalists from India, engaging them in conversation and dialogues with our Citizen Ambassadors, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, and Singaporean families to learn about Singapore's Heart and Soul - our innovations in urban planning, our culturally vibrant and diverse landscape and how Singaporeans live, work and play.
To appreciate Singapore’s efforts in social inclusion, the journalists visited the Enabling Village which aims to empower persons with disabilities to integrate back into society. It was hosted by Etch Empathy, a social enterprise that plants seeds of empathy in others through realistic experiences. The media group had an interesting insight into the world of the visually impaired guides. The sharing session culminated with our Indian friends stepping into the shoes of the visually impaired guides and experiencing just a snippet of their lives and how it was like to be without sight.
For a peek into Singapore’s multicultural way of life and unique culturally diverse landscape, the journalists traced the history of Singapore’s South Asian community by exploring bustling Little India and the Indian Heritage Centre. The visit to the National Gallery Singapore also showcased Singapore’s unique heritage, art history and architecture through visual representation. Valuable insights and stories were shared on how Singapore and India, with our interlinked history, can learn from and grow with each other. The journalists also experienced a slice of Singapore’s multiculturalism through a special performance by Maya Dance Theatre. “I find Singapore’s efforts to assimilate all the various cultures and races that define the city-state very impressive. It is good to see that its multiethnic, diverse image is not a glossy exterior, but that it is a truly inclusive space where people from all races and ethnicities are given the same respect and consideration and there is no effort to promote or privilege one community over the other,” commented Ms Shrabonti Bagchi, Culture Editor at FactorDaily.
The journalists met individuals and organisations embarking on businesses with a social impact. One of whom was Bjorn Low, Co-Founder of the Edible Garden City, who champions one of Singapore’s sustainable urban greening movements. “It was a wonderful experience overall to understand Singapore. I met people who are trying hard to make this world better. It was a learning experience on how to build a society where every community can peacefully co-exist to make the world better” said Anuradha Shukla, Assistant Editor, Businessworld.
Our media friends were introduced to Singapore’s healthcare scene through a visit to KK Women's and Children's Hospital. There the journalists met with inspirational Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) who volunteered under SIF’s ‘Enhancing Maternal and Child Health Services (MCH) Programme’ in Tamil Nadu. The SIVs brought the group on a tour of the hospital’s facilities and shared the processes and models of training used for the MCH programme in Tamil Nadu. The group also visited palliative care professionals with a heart at the Dover Park Hospice. There, they learnt about the care and support that patients received at the hospice.
Commenting on the visit programme as a whole, Ms Shrabonti Bagchi, Culture Editor of Factor Daily, described Singapore as “a country that has worked hard to give its citizens a good life and is truly to be admired for its efficiency, thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and sincerity. I wouldn’t really wish to change anything about Singapore (except perhaps the weather). The Singaporeans I have met are all exceptionally warm and good people and that’s the best measure of a country where people are happy and at peace.”
We appreciate the kind comments from our friends from India and hope that they have gained a deeper understanding of our country and people.
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