Youths from diverse backgrounds who took to the streets during Singapore Challenge 2012 were aiming to win more friends than medals.
To Michelle Teo, this was a race where crossing the finishing line first didn’t matter as much as harnessing new friendships and discovering hidden aspects of Singapore along the way.
Singapore Challenge, organised by Singapore International Foundation, is designed to give international and Singapore students a chance to get to know Singapore better while building cross-cultural relationships as they team up and negotiate different routes, pit stops and inter-poly activities.
During the race, Michelle, from Republic Polytechnic, would encourage other teams whenever their paths crossed. At some points, she and her teammates slowed down to help another team compete a bonus task.
This year’s Singapore Challenge was the biggest ever organised, with 1,000 participants from all five polytechnics representing almost 20 different nationalities. They formed 125 teams. Last year, 424 participantstook part.
Starting off at Nanyang Polytechnic, each team had to travel along specially-designed routes inspired by concepts such as A Liveable City, Biodiversity, Renaissance City and Social Innovation.
Along the routes, the teams encountered checkpoints at which they had to complete compulsory tasks within the shortest time.
Making a mark
Some students had a chance to literally make their ‘mark’ on the city.
At one of the checkpoints, which was at a housing estate in Holland Avenue, students had to paint murals on the walls of the void deck as part of their task in order to proceed to the end point at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.
“We painted the walls under the flats which will serve as a public art museum,” said Michelle before adding, “I felt like I was at home there, it’s like I contributed something for Singapore.”
Not surprisingly, many students, such as Deng Anhua from Ngee Ann Polytechnic are already looking forward to next year’s edition of Singapore Challenge. “I’ll introduce it to all my friends and set up a team myself!”
During the post-race inter-poly activities, ‘iTeam’ from Ngee Ann Polytechnic was declared the overall winner of Singapore Challenge. Among the other awards given out, the ‘most diverse team’ accolade was given to ‘8 Wonders’ from Temasek Polytechnic as their team was the only with members representing eight nationalities.