Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Embracing the Future For A Better World
More than 200 SIF Friends, Partners and Programme Alumni from Singapore and Abroad Re-Connect and Renew Friendships with a ShiOK! Nite
From 5 to 6 December 2019, the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) hosted its international friends on SIF Connects! Singapore to showcase Singapore’s past, present and future. The immersive programme saw participants visiting a vibrant mix of community spaces, social enterprises and urban green spaces.
As 2019 also marks Singapore’s Bicentennial Year, the visit began with the centrepiece event, “From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience”, giving participants a glimpse into Singapore’s transformation over the centuries.
“One of the most important lessons I want to share with my fellow Vietnamese is the importance of openness. Singapore is a small country, and when small countries are very open to new ideas, it attracts more talent and innovation to the country to develop. This is how Singapore has built itself up to become an international hub to the world,” shared SIF Representative in Ho Chi Minh City Mr Harry Pham after the experience at Fort Canning Park.
With a broader understanding of Singapore’s history and unique challenges in mind, participants set off on the rest of the programme. By the end of the two days, many participants shared that they now had a deeper appreciation of Singapore’s innovations in inclusivity and sustainability, as well as the island-nation’s enduring spirit.
“As a student of public policy, I am always on the lookout for ideas on how the Singapore government crafts effective policies to engage its people. My experience here in Our Tampines Hub - Singapore’s first and largest integrated community and lifestyle hub - is that regardless of one’s culture, background and race, you can actually bring people together in a space as vibrant and expansive as this to eat, do things, and have fun together,” said Mr McRhon Banderlipe from The Philippines. “I really appreciate what the Singapore government has done to make this kind of space available for everyone.”
For Ms Saranlak Ong, representative from King Mongkut's University Of Technology Thonburi, Thailand, Singapore’s burgeoning urban farming industry was particularly inspiring as a solution for the resource-scarce country to ensure its food security. She shared her learnings after a visit to Citizen Farm by Edible Garden City, a social enterprise in Singapore that champions sustainable urban agriculture: “I think it is quite a brilliant idea to have urban farms in Singapore. I know that Singapore is short of natural resources and imports a lot of goods from other countries, so having a concept like Citizen Farm would be very productive for the country.”
Celebrating Our Volunteers
As a platform for the SIF’s global programme alumni, partners and friends to reconnect and renew friendships, SIF Connects! has been held in 15 cities since 2010.
The biennial local edition culminated in ShiOK! Nite, an evening of celebration. The night was filled with festivities as guests mingled and reconnected over a spread of Singaporean delights, visited exhibit booths featuring the work of the SIF’s programme alumni, and pledged their support for a better world. Guests were also kept entertained with performances by local and international artists: Quan Ho Folklore Song and Dance and the Cheo Song and Dance by the Ecopark Art Club Community Performers (Vietnam), Prae-Wa Thai Dance (Thailand), stand-up comedy by Singaporean comedian Fakkah Fuzz, and live music by Clement Chow, esteemed Singaporean musician, who performed his original piece None of This Came Easy, a heartfelt ballad written specially for Singapore’s Bicentennial year.
ShiOK! Nite also coincided with International Volunteer Day, which falls on 5 December. In the spirit of the occasion, the SIF recognised the invaluable contributions of the volunteers who enable our work. Awards were presented in two categories: the Dedication Awards, for Friends of SIF who have volunteered on our programmes for consecutive years, and the Commendation Awards, for Friends of SIF who have generously contributed their time and talent across SIF’s programmes while nurturing ties and trust between Singapore and world communities.
Reflecting on the role of the SIF in building relationships across the globe at the people-to-people level, Mr Matthew Herrmann, awardee and former SIF Representative in Washington, D.C, said: “Singapore plays such an important role as a leader of Southeast Asia, not just in its unique location but also the backgrounds and capabilities that exist here. The SIF is a critical organisation in that endeavour to bring different cultures and communities together.”
The awards were presented by SIF Governor Mr David Chong and our Guest-of-Honour Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth. See the full list of winners here.