It’s hard to believe that this is our last week in Singapore. The last few days have been a good time to connect what we have learned here to Carolina and the US. On Wednesday evening we attended the reception at the Shangri-La Hotel with NUS Administration and the delegation visiting from UNC. Chancellor Moeser spoke about continuing to strengthen our ties with NUS, and this trip has helped us do that on a personal level through the NUS professors we have had and the students we have met. On Thursday we were able to have a dialogue with the Chancellor and other members of the UNC delegation. This took place in the classroom where we normally conduct class and we arranged our desks in a circle to make it easier to talk to each other. We compared and contrasted various aspects of Singaporean, Malaysian, and American societies. Chancellor Moeser left us with a reminder to take the curiosity and critical eye we have developed here back to Carolina and the US. Our society has its own share of problems that can sometimes be hard to see since we are immersed in it. Hopefully this experience will help us become participant observers and not just participants. Our society can seem just as exotic if we can manage to separate ourselves at times.
Our discussion with NUS Professor Chua earlier that day helped us see how criticisms we might have about Singapore can be turned around and applied to the US. Professor Chua pointed out that although the HDB housing seems monotonous to us, neighborhoods in the growing suburbs of the United States can lack personality as rows of “cookie cutter” houses with dogs and cars dot the streets. Overall, the session allowed us to have any remaining questions we had about Singapore answered.
Our last week in Singapore will be hectic with papers, eating, shopping, last minute sightseeing, Dragon Boat races (!) and visits to primary schools among other things, so there’s a lot more coming!