HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Seasons of Good Cheer in Singapore
FUN ON THE FAIRWAYS The 2019 Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament
A Former US Expat’s Publishing Success
LIS MAG Dec Jan 2020 cover pages.indd 2
19/11/2019 3:57:22 PM
Check Out What’s Happening! Every month, AAS brings its members a wide variety of events that are either discounted or member-exclusive. Sign up online to book your spot at our December and January offerings!
Coming This December and January
CRCE This December and January
Toys for Tots – celebrate the spirit of the season with festive crafts, carols and refreshments
Power Up Your Skills Set – assess where your skills gap lies and build a more competitive skills set
Burger Crawl – a night out for burgers at one of Singapore’s top burger joints
High School On Track: College Admissions Interviews – leave a lasting impression and stand out from the competition
American Community Breakfast – join us for a pre-event breakfast before what will be a fascinating talk with President Barack Obama
At The Table: Networking for Women – achieve clarity to design a more fulfilling career
Our Regular Monthly AAS Events Coffee Connexions – make new friends and catch up with old ones over coffee Third Thursday – gatherings, talks, quiz nights and more, every third Thursday of the month Metworks – lunches and happy hours with our networking group for men Tacos en Español – Spanish conversation over Mexican food. All levels welcome! Men’s Tennis – looking for a men’s tennis ladder? We’ve got one for you!
Join AAS! Have Fun Give Back Be Involved Enhancing the lives of people living in Singapore through social events, charitable activities, career support and community news. Stay connected through our: • Living in Singapore magazine • Living in Singapore Reference Guide • Career Resource Center for Excellence (CRCE)
Have fun at our annual major events! • • • •
George Washington Ball 4th of July Celebration Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament Toys for Tots For more information: www.aasingapore.com
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 1
who we are Throughout the year, Singapore presents us with a multitude of festivals. From Chinese New Year, to Vesak Day, to Deepavali, we celebrate the melting pot of cultures and religions that make up the rich tapestry of the island. December for me, though, is synonymous with the end of year Holiday season. Many may conjure images of winter and snowy scenes, but in the tropics we captivate and immerse ourselves in the festive spirit just as fervently. Orchard Road is always so beautifully decorated, consistently outgunning its previous year’s efforts with spectacular light displays, and Gardens by the Bay transforms itself into a Holiday wonderland to get everyone in the mood. It would be remiss, then, for the cover feature of the December/January issue of Living in Singapore magazine not to focus on what is touted to be the most wonderful time of the year. Our Holiday listing is packed with activities to keep you occupied if you’re staying on the island over the period, and features anything from Christmas events around town, to festive dining, to volunteering opportunities, to carol services. We hope there’s something for everyone. Also in this issue, our alternative Holiday gift guides break away from the Christmas sweater to suggest presents more fitting for a tropical climate; we uncover Singapore’s unique, and almost-lost-to-history, Peranakan heritage; our regular ‘12 Hours in…’ feature suggests three ways to enjoy Sentosa; plus our usual travel section inspires the wanderluster in you to explore destinations, such as Indonesia, Laos and Vladivostok. Whether you are punctuating the end of 2019 with visits home to family and friends, or embracing the festive period in the tropics, all of us at AAS wish you the happiest of Holidays. See you in 2020!
Editor-in-Chief Katie Baines
2 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief: Katie Baines firstname.lastname@example.org Publishing Editor: Christi Novomesky email@example.com LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Silvia Ong firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Thila Chandra email@example.com COLUMNISTS Dee Allan, Alka Chandiramani, Julian A. Chua, Amanda L. Dale, John S. Hamalian, Richard L. Hartung, Andy Lee, Andrea McKenna Brankin, Laura O’Gorman Schwarz, Vivienne Scott, Tyler Wisler CONTRIBUTORS Sarvesh Agarwal, Katie Baines (for AAS), Alisha Bhandari, Melindah Bush, Asif R. Chowdhury, Jennifer Davidson, Emma Hillman, Emily Oberton, Lily Ong, Marc Servos, Susan Williams Johannes Wong, Mohd Yafaridah AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Michael Borchert Vice President: Bill Poorman Treasurer: Ria Hoban Secretary: Brian Schwender Directors: Sammie Cheston, Blair Hall, Christin Gustafson, Jason Iafolla, Michael Johnsen Immediate Past President: Stephanie Nash AmCham Chair: Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei The American Club President: Richard Hartung AWA President: Mel Rice SACAC Chair: Jeff Majestic SAS Chair: Tom Boasberg Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Tor Petersen US Military: Rear Admiral Joey Tynch AAS: Christi Novomesky PUBLISHER – AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE The American Association of Singapore (AAS) is a professional, not-for-profit organization established to enhance the well-being and living experience of Americans residing in Singapore and to promote relationships, both business and social, between Americans and those from different cultures and nationalities. 15 Scotts Road, #03-02 Thong Teck Building, Singapore 228218 (+65) 6738 0371 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.aasingapore.com. Living in Singapore magazine is circulated six times per year, with a readership of 24,000, with the purpose of enhancing the expatriate experience in Singapore.
SUBSCRIPTION A subscription to Living in Singapore is complementary with an AAS or CRCE membership. AAS annual family membership is $120. CRCE membership is $220. To join, visit www.aasingapore.com and have Living in Singapore magazine delivered to your home. Reproduction in any manner, in English or any other language, is prohibited without written permission. Living in Singapore welcomes all contributions of volunteer time or written material. Living in Singapore is printed by Ho Printing Singapore Pte Ltd. 31, Changi South Street 1, Changi South Industrial Estate, Singapore 486769. Living In Singapore magazine Print Permit No. MCI (P) 077/04/2019.
what’s in... 8 Fun Times on the Fairways Capture all the action at this year’s Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament
12 Happy Holidays! Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in Singapore
26 The (Almost Forgotten) Peranakan Culture of Singapore Rediscover Singapore’s unique cultural heritage
34 Recharge your Tribe at Bintan Lagoon Resort Reacquaint yourself with your colleagues at one of the island’s premier retreats
40 Fiction Goes Urban in Singapore
Indulge in a good book by former US expat, Natasha Oliver
cover photo by Katie Baines
26 peranakan culture • 28 historic Singapore • 30 holiday gifts • 32-38 travel • 40 urban fantasy • 42 gift of lit • 43 going green • 46 eye care
8 ambassador’s cup • 12 happy holidays • 14-18 community • 20 career • 24 12 hours in
47 kids mental health • 48 dress for success • 50 investment • 51 college interviews • 52 living in images LIVING IN SINGAPORE 3
community calendar Message from the President I love this time of year! It doesn’t seem to matter where we are in the world – even in a tropical climate – the spirit of the Holiday season is always palbable. It’s quite fitting, then, that our December calendar kicks off with a celebration of festive cheer at our annual Toys for Tots event on December 2 with the US Marines. Kids will be crafting away before they meet Santa, and there will be food and drink for all. We’ll also be treated to a rendition of holiday favorites from the SAS choir. Two events that we are particularly excited to have been involved with as an Association are the upcoming visits from President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The AAS team has worked with event organizers, The Growth Faculty, to get discounted ticket rates for all members of the American community in Singapore, and this is a fantastic opportunity to be in the presence of a former US President and First Lady. Although we begin to wind down for the holidays in December before we ramp things up again in January, we’ll still be holding our usual event favorites. Join regulars and newbies at Coffee Connexions for a cup of joe at Crossroads Cafe; hang out with the guys at Little Creatures Brewing in December for their Happy Hour; chow down on burgers on the fourth leg of our Burger Crawl in January; and brush up on your Spanish in both months at our Tacos en Español meet-up. We’ve got it all going on. Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!
American Community Organizations Directory
American Dragons americandragons.sg AmCham amcham.org.sg +65 6597 5730
American Association of Singapore (AAS & CRCE) Toys for Tots December 2, 5 – 7pm Coffee Connections December 4 & January 15, 10 – 11:30am Metworks Happy Hour December 12 & January 14, 6 – 8pm Tacos en Español December 12 & January 22, 7 – 9pm An Evening with Michelle Obama December 14, 7:30 – 9pm American Community Breakfast December 16, 8 – 9:30am In Conversation with Barack Obama December 16, 11:30am – 1pm Third Thursday: Burger Crawl January 16, 6:30 – 8:30pm Identifying, Reducing and Preventing Burnout December 4, 6:30 – 8:30pm Power Up Your Skills Set January 16, 10am – 12pm High School On Track: College Admissions Interviews January 21, 5:30 – 7:30pm At The Table: Networking for Women January 30, 6:30 – 8:30pm American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) December Networking Luncheon December 4, 12 – 2pm
Michael Borchert AAS President
AAS aasingapore.com +65 6738 0371
American Association & Sister Organizations Events
AWA awasingapore.org +65 6734 4895
Navy League nlus.sgp.org
Sacac Sports afl.sacac.com
TAC amclub.org.sg +65 6737 3411
SAS sas.edu.sg +65 6363 3403
US Embassy sg.usembassy.gov +65 6476 9100
Scouts BSA Scouts Troop 7B: bsatroop07.org BSA Scouts Troop 10B and 1010G: facebook.com/BSATroopX Cub Scouts Pack 3010: sites.google.com/view/sgtroop10/home Cub Scouts Pack 3017: SGPack3017@gmail.com USA Girl Scouts: singaporeusagirlscouts.org
ASEAN in 2020 with Ambassador Ong Keng Yong January 30, 4:30 – 6:30pm American Women’s Association (AWA) Choir: Holiday Concert 2019 December 6, 7:30 – 9pm Holiday Lights December 7, 7 – 9pm (various bus times) Singapore American School Chinese Immersion Open Morning December 6 Winter Break December 23 – January 10 Early Learning Center Open Morning January 17 Faculty Inservice Day January 23 (no school for students) The American Club Christmas Eve Dining December 24, 11:30am – 7pm (various seatings) Christmas Dining December 25, 10:30am – 3pm (various seatings) 20/20 New Year’s Eve Party December 31, 7:30pm – 1:30am
4 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
notable events Toys for Tots 2019 It’s the highlight of the AAS holiday season! Come and share with your family the joy of giving to others. Celebrate the spirit of the season with festive crafts, carols and refreshments. Meet the US Marines and enjoy a visit from Santa himself! The American Club, December 2, 5 – 7pm Coffee Connexions: AAS Members Come along for morning coffee at Crossroads Cafe where you’ll have the opportunity to make new connexions and catch up with old ones too. Crossroads Cafe, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel December 4 & January 15, 10 – 11:30am Metworks Happy Hour Join the guys for a drink or two! Meet others who share your hobbies and interests, find golf or tennis partners or other sports fanatics, or make friends in areas outside of your current social, school, or professional circles. Little Creatures Brewing, 36 Club Street December 12, 6 – 8pm January 14, 6 – 8pm (venue TBC) American Community Breakfast In advance of the ‘In Conversation with Barack Obama’ event, join us for a pre-event breakfast at The American Club. We will then provide transportation to the venue, Singapore Expo. The American Club, December 16, 8 – 9:30am Burger Crawl Join us for burgers and drinks on the fourth leg of our tour as we sample our way around Singapore’s top burger outlets. January 16, 6:30 – 8:30pm (venue TBC) Power Up Your Skills Set Take place in a skills mapping exercise, assess where your skills gap lies and begin working on a plan to build a more competitive skills set to launch you further in your career. AAS office, January 16, 10am – 12pm AAS Members who do not have a membership card, please contact the AAS office (6738 0371) for your card.
member benefits Benchmark Wines 10% off your first purchase from Benchmark Wines. Enter discount code AAS10P upon check out. www.benchmarkwines.com.sg Through January 31, 2020. Tel: 6256 5290. T&C applies. California Pizza Kitchen 15% discount for à la carte menu for dine-in only. Through December 31, 2019. Tel: 6836 0110. T&C applies. Drinks & Co. 20% discount on all food items. Offer valid at Holland Village outlet only. Through December 30, 2019. Tel: 9619 4568. Reservations recommended. Estheclinic 10% discount for all their treatments. Through September 30, 2020. Tel: 6221 4797. T&C applies. Family Podiatry Centre AAS members receive a 10% off discount on first consultation. Through December 31, 2019. Tel: 6464 8654. T&C applies. Hard Rock Cafe (Singapore & Sentosa) 15% discount on food and beverage upon showing your AAS membership card. Through May 2020. Tel: 6235 5232 (Singapore), 6795 7454 (Sentosa). T&C applies. Hedger’s Carpet Gallery 10% off professional carpet cleaning and restoration services. Free high-quality underlayment with every purchase at our store (while stocks last). Through December 31, 2019. Tel: 6462 0028. T&C applies. Lawry’s The Prime Rib 15% discount for à la carte food bill for dine-in only. Tel: 6836 3333. T&C applies. Morton’s of Chicago Complimentary cocktail or mocktail (one per diner) and one complimentary dessert per table. Applicable for main dining room only. Through December 30, 2019. Present AAS membership card to enjoy. Tel: 6339 3740. T&C applies. Outback Steakhouse 1-on-1 beer & 1-on-1 wine (house pour). Through December 2019. Tel: 6702 6842. T&C applies. QB Food $20 e-voucher with a minimum spend of $150 for home delivery, use code ‘Newbie’. Code is for single use and new members to QB Food. Shanti Residence, Nusa Dua, Bali AAS Members get 15% off room bookings directly. Quote AASSHANTI. Tel: 6338 2069. T&C applies. Solescape 10% off discount with any purchase through December 2019. www.solescapeshow.com. T&C applies. Telunas With a minimum three-night stay at Telunas Private Island, receive a complementary 90-minute body massage for one person. Through December 30, 2019. Tel: +62 811-7710-951. T&C applies.
EARLY BIRD TICKETS ON SALE THROUGH DECEMBER 31 SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15TH W SINGAPORE SENTOSA COVE Our Premier Black-Tie Social Event A portion of proceeds support the charitable work of PMHaze to promote sustainable agriculture and clean air.
Don’t forget to grab your ets Early Bird Tick before it ’s too late!
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 5
up close and personal with... PANTONE 424C
Pantone 424c: C 57.4 M 47.29 Y 47.86 K 14.12
Jules Nicholson, Stamford American International School
Stamford American International School (SAIS) has been a Community Partner with AAS since 2017 and has been a great support at our events, most notably in November with our Thanksgiving Picnic, which was held on their campus and featured a performance by the SAIS choir. We caught up with the schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Head of Drama and Performance, Jules Nicholson, who talks about her passion for drama and upcoming productions. What brought you to Singapore? My husband and I came out to Singapore for our first teaching post in 1997 as co-heads of the Speech and Drama department at Julia Gabriel Centre. Having worked extensively in Theatre-in-Education in the UK, Singapore presented an opportunity to build upon and expand our skills and experience in drama education. Our original plan was to stay for two years, however, like many people who come for a short contract, we fell in love with Singapore and have stayed ever since. How did you know you wanted to become a drama teacher? I have always been devoted to drama since I was a teenager when I first started taking drama classes at school. Upon graduating from high school, I went to East 15 Acting School in London for three years of performance training after which I moved into the Theatre-in-Education sector, which involved performing socially relevant plays to teenage audiences in schools and facilitating post-show workshops. During this time, I realized my passion was in working with young people. After moving to Singapore, I was able to develop and hone my teaching skills under the tutelage of the late Julia Gabriel who was an incredibly inspiring mentor to me and I realized I had found my calling. I have subsequently spent my years in Singapore developing my teaching skills through extensive professional development courses, the most recent one being a Master of Education degree with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. These experiences have enabled me to become an educator who understands the many facets of drama including the importance of artistic expression for young people and the sense of well-being and self-confidence it can lead to.
What do you love about heading up the Drama and Performance department at SAIS? I feel very fortunate to spend my days doing the thing that I love doing with students who never cease to amaze and inspire me with their creativity, imagination and appreciation of our drama program. Whether they are exploring characterization, developing vocal technique, creating original performances in our drama studios, or participating in our full-scale musical productions in our state-of-the-art theatre our students embrace each opportunity with positivity and enthusiasm. I am also fortunate enough to work with an incredible team of drama teachers who each bring their unique areas of expertise to our program. What has been your proudest moment at the school? Tough question! They can range from watching a previously shy student participate in a drama activity with confidence and a new-found sense of pride for having reached this point, to seeing the behind-the-scenes camaraderie amongst students as they cheer each other on after performing on stage to a packed auditorium in one of our theatre productions. These moments are very special and highlight the value of the arts in childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives, the joy they can bring, and the positive experiences students will take with them through life. What productions are coming up for the SAIS drama students? We have already had two productions this semester, The Woodlanders and The Journey. Next, is our high school musical, Little Shop of Horrors, and our last production of the semester will be the upper elementary musical, Aladdin. There are four more planned for semester two, so exciting times ahead in the drama department at Stamford.
AAS Strategic Partners We would like to extend our thanks to our strategic partners at the Association for their continued support and contribution.
6 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
Pantone 424c: C 57.4 M 47.29 Y 47.86 K 14.12
Community Partner PANTONE 424C
AMBASSADOR’S CUP GOLF TOURNAMENT 2019 By Katie Baines The Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament is one of the highlights on the AAS calendar. Come rain or shine it’s always an enormous amount of fun and 2019’s event was no exception. Golfers were delighted to be back at Palm Resort Golf & Country Club, playing on their manicured greens surrounded by lush, tropical landscape. Energy levels at the clubhouse on the Saturday morning were high and guests were eager to get the day under way, greeting friends and team mates in the lobby, collecting goodie bags bursting at the seams, before heading up to the terrace for a plentiful pretournament lunch.
After much excitement around the lucky draw and the fantastic prizes were presented to contented winners, it was time to tee off and buggies scattered across the course before the klaxon marked the start of the tournament. There were epic shots, near misses and wayward golf balls, which may or may not have been attributed to a constant stream of beer served at stations punctuating the course, and delivered by AAS team and Executive Committee members, as well as the tequila supplied by East West at hole 17. Either way, players snacked, drank and were merry.
Enormous thanks to all of our sponsors... Casey Salon • Champions Golf • East West Management & Marketing • Four On Drupadi • Golf & Leisure Keppel Club • Laguna National • Lawry’s The Prime Rib • Lenova • Leonian Singapore • One°15 Marina Puteri Harbour Malaysia • Palm Resort Golf & Country Club • Paulaner Brauhaus Singapore • Sbagliato Kitchen & Bar Shahi Maharani • Shanghai Tang • Tadcaster Hospitality • Tempat Senang Resorts & Spa • T. M. Lewin.
It was a tightly fought contest, with only two points separating first and third place, but it was Team Pettit and its members, James Pettit, Jim Cavanaugh, Troy Gerry and Sam Packer, who prevailed as Tournament Champions, with SAS-Team 1, comprising of Gordon Cyr, Peter Lundburg, Stan Richards and Timothy Zitur, coming in second. Third place, however, had yet to be decided poolside in a putt-off during dinner between Team Richardson and Team Pengwine. But it was Team Richardson, with members Josh Richardson, Martijn Boersma and Patrick Wagoner, who seized the accolade. Whether it was a day well spent with friends old and new, or winning a fantastic prize in the draw or raffle, everyone went home a winner.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our sponsors, in particular our title sponsor, TD Ameritrade, who were a tremendous support and enormous fun both on and off the fairways. We are also greatly indebted to our co-host, The American Club, Singapore American School for their continued support, and the many companies who supplied the wonderful prizes for the raffle and lucky draw. Thank you to our superb golf pro, Maro Mukawa, who put players and challengers to his golfing prowess through their paces. Huge thanks, too, goes to tournament Chair, Chris Milliken, the golf committee and the AAS team, all of whom worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to make the event such a great success. A great day, great displays of golf and great memories to be treasured. See you next year!
Photos by Katie Baines 10 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
… s a m t s i C hr E K LI T LO A K O LO TO G IN N IN EG B ’S IT
By Katie Baines
The sun is blazing, the average daily temperature is hovering around 30°C and the humidity levels are bringing everyone out in a dewy glow within seconds of stepping outside. It must be Holiday season in Singapore! While some of us may be traveling over the festive period, others may be staying put, so we’ve put together a rundown of activities on the island this December to get you in the mood.
Out and About
Lights on Orchard Road
The American Club
Without doubt, the best place to admire twinkly Christmas lights in Singapore is on Orchard Road. Stretching from the Forum on the west side of Orchard to Orchard Gateway, Singapore’s busiest shopping street is also its most illuminated, displaying a different theme each year. If you were lucky enough to snap up a spot, the American Women’s Association will be touring the district aboard open top buses on December 7.
The American Club will be putting on a decadent spread of traditional American Christmas feasts for diners to enjoy with family and friends on December 24 and 25. amclub.org.sg
Ice-skating As paradoxical as it may seem so close to the equator, ice-skating is a holiday tradition that carries over into the tropics. This year, The Rink, one of two permanent ice rinks in Singapore, invites skaters to don a Christmas hat on December 28 for their ‘Icy White Christmas 2019’ themed skating sessions. therink.sg
Meet & Greet Santa Get an audience with Santa at his grotto as he returns to Cluny Court this season at their Christmas Fair & Market. Kids young and old will be able to catch him on Fridays to Sundays, between December 1 to 15 before he leaves to attend to business towards end of the month! clunycourt.com
Christmas Wonderland Want all things Christmas in one spot? Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay, running from November 29 to December 26, is a one-stop shop for Christmas markets, carnival rides, Santa visits, faux snowstorms, caroling, ice skating, and extraordinary holiday light displays. christmaswonderland.sg
Hard Rock Cafe From December 1 to 26, Hard Rock Cafe will be showcasing their ‘Naughty or Nice Limited Time Menu & Cocktails’ to celebrate the Holiday. Guests will be able to choose from a selection of four different menu items that will include something ‘Nice and Healthy’ to something ‘Naughty and Delicious’. hardrockcafe.com/location/singapore
W Hotel W Hotel – Sentosa Cove invites you to celebrate the season at a variety of lunches, brunches, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, to their Festive Grazing and five-course set menu on New Year’s Eve. Guests can choose between The Kitchen Table and SKIRT restaurants to dine from December 24 to January 1. w-hotels.marriott.com
Early Bird tickets for the 2020 George Washington Ball which will be held at W Hotel – Sentosa Cove will revert to regular pricing after December 31 – don’t miss out!
Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel The hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, Marriott Cafe, is celebrating with their festive buffets. A Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas Day lunch, both inclusive of free-flow alcohol, includes highlights, such as roast turkey with dried fruits and chestnut bread stuffing, mapleglazed leg ham, slow-roasted Australian beef prime ribs, pan-fried duck foie gras and more. www.singaporemarriott.com/christmas
Charity and Volunteering Toys for Tots
Carols and Performances Carols at St Andrews
Whether you are content listening to the melodies of others, or you can’t help but break into song, it’s not a real Christmas without carols! One of the most highly regarded of Christmas concerts are at St Andrew’s Cathedral where, between December 19 and 22, attendees will be treated to array of traditional carols at noontime and evening performances. cathedral.org.sg
AWA Choir: Holiday Concert 2019 AWA’s International Choir are tuning up for their Holiday Concert to be held at the Hollandse Club on December 7, capping off their season of performances around Singapore. Sing along to old favorites and acquaint yourself with others you may not have heard of before. awasingapore.org
Singapore American School The kids at Singapore American School are going to be busy with performances and parties over the Christmas period! Festivities include, Holiday parties (December 20), the Middle School Holiday Concert (December 20), the High School Winter Collage Concert (December 13), and schoolwide caroling, where choir students from the middle school go to various locations on campus to sing Holiday tunes (various days). sas.edu.sg
Stamford American International School Brought to you by their PTA, Stamford American International School’s ‘Stamford Winter Wonderland Festival’ will be held on December 7. The event will feature festive performances, as well as games, activities, crafts, a food hall, boutique market, photos with Santa, cookie decorating, lucky draws and much more. Be sure to see the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 7:30pm! sais.edu.sg
This is the highlight of the AAS Holiday season! On December 2, the team will be co-hosting the annual Toys for Tots event with The American Club in The Galbraith Ballroom. Join us for festive crafts, carols and refreshments. Meet the US Marines and enjoy a visit from Santa himself! aasingapore.com
Santa Run for Wishes Santa Run for Wishes is getting ready for day of fun and festivities on December 7. Participants can join either the 2.5km, 5km or 10km race categories, with all proceeds raised during the event going towards MakeA-Wish Singapore to help grant wishes of children with critical illnesses. santarunforwishes.sg
Willing Hearts The soup kitchen at Willing Hearts opens daily – including Christmas. Support a very worthy cause and give back to the community this Holiday season by spending a morning preparing and packing meals for those in need. You’ll be glad you did! willinghearts.org.sg
ACRES Animal lovers will be able to show their support at Christmas time by attending the ACRES ‘Save Our Wildlife’ organic vegan fundraising dinner at LivinGreens organic vegan restaurant on December 24. Children will get to make their own native animal masks and ACRES merchandise will be on sale for last minute Holiday gifts. Email Andrew Tay at email@example.com for details.
Salvation Army Those aged 16 years old and above and who have two hours to spare, can ring in seasons of good cheer by volunteering as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army until December 23 as part of its Christmas Kettling 2019 drive. Sign up online and select and select your preferred location. tiny.cc/bellringers
ou r c o m m u n i t y
s with Troop 1010 Celebration h By Melindah Bus
their policy to of America (BSA) expanded In February 2019, Boy Scouts of ages 10-18. g program by accepting girls welcome girls into their Scoutin en new Youth p 1010 grew to include a doz In just a few short months, Troo ls ranging leve at least one rank so far, with Members. Every girl has ear ned d ate in several ss’ ranks. They also particip from the ‘Scout’ to ‘First Cla nity service projects. campouts, hikes and commu ed to celebrate ilies of BSA Troop 1010 gather This Fall, the Scouts and fam Every Scout in a Court of Honor ceremony. their achievements by hosting e merit badges, ning with most ear ning multipl the Troop was honored that eve carving, cycling, al fitness, swimming, wood including awards for person even snow sports. climbing, small-boat sailing and grams/scoutsnd at: www.scouting.org/pro More information can be fou SG@gmail.com. aster, Paul Adkins, at FECT1010g bsa or by contacting Scoutm Photo courtesy of Melindah Bush
Diary of arwaScl out By Sarvesh Aga
re and arrived 28. They departed from Singapo to Pulau Ubin on September t pou cam from there, a on t and , wen cks 7 p kpa Troo y with their bac d. They then hiked to the jett islan the of t r everyone par rn Afte h. the sou lunc at the started cooking th. The Scouts set up camp and nor up e psit conduct cam to the ted to star d y hike the they k down to where eaten, the Troop headed bac had and ts different ten ir with s the bag up e set had rs. We filled multipl a which took around two hou are the helping of of p n-u nce clea erie ch exp a bea gave the Scouts the plastic and general items. This tal, me ss, gla as h suc ls, teria ma mindful of the environment. re to be with conservation and being ple took the trash to Singapo back to camp, while some peo ded hea n ryone the eve s ster and ma dy b rea gru er The grub masters had dinn ved back on Pulau Ubin, the arri king m wor tea n this bee en Wh had y d. the ycle rec p presented something where each patrol in the Troo g, pfire rnin cam mo a the had In n er. the oth We . h ate rol bond with eac erience that helped each pat exp nice lly rea a was This on. ds, we started to get packed. Aftewar we ate breakfast before we psite. cam the n the tents and clean up wor ked together to take dow ved arri we back down to the place The whole patrol then hiked re mo l fee to le trip helped the Scouts and left for Singapore. The who the All uts. Sco e fun with their fellow included in the patrol and hav erent ing the campout, such as diff dur Scouts learned about a lot nity, mu com different ways to help the wildlife native to Singapore, ut Oath and Law. and how to live up to the Sco Class Scout with the rank of Second 07 Sarvesh Agarwal is a Troop Photo courtesy of Sarvesh Agarwal re American School. apo Sing at der gra 8th an is and
Pack 3010’s Raingutter Regatta By Melindah Bush
their woodworking Regatta, our Scouts practiced At this year’s annual Raingutter their Scout-approved assembling and decorating and model building skills by who participated in the big race day. Every Scout sailboat kits in preparation for uding our youngest ribbons for their hard work, incl the race earned badges and de 1. Scouts in kindergarten and Gra the Scouts had to a water-filled race track and on ors indo The race was held finish line. Scouts them through the water to the blow on their sailboats to propel es for the race and also volunteered to serve as judg from Troops 10 and Troop 1010 to help the younger Scouts. every Scout was est boats received medals, While the Scouts with the fast or win with dignity d sportsmanship and how to lose reminded about the spirit of goo and respect. next school year, your child in Pack 3010 for the For more information or to register ail.com. at: sgcubscoutspack3010@gm August 2020, please contact us Photo courtesy of Melindah Bush
Troop 10, Ready for Action! By Johannes Wong
had many fun and memorable Scouts in Troop 10 have already ir Starting from kayaking at Pas campouts this school year. skills ous vari ning lear s in the sea RisPark, where we spent two day ts and safely exit. Some of us boa our size cap including how to our even got it in our eyes and up swallowed seawater, and we ged oura enc and ed strong, help noses! Nevertheless, we stayed rse, By the end of the kayaking cou up. give not did each other and s! aking master we were transformed into kay ping, pout at Pulau Ubin for the Cam cam ay e-d thre We also had a full our with d hike We . it badges Backpacking and Cooking mer also We s! mile six of l Ubin, for a tota camping gear around Pulau uts s around the island. Some Sco mile 16 al ition cycled for an add to ted wan uts Sco the , which all of prepared tasty snacks midway we but s ake mist de ma some of us eat. When cooking at camp, m. learned from the le was to participate in the Purp Another one of our activities with ple peo for ss rene create awa Parade, which was a parade to people from Handicap Welfare with ds frien de disabilities. We ma from them. Association and learned a lot der, BSA Troop 10. Lea rol Pat ior Sen Johannes is a
Activities Aplenty with USAGSO! By Susan Williams
e uts have been busy! Sinc Our Singapore USA Gir l Sco ht nig Troops have spent the starting back at school, our zip-lining and completing at the aquarium, had fun ack riding, solved escape ropes courses, gone horseb i, ood dance for Deepaval rooms, learned a Bollyw lloween celebration. and painted faces at a Ha pleted journeys in a day, Several Troops have com into a particular topic, and where they dive deeply tion project to benefit the then complete a Take Ac e gible way. Some of the Tak wider community in a tan sks ma luded collecting N95 Action projects have inc spots in Indonesia, collecting to donate to those in hot used shoes for charity, and articles of clothing and
Photo courtesy of Johannes Wong
aporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beaches. cleaning up stretches of Sing s learned about Some of our younger girl conducted by VEX robotics with workshops mechanical, flying Robotics. They built small, aerodynamic forces devices, learned about test. and put their devices to the nderâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s birthday fou our d ate ebr cel We also sharing cupcakes with 120 girls flying kites and n Low was bor n on and snacks. Juliette Gordo ah, Georgia, and October 31, 1860, in Savann US in 1912. Each founded Gir l Scouts of the ls around the world year, Troops and counci honor her legacy. celebrate her birthday and nths ahead at our Find out about the fun mo from December 15, mid-year registration open 0! 2019 until January 15, 202
Photo courtesy of Susan Willi
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 15
our community Humans of the Embassy Mohd Yafaridah Financial Management Office My family has long had close ties with the US Embassy. My father worked as a chauffeur for the US government for 17 years. My sister was born in the Deputy Chief of Mission’s Residence in Swettenham Road. My five siblings and I grew up in the staff quarters of the then-Ambassador’s Residence, which is now the Spring Grove condominium complex along Grange Road. Staying in the staff quarters, too, were the Ambassador’s butler, chef, and maid. We were like one big family, four races living under one roof. My father passed away when I was four years old. Having nowhere to turn and no other source of income, we were afraid that we would be asked to move out of the staff quarters. Thankfully, then-US Ambassador to Singapore Charles T. Cross kindly told us to stay put – and my uncle Yahya joined the US Embassy to support us. He ended up being the Embassy’s longest-serving employee when he retired. To make ends meet, my mother would go from door-to-door hawking textiles that she bought from Arab Street. I had to tag along as I was the youngest. My mother was uneducated, but she taught me basic math and accounting principles, like debit and credit. Perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen finance as my path. It was Uncle Yahya who told me that the Embassy was hiring. I worked in the Consular Section initially, then transferred to the Financial Management Office as an Assistant Cashier. I worked my way up to a supervisorial position as Principal Cashier, then moved to Accounting, where I manage budgets and balance accounts for various sections of the Embassy. I’ve now worked here for 26 years. My siblings and I gradually moved out from the staff quarters as we got married and started our own families. Eventually, all the staff had to move out when the Ambassador’s Residence was relocated from Spring Grove to Leedon Park in the early 90s. I returned to Spring Grove recently on a tour of the premises. I got so emotional just seeing the signboard for the condominium. The staff quarters are now gone, the land has been leveled out, and the big
16 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
lawn where we played soccer with Ambassadors’ children is no more. It’s a pity the many fruit trees are no longer there – we had mangoes, guavas, bananas, jackfruits, figs, even durians! The main building has been retained as the condominium clubhouse, though. I used to think, “Wow, the house is a maze. It’s so big.” It’s different seeing it through adult eyes.
our community The Diversity that is SAS Alisha Bhandari Eleventh grade student at Singapore American School Merriam-Webster defines diversity as: “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.” Diversity is understanding that everyone on this planet is unique, whether it be by race, gender, ethnicity, economic class, belief, or sexual orientation. At Singapore American School (SAS), we pride ourselves on the desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs) and have them printed around the school to remind students of the skills they learn in the classroom that will remain with them for life. The DSLOs allow students to be vocal about their ideas and encourage them to understand and accept different opinions from their peers. The SAS student body is made up of 60 nationalities with over half of the students being United States citizens. The faculty is made up of 20 nationalities from all over the world, including the US, Australia, China, Great Britain, New Zealand and Singapore. Having such a wide range of nationalities among our students allows them to share their values, beliefs and cultures in order to make them global citizens. With SAS being an open-minded school, it’s easy to embrace all aspects of your identity and be proud of them. I’m not the only student who feels this way. According to high school student, Neveah Flanagan: “The diversity at SAS has taught me how to respect and appreciate other cultures while acknowledging my own.” Another student, Catherine Portelli, says, “It gives you the chance to experience other perspectives and connect with the world.” The diverse culture of Singapore American School allows students, teachers and members of the community to expose themselves to new and different ideas. It encourages students to broaden their minds, and understand topics and events around the world. This open-minded and accepting community that the school offers allows students to feel safe in expressing their identity and being their true selves. Diversity is integral to aid a young mind’s growth and understanding of the world around them. Without diversity of opinions, ideas are not challenged. Without unchallenged ideas, they will grow comfortable living in the bubble they’ve formed around them. This bubble – their comfort zone – prevents critical thinking and hinders character growth.
Experiential diversity prominently exists within the community as well. Some students are practically ready to go off to college and live on their own with the skills they have acquired at home or through other experiences, while other students struggle with everyday tasks. Diversity of experience is crucial to the growth of a student, which is why teachers and professors are – in my opinion – among the most respected professions in the world. One of the most effective ways to expose yourself to the bustling diversity at SAS is by joining the extracurricular activities offered on campus. Over 70 clubs offered in our high school provide a plethora of opportunities ranging from service learning to ceramics, improv and even ultimate frisbee. Anything that you are interested in has a place at our school: surround yourself in diversity and expand your mind. Alisha Bhandari is currently enrolled as a junior in the Quest program at Singapore American School and works as an intern in the communications office. An avid film maker, Bhandari is also one of the stage managers for the theater department in high school, and has been part of 20 productions.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 17
Festive Christmas Bundt Cake INGREDIENTS: • 3 cups all-purpose flour (sifted) • 2 teaspoons baking powder (sifted) • 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks (room temperature) • 2 cups granulated sugar • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 3 large eggs (room temperature) • 2 tablespoons lemon zest • ¼ cup lemon juice • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • 1 cup whole milk Lemon Cheese Glaze: • 2 cups cream cheese • 2 cups powdered sugar (sifted) • 1 cup butter (room temperature) • 3 tablespoons lemon juice • 1 lemon, zested
METHODS/PREPARATION: • Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Thoroughly coat a 10-inch (25-cm) bundt pan with non-stick spray. • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat to combine. • Add half the flour, baking powder and beat to combine, then beat in the milk and the rest of the flour. Beat until incorporated. • Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Gently tap the pan against the counter to release any air bubbles. • Bake the cake for 50 minutes then test the cake to see if a skewer inserted into the deepest part comes out clean. • While the cake is baking, make the lemon cheese glaze; beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and butter until well mixed. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, beat to combine. • Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Put the cake in chiller to cool for 1 hour. • Warm up the lemon cheese glaze in microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through, until it is completely melted. Pour the glaze over the top and sides of the cake. Let the glaze set in the chiller for 30 minutes. • Transfer the cake to a serving platter, decorate with fresh raspberries and rosemary.
18 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
The American Club Pastry Chef Yeni Sukowati Chef Yeni is an absolute magician in the kitchen – everything she touches turns to treats that are delicious and pleasing to the eyes! Yeni is a passionate Chef who joined The American Club in 2011, and is in charge of desserts at all five dining outlets in The Club. Other than curating and developing sweet treats all year round, Chef Yeni and her team create an intricate Gingerbread House display every year to ring in the festive cheer at The American Club.
career resource center for excellence CRCE Interview with Andy Lee We caught up with Andy Lee, Founder and CEO of Ivy Education, who delivers college-related educational workshops for parents and high school students as part of CRCEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s High School On Track program.
1. Tell us about yourself. I am a native New Yorker who moved to Singapore to run an education consultancy. In my role as an education consultant, I help students and their parents navigate the college and boarding school application process. Outside of work, I am really passionate about exploring new cities and playing racquet sports. As much as I love the food in Singapore, I still occasionally crave a slice of New York-style pizza.
2. How have AAS/CRCE?
I have been organizing a series of workshops through CRCE to assist students and their parents in demystifying various aspects of the college admissions process.
3. How can the sessions you lead as part of High School On Track benefit parents and students? My workshops seek to break down the often complicated overwhelming college admissions process into bite-sized pieces. Some of the topics that I have explored in my sessions include: college admissions essays, extracurricular activities and summer internships and interview preparation.
4. I am a student who has just started high school this year. What should I be doing now in terms of planning for college? As a high school freshman, it is essential for you to start cultivating strong study habits and developing an open mindset right from the beginning. Experiment with different study techniques and methods until you find the ones that work best for you and then stick with them. Since you just entered high school, you will gain exposure to a wide array of classes and extracurricular activities that you may have never encountered before. This is the ideal time for you to sample widely before you narrow down your interests later on.
5. Have there been any recent trends in the college admissions process? There are many new trends that are reshaping the college admissions landscape. Increasingly, more and more students are applying through the early decision and early action routes. Therefore, there is growing pressure on students to identify their dream college as early as possible. Another developing trend is the increase in standardized testing flexibility. In other words, more and more colleges are dropping the requirement for applicants to submit their SAT/ACT scores and are allowing them to showcase their academic abilities through IB scores, AP scores, SAT subject exam scores, auditions, writing samples, art portfolios and other means.
6. What are your top tips for parents who would like to support their children through their college admissions journey? The college admissions process can be really daunting and nerve-wracking for students and parents alike. It is crucial for parents to give their children the necessary space and freedom to identify their own academic and extracurricular interests and college preferences. I also encourage parents to plan campus visits as early as possible to give their children a more tangible sense of what college is like. Finally, stay positive and supportive because your children appreciate that when the application process becomes really challenging and stressful.
Next High School On Track event: College Admissions Interviews Tuesday, January 21, 5:30 - 7:30pm In partnership with The American Club
Andy is a seasoned American university and boarding school admissions consultant and delivers workshops as part of CRCEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s High School On Track program. He also contributes to AAS as a columnist for the Living in Singapore magazine.
20 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
career resource center for excellence Behavioural Interviews By Alka Chandiramani
Did you know that approximately 30% of companies use an interviewing technique called ‘Behavioral Interviewing’? For those of us on the other side of the interviewing desk, this is basically an interviewing technique an interviewer uses to evaluate a candidate’s past experiences and behaviors. It is based on the belief that past behavior and performance predicts future behavior and performance. What do employers evaluate in a ‘behavioral Interview’? Employers are looking for 3 types of skills: Content Skills, Functional – also called Transferable Skills, and Adaptive – also called SelfManagement Skills. By doing so, the interviewer can determine the candidate’s potential for success based on actual past behaviors and experiences, instead of based on hypothetical questions. The interviewer identifies the desired skills and behaviors needed for a particular job and then structures open-ended questions about the candidates’ past experiences to elicit detailed responses from the candidate. For example, if assertiveness is an important requirement for the job, the interviewer might ask “Tell me about a time you had to sell your idea to your manager or customer.” Or, if interpersonal skills are critical for the job, the interviewer could ask “Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker. What did you do to resolve it? How would it be different from the way you would resolve it today?” The best way to answer these types of questions is to use your real-life examples instead of your opinions or theoretical statements. The interviewer wants to know what you have done in the past, not what you think you would do in the future.
One way to structure your answer is by using the STAR Interview Response Technique. STAR is an acronym for four key steps that candidates can use to answer a behavioral interview question.
Describe the context in which you faced a challenge at work. For example, perhaps a group project, or a conflict with a coworker. This may relate to a work situation, a volunteer position, or any other relevant event.
Describe your responsibility in that situation. Perhaps there were tight deadlines to meet, or you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker, or hit a sales target.
Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.
Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken. It may be helpful to emphasize what you accomplished, or what you learned. Whatever examples you select, make sure they are as closely related to the job you’re interviewing for as possible.
Alka is a multi-lingual human resources practitioner with over 25 years of HR and legal experience. She provides neuro-leadership, intercultural training and executive career coaching to individuals, high school and university students in Singapore and around the region. In Singapore, she currently provides advisory services to the AAS’s Career Resource Center for Excellence (CRCE).
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 21
jobs & career 5 Step Action Plan to Get the Job You Want By Dee Allan
So you’ve fallen out of love with your job and you want to try your hand at something new. Or maybe you feel stuck, or want to build your resume with additional experiences and exposure. Whatever your starting point, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to organize your job search. Step 1- Soul-Search Your Gifts The first step involves getting to know yourself. Give yourself the time to soul-search. If you are not clear on your gifts, you run the risk of targeting or accepting a job that isn’t aligned to your core being. Answer the below questions before you even start to think about the job you wish to target: 1. What is your ‘foundational identity’, meaning your fundamental make up? Are you creative, a teacher, a learner, an organizer, a researcher, an adventure seeker, an analyzer? Who are you? 2. What are your top two interests? Are you interested in world affairs, health, medicine, spirituality, science, food, travel, sports, politics, writing, law, entrepreneurship, art, theatre? 3. What are you passionate about? One way to arrive at your passions is to deep-dive your interests. For example, if you love the Sciences, you could find that quantum physics in particular gets you excited. Or if you love food, you could find that you are specifically passionate about vegan food. 4. Which one or two job functions are you good at and interested in? Do you love coaching, data analyzing, cooking, designing, selling, networking etc. Let’s go further by asking yourself two more investigative questions: 1. WHAT is your purpose in life? Is your purpose spiritual? Mind related? Concerned with the planet? Humanity? Compassion? Improving health? Equality? Animal welfare? Women and children’s rights?
22 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
2. HOW would you like to serve the wider community, humanity, your family, your team or department? For example, would you like to lead an initiative? Project manage a movement? Support a worthy cause? Teach? Mentor a group? Build a project? Bring your creativity to a problem? Share your vision? Operate within a strategic role? Would you like to serve a shared cause? Connect individuals? Use your written or spoken word to spread good? You can go further with your deep-dive and think about the type of people you like to work with? What does your preferred working environment look and feel like? And what are your strongest traits? You can find out your top strengths using a free tool at: high5test.com Step 2- Linkedin Profile and Resume Fixes Now you have a clear idea on what your inherent gifts are, you are at the research stage. Your Linkedin profile is a key tool during your job search, possibly more important than your actual resume. Ensure you have a professional image, strong profile description and congruent work history. A complete profile is best; if you leave out information, your profile will easily be missed by recruiters or hiring managers screening you. The trick here is to carefully consider the keywords that human resource professionals or recruiters may use when searching for candidates in your space. Use these keywords within your text so the search algorithms capture your profile within their search results. Remember to keep your resume simple, without fancy typography, short (two to four pages), with short paragraphs and succinct bullet points. Again, scatter keywords in the text particularly at the top near the beginning of your resume to make it algorithm-friendly. The algorithm robots love keywords, so give them the words they want to find and you greatly increase your chances of being shortlisted. Step 3- Company/Industry/Contact Search on Linkedin There are many ways to search for a job online. Broadly speaking, you can use the reactive method, the proactive method or a hybrid of the two methods. Each has it’s own pros and cons, however a proactive method is more likely to land you a role that is aligned to your gifts, while a hybrid method may jump you a few rungs above the shortlist. Reactive vs Pro-active Job Searching Reactive job searching is the most common way that candidates go about sourcing a job. You search for online or print adverts and then email your resume across. Then you wait until you get a response. If you want to lose the competition, supplement your reactive job search efforts with a proactive push, by targeting key decision makers and hiring managers on Linkedin or email, and making an initial enquiry or applying to them directly. A networking approach is the best way to become ‘acquainted’ with someone. So if you are able to utilize your personal and online network, and get an introduction to your target contact, you have made a huge leap within your job-search process. However this can take time, which is why I advocate networking as an ongoing life-skill.
During this mapping stage you are making a list of target contacts, who you will later message or call directly. Using Linkedin the Proactive Way Use Linkedin to create a target list of companies and industries. Often our skills can be transferred to another industry we may not have considered. You can use the search and the filter functions to go through all available industries from A-Z. I recommend targeting two industries to begin with, and then look at companies within those industries that may be of interest. Another approach is to search for contacts at a particular company who are positioned at a more senior level than your target job, then go through that personâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employment history. This will allow you to see where they have worked before and the career path they took. This approach can produce lots of market intelligence on your own possible career path, companies you have not heard about, and the types of companies that hire people with your skills. Step 4- Making Contact The key here is to make an appropriate approach online, introducing yourself and clearly explaining the reason for your message. You can attach your resume to the message, and finish with a call to action such as requesting a short phone call, meet-up or follow-up. Cold-calling contacts on Linkedin should be approached with caution, however, so try and find an introduction to the contact, or cite some research you have come across to show your genuine interest in the company/contact. Headhunter tip Headhunters often use Linkedin to get the name of a contact, and then proceed to make a phone call to that person, often skipping the whole Linkedin pre-messaging approach (or sending a pre-message on Linkedin, and then quickly following it up with a phone call). Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be shy about phoning a decision maker or hiring manager. Have your reason for calling and resume in front of you, and speak with confidence. State that you are interested in exploring openings at their company and would welcome any advice on how to progress your application. Step 5- Organizing Yourself If you are following and repeating these steps, and you are constantly networking, you should find your diary filling up with scheduled phone calls, coffee meetings, interviews, events and follow-ups. Stay organized, and ensure all your actions are followed up with a phone call, thank you email or card, depending on how much time a contact has given you. This conveyor belt of repetitive actions involving research, mapping contacts, networking, sending messages, and following up will result in leads, contacts and job opportunities. Dee is the Founder and Director of 3C Synergy recruitment consultancy. She is a keynote speaker, copywriter and career coach. You can email her at deeallan@ protonmail.com for career consulting, workshop facilitating, keynote speaking requests and, of course, coffee meetings.
instagram: @sachahairsg Balayage & Keratin Specialist
By Appointment Only 30% Off
New Client Discount!
Phone: +65 9058 3011
Three ways to do
in Sentosa By Laura Schwartz
As with much of Singapore, it’s difficult to glean the history of Sentosa from its current well-developed status. While wandering around the aquarium or the luxury casino, you’d never know that for over 500 years, it was called Pulau Blakang Mati; “the Island Behind the Dead” in Malay. Shaping the island into a holiday resort for locals and tourists began soon after Singapore gained independence in 1965, making it one of thr government’s earliest projects. Obviously, Step One was to christen it with a more welcoming name. Sentosa translates to “peace and tranquility” in Malay. Singapore’s so-called State of Fun is probably one of the easiest places in the country to while away half a day. This whole article could just be: pack a cooler with snacks and drinks, find a spot to lay your towel on the beach, then alternate between snoozing and swimming. This article could also just be a catalog of every activity you could do on Sentosa, since the list is plenty long enough. Thus, instead of a general itinerary, I’ve concocted three. One for a fun day with family, one for active adrenaline junkies and one for an indulgent day out. Since most of the island doesn’t wake up until 10am, be sure to have a good breakfast before heading out on your adventure.
24 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
10-1PM FAMILY FUN DAY If the weather’s on your side, head to Nestopia, a sprawling open-air playground with obstacle courses, cargo nets and giant slides that will make for a vigorous start to your day. For an indoor option that’s also perfect for older kids, Madame Tussauds is always a win.
ADRENALINE JUNKIES Like a roller coaster you control, the Skyline Luge offers a brisk morning wakeup with exhilarating slopes and hairpin corners. Choose from four winding tracks through forests and tunnels to get your blood pumping.
INDULGENT DAY OUT Spend an active morning in the water at Ola Beach Club. Those looking for a bit of a workout can learn to stand-up paddleboard or kayak, though it’s also great fun to just cling to a banana or inner tube tied to a speedboat. If you’re really looking for a unique activity, check out the water-propelled jetpack.
1-2PM FAMILY FUN DAY There is no shortage of lunch options in Sentosa Gateway, though my pick for kids would be the Hard Rock Café, Slappy Cakes pancake restaurant or the Malaysian Food Street.
ADRENALINE JUNKIES Considering the adventures planned for the afternoon, opt for a light lunch. Siloso Beach is lined with cafés and bars where you can snack while looking out to sea.
INDULGENT DAY OUT Hmm… beachside cocktails or a Michelin star restaurant? FOC and Tanjong Beach Club both offer tasty nibbles, a view of the water and a pool to soak in. As for high-end delicacies, take your pick. CURATE has a regularly rotating cast of Michelin-starred chefs. PUTIEN is renowned for its service. Family-run Cantonese fusion restaurant Forest tops my list. Aim to reserve a table in advance if possible.
FAMILY FUN DAY
FAMILY FUN DAY
With its clever, highly Instagram-worthy optical illusions, the Trick Eye Museum is bound to be a hit with children and adults of any age. Unlike most museums, touching and interacting with the art is encouraged.
For a relaxed but still engaging late afternoon activity that gets you out of the heat, wander through the S.E.A. Aquarium. If there’s still plenty of energy to burn, head to Kidzania, a hyper-real kids-sized indoor city.
ADRENALINE JUNKIES Time to put your stomach to the test. AJ Hackett, the company that holds the record for most bungee jumps in 24 hours, is here to satisfy your itch for a thrill with their 50m bungee tower, giant swing and 40m-high walkway. If an afternoon rainstorm threatens, head inside for a virtual adventure at HeadRock VR, one of Southeast Asia’s biggest virtual reality theme parks.
ADRENALINE JUNKIES With lunch fully digested, head to iFly Singapore for the experience of sky diving without the risk. The wind tunnel simulates a jump from 12,000 feet. Note that you can save on the cost by booking online at least 2 days in advance.
INDULGENT DAY OUT Float away on a cloud with massages, facials, body wraps, herbal baths, saunas, hair masques, beauty treatments and whatever other type of pampering your body desires. There are dozens of lavish hotels on Sentosa offering spa packages, so you’ll quite literally be spoiled for choice when it comes to decompressing for the afternoon. Top of the ranks for luxury relaxation is Auriga, the first spa in Singapore to receive five stars from Forbes Travel Guide (and for seven consecutive years), along with the gorgeous AWAY Spa at the W, Spa Botanica in the Sofitel, and the waterside ESPA in Sentosa Gateway.
6-10PM FAMILY FUN DAY After such an active day, some chill beach time is well-deserved. While not the cheapest dining option, Tanjong Beach Club’s volleyball courts and restaurant-side pool keep the fun going even after dark. It’s also perfect for dog watching. The 20-min “Wings of Time” lightshow (at 7:40pm and 8:40pm) makes for a spectacular end to a fun day.
ADRENALINE JUNKIES Now that the sun’s cooled off, it’s time to hit the roller coasters! Since food choices inside Universal Studios are what you’d expect from an amusement park (expensive and not very healthy), grab dinner at one of the many options in Sentosa Gateway before heading inside. It’s up to you if you want to do the enormous Battlestar Galactica coaster first or save it for last.
INDULGENT DAY OUT For a final indulgence, hop on the Royal Albatross for a dinner cruise, either at sunset or under the stars. After a reception in the Grand Salon of this elegant 22-sail super yacht, chill out and enjoy the stunning cityscape with cocktails. Advance reservations are required.
Laura grew up in Tokyo, Singapore and New Jersey before majoring in Japanese Studies at Bard College, upper New York. Her fiction and non-fiction writing has appeared in The Shanghai Review, Thoughtful Dog Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. A voracious traveler, Laura has visited over 30 countries.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 25
The (Almost Forgotten) Peranakan Culture of Singapore By Asif R. Chowdhury In describing ‘Singapore culture’, one would have to say it is, in fact, a unity of three. The majority of Singaporeans hail from either a Chinese, Malay or Tamil ancestry, and yet all three races coexist peacefully, maintaining their own customs and cultures. However, the Peranakan ethnic group that subsequently developed after these groups settled on this island is singularly Singaporean. Traces of this rich heritage is scattered all around Singapore, from the unique colorful, two-story shop houses to some of the great local culinary delights, and yet visitors and expats likely enjoy them without being aware of their Peranakan origin. Peranakan history goes back over five hundred years. In the 15th century, when the Chinese Ming Emperor reopened Chinese-Malay trade relations, large numbers of mainland Chinese traders, primarily from southern Chinese provinces, started to migrate to the Malay Peninsula and parts of Indonesia. Most of these traders settled down permanently in The Straits Settlement, primarily in today’s Singapore, Penang and Melaka, and almost all of them married local women. Their children grew up in households that were neither fully Chinese nor Malay, almost all speaking both of their respective languages. Over the next decades, a unique culture emerged which was essentially a cocktail of Chinese and local traditions, practices and cuisines. The offspring of these Chinese traders and local Malay women are known as the Peranakans. The word ‘Peranakan’ is an Indo-Malay word which means ‘descendent’, ‘native-born’ or even ‘cross-breed’. Anak, which nestles in the middle of the word, means ‘child’ in Indonesian Bhasa. Over the centuries, the Peranakan retained most of their ethnic identity while assimilating with the culture of the local Malays. Peranakans are also known as Baba-Nyonya, especially in Melaka and Penang. The word ‘Baba’ means ‘the father’ or ‘the head of
26 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
household’; ‘Nyonya’ means ‘bride’ or ‘the local wife’. In certain areas, such as Melaka, they are still known by this name. In Singapore, they are commonly known as the Straits Chinese. The Peranakans introduced unique blends of local and Chinese customs, architecture, clothing, furniture and food, adding color, quite literally, to the local Malay culture of the Straits Settlement area, including Singapore. Peranakan dresses, still worn by Straits Chinese, are as vibrant as everything else that is Peranakan. The Nyonya’s dresses include a top that is adopted from the local Malay traditional dress. These tops are colorful and embellished with bright, intricate designs of various kinds, many of them floral and are accompanied by a sarong in an Indonesian Batik design. Perhaps the most unique are the slippers known, as kasot manek. These are handmade slippers embroidered with decorative glass beads. The Nyonya ladies today, wearing these Peranakan dresses and similar-looking traditional slippers, look particularly striking at local wedding ceremonies. The Peranakans also introduced unique furniture which is also a mixture of Chinese and local design. Traditional
Peranakan furniture is made of solid wood, often with inlaid mother-ofpearl patterns. Some of the Peranakan restaurants around Singapore are decorated with these beautiful Peranakan style pieces of furniture. One of the most delightful contributions of the Peranakans is the delightfully colorful architecture of the local shophouses. These are rows of continuous two-story buildings comprising of shops at street level with living quarters on the second floor. One of the key features of these buildings is the long windows on the second floor with wooden shutters painted in contrasting shades from that of the next unit. Finally, the most precious contribution of the Peranakan culture perhaps lies in many of the local culinary delights. The Nyonya laksa, a spicier version of the local laksa, the fried chicken known as inchi kabin, fish soup called pindang bandeng, and a dry chicken curry dish known as chicken kapitem, are some of the more popular Peranakan dishes. One can try all of these, and many more Nyonya dishes, in local Peranakan restaurants. There is a strong will to keep Peranakan history and roots in Singapore and a visit to the island would be incomplete without a glimpse of this rich Singaporean past. The best place to experience the Peranakan heritage, culture and cuisine in Singapore is around the East Coast Park area. Towards the turn of the twentieth century most of the Peranakan traders
were doing well financially, and these traders bought land and built homes by what was then Katongâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seaside to the east â&#x20AC;&#x201C; at the time, these properties were closer to the ocean, but now, due to reclamation of land to increase Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s landmass, this is no longer the case. Architecture and culture is particularly well-preserved around the Joo Chiat area of Katong. One way to experience Peranakan culture is to spend a weekend in Katong, ideally staying at a Peranakan hotel, to enjoy this unique Peranakan heritage, the architecture, and some of the Nyonya cuisines. There are a number of hotels in the area, both boutique and international chains, which boast Peranakan designs while offering modern amenities. The rooms are furnished and designed using Peranakan themes and are adorned with traditional furniture. Most of these hotels also have in-house Peranakan restaurants. Many of the colorful shop houses have been turned into trendy bars, restaurants and art galleries, making it a pleasant area to walk around.
The Smart Choice for Test Preparation
American teachers. Verified results. Other programs may claim large score increases. We have verified our past results with our students and school partners. Our average improvement is over 200 points on the SAT and 5 points on the ACT.
Our programs for the 2019-20 school year are open for registration on our website. We work directly with most of the leading international schools and have programs open to the general public. Test Fundamentals program available for 10th grade students. Private tutoring for the SSAT is also available.
+65 6728 7476
Our focus is on test prep, nothing else. www.testtakers-sg.com HRC_The Big Game_Superbowl_94mmWx138mmH.pdf 1 7/11/2019 9:25:55 AM
living in singapore Historical Sites in Singapore By Marc Servos Local areas that qualify as “home” to me encompass a vibrant history and past images I compare with today’s landscapes. My hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana, has a history of Native American, French, British and American activity on the colonial frontier, and I was stationed with the US Army at the site of a former Luftwaffe base in Germany. Having lived overseas, now spending most of my time in Singapore since 2000, my exposure to such a myriad of cultures has fostered a greater appreciation, interest and understanding of the local historical landscape of my current environs. Ample information about Singapore’s history is available in published and online sources, and a number of Heritage Trails organized by the National Heritage Board give a deeper perspective. If one wishes to explore, many different aspects of the Lion City’s history can be found across the island. Arguably the most densely packed historical area is the Civic District, where modern Singapore began. Most structures established shortly after Sir Stamford Raffles’ time are gone, but the legacy of his 1822 Raffles Town Plan still continues; one example is Raffles Place, continuing to be a location of commerce as first intended. Perhaps the oldest surviving local building is the Arts House, originally the Old Parliament House, built in 1827. Late 19th and early 20th century buildings continue to operate in various capacities, including as museums that give detailed insight of local history. The Singapore River operated as an artery of the local economy with bum boats – reproductions of which are now used for tourism – transporting goods from anchored merchant vessels to the shop houses that now function as restaurants and pubs at Clarke and Boat Quays. Fort Canning Park is situated prominently in this District. A few centuries before it was used by the British Army, a thriving settlement named Ban Zu existed here. Ruins of buildings still visible in early colonial times and artefacts uncovered in the 20th century excavations have further indicated this. Stamford Raffles completed his thatched atap roofed wooden home in early 1823 at this location, which was later expanded with the bricks and tile design to be used by the British as Government House, the modern version of which stands on the same very site today. The original was demolished in 1859 – its use replaced by what is today’s Istana on Orchard Road – to make way for the construction of its military facilities.
Also, in this District at the very site of the Fullerton Hotel, itself originally a post office, was Fort Fullerton. When its operation ended in the 1870s, construction of several installations commenced further away at what is now named Sentosa along with adjacent locales tasked to protect Keppel Harbour, including Fort Siloso. Remnants of Mount Imbiah Battery nearby Siloso and Fort Pasir Panjang at Labrador Park are relatively easy to access. Another aspect of military history is Dempsey Hill. Today a quaint lifestyle enclave, it used to be the site of Tanglin Barracks, housing British troops after the site had been a nutmeg plantation. The Indian Mutiny occurred here in 1915. People’s residences have gone through much change over the past 50 years in particular. Today’s HDBs and private condos occupy where kampongs and plantations once lay. Kampong life is still seen at Pulau Ubin, and remnants of the plantation also exist here and Pulau Tekong where rubber trees of uniform sizes are blended in the forests. Shop houses in town served as residents’ dwellings with businesses operating at street level. HDB’s forerunner, the Singapore Investment Trust (SIT), developed housing to address adverse living conditions of many of the shophouses. Tiong Bahru continues to be home of some of the oldest SIT estates, which encompass the Art Deco design popular when they were built in the 1930s. And of course, there are the charming black and white bungalows, most of which presently serve as residential and commercial buildings. Before venturing out and seeing either the more visible or hidden pieces of history, you can absorb much information from dedicated websites: National Heritage Board: nhb.gov.sg National Library Board: eresources.nlb.gov.sg/history Singapore Tourism Board: visitsingapore.com/travel-guide-tips/about-singapore
Marc is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and a graduate from Indiana University. His US Army experience includes being stationed in Germany during the mid-1980s while enlisted and later an officer in the Indiana Army National Guard. In addition to writing for the Living in Singapore magazine, he also has contributed to the Canadabased History Magazine.
28 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
E M B R AC E A N E W MOM E N T IN TIME Indulge in a whole new world of breathtaking experiences at Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives, as you embark on a journey filled with moments unlike any other.
Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives, Lankanfushi Island 08290 North MalĂŠ Atoll, Republic of Maldives | T +960 664 0304 | F +960 664 0305 Managed by HPL Hotels & Resorts
living in singapore Holiday Gifts in the Tropics By Tyler Wisler Over the years I’ve noticed people struggle with gift giving and somehow think the default comical garment, or uber-generic gift, like a scarf will suffice. First off, we’re all now in Singapore, barely a stone’s throw away from the equator, so sweaters and the like aren’t options anymore. So, where does that leave us? I say, it gives us the perfect opportunity to celebrate our dwellings! As we are very aware, spaces are tight here and should be treated like jewel boxes! But like many folks, the home takes a back seat when budgets are concerned. Most will spend on their kids, food or vacations. And rightly so! I am not knocking any of those choices, but now we have the opportunity to give; and give something that would be meaningful to someone, who might not purchase it for themselves. So, let’s start from the ground up. We all know I love rugs! Rugs are just so important in a space, and rugs, honestly can make or break the aesthetics. A good option that works aesthetically and scale-wise with 95% of the typical Singaporean space is a neutral-colored cow hide rug! These are just chic, chic, chic! Modern, traditional, or eclectic, no matter what your current furniture situation, these geometric and textural options are stunning! Next on my list, give someone the gift of a joyous pop of happiness in the form of a pillow! This gives warmth and instant personality to any space. Unfortunately, I see that many sofas nowadays come with additional throw cushions which are completely unnecessary, particularly on a sofa. Let me be blunt, do not use them on the sofa. Use them on the armchairs sitting near the sofa, or put them on the guestroom bed, but do not keep them on the sofa just because they are free. Now, what to choose... Well, think about that friend or loved one. What do they dress like? That is probably your biggest clue as to whether they are a floral cushion or geometric lumbar pillow kind of person. Fashion and interiors actually go hand in hand. Lighting is key in any space, and very often overlooked. Wouldn’t that be the most thoughtful gift to give the gift of light? Rooms often rely on one, maybe two sources of light. While a well-designed space really should have at least three options. Bedside lamps are usually an afterthought as many people just brush the bedroom aside as a private space that no one will see. But really, it is the first thing you do see when you get up and turn it on, it is very much an important piece. So, level up a loved one’s lighting game this holiday!
Timorous Beasties, Bode
LUMIRA Scented Candle, Bungalow 55
Model 607 Table Lamp, The Beuro
I’ve given three options that cover visuals within a space, but a successful interior is more than just eye candy! What about sound? Acoustics and elements like music can just fill the room with a richness you can’t achieve with pretty things alone. So, for that audiophile in your life, consider something like a small all-in-one speaker, particularly a wireless one that your gift recipient can later pair with additional speakers to create a home speaker system. Lastly, because it is often forgotten, the scent of a room can be so powerful! Smell is one of those things that can instantly create the ambiance without seeing or hearing anything. A home with a signature scent is, in my opinion, something of beauty! If that loved one is perky and upbeat, maybe a fresh floral or something with vetiver might be suitable. But if there are like me, I tend to go for the warm and sometimes spicy scents. To everyone, have the safest and happiest of Holidays! And cheers to beautiful spaces in the New Year!
Tyler is an international, influential and sought-after designer. He currently stars as a judge and mentor on Asia’s biggest design competition show, Sony Channel Asia’s The Apartment, where he is known for tough love and sound, practical advice. His work has been seen in Architectural Digest, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Elle Décor and Better Homes and Gardens. www.tylerwislerhome.com
30 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
LAOS A WOUNDED ELEPHANT WALKS AGAIN By John S. Hamalian
The Land That Time Forgot People say that going to Laos is like stepping back in time. It is one of the more undeveloped countries in the world and remains quite poor. Still a relatively reclusive state, it has not been many years since Laos opened its shy doors to the outside world. As such, it is still largely unknown and unappreciated throughout the world, as evidenced by remarks I received prior to my departure, such as, “Laos? I think I’ve heard of that before – where is it?” Its entire population of seven million inhabitants would rank it merely as the size of a medium city in some other Asian countries. Small in stature, yes, but I was to discover that Laos is a giant in terms of the richness of its culture. The people here are known to be extremely friendly, and I was surely not disappointed. I never failed to see a bright, wide smile on the faces of these perpetually warm people. Sealed off for so many decades due to war, mayhem and self-insulation, Laos is still relatively untarnished by mass tourism. It must be one of the last bastions of pristine innocence left in the world. You can see it on the faces of the people – that curious, almost bewildered look in their eyes when they take you in. Normally reclusive monks, not wanting any part of hordes of disrespectful tourists with intrusive cameras clicking away, are remarkably accessible here – some even willing to get close to me at times. Vientiane city is a reflection of the modesty of the country, being among the smallest, most unobtrusive and low-key capitals you will ever behold. Lacking the hustle, bustle and sheer chaos of nearby countries’ seats of government, it sometimes feels more like a large town than a city. John is a US citizen and an avid explorer with a passion for travel journalism and photography. He has visited over 65 countries, including the entire Far East of Asia. He has written for the Singapore Straits Times, Shanghai Daily, The Armenian Mirror-Spectator, My Paper, The American Women’s Club of Korea and the in-flight magazine of Royal Bhutan Airlines.
32 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
The Kingdom of One Million Elephants The history of Laos harks back to another city, now called Luang Prabang. The first Lao kingdom dates back to 1353 and was originally called Lan Xang, or ‘One Million Elephants’. The King once received from the Khmer government a gift of a nearly pure gold Buddha image, called Pha Bang, that was so highly cherished they changed the entire name of their principal city to it. The capital of the kingdom was later moved to Vientiane, but Luang Prabang remains to this day the historical and cultural heart of the country. The city is infused with magnificently decorated temples, many of them rebuilt after devastating invasions from Siam and Burma. In 1995, UNESCO recognized the entire city of Luang Prabang as a World Heritage site. For a leisurely stroll down quiet, quaint streets, or a journey back into the palatial serenity of an ancient kingdom, no trip to Laos should be without a visit to this exceptional and wonderful city. Although through civil war, insurrection and occupation, the monarchy based in Luang Prabang was eventually reduced to symbolic rule, a king still resided there even after 1975, when communist forces officially overthrew the Kingdom of Laos and installed a red state. Yet one mystery remains: the last King and Queen disappeared sometime in the late 1970s, probably sent to a ‘reeducation’ camp. The exact nature and timing of their deaths remains unknown. It is a topic that does not seem to be discussed much in public here, as my guide Saiyasit explained the situation to me almost in a whisper. He shifted around uncomfortably when I asked him for more details on the issue. It seems that Laos is still not ready to clear away all the skeletons in its closets.
“Something Lost, Something Gained”
Betwixt and Between the Enemy The name Laos comes from the name of the majority people who reside there, though in reality the country is comprised of dozens of ethnic groups, each proudly wearing their own unique dress, speaking their distinct tongues and following their particular customs. The Lao themselves are ethnic cousins of the Thais, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the culture and language are similar (to the outsider’s eye, anyway). Consequently, if you have ever been to Thailand, especially the eastern regions, you will have quite a familiar feeling in Laos. The fact that Laos to this day still exists as a nation is something of a miracle, and is testament to the people’s courage and stamina. A small, landlocked country that has always been bordered by larger and more powerful entities such as mammoth China, the once dominant Khmer Empire (now Cambodia), the mighty Burmese (Myanmar), Siam (now Thailand), and Vietnam. At one time or another, nearly all these neighbors attacked, occupied or heavily interfered with Laos. Add to this nearly a century of strict French colonial rule, a bitter occupation by the Japanese, relentless bombings by the Americans as part of the CIA’s ‘secret war’ during the Vietnam War era, and civil war between pro- and anti-Communist forces, and it is not difficult to understand why Laos seems stuck in time. They just have not had much of a breather. But the good people of this land can finally exhale the past and inhale their future.
Today, the people of Laos are facing the brave new world of global inter-connectivity. Like many developing countries, Laos is finding that economic reforms bring about social changes, and some not always transpiring as expected. During my stay, I had some great conversations with Saiyasit. He spoke surprisingly good English – usually only guides have this capability – and was very direct and insightful. I asked him “How are all the changes affecting the country?” Saiyasit told me that sometimes positive change brings negative impact. “Something lost, something gained”, was how he profoundly described it. I could see and feel this myself, especially in the urban areas. Colorful silk wraps slowly being replaced by generic blue jeans. Warm bamboo gives way to cold concrete. Soothing strings supplanted by generic pop. Traditional customs, music and the like are beginning their slow and inevitable transition to the cultural oblivion of globalization. Although Laos has largely managed to avoid this phenomenon, particularly in the countryside, there are few corners of this ever-smaller Earth that have not yet succumbed to some of the trappings of the developed world. But who are we to judge this? It is all too easy to let one’s selfish desire to time-encapsulate an old-world ‘quaint’ civilization overtake the local people’s real desire to upgrade to modern electricity and a thatchless roof that does not leak every time it rains. I only hope that the gain is greater than the loss.
At the Crossroads of History Laos is a country at a crossroads of its own legacy, and the enduringly warm and friendly people here are yearning for a new life. The question is, how can Laos balance the new with the old? How can it yet hold on to the best of its traditions, customs and culture that have so indelibly made such a unique mark on this place? Those same qualities that make this the perfect locale for anyone wanting a serene, authentic, uncommercialized destination. And suddenly, the answer emerges in a simple yet revealing vision from the collective imagination of a nation. In the wake of a slow yet purposeful line of Buddhist monks chanting their morning prayers, a small child appears. In her wide and innocent eyes is a reflection of the future. On her left is a tarnished old temple, on her right a glistening new bank. She pauses for just a moment, glancing deliberately at each side. Then, wearing an optimistic smile, she heads straight ahead, confidently striding right between the two on her inexorable path towards a bold new world. One million elephants and seven million souls… walking again, eyes wide open… proudly into the sun.
Getting There Direct flights from Changi International Airport to both Vientiane and Luang Prabang depart daily. LIVING IN SINGAPORE 33
e g r a h Rec
YOUR TRIBE By Katie Baines
The old adages of ‘a team that plays together, stays together’, and ‘a change being as good as a rest’ are not without foundation. Studies into team-building exercises largely conclude that they have a positive impact on team effectiveness and cohesion, and that taking team members out of their daily working environment amplifies the results. The most successful, memorable teambuilding events are ones that don’t feel like a day at the office at all, and spending time together, sharing an experience or working towards a common goal allows bonding to happen more organically and far more effectively. While the AAS team is a small, perfectly formed and affable bunch of women who have forged a strong bond in the office, ‘time’ is a precious commodity that we rarely spend on each other, and this was something we had to rectify. So, with this in mind, we as a team shut up shop for a couple days and left for Bintan for some team-building. Living in Singapore, we often take for granted that we’re within easy reach of an array of tropical resort 34 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
islands that, as corporate offsite destinations, would be the envy of many HR departments based in our home countries. Indonesia’s Bintan is one such island and is just a hop, skip and jump away on a 75-minute ferry crossing. We opted for Bintan Lagoon Resort, one of the most popular resorts to go to and home to sun, sea and two spectacular golf courses. What instantly strikes you about Bintan Lagoon is its vastness. This Indonesianstyle 470-room resort, with more than 11 dining and entertainment outlets, sprawls over 300 hectares of immaculately kept gardens and has a private, golden sand beach that stretches over nearly 1.5km. Particularly helpful in getting your tribe from A to B is that the resort has its own private ferry and terminal, meaning there is no need to organize additional transfers when you arrive on the island Our objective over the next few days focused on learning more about each other in a work context, so our needs were firmly ensconced in using one of the meeting rooms offered by the resort. The facility is fully-equipped
with corporate resources, such as the Business Centre, audio visual equipment, and a suite of intimate to larger meeting rooms that can hold from 15 to 300 people. The Grand Marquee, which stretches over a combined open space area of more than 20,000 square feet and includes a pillar-free banquet hall, can accommodate up to 1,300 guests for larger functions and conferences. The added advantage of such a largescale resort is that there is plenty of space for small groups to find their nook on the beach or in the gardens for break-out sessions. If bonding outside of the work context forms part of your agenda, the Outdoor Adventure Training Facility offers immersive teambuilding and leadership programs. Golf tournaments and group activities at their Adventure Training Centre can be arranged, as well as archery, adventures on quad bikes, beach tug-of-war, water balloon relays, sack races, wooden plan races, and their scavenger challenge, Amazing Race. If you would like all of the planning done for you, the resort offers the ‘Get Energised!’ package which includes
Photos courtesy of Bintan Lagoon Resorts
ferry tickets, welcome drinks, accommodation, a lunch buffet, a half-day team building session and complimentary Wi-Fi access for all guests. For the full experience, there is the ’Work & Play’ package, which offers the same benefits, plus use of a function room for up to eight hours, two buffet lunches, a BBQ buffet dinner, and discounts off food and drink, recreation activities and spa packages at the resort’s Kedaton Spa. While it was immensely useful having the luxury of time to focus on us as a team in a smart facility and a beautiful setting, the out-of-hours time spent together felt equally, if not more, instrumental in our bonding experience. There was no explicit lesson about team collaboration as we spent two dinners chattering between courses at Nelayan beachside restaurant, and collectively marveling at the skills of the Teppanyaki chef at Miyako restaurant. There was no talk of using our strengths to build a better Association over drinks at the bar. There was no session debrief as we walked along the beach. But the experiences brought everyone closer together. How do you know you got your team-building experience right? If there was a combination of laughter, a sense of fun and accomplishment, and maybe a few Instagram moments, you were definitely on the right track!
The ‘Get Energised! Team Building Day Package’ starts from SGD135 net per person, and the ‘Work & Play Package’ starts from SGD 290 net per person. For more information, contact the Bintan Lagoon Resort Sales Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Th e S pl en do r of
My arrival at Vladivostok International Airport was a little past midnight. Accustomed to storing everything on my smart phone, and given that my hand was in a plaster cast, I thought my journey would be made easier with all of my paperwork stored digitally, including my visa. The immigration officer, taking respectable pride in her work and insisting on the protocol paper-based documentation, didn’t quite see it that way. After a few calls with the lead officer in their exotic language, though, I was finally given the green light to proceed onto their terrain. My airport greeters were a lovely young couple. Arina, with hair dyed in patriotic red, and Andrey, who was a head and a half taller than his colleague, greeted me with joyful expressions that immediately dispelled the myth that Russians don’t smile. Once we got in the waiting van, I asked the couple if they were fulltime guides. I learned that both conduct tours on the side in a bid to practice their English. Arina shared 36 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
By Lily Ong
that she’s still attending university and Andrey responded with “I’m a cyber sportsman.” First astounded at the entertainingly named profession, then smiling, I looked at him and said, “You know, in the Unites States, they simply call you a hacker.” We all chuckled heartily. I was driven to Lotte Vladivostok, the largest South Korean hotel chain. With South Korean visitors doubling in number each year since Russia’s 2015 launch of the visa-free regime with South Korea, I soon found that plenty in this town is catered to this group of visitors, from ease of locating Kim Chee to finding Korean speaking guides. Travelling solo with a fractured hand is no mean feat, and doing your hair is no less so. The next morning, my limited mobility prompted me to seek the help of a hair salon to manage the morass of my coiffure. It pleasantly surprised me when the salon refused to charge me because they couldn’t style my hair the way I wanted. To be fair, it was well within their expertise, except I insisted against
the use of hair-spray. Such servitude, as I learned, is typical of Russians – unless results are delivered as per the customer’s requirements, they will graciously dismiss any charges. With what hair I could clumsily pile on top of my head, I ventured out to the City Centre. The buzz of the city greeted my senses quickly and I pondered, for a second, the bragging rights of the efficacy of sanctions – this is clearly not a city “in ruins”, as oftentimes reported in the media, but one thriving with resilience in a stalwart territory backed by over a thousand years of history. Something I enjoy when traveling in new places is the ability to get myself lost with little effort. Though Vladivostok is frequently touted as a gray seaport with little to offer, nothing could be further from the truth. My eyes were no sooner drawn to the sensuous lingerie shop along Svetlanskaya Street, showcasing a variety of stockings beyond my dreams, than they were lured to Central Square overlooking Zolotoy Rog Bay, where a multi-storied Costa Serena cruise ship, operated by International Cruise Services Vladivostok, was seen on its voyage. I chanced upon a farm market selling everything from caviar to beautifully handwoven baskets, colorful trays of organic berries to
notable Russian pastries, enough to sate anyone’s sweet tooth. The affable stall owners were quick to offer me a taste of cowberries, rums balls with vanilla biscuit covered with cocoa power, and just about anything my eyes were caught feasting upon. The vegetables did not lose out to their honeyed counterparts and appealed just as successfully with their freshness and intact roots. My itinerary continued a little off the beaten path as I made my way into Zvevda Shipbuilding Complex. A site of high security, this is a place of strategic importance in the Far East that employs only Russian nationals among its manpower. Unfolded before me was a patent exchange of best practices as I saw German equipment being deployed amid adoption of Singapore’s crane technology. As I walked through the magnificent stages of shipbuilding, the same site where Soviet submarines were decommissioned post-Cold War, I found Vladivostok to be a contradiction of its austere reputation; this city is a living artery of Russia that pulsates with a vibrant spirit as enduring as its surrounding seas. No visit to Vladivostok is complete without a visit to Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU), whose amazing new campus on Russky Island was specially erected for the 2012 AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit; it is here my doubts about Russia’s commitment towards a greater role in Asia Pacific eased. The aesthetics and functionality of the unique campus of FEFU evoke the envy of any college. Laced along its side is a stretch of private beach that serves as a muse to those majoring in literature, as it does to those looking for a break from the course of academic study. As a matter of fact, residents of FEFU could easily live, work and play within its premise, because it conveniently houses grocery stores, banks, post offices and other municipal services. During international forums at FEFU, President Vladimir Putin is known to reserve the Presidential Suites located within its five-star hotel complex for foreign heads of states and other top dignitaries.
For two of my mornings in Vladivostok, I had to skip breakfast for having indulged too richly in the largess of my local hosts the nights before. The only thing that exceeded the superiority and abundance of the food they served is their traditional Russian hospitality – one of glorious warmth and lavish generosity. One of my lunches comprised of a seafood menu that served up splendid dishes, like the Kamchatka Crab; for how gigantic this creature is, it is no wonder it has earned itself the nickname of the Red King Crab. Eating as the locals do, I savored my scallops raw, baked and grilled. Even my salad came with a seafood theme – succulent pieces of calamari cradled within sea cabbage, onion and carrot. The only thing I found to be challenging was my bowl of cucumaria, a variety of sea cucumber, but only because it proved to be resistant to any kind of chewing! The delicacies of my final dinner in Vladivostok were as unforgettable as the restaurant I dined in itself. However, to call Lesnaya Zaimka a restaurant is an understatement. This is a significant cultural and historical monument that has not only witnessed a patronage of noteworthy dignitaries, including President Putin, DPRK Chairman Kim Jong-un, and Singapore’s own Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, but hosted the reception of US President, Gerald Ford, and Chief of the USSR, Leonid Brezhnev, after their signing of the agreement on the limitations of nuclear weapons in 1974. If walls could talk, what stories these would have to tell of more than four decades of momentous diplomatic conversations! The structure of the restaurant itself is made of solid wood and meticulously ornate carvings can be seen sprawling across its walls to its pillars, the same way beautiful parquet is seen to cover its entire floors. Even the chandeliers that bask its diners in a soft, romantic glow are said to be comparable to the ones in the Kremlin Palace. Among the restaurant’s notable dishes are its wild game specialties. I had venison in a stew, roe deer on a cast iron plate, bear (yes, bear!)
salad, boiled beef tongue, and salmon caviar – all of which paired perfectly with the bitter-sweet notes of the accompanying premium Russian vodka. Eventually, it was time to head home. This trip, being a prelude to my attendance at the Eastern Economic Forum in September, proved to be far too short. For sure, more time will be allocated in future to check out more of what Vladivostok has to offer, from its Marinsky Theatre to its Primorsky Aquarium, its Auto History Museum to its Naval Embankment. Nonetheless, I managed to find comfort in what pieces of Vladivostok I could take home with me, more specifically, pitchye moloko, which is essentially soft meringue encased in fine quality dark chocolate. Whoever says we can’t have our cake and eat it too should definitely consider a call at the port of Vladivostok. Getting There Daily flights from Singapore Changi to Vladivostok International Airport depart daily, with layovers in multiple airports in Soeul, Hong Kong, Beijing and across Japan. Former residents of America but currently based in Singapore, Lily and her daughter, Tess, traverse the world regularly as a motherdaughter team. Lily is involved in media and diplomacy while Tess is a kindergartener and the only one known to study the safety instruction cards before every flight. LIVING IN SINGAPORE 37
A Little Luxury in Indonesia By Emma Hillman
Yearning for some pampering away from the daily grind? Some of Indonesia’s luxurious oases are but a short journey away by air or sea. Give yourself a break and perhaps a generous dose of vitamin sea at any of these island retreats.
Four On Drupadi, Bali Nestling in the trendy enclave of Seminyak, Bali, Four On Drupadi offers home-style living for friends, couples and groups of friends who hanker for creature comforts while staying in Bali. Each villa features a private pool, dedicated living spaces and a pantry or kitchen, but each espouses its own character with one of six themes. The one-bedroom options include a New Orleans themed and Chinese inspired home, while two-bedroom villas give a monochromatic nod to Coco Chanel, display a celebration of Indian heritage, or a modern take on traditional Bali through artwork and antique furniture. The largest villa has three bedrooms and is adorned in contemporary Japanese décor. All guests have access to a 24hour personal butler service, the on-site spa, as well as a shuttle service around Seminyak. Barbecues and outdoor parties can be held on the facility’s spacious garden lawn. 4 Jalan Drupadi, Seminyak, Bali www.fourondrupadi.com
The Shanti Residence, Nusa Dua, Bali South of Denpasar, Bali, on the Bukit Peninsula is The Shanti Residence, Nusa Dua. Expect sweeping Indian Ocean views from this hill-top retreat which spans more than 5,500 square meters, meaning there’s plenty of space to find your own tranquil nook. Each villa features its own plunge pool, boutique toiletries and a pillow menu to ensure you a good night’s sleep. A 24-hour butler will be on standby, as will a private driver to allow you to explore Bali at your own pace with a day trip to local sites of interest. There has also been a recent upgrade in expansion to the pool deck area, and addition of a spa for couples, a gym, and a wine cellar. Jl. Gunung Payung, Desa Sawangan, Nusa Dua, Bali www.shantiresidence.com
Telunas Private Island If owning a private island is a little beyond your budget, why not visit one instead? Experience paradise not 50km from Singapore’s shores. Telunas Private Island and Resort are great if you are wanting to get away from it all without committing to extensive travel as it only involves hopping on an hour-long ferry ride, followed by a 70-minute journey on a smaller boat. The powder-white sandy bay here is long and shallow, which means kids are safe to explore the sea kayaking, swimming, snorkeling and paddle boarding. If kicking back and relaxing is more your vibe, head to your beachfront hammock at one of the 14 over-water bungalows you’ll be staying at, while guests at the Private Island resort can treat themselves at its exclusive spa. www.telunasresorts.com
Emma is a travel writer and photographer from California. While she spends much of her time on the move all over Southeast Asia, her base is in Singapore and she joined the American Association earlier this year.
38 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
arts & entertainment Fiction Goes Urban in Singapore By Andrea McKenna Brankin Many say they want to write a book while living here in Singapore. It can be a huge goal with a lot of talk, but some people actually do it! American writer, Natasha Oliver, who lived in Singapore for several years with her family, has done just that, releasing the first instalment of a three-part trilogy, The Evolved Ones: Awakening. It’s a book about a 40-something woman who is working to recover her memories. The kicker is she has mysterious healing powers and is wanted by conflicting organizations for her gift. The book details her quest to find her family, as well as navigate dealings with not only violent opponents and harrowing physical experiences, but also emotional journeys, including love interests and thoughts of motherhood. A key interest point for expats is that Singapore makes its way into the story, a nod to Oliver’s time raising her family here while penning her novel. I spoke to Oliver following her book launch at the National Library in Singapore last month, who shared her tips on writing your own book and gave insight into the mind of an author. What motivated you to write this genre of book? ‘Urban fantasy’ (UF) is a subset of the ‘fantasy’ genre, but happens in an urban environment in which the narrative has magical rules. So, Harry Potter was UF, but because its protagonist was a child, and because it was written to that audience, it was classified as ‘young adult’, as was Twilight. My novel doesn’t feature younger characters. In fact, it features the opposite: older ones. Characters who have a bit of life under their belts. They’ve loved and lost. They’ve suffered and wonder if it’s even worth getting back up again. And that doesn’t happen to your typical adolescent or teenager for that matter. I was motivated to write The Evolved Ones because, at the time, my youngest wouldn’t sleep. I felt helpless in not being able to do anything about the situation, and so I escaped into a fantastical world where I had control. Did you base any characters on people you know? Well, not base per se, but yes, I did use art to imitate life. My main character, Rox, whose real name I can’t give you without spoiling the ending, is a combination
40 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
of three very important women in my life. They were my rocks, my role models in very different fashions because they are three very different women, but their love and support has been instrumental in guiding me on this long journey called life! Sam is my husband. The man who saves me and grounds me. Josh is also my husband. The man who pushes me and doesn’t ever let me rest on my laurels. A few other very important friends have wound their way into the story. The head of the company, Global Frontiers, Katherine Luise Cheung, in the novel is based on a very good friend who’s become like a big sister to me. She makes the tough calls. She tells you what you need to hear even when you don’t want to hear it. And I have huge respect for her for that, and so I channeled a bit of my friend when I was writing her. What was the process for writing while living here in Singapore? What resources, tools, groups did you use that helped you get the work done? I’m a member of the Singapore Writer’s Group, and they have been instrumental in keeping me motivated when I had nothing to write, because I was severely sleep deprived and coming apart at the hinges. I usually start by outlining first, usually up to the first five chapters, and then I usually lose patience and want to get started from chapter one. I read. A lot. And I read a lot of everything. I read other UF authors, I read self-help, I am in love with children’s books because I read them to my girls. Many people have an idea of writing a book while living here. What advice would you give them? My advice to any new writer is this: Do it! Stop thinking about it, stop plotting it, just sit down and put your fingers to the keyboard. And from there, you will slowly begin to figure the rest out. Writing is hard. The amount of dedication and discipline, not to mention the fortitude, is simply unbelievable unless you experience it. If you can get to the 50-page mark, you’ll know if you’re truly a writer or not. If at 50 pages you feel like you’ve said all you need to say, then perhaps you’re a short story writer, or maybe your story is simply not novel length.
It’s important to note that there are many different kinds of writers, though. There are those who write not for publication, but for peace of mind, to express their inner thoughts, etc. Some are bloggers. Some are tweeters. Novel writing isn’t the only kind of writing there is! What was the publishing process like? The publishing process is grueling. It’s humbling. It’s character building. It’s the grind. I do not have an agent. Those I approached were not interested. Rejection hurts the ego and sometimes can paralyze you, but you’ve just got to keep going. Maybe it makes you angry, maybe you handle it with grace, but no matter how you react to it, it toughens you up. You learn not everyone is going to like what you put on paper, and that’s fine. (You secretly hope that you’ll have the last laugh, though.) If you want the truth about getting the three-book deal some authors achieve, it’s by pure luck. I know no aspiring writer wants to hear that! You work, you hone your craft, you bleed at the fingertips, and your soul cries at each rejection letter, and so to hear that success boils down to luck just might push you over the edge. But the hard truth of the matter is that all you can control is your writing. Improve. Edit and write some more. Submit your writings. Get rejected. Grow stronger. Grow more determined. Write. Edit. And then repeat. If you keep doing this, and never give up, at some point, I promise you, you will have some modicum of success; having something – be it a short story, an article, a blog – published, or liked, or recognized. Sadly, everything else is out of your control. What surprised you the most about the whole process of writing a book? How long it was going to take. How you can do everything right, you can write a very good manuscript, it can have an audience waiting to read it, but it may still never see the light of day. There are a lot of moving parts to bringing a book to market, and you have little to no control over the overwhelming majority of them, unless of course you self-publish.
You’re currently working on the second in the series, what have you lined up next? I finished the first draft of book two and I’m taking some much-needed time away from it. I need to forget what’s on the page so that I come back to it with fresh eyes. I’ve also had an idea for a new novel, and I’m allowing myself the freedom to explore that main character and her motivations. You can find The Evolved Ones: Awakening, published by Marshall Cavendish Editions, in Kinokuniya and Times book stores in Singapore. The Evolved Ones: Sacrifice, will hit the book stores in July 2020, with The Evolved Ones: Acceptance, following the next year. You can find out more about Natasha Oliver at https://natashaoliver.com
A professional writer and journalist, Andrea has written a book about living with mental illness, and writes magazine and blog articles about expat life. She was one of ten women featured in the book, Dear Ms. Expat. She runs the Listen Ladies support group for the American Women’s Association in Singapore. In the US, she was in the Speaker Bureau for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 41
arts & entertainment The Gift of Lit, Singapore Style By Emily Oberton When you’re working on your gift list this holiday season, add the gift that can be opened again and again and again – a book! And not just any book, but one from the vast collection of Singaporean literature. The Lion City boasts a thriving community of local authors, publishers and bookstores, which churns out an amazing collection of books, offering something for everyone. A trip to a local bookstore will help you find a gift for even your hardest-to-shop-for friends and family members. Readers of all ages will enjoy mysteries, sci-fi thrillers, coming-of-age tales and other fictional stories that are set in Singapore. Or, for those wanting to take a deeper dive into Singapore’s history and culture, there are a multitude of engaging non-fiction books available. Most bookstores around town, such as Books Kinokuniya, Littered with Books and Popular Bookstore, offer both Singapore and non-Singapore titles, while the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop sells only Singapore literature. Online shopping is always an option, but local bookstore clerks are an invaluable resource in helping customers find the perfect book.
Books for Adults Singaporean adult fiction abounds, but some fan favorites include Impractical Uses of Cake, by Yeoh JoAnn, which was the winner of the 2018 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, about the learning of love and sacrifice over a reunited pair’s shared fondness for cake; family mystery thriller, The Trailing Spouse, by Jo Furniss; and humorous voyage of self-discovery, Let’s Give it Up for Gimme Lao, by Sebastian Sim. The winner of the 2019 Singapore Book Awards Best Literary Work, Lion City, by Ng Yi-Sheng, is a collection of short stories that include elements of myth, magic and science fiction. If you’re shopping for someone who enjoys learning about the people who live and work in Singapore, they are sure to enjoy Hard at Work: Life in Singapore, by Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen. This non-fiction book explores the jobs of more than 50 Singaporeans, such as a police officer, tattoo artist, tennis coach and more. Other popular non-fiction titles include the memoir Homeless: The Untold Story of a Mother’s Struggle in Crazy Rich Singapore, by Liyana Dhamirah, and The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, a biography by Sonny Liew about Singaporean comic artist Charlie Chan Hock Chye.
Children’s Books Many children enjoy reading books that are set in the area where they live, and it can help them make
Photo by Emily Oberton
42 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
connections between the story and life, which can support the building of reading skills. Beginning readers are sure to love Ruth Wan-Lau’s Timmy and Tammy books, which take children on Singapore-based adventures on the MRT, the Night Safari, Changi Airport and China Town, to name a few. Popular Singaporean book series for elementary-aged children include kid detective series Sherlock Sam, by A.J. Low, timetraveling adventurers Danger Dan and Gadget Girl, by Lesley-Anne and Monica Lim, and horror fiction series Mr. Midnight, by James Lee. Teens who enjoy dystopian young adult (YA) novels will likely enjoy the Run Hide Seek sci-fi thriller trilogy, by Singaporean author Gabby Tye, who was only 14 years old when her books were published. On the non-fiction bookshelves in the children’s section, you’ll find popular titles like The Little Singapore Book, by Sim Ee Waun and Joyceline See Tully, which offers a colorful, simplified history of Singapore for young readers. The Understanding Singaporeans series by Edmund Wee is also in high demand because the books answer frequently asked questions about various races and cultures in Singapore.
Lit Gift Tips Personalize your hand-picked lit gift by adding a handwritten message on the inside book cover, explaining why the book is meaningful to you, or why it is perfect for them. If you’re the crafty type, personalize your gift even more by making an origami bookmark to accompany your gift. There are numerous examples of bookmarks on YouTube, and it’s a fun way for kids to contribute to the gift.
Emily is a freelance writer, novelist and public relations consultant from Texas. She moved to Singapore in late 2018, and when she isn’t writing, she’s either playing tennis, volunteering at her children’s school, or out exploring this beautiful side of the world.
food & drink Going Green By Julian Chua Eating local fare in Singapore needn’t be bad for the waistline. Asian greens are the base of many nutritious and relatively healthy dishes that hail from this corner of the world. Asian greens are fast-growing vegetables originating mostly from China, that comprise the plant’s fresh green leaves, tender stems, and/or the plant’s fruit or flower. Used in a wide variety of Asian cuisine for stir-fried dishes, soups, dumplings and many other dishes, Asian vegetables are used widely to add texture and taste. The word ‘Choy’ is the Chinese word for varieties of Chinese cabbage that include bok choy, bok choi, pak choy, boy choi and pok choi. Other examples of popular Asian greens include baby kai lan (Chinese broccoli), Chinese spinach and kangkong (water spinach). Their emerald green leaves and stalks are valued for their high vitamin, fiber, and iron content, with fabulous flavors, from subtle-sweetness to a gentle, mustard-like peppery edge, that make them versatile to cook with. These vegetables go well with classic Asian condiments, such as soy, ginger, black bean, hoisin, oyster, garlic and chilies. I spoke to Sarah Reynolds from Expat Kitchen, who shares her knowledge and suggestions on what to select and how to cook Asian greens.
What to Look For All Asian greens should be clean, fresh and crisp. Flowering varieties are better when in bud, rather than full bloom.
Storage Like all green leafy vegetables, Asian greens are highly perishable so they need to be handled with extreme care. Buy small quantities regularly and sprinkle with water to minimize moisture loss. Refrigerate in plastic bags at 2 - 4°C with a relative humidity of 90 - 100% to keep them fresh.
Preparation Stir frying, steaming, blanching and boiling are best. When stems are thick, it is best to cut them from the leaves and cook first, then use a slotted spoon to transfer stems to a large bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Cook the leaves next and this will ensure even texture. Allow one and a half packed cups of greens per person and serve the vegetables as a side with grilled chicken, beef or fish. For a main course, add diced, firm tofu and serve with brown rice for another nutritious option.
Julian is an entrepreneur who runs several businesses that deal with consulting and brokerage in Singapore. He combines his love for food and writing with his business experience to provide readers with a balanced perspective on the F&B scene here in Singapore. For the past decade, he has been a freelance writer for NTUC Lifestyle, Business Times, Spin Asia, and Time Out.
Baby Kai Lan - Dry fry a quarter cup of sliced almonds in a frying pan over a medium heat until toasted and let cool. Whisk together two teaspoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of finely grated lemon rind and one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice. Steam the kai lan until tender. Drizzle the dressing over kai lan and season with pepper. Toss to combine. Top with almonds to serve. Bok Choy - Dry fry two tablespoons of sesame seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat until nicely toasted and allow to cool. Blanch or steam the bok choyfor five minutes, or until bright green and tender crisp. Combine two crushed garlic cloves, one and a half tablespoons of oyster sauce, two tablespoons of kecip manis (a sweet Indonesian soy sauce) and one teaspoon of sesame oil. Place the vegetables onto a serving plate. Pour over the combined sauces and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Chye Sim - Heat two teaspoons of peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Add two thinly sliced garlic cloves and stir-fry for one minute or until fragrant. Add chye sim stems and one thinly sliced chili. Stir-fry for two to three minutes. Add the chye sim leaves and stir-fry for one minute or until just wilted. Add one teaspoon of sesame oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce and one tablespoon of oyster sauce. Stir-fry for one minute or until heated through. Chinese Spinach - Make a dressing by whisking three tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, two teaspoons of Dijon mustard and one tablespoon of finely chopped parsley, salt and cracked pepper. Blanch 300 grams of Chinese spinach and refresh in ice cold water. Drain and dry. Place the spinach and a handful of torn mint leaves in a salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing and toss. Sprinkle with a quarter cup of pumpkin or sunflower seeds and serve. Kangkong - Pound together with a pestle and mortar one or two chili, two garlic cloves, two tablespoons of shrimp paste, one teaspoons of sugar, a quarter teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of crushed dried prawns (pre-soaked and water drained) to form a fine paste: Cut the kangkong into 8cm (3 inch) lengths, omitting the tough stalks and roots. In a hot wok, heat one tablespoon of oil and fry the chili paste for half a minute. Add the kangkong and stir-fry over high heat for one minute. Serve immediately.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 43
health & wellness Long-Haul Wellness: How to Pack, Travel, and Holiday with Healthier Habits By Amanda L. Dale As expats, the reality is this: if you want to see your family and friends back home, you’re going to be taking a lot of long-haul flights – often two in the same day, if you live in the Eastern US! Even though I am lucky enough to hail from California, where there are two direct flight options (Los Angeles and San Francisco) every day from Singapore, it is still a challenge to fly healthy, avoid temptations on the plane and at the airport, and arrive in the US feeling fresh and well rested. The first key to healthy air travel is to prep yourself and your family for each segment of your journey. It may sound obvious, but so many people get swept up in the holiday season that they don’t adequately prepare for all that lies ahead – which ends in a lot of stressed-out rushing, last-minute forgetful packing, and utter exhaustion before you even hit security. As they say, “failure to plan is planning to fail”, so as soon as you are aware of your travel plans, start to conceive your strategy. Map out how long each flight segment will be, have contingencies for delays or cancellations, and arm yourself with reading material, connectivityfree entertainment options (for when batteries die out or you find yourself in an airport without WiFi), and enough clothing and toiletries in your carry-on to cover even the most unexpected of layovers. When it’s time to get going, be thoughtful with your packing. Choose comfortable clothing for the flight, and if you tend to swell, choose compression socks, forgiving shoes and loose pants. Toss an empty water bottle in your bag for some in-flight hydration, and purchase your
44 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
in-flight support items, such as neck pillow, moisturizing face mask, and compression socks, well ahead of time to avoid paying airport prices. Decide when and how you’re going to eat your meals (on the plane? before you travel? upon landing?) and whether you’ll need to bring healthy snacks to bridge the gap in timing – there’s nothing worse than landing in Beijing at 3am for a two-hour layover and realizing there’s nothing open to feed you or hungry kiddos! Determine also what hours you’ll need to sleep on the plane to minimize jetlag on arrival, choose where you’re going to sit. Choosing an aisle seat near the restrooms means you can stretch and ‘go’ as you please, while staying well hydrated by taking the opportunity to fill your water bottle. A quick note on actually finding healthy food in an airport or on an airplane: never assume you can, and prepare as though you won’t. Pack non-perishable food as a backup (nuts, beef jerky, protein bars, and dried apples are easy choices) and commit to finding the best quality food possible when you are scouring the airport – a bag of almonds and banana from Starbucks is still a better, whole-foods-based snack than nearly anything from McDonalds, and mostly everything from budget airline food menus. If you are flying on an airline that allows it, pre-book a diabetic, vegan, or low-sodium meal for the plane – these keywords often mean you’ll receive just-as-filling meals with less of the junk (think fatty meats, high-sugar desserts, or overly salted veggies).
Once you’re actually on the plane, focus on frequent handwashing. The moment you hear someone with a hacking cough or wet sneeze means you’ve probably already come into contact with something they’ve touched or breathed on, and it should be a red alert to jump up and wash your hands (or in a pinch, use hand sanitizer). Most common illnesses can be combatted with this simple act, yet it’s the easy thing so many travelers forget to do that leaves them landing with a sniffle of their own. Of course, as a trainer, I must also remind you to move! The aforementioned handwashing and hydration are great excuses to get up from your seat, and each time you do, perform a few bends and stretches to encourage circulation, keep your muscles active, and maintain mobility so that you don’t land feeling stiff and tired. Movement is another reason I always grab an aisle seat – I won’t feel guilty having to climb over someone just so I can stretch my legs, and it’s easy to meet my ‘move goal’ of standing up at least once for every hour of flight time. Once you land, resist the urge to immediately plunge into full vacation mode. Your favorite foods from home will always be there as a treat, but they shouldn’t be the central component of each and every meal. Commit to eating at least one vegetable-heavy, clean meal per day while visiting home. Stay well hydrated and prioritize vitamin C-rich foods to boost immunity and stay well. If you can, stick as closely as possible to your normal eating and exercise routines. If you’ve found weight control success using protein shakes, stick that powder in a Ziploc and make your shakes wherever you’re staying. If you’re a runner, make sure to bring along your running shoes and gear, and ask your hotel concierge for a safe local route, rather than saying “I didn’t know where to go!” and skipping the whole thing. Sleep as close to your normal hours as possible, and don’t overdo it on booze more than you would in Singapore. My last tip for enjoying a healthy holiday is to plan for a glorious return. Even with relatively healthy habits, long-haul travel and its associated time changes, dietary changes, and often-harried schedules can leave you frazzled the moment you reach home. Put together a little detox routine (mine includes as much sleep as possible, a deep tissue massage for my swollen lower limbs, a short run or yoga class, and a few days of juicing with green vegetables) so that you always have something to look forward to as a re-energizing and relaxing treat upon returning to Singapore. You’ll always be happy to come home! Amanda is a certified trainer and nutritionist and director of Singapore-based fitness consulting firm Peak Health. With over a decade of experience in the health and wellness industries, Amanda has coached and transformed over 200 individual clients, and consulted for large multi-national companies. She has also contributed to fitness publications such as SELF magazine and SHAPE.com.
International Counselling & Psychology Centre
Continuing a tradition of community-based services with 40 years of experience in Singapore and the region
ICPC counsellors and psychologists work with individuals, children, adolescents, couples and families to address psychological health and wellness.
Lissy A. Puno, MA
Counselling Psychologist Certified Imago Relationship Therapist
Sarah Haas, MSW Counsellor / Psychotherapist
Richard Logan, MSocSc
Counsellor / Psychotherapist Certified Imago Relationship Therapist
Rachel Williams, DipPsy Counsellor / Psychotherapist
Miranda Ledesma, MA Counsellor
360 Orchard Road. #06-08 International Building, Singapore 238869
+65 6734 6463
www.intlcounselling.com • email@example.com
health & wellness All About Eyes By Dr. Jennifer Davidson As an eye doctor, I hear many myths relating to eye health. Today I sit down with local optometrist, Shiow Huoy, and we discuss our patients’ common questions and misconceptions.
Will I become dependent on glasses, or will my prescription increase if I continue wearing them? No. Studies actually show the opposite. In fact, by not wearing your full prescription you may further damage your eyes. Under-correction can lead to worsening of myopia (near sighted) and in children below 8 years of age uncorrected vision can result in amblyopia (lazy eye) which may become permanent. Your eyes grow throughout childhood and even adulthood, hence your increasing prescription, but the greatest contributing factors are usually due to genetics and how you use your eyes daily. It is important to keep a healthy distance between near work and eyes, especially for children – try holding your material the same distance between your elbow and hands.
Can I extend the life of my contact lenses if they are still comfortable? This is a common, yet very dangerous mistake made by patients. By extending the lens life, your eyes are being deprived of oxygen. This can increase the chance of infection which may lead to expensive visits and medications, scarring and even blindness. Over time you also run the risk of your eyes slowly rejecting the contacts. Do not bend the rules on this one – your eye care professional knows best.
Will eye exercises help to slow or reduce my power? General eye exercises will not have an effect on your prescription; however, vision therapy is important for those with certain muscular or focusing abnormalities. Visual improvement has also been seen in patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries or other neurological conditions, such as strokes. Sports vision therapy is now adopted by many competitive athletes to increase overall hand-eye coordination and reaction time, but under the strict prescription of a trained eye specialist.
What are the best sources of nutrition for my eyes? When it comes to your eyes, choose foods high in antioxidants, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Top food sources of antioxidants are leafy, green vegetables, like kale, spinach and local morning glory. Berries and beans are also a great source. Favorite fruits, like oranges, berries, and bananas are rich in vitamins – try Singapore Rojak, containing pineapple, apple, cucumber and other vegetables. Your body most efficiently derives omega-3 fatty acids from
46 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
cold-water fish, such as tuna, sardines, mackerel and salmon. Flax seeds and nuts can be a decent alternative to fish.
My vision is fine, do I even need an eye exam? Two common causes of blindness globally are diabetic eye disease and glaucoma. Neither cause noticeable reduction in vision until very late in the disease, by which time treatment becomes very difficult. In fact, patients with advanced glaucoma that are close to losing their vision can have 20/20 vision. This is because their central vision is lost only in the late stages of the disease. Good vision does not equal disease-free eyes, so comprehensive eye exams that include scans of the retina and optic nerve, which are affected by these two conditions, are essential for protecting your vision.
Is my screen time ruining my eyes? There are general guidelines for more comfortable vision while using electronic devices. Follow the 2020-20 rule; every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This relaxes the accommodative muscles in your eyes that allow you to have clear near vision. Also, make a conscious effort to blink to freshen the tear film. When we concentrate, especially when using a screen, we blink less which increases dry eye symptoms.
Is all blue light bad? We get an almost constant exposure to blue light with today’s dependency on our smart phones and tablets. Studies show it can negatively affect our circadian rhythm if we use it too late in the day; however, not all blue light is bad. The sun is the greatest source of blue light, which helps us function and stay alert during the day. Consider blue blocking lenses for use in the evening, or all day on the computer. Also, limit your screen time to a couple of hours before going to bed.
Shiow Huoy Cheong received her BSc in Optometry with Honours from Queensland University of Technology in Australia. She has a background in hospital-based optometry, lecturing, and a passion for myopia management and general eye health. She currently practices at Just Eyes, Singapore. Jennifer is an American primary eye care physician with a passion for health education. She enjoys reading optometric journals and listening to financial and political podcasts. Her favorite thing about Singapore is the hawker food and traveling.
health & wellness Top Ten Tips to Teach Your Child Mental Toughness By Vivienne Scott Singapore is home to world-class schooling, administered in both local and international schools, and expectations on pupils can be high. Invariably, there will be challenges and obstacles during their educational career, and these will require tapping into their resolve. In today’s world, teaching your child the following skills may be a priceless gift in enabling them to overcome evermore common mental health problems or tough times in their future. 1. Develop a growth mindset. Research shows that mastery learners, who are motivated by gaining new knowledge or developing a skill for enjoyment, are happier and less affected by setbacks than those who are focused on gaining recognition for credit or certification. Furthermore, there is a far higher dropout rate among university students who have developed perfectionist attitudes towards gaining top grades when they find themselves to no longer be top of their class in their chosen subject. 2. It’s OK to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process and teach the fine tuning or problem-solving skills needed to make progress. Allowing children to face reasonable, natural consequences teaches responsibility, independence and perseverance. You will not always be there to solve problems on their behalf. 3. Face fears; don’t avoid them. It is a natural reaction to want to rescue children from situations that worry them, but this only teaches helplessness. A moderate amount of stress has actually been shown to be good for focus and the development of coping strategies. The sense of relief and success gained from overcoming and working through stressful situations also increases confidence and self-esteem. 4. S top comparing yourself with others. Too often we compare ourselves to others whose situation, past or future are not relevant to our own. This only serves to make personal success less important or valid. Encourage children to be reflective and to measure their own progress based on where they have come from. 5. S et realistic goals. True achievement doesn’t come easily but it shouldn’t be overwhelming either. It is important for the development of self-esteem that children feel challenged and stretched. Encourage children to have a go and then to go back and do it again better, faster, or more accurately. Stretch their goals to enable them to realize their full potential instead of allowing them to miss out the tough stuff, or skip the part they find challenging.
6. Practice emotional regulation skills. All feelings are allowed but not all behaviors are. Children must learn from a young age how to express difficult feelings, such as anger, appropriately. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, positive self-talk and mindfulness are vital skills that should be practiced and modeled daily. Like any skill, practicing these strategies when they are not needed, improves their effectiveness and automaticity when they are. 7. Be assertive, not passive or aggressive. Children who can express themselves calmly and fairly are less vulnerable, more confident and garner friendships more easily. It is important that children know the difference between being assertive, passive or aggresive to enable them to stick up for themselves, say no and avoid conflict. 8. Develop a moral compass. Values such as honestly, fairness and compassion can be taught before children reach school age if we role model consistently. Innocent excuses and fibbing are confusing to young children who cannot distinguish from bigger lies that might ultimately compromise their safety. By openly discussing your own feelings with children, they will not only learn language to express themselves, but also gain opportunity to problem solve in a way that makes everyone happy. By rewording conversations to discuss what ‘we’ can do, rather than what ‘you’ can do to fix things, this ensures children feel supported and not blamed or isolated. 9. Effort far outweighs attainment. Participation should ultimately be for enjoyment and personal progress. Children who receive praise for effort and positive attitude are happier than those who are recognized for their attainment. Competition should be healthy and fun when children can encourage and support one another. Otherwise friends may become opponents who are seen as intimidating or threatening which leads to negative emotions such as envy, hostility or resentment. 10. Take responsibility. There is no such thing as perfection and we all get it wrong sometimes. Teach children to be reflective on where they could do better next time. Don’t blame others and don’t be expectant. We can never know what someone else is dealing with so we can only take responsibility for our own behavior and the things we can change.
Vivienne is an educational psychologist with extensive experience in assessing and responding to a diverse range of mental health and additional support needs for children and families. She regularly provides workshops and training opportunities for parents and educators to increase their capacity to manage children’s and their own wellbeing needs while living in Singapore.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 47
business An Entrepreneurial Journey
Dress for Success By Julian Chua Fijian-born fashion designer Jyoti Singh has been here in Singapore for few years now, and as since founded her very own Singapore-based fashion label, Jo Kilda. She describes it as collections of “polished chic and sleek sensibility”, catering to both women and children. Jyoti has lived in various cities where she was inspired by the fashion culture in each. Driven by a passion for fashion and a desire to fulfil the lifestyle fashion needs of all women, she launched Jo Kilda in 2016 after graduating from Melbourne’s prestigious School of Fashion in Australia. When she settled in Singapore with her husband, who had a job posting here, she decided to open a boutique for her label in the city. Since then, Jyoti has been on a fulfilling entrepreneurial journey with challenges, roadblocks and breakthroughs along the way. Her prominent clients include author Paige Parker, actress Kelly Dowdle and restaurant owner Erika Masiero. I spoke to her to find out how she crafted a successful pathway for herself in a highly competitive fashion industry, her advice to expats who want to start a business here in Singapore and empowerment through entrepreneurship and fashion.
48 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
What drew you to fashion and drove you to become an entrepreneur? My interest in fashion started at a very young age. I loved seeing my dad in his smart tailored shirts, and my mom and sister in their colorful Fijian print saris. Growing up, I loved the sheer satisfaction from dressing people in fashionable outfits. I’ve always been inspired by the glorious opulent fabrics in Singapore and local designers in Australia, so I seized the opportunity to use these in establishing Jo Kilda as a fashion retailer for all. I believe fashion works as an expressive voice to amplify empowerment, particularly in women. The label name Jo Kilda came about from Jo being my nickname, and Kilda being the road that I lived on in Melbourne – St Kilda Road. It’s a great conversation starter! What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them? It was hard at the start to gain recognition in a highly competitive fashion and retail market like Singapore. With a shop front, I also faced human resource and retail challenges. But with the support of my family, a new business direction and confidence in my own abilities, I turned the business into the success that it is today.
A Seamless Process What do you love most about what you do? It gives me great satisfaction when customers find the perfect outfit that gets them excited and then they become a loyal return client. I once had a young couple visit my store at Scotts Square in search of a simple wedding dress. Before visiting our store, the bride was disappointed that she could not find a suitable dress that fitted her budget after countless shopping trips. She was overjoyed when she finally found the perfect dress from our range. The sheer happiness on her face meant so much to me. As a designer, I thrive on the satisfaction of customers. It’s the greatest form of compliment! Take us through the process briefly from conception to the final product. My love for fabric means I spend at least six days per month searching for unique fabrics until inspiration strikes, after which I work on the designs that do justice to the fabric and the season in various styles. Once I approve the samples, they go into production. I personally do the quality check for each unit before we ship the stock to Singapore or to New York for sale – every piece must be perfect.
Cutting it Creatively What are the highlights and milestones in your career so far? Looking back, I am grateful to have made many friends in the fashion industry and to have been able to work with an amazing team of people. I am also glad that I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with several associations and non-profit organizations for their causes. It’s always important to give back to society. Here are some of my company’s milestones: • Official launch of Jo Kilda at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2016 • Opening of Jo Kilda’s first-ever retail store at Scotts Square in November 2016 • New York Fashion Week 2018, with Jo Kilda Autumn/ Winter Party collection • Paris Fashion Week 2018, with Jo Kilda Autumn/ Winter Party collection • Opening a new retail store at Orchard Gateway in 2018 • Promising Entrepreneur Award 2019, organized by Women Entrepreneur Awards in Singapore in 2019 What future plans do you have for Jo Kilda? I am currently working on the internationalization of the business. I have moved from bricks-and-mortar to e-commerce, and I’m in the process of securing stockists across Asia, followed by the Pacific and the rest of the world. My goal is to eventually work with e-commerce platforms, such as Net-a-Porter and Forward. Could you share some tips on how expats in Singapore can start a business? Be Mobile – Stability is a big issue with the expat lifestyle. After living in a few different countries, I have learnt that it’s best to venture out into a business that is mobile. Test the Market – Do a thorough research before starting anything. Know what is different about your product and ensure it creates value. Register Smart – Always register your business in the country that you intend to operate to benefit from SME programs available. Reach Out – If you are not a Singapore PR, you can explore going into a business venture with a local business partner who understands the business landscape. Be HR Savvy – With the right hires, your staff and team can be your biggest asset. Never rush into hiring and always tap both the expat community and the locals. There are many talented people who could be a trailing spouse and happy to work closely with you part-time. Scope the Talent – Interns are also a great way to cultivate and find talent. The new generation has a lot of potential with their creative perspectives.
Personal Fashion Statement Why did you decide on moving to Singapore? This is the third time my family has lived in Singapore and we all love this cosmopolitan country very much. It’s a melting pot of cultures, races and languages that continue to inspire me every day. It’s a great place to start and grow a business too – with a strong economy, strategic shipping port and hassle-free company setup procedures. There are so many business opportunities here. Who are your role models? My biggest role model is Diane Von Furstenberg, a famous Belgian fashion designer. She has five entrepreneurial lessons that I keep very close to my heart: On being a founder – She taught me that it’s important to be authentic and stick by my values and beliefs to showcase my passion through my craft. On taking a step back to refocus on business – There are times when I did too many things at once without pacing myself. I learnt to prioritize on what is most important. On living a balanced life – I was so preoccupied by work that I became too busy for family time. I found my own work-life balance, limiting my working hours to just weekdays from 9am to 5pm. On scaling the business – I learnt to overcome challenges to reach the next phase of my business; access to good quality and durable products at an affordable price. On never giving up – Passion and persistence are what matter. Dreams are achievable and you can make your fantasy come true, but there are no shortcuts. What do you like about Singapore as an expat? I love Singapore for its secure borders, having a stable government and more importantly, a multicultural society, that is very similar to where I come from. Not forgetting the world-class cuisine, convenience of public transport, great schools, brilliant weather and location. Singaporeans are also friendly and it’s not difficult to be acquainted with locals, especially in the retail scene. With expat clubs like the American Association, there are always social events to mix and mingle with locals too. It’s a great way to connect and find out what’s going on in this beautiful country.
Julian is an entrepreneur who runs several businesses that deal with consulting and brokerage in Singapore. For the past decade, he has been a freelance writer for NTUC Lifestyle, Business Times, Spin Asia, and Time Out.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 49
business Managing Investments Amidst a Business Slowdown By Richard Hartung Even though the Singapore economy narrowly avoided a recession this year, with economic growth improving from -2.7% in the second quarter to 0.6% in the third quarter, growth has slowed. And the US is slowing too, as growth declined from 4.2% in the second quarter last year to 2.0% this year. Stock markets have stalled as well. After soaring by double digits earlier in the year, US stocks rose by just 1% in the third quarter. And after dipping by 5.9% in August, the Singapore market rose a tiny 0.4% in September. “Recession red flags are weighing on the stock market,” CNBC describes it, and a setback is possible. Investors are especially concerned about the USChina trade war and the inversion in the US yield curve in August, which has been a reliable indicator of recessions.
How to Respond While recessions are not unusual, investment advisory The Motley Fool notes they can be long-lasting and may cause permanent financial damage to people who aren’t prepared. An essential principle for mitigating the risk of a slowdown or recession and reducing volatility in your investments is to diversify into different sectors, such as stocks, bonds and real estate. The primary goal of that diversification, investment adviser Fidelity explains, is to limit the impact as stock or bond markets rise and fall rather than to maximize returns or guarantee against a loss. If stock or bond markets do drop, financial management firm Vanguard suggests focusing on saving more, spending less and controlling investment costs so that you are ready to buy when shares hit a low, so you can take advantage of an upturn. What investors should not do, the Motley Fool advises, is to panic and sell low if there’s a big market drop. Even though stock prices have fallen by as much as 30% in recent recessions, large drops are normal. By holding on to strong investments that are likely facing short-term losses, rather than selling them, investors can avoid the mistake of selling at the worst time and missing out on the market’s recovery. Write out a downturn plan and stick to it, portfolio management company Betterment advises.
The Right Portfolio There are several options you can choose from to diversify your portfolio and reduce the downside risk of a further slowdown, and then take advantage of the upside. If you are not a sophisticated investor, you can put a set amount every month into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that follow market indices in several sectors. The Nikko AM STI ETF includes stocks in the companies in the Straits Times Index, for instance, while the Nikko AM SGD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF gives you a diversified bond portfolio. By investing consistently, you can average out your costs. There are ETFs in the US that similarly follow the S&P 500 or various bond indices. The advantage of ETFs, Vanguard says, is that they offer “a simple and low-cost way to diversify a portfolio across asset classes, investment strategies and geographic regions.” You may want to put a higher percentage of your investment than usual into bonds, as they tend to be more stable when markets drop. Alternatively, you could use a robo-advisor, such as Stashaway or Kristal.ai. Once you input information about your tolerance for risk, goals and time horizon, the robo-advisor will select appropriate ETFs for investments and rebalance your assets occasionally to keep them diversified. While the value of assets may still drop in a recession, robo-advisors are usually designed to adjust the portfolio and be more defensive in the face of a potential downturn. If you’re more knowledgeable, you can select individual stocks, bonds and real estate investment trusts (Reits) that match your profile and diversify your portfolio, perhaps being more conservative than usual given the market uncertainty. If a market crash does happen, consider taking advantage of lower costs and using your savings to pick up good assets at low prices. While there are still risks, many investors who have bought shares when prices plunged in past downturns and held them as markets recovered have achieved good results. While what will actually happen with investments is uncertain, preparing for a slowdown can position your investment portfolio well for a better financial future.
Richard is the Managing Director of Transcarta and a freelance writer for Today, Challenge, The Asian Banker and other media, as well as writing for corporates. He is also the author of Changing Lanes, Changing Lives. Richard is a consultant in retail banking, focusing on payments strategy and efficiency, with more than 20 years of experience in Asia.
50 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
education Acing Your College Admissions Interview By Andy Lee The mere mention of the word ‘interview’ sends shivers down the spines of many students. This is an unfortunate reaction because interviews actually offer a wonderful opportunity for college applicants to showcase their personal brand and their soft skills, which are highly valued by many leading universities. Before we delve into this topic further, it is important to find out who the typical interviewer is and how students will be evaluated during the interview. Generally speaking, the interviewer is either an admissions officer or an alumnus who has volunteered to serve in this position. The interview is often conducted in the manner of a casual dialogue. The interviewer will ask questions to learn more about the applicant’s academic and extracurricular background and also to gauge the student’s interest in the university. Interviewers are expected to write a report that assesses the student’s performance on the interview. The weight that is accorded to this report varies from school to school. In most cases, the interview is one of the many factors that universities consider when they make an admissions decision. By excelling on your interview, you are moving one step closer to your dream school. Here we will explore the specific ways you can stand out on your upcoming interview. Before the Interview 1. Review your personal statement, supplementary essays and other application materials (eg. art portfolio, writing samples, etc.) you have submitted. 2. Research the university, college and department you applied to and identify specific academic (courses, professors, laboratories, study abroad programs, etc.) and extracurricular resources (clubs, teams, etc.) you would hope to utilize if you were to be admitted. 3. Prepare answers to the following common interview questions: a. Please tell me about yourself. b. Why are you interested in attending our university? c. What are your favorite classes? Why? d. What is your favorite extracurricular activity? Why? e. What can you contribute to our community? f. What are your goals and aspirations? How will attending our university help you achieve them?
4. Integrate relevant personal anecdotes into your responses to make them come alive 5. Come up with at least three questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should not be ones that you can easily find answers to on the university’s official website. During the Interview 1. Arrive at the interview site at least 10 minutes early. 2. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a warm smile. 3. Listen to each question carefully before you start answering them. Do not hesitate to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if needed. 4. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer as much as possible. 5. Ask for your interviewer’s contact information. After the Interview 1. Send a ‘thank you’ email to express your gratitude to the interviewer. 2. As appropriate, update your interviewer with your latest progress. Final Tips 1. Take down notes for each of your responses and practice in front of a mirror. 2. Dress for success by wearing neat businesscasual attire. 3. Turn off your cellphone and other electronic devices before the interview. 4. Send out the ‘thank you’ note within 24 hours of the interview. By following the suggestions outlined above, students should no longer fear when they are invited to an admissions interview. Instead, students should wholeheartedly embrace this coveted opportunity to display their personal qualities that are not readily captured in other parts of their application. Andy is a a seasoned American university and boarding school admissions consultant with nearly a decade of experience. He is a graduate of Columbia and Cornell and has provided comprehensive educational counseling to over 100 students, many of whom have gone on to attend institutions like Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Berkeley, UCLA, Georgetown, NYU and USC.
LIVING IN SINGAPORE 51
LIVING IN IMAGES
How do you see Singapore? Every issue we’ll showcase moments captured by AAS members in a photography competition depicting our island at its finest; from the throng of the city to the wild wetlands, from the characters among its people to its varied landscape.
Sunrise Over Marina Bay – Dara Wissinger Dara recently moved to Singapore and shot this view from her room in Marina Bay Sands.
Dara wins $100 in Sbagliato Kitchen & Bar vouchers.
2nd: Yishun Dam at Twilight – Christin Gustafson Chrstin is from California and took this shot of Yishun dam on a 15-mile hike with Boy Scout Troop 7.
Christin wins $50 of Outback Steakhouse vouchers.
3rd: Reflection of Jubilee Bridge – David Geiling David is from xxx and snapped this shot of Jubilee Bridge while walking around the heritage district of Singapore.
David wins a bottle of Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon, courtesy of Benchmark Wines.
Submit your photo of your Singapore! Just snapped a cool picture? Send it on to our Editor-in-Chief, Katie Baines, at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Living in Images’ in the subject line. The competition is reserved for AAS members only • Members may submit images that are 300dpi and 1MB in size (minimum half A4 paper size) • Each entry must include name, short photographer biography and complete caption • Readers must own the rights to the picture submitted and must have obtained permission to photograph human subjects depicted • Judges’ decision is final • Entries are automatically disqualified if they do not meet our criteria and stated T&C • Winners will be notified via e-mail when the prize is ready to be sent out • Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash.
52 LIVING IN SINGAPORE
Established in 1987
Curriculum crafted by in-house American educator
“Knowledge is power. Sharing it with our children is empowering them.”
Mandarin Montessori Ready Steady Go Kids Computer Speech and Drama Abacus Calligraphy Plenty of outdoor activities
HOURS Child care: Half day: 7am-2pm Full day: 7am-7pm 3 days per week: 7am-2pm Infant care: Half day: 7am-1pm Full day: 7am-7pm FEES
Child care: (18 months – 6 years old Half day: $950.00 Full day: $1100.00 3 days per week: $600.00 Infant care: (3 months – 17 months) Half day: $1150.00 Full day: $1350.00
Spacious environment for exploration and discovery
OUR GOALS: To encourage self-confident, independent, and creative young leaders who acquire rational problem solving and communication skills in everyday life situations
WE BELIEVE: OUR STAFF: Education goes beyond the table. Dedicated and capable Each child learns at his/her own pace. Respect and understand each child for who they are. Guide children towards the discovery of their strengths.
Address: 17 Jalan Mutiara S(249196) Contact Number: 67361037 Email Address: email@example.com Website: www.samsearlylearningcentre.com
“The final frontier for Mankind is not space, it’s the boundless imagination of our children.”
SINGAPORE AMERICAN SCHOOL
THE LION CITY THE EAGLE WAY People's Park Complex
JOIN THE SAS FAMILY AT WWW.SAS.EDU.SG/ADMISSIONS Singapore American School CPE Registration Number: 196400340R Registration Period: 22 June 2017 to 21 June 2023 Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
LIS MAG Dec Jan 2020 cover pages.indd 4
19/11/2019 3:57:07 PM