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Singapore American • August 2014

T h e A m e r i c a n A s s o c i a t i o n o f S i n g a p o r e ’s

www.aasingapore.com

MCI (P) 178/01/2014

Since 1958

August 2014

S TA R T - U P S

independence day celebration 4-5

Independence Day Celebration: A Sparkling Good Time By Sharika Kaul and Julianne Fu

A

travel

14-17

start-ups

25-30

Independence Day Celebration

1,4-5

American Association

6-7

CRCE & Business

8-9

Community News

10-13

Travel

14-17

SAN Contributors

18-19

Living in Singapore

20-23

Singapore Start-ups

25-30

Food & Dining Health & Wellness

s an American in Singapore for the first time and an international student returning from America, we found a big piece of home at the AAS Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, June 28. The weather was perfect as the AAS members, vendors, and security marched across the grass to transform SAS’s field into a red, white and blue extravaganza of carnival games, bouncy castles, music, and tantalizing food and beverages that would make the founding fathers proud of this great American holiday. Just as the staff put the finishing touches on their respective booths, music from the live band rose into the air and crowds adorned in patriotic colors began to file into the venue. We began the afternoon handing out tickets and all-day bouncy castle bracelets to excited families and beaming children. Everyone could smell cheeseburgers cooking and hear the enthusiastic shouts from the Wheel of Fortune (Kids Wheel included this year!), signaling the commencement of the day’s festivities. Although the Fourth of July traditionally celebrates the independence of the United States, this event was also a great way for expatriate families and Singaporeans to take a break from the everyday grind and enjoy a day of games and good food together as a community. As families rolled in early to steal a spot on the grass for the fireworks show, the field soon became a sea of blankets as families unwound and laughed throughout the afternoon and evening. The adults got a chance to mingle, and the children compared their hastily stuck American flag tattoos with one another and leaped away on the three bouncy castles sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce. Fathers leaned back in their chairs to enjoy the fans and shade, sipping Brewerkz beers and Café Iguana margaritas and admiring each other’s golf prizes, while hungry attendees feasted on American favorites from Smokey’s BBQ, The American Club, FairPrice Finest and Hoe Brothers Catering. As we walked across the field to take pictures of carnival gamers trying their luck at Throw Can, Basketball, Horseshoe, Game Set and Roll, and the Wheel of Fortune, we came across a sea of smiling faces that made us want to ditch our volunteer t-shirts and try our own arms at the Dunk Tank. But when we made our way over to the Wheel of Fortune, we found ourselves screaming with excitement and high-fiving the lucky winners whenever they landed on a Lucky Draw or SKII Skin Care prize. Some of the participants were so determined to win one of the fabulous Wheel of Fortune prizes, they played the game six times and walked away with vouchers for Chili’s,

The Butcher, Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill, and Club Kyo. As the clock grew closer to 8pm, participants were itching to land on a Lucky Draw for a chance to win: a 3-5 night Royal Caribbean Cruise, a stay at the Telunas Private Island, 18 holes of Golf and deluxe rooms at Palm Resort and Golf and Country Club, tickets to the 2015 George Washington Ball, rooms at Svarga Loka Wellbeing Retreat, and three different prizes by Frasers Hospitality Singapore and Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences. The formal ceremonies for the night began at 8pm, when SAS alumna Theresa Ellsworth sang the Singaporean Anthem and the American National Anthem, followed by great speeches from AAS President Glenn van Zutphen, SAS Board Vice Chair Devin Kimble, and Admiral Cynthia Thebaud. As American Ambassador Kirk Wagar took the stage next, he reminded fellow Americans that “when we’re abroad, we remember those things that make us American better than when we’re at home,” but also emphasized with his own international background that all nationalities make this a joyous Independence Day celebration. As these thoughtful words were met with booming cheers from the audience, bursts of kaleidoscopic colors lit the sky in shades of red, white and blue, ending the ceremony in the true American way. The hard work of the AAS staff and volunteers was captured in one moment when we saw our co-worker shed a few tears over the speeches and stunning fireworks spectacle. As the evening came to an end, the excitement continued when the most anticipated event of the night was announced: the Lucky Draw. With crowds near the stage in the hopes of walking away with the extravagant prizes offered by our sponsors, we noticed the same zealous Wheel of Fortune participants crossing their fingers as AAS President Glenn van Zutphen and AAS General Manager Toni Dudsak drew names. It was a wonderful finale to see previous game goers sprint forward to claim their prizes. At last everyone helping with the event began to clean up. But that did not deter the last few groups of carnival goers from tossing Frisbees, dancing, and enjoying drinks before calling it a night. Just as with last year’s celebration, this year’s Independence Day was thoughtfully planned and executed by the devoted AAS staff, volunteers, and security. But the attendance and overall spirit were above and beyond our expectations. We would like to thank all those who came out to celebrate this year’s Independence Day, and extend a very special thank you to everyone who made this event possible!

31 32-33

Sports

34

Whats Happening

35

Members Discounts

35

American Association of Singapore Strategic Partners


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Singapore American • August 2014

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION

a message from the president... Did you have a great holiday filled with family, friends and food? Are you over taking off your shoes and belts in long TSA lines? If you were away, welcome back. If you were here (like me and my family) you know what a sultry summer it’s been in Singapore, but at least you don’t have jet lag. Thanks to our annual AAS Independence Day celebration at the Singapore American School fields, we rang in another year of independence with family fun and a bang. We also enjoyed a Fourth of July Bash at the Marina Bay Sands, hosted by US Ambassador Wagar; an unforgettable night with a great band and amazing food! Several Navy ships called on Singapore, and we hosted events for the sailors and marines, including home hospitality and a wonderful pool-side barbecue with the American Club. We also bid a fond farewell to several AAS friends and staff. Almost half of the US Embassy is off to new countries and adventures. Among those leaving was our good friend, Sue Niblock, Counselor for Management Affairs. Words cannot express our deep affection and appreciation for all that Sue has done during her time here to build stronger links among the American community. We wish her great luck (and skill) on her new posting in Jordan. We also say goodbye to Rear Admiral Cindy Thebaud and her husband Mike Fierro. They’re off to an exciting new assignment in the Washington, DC area. Their time here was short, but we enjoyed getting to know them and hope they will visit soon. At the same time, we welcome Rear Admiral Charles F. Williams as well as Captain Scott Murdock to our AAS family. The season of change also extends to our office. We’re sad to say goodbye to Communications Manager Claire Slattery and Events Manager Haily Lai. Their contributions to AAS were immeasurable and we wish them the very best. At the same time, we give a warm welcome to Joanne Johnson, who will head up our graphics and design efforts; and David Bede, the new Communications Manager. Looking to our coming events, the Career Resource Center for Expats (CRCE) will have a seminar on August 27 to help jump-start your job search. See details on the facing page. Be sure to check out our exclusive Living in Singapore talk for AAS members and Singapore American School staff and families on September 4, at 7:00 pm at the American Club (free registration required). The talk will highlight information found in our just-released 2014 edition. You MUST join us for our annual AAS Welcome Back Party which will take place on September 7 at Smokey’s BBQ in Clementi. We’re subsidizing the cost, to make it as affordable as possible for the entire family (see ad below). See also our call to action for those wanting to get your kids into scouting (ad on page 10). We hope you like the upgrades to our website, www.aasingapore.com. Importantly, our new “responsive design” allows you to better surf the website on your phone or tablet. So please visit often. As always we value your opinion and ideas. If you have questions or suggestions, please reach out to me or GM Toni Dudsak, generalmanager@aasingapore.com. Best,

EDITORIAL Editor in Chief: David Bede, communications@aasingapore.com Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak, generalmanager@aasingapore.com

DESIGN & L AYOUT Graphic Designer: Joanne Johnson, graphics@aasingapore.com

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen, san.ads@aasingapore.com

CONTRIBUTORS Suzanne Anderson, Neal Blackburn, Michael Chiam, Laura Coulter, Shelly & Michael Dee, Melissa Diagana, Expat Insurance, Rob Faraone, Julianne Fu, Andrew Hallam, Timothy Ham, Richard Hartung, Melinda Hiemstra, Israel Film Festival Team, Abha Dayal Kaul, Sharika Kaul, Haily Lai, Ashkay Sky Lalwani, Dr. Catherine Lee, Lauren Power, Dr. Mallika Ramdas, Don and Mallory Riegger, Chris Sanda, Laura Schwartz, Tasmin Vosloo, Clarissa Wong American Association: Alka Chandiramani

A MERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Shelly Dee • Secretary: Stephanie Nash Directors: Joseph Foggiato, Shawn Galey, Christopher Keen, Anne LeBoutillier and Ana Mims Immediate Past President: David Boden • AmCham Chair: James Andrade American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Annette Foster SACAC Chair: Stu Wilson • SAS Chair: Catherine Poyen U.S. Embassy: Sue Niblock Non-Voting Member: U.S. Military: Rear Admiral Charles F. Williams

PUBLISHER - A MERICAN ASSOCIATION

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. AAS was established in 1917 by a small group of Americans living in Singapore to provide a safety net of community support for American residents. AAS continues to provide community welfare as well as programs and community events. 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 T: (+65) 6738 0371 • F: (+65) 6738 3648 E: aas@aasingapore.com • www.aasingapore.com The Singapore American newspaper, a monthly publication with readership of 10,000+, has been published by the American Association of Singapore since 1958, with the purpose of enhancing the expatriate experience in Singapore.

SUBSCRIPTION

A subscription to the Singapore American is complimentary with an AAS membership. AAS annual family membership is just $70. CRCE membership is $160. To join, visit www.aasingapore.com and have the Singapore American delivered to your home.

Glenn van Zutphen aaspresglenn@gmail.com twitter:@glennvanzutphen

Reproduction in any manner, in English or any other language, is prohibited without written permission. The Singapore American welcomes all contributions of volunteer time or written material. The Singapore American is printed by Procomp Printset Pte Ltd, 61 Tai Seng Avenue #03-03 UE Print Media Hub Singapore 534167


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Singapore American • August 2014

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION

AAS UPCOMING EVENTS

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thursday september

PAST EVENTS

Living in Singapore Talk Did you recently relocate to Singapore or do you simply want to learn more about living here? Join us for an exclusive event for AAS members and Singapore American School staff and families. AAS is hosting a panel of experts to cover the relevant topics of health and wellness, insurance, heritage and culture, as well as working in Singapore. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain insight and meet new friends. 7pm-9pm The Colonial Room (Level 3), The American Club, 10 Claymore Hill Complimentary for AAS Members and SAS Families

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friday september

Pro Basketball Game: Singapore Slingers vs Hitech Bangkok City Are you ready to watch the Singapore Slingers take on Hitech Bangkok City? Join AAS to support Singapore’s only professional basketball team as they challenge rivals from Thailand. Don’t miss out on the chance to see the Slingers play in the new OCBC Arena, which allows more fans.

Memorial Day with the Marines On May 30, AAS members and US Embassy staff gathered to celebrate Memorial Day. Guests were treated to drinks and snacks under the stars at the Marine House in the US Embassy. DCM Blair Hall welcomed attendees before introducing attendees to the US Marines stationed in Singapore.

8pm (tip off) OCBC Arena, 15 Stadium Rd, National Stadium, Singapore 397718 AAS Members: $20 • Non-Members: $40 *Also receive 15% off Slingers’ merchandise

25

thursday september

Quiz Night AAS is putting your brain to the test after the summer holidays! Our quiz night is back, so come and socialize with old and new friends to prove your knowledge on a variety of topics including potpourri, sports and Singapore. Gather your team, or sign up individually (we will place you in a team), to see if you can be our next quiz champion! 7pm-9pm Brewerkz Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road, 01-05/06 Riverside Point Singapore 058282 AAS Member: $35 • Non Member: $55 • Team of Six: $180 Each team receives two towers of beer and one appetizer to share

Wine and Truffle Tasting The aroma of truffles filled the air on June 3 as guests gathered to sample an array of truffle products. Italian fine food importer, Clessidra, supplied a range of tasty products from truffle risotto to black truffle sauce. Guests sipped on delicious Italian red wine while learning more about the white and black delicacies.

Amendments to Living in Singapore At AAS we strive to ensure that our members have access to the most up-to-date and accurate information. We present the following corrections to the Living in Singapore Thirteenth Edition Guide. All changes will be reflected in the e-book edition. Page 73: Avondale Grammar School www.avondale.edu.sg | 6258.8544 Established 2005 Australian Curriculum Pre-school to Middle Years Enrollment 350 Redhill MRT Page 80: Sir Manasseh Meyer International School The phrase “International Primary curriculum” should read “American Independent School curriculum”. Page 102: International Schools with Learning Support Avondale Grammar School should not be included.

Networking Night Business savvy guests gathered on June 5 for an eye opening networking night with AAS and Money Matters. Featuring experts from varied backgrounds, the panel moderated by Grace Sai, CEO and Co-founder of The Hub, delved into the opportunities and challenges for funding SMEs in Singapore. Attendees enjoyed drinks with snacks while mingling before and after the event.

for more info and to register for an event: www.aasingapore.com


Singapore American • August 2014

Independence Day Celebration 2014 at Singapore American School Photos by Joanne Johnson

Annual Strategic Partners

Major Event Sponsors


Singapore American • August 2014

Food & Beverage Sponsors

BBQ

American Smokehouse & Grill

Fireworks Sponsors

The Dudsak Family • The Maurillo Family Jon & Mary Leadbetter • The Tucker Family Susan L. Hogge and all the generous donor contributions made on the day

Transport Sponsors

Prize Sponsors

and special thanks to: The American Club • The Butcher • Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences, Kuala Lumpur • Capri by Fraser Hotel Residences, Changi • Frasers Hospitality, Singapore • Chili's • Clessidra • Crocs • Dan Ryan's Chicago Grill • East Bali Cashews • Holiday Inn Batam • Huber's Butchery • Club Kyo Singapore • Rochester Market • Sentosa Leisure Group • Singapore Repertory Theatre • Svarga Loka, Bali • Tucker Medical.


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Singapore American • August 2014

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION

8 Insider Tips from Living in Singapore By Akshay Sky Lalwani

Whether you’re a new arrival or have been here for years, AAS’s new edition of “Living in Singapore” will make life in the Lion City stress-free. This ultimate reference guide has more information than ever before, spanning every facet of life here on our island. The 17 authors that contributed have drawn upon their own experiences as well as in-depth research to guide you through settling in all the way to enjoying the hidden treasures of Singapore. “Living in Singapore” is available in bookstores now, and as an e-book from Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.

1. Oh no! Not the DMV! If you hold a valid driver’s license, you have a year’s grace period before you must obtain a Singapore driver’s license, unless you become a Permanent Resident at which point you must convert your license.

3. You should know Employers are liable for the full cost of medical care required by their foreign domestic workers.

7. One-Stop Healthcare

5. Choo-choo ka choo Trains and buses are safe and clean. Chewing gum stuck on passenger seats was among the things that prompted Singapore to become famous for banning gum (although now chewing gum of therapeutic value is allowed) and passengers are forbidden from eating on trains and buses.

One aspect of Singapore’s healthcare of which most expats are unaware is that doctors and clinics sell prescription medications directly to patients in the doctors’ offices, bypassing the pharmacy.

4. Tissues are people, too 2. A fine city When purchasing a car, keep in mind that older cars attract higher taxes. Ten-year-old cars get a 10% surcharge, 11-year-old cars a 20% surcharge, and for vehicles 15 years and older, up to a 50% surcharge is added on.

If you happen to come across a table with packets of tissue paper scattered on it, don’t assume the table is free to take. Other patrons may be “choping,” which in Singapore is the act of reserving a table by placing tissue or packets of tissue on the table as a sign that it’s “taken.”

8. We need an ambulance, stat 6. Hi, my name is: Business cards are referred to as “name cards” in Southeast Asia and are presented after introductions, but should be exchanged before you sit.

According to the SCDF, any illness or injury that could result in death or permanent damage without immediate treatment counts as an emergency. If you call 995 and the situation is determined by the hospital to be a nonemergency, you will be charged $198 for the ambulance service.

LOOKING FOR A GOOD HOME Rover, Male, Cross Breed, Brown/Tan. Age: 2 yrs 3 mths. HDB Approved Rover is a spunky little fellow, with plenty of energy and attitude to go with it. He's definitely not for the faint-hearted or those that would give up easily, but we know that underneath that super energized exterior is a sweet dog that just needs a good run around, some obedience training, and a lifetime of love and affection. AVAILABLE UNDER PROJECT ADORE: www.spca.org.sg


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Singapore American • August 2014

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION

2014 AAS Membership Survey Results USA: 62%

Americas excluding USA: 3%

Europe 20%

Asia: 12%

Oceana 3%

We come from all over the world, with nearly 40% of members from outside the United States

20%

41%

of members found jobs through CRCE

Over 62% of our members joined within the past two years

of members want us to offer more workshops

And 95% of them plan to renew!

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ith thanks to all who responded, we are pleased to present the results of our annual membership survey for 2014. As we approach our 100th anniversary in serving the expatriate community in Singapore, we are always on the lookout for new and better ways to meet your needs and interests. I am delighted to report that the results indicate we are doing a good job, but we will continue striving to do even better in the future. We are especially pleased to report robust growth in new membership and loyalty among longstanding members: 39% of respondents joined AAS within the past year, and 95% plan to renew their membership when it expires. Our membership is also diverse, with nearly 40% coming from outside the United States. Well over half of them heard of us through a friend or colleague, a clear sign that our members like us well enough to recommend us to others. At AAS, our staff works to make sure our six major events and over 60 social events each year are enjoyable and useful for the entire expatriate community. We also aim to provide career assistance through the CRCE program and community news through the Singapore American Newspaper. While our staff and volunteers do a great job, we strive to always improve upon our past performance. As we embark on another year of service to the community, the survey results will provide us with direction in giving you more of what you want and need. Please check our events calendar regularly for more news on the events we’ll be bringing to you; new items are being added all the time. Hope to see you there! Thank you for your support. Toni Dudsak AAS General Manager

98% of members are satisfied with AAS

95% 74%

read the SAN at least occasionally read it every month

65%

say at least two people in their household read it

55%

have used services of a company that advertised in SAN in the past year.

To register, please email: generalmanager@aasingapore.com with your name, age, e-mail, phone number and up to 250 words describing why you would like to be involved. Open to 15 to 19-year-old students from all schools Cost: $15 per student (money will be donated to The Boys’ Brigade Singapore)

A copy of SAN is available online at www.aasingapore.com - click on publications

Calling All Youth: AAS Junior Achievement Company Program (12 weeks) Sponsored by Bloomberg

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he JA Company Program has students put theory into practice by developing their own money-making businesses, from concept to business plan, financing, execution, sales and ultimately, growth or demise. The experience fosters understanding and appreciation of the personal opportunities and responsibilities each person has in the workplace. Students will then compete in the JA Singapore Company of the Year Competition. Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. Junior Achievement programs help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Date:

Fridays, September 12 to December 12 (12 sessions)

Time: 5pm - 7pm Venue: Bloomberg, Singapore, Capital Square, 23 Church Street.


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Singapore American • August 2014

CRCE BUSINESS

CRCE: Career Resource Center for Expats CRCE

Spotlight on Jobs Executive Assistant to Head of School An international school has an opening for an Executive Assistant to the Head of School and Assistant Head of Operations. The position calls for an individual with strong organizational and interpersonal skills. The ability to work in a fast

In Converstaion with Celine Manoukian

paced, high energy environment is important. (job #2816) Compliance Consultants

By Alka Chandiramani

This organization is seeking an

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his is our second work experience abroad. Our first expatriation was in New York four years ago. Back in France, I actually had a hard time re-adapting. I was missing the town, the people, my job. So when my husband got a job opportunity in Singapore, we just jumped on it. I did my studies in Paris where I earned a BA in Japanese as well as in Geopolitics. Also interested by luxury brand marketing, I completed an MBA at the Chaire Cartier. After working in a Parisian palace as a junior PR, I decided it was time for me to move and challenge myself. Working as a marketing manager in New York for the renowned Pastry Chef Francois Payard definitely taught me a lot about work and about myself. I also met my husband there, who is French, and we decided to go back to France. At that time, I worked as a business development manager for the industry and was traveling through Europe and Morocco. Arriving in Singapore was a new start in every way. Being part of the French and the American Associations has allowed me to adjust to this new life. I have learned about the country, met people and shared experiences. Visiting the city, reading about it, going to all the celebrations, helped me through the first months to settle into this new life.

This time around was not the same. It was the first time that I found myself not working. My husband was very supportive, as were my family and friends. But I had to take actions for myself. I realized that I had to follow my passion for F&B and keep looking for a job in this field. I am now the Director of Sales for the Déliciae Hospitality Management, the group behind Forlino, L’Entrecôte and Sabio and Tapas Bar. “Don’t stay alone,” is my motto. Jump into this vibrant city and explore the cultures, the food, the architecture. The whole world is here. Being a part of an association can be the first step to help you find new friends and activities. I feel like Singapore is where you can turn your life around, everything is possible. Hard, but possible. It is no ordinary assignment or job opportunity. There is a strong dynamic and entrepreneurial spirit that makes you wonder about yourself. It can be the place to change careers and set up new objectives. The job market is very competitive, so networking takes a whole new level. And sometimes, through networks you can find helping hands!

experienced

English

and

Hindi

speaking compliance officer to join it’s team of consultants. The work involves servicing both Indian and other Asian firms. Ideally, the successful candidate will have either legal or accounting qualifications and three or more years’ experience at either a financial firm or regulator. (job #2815) Teachers Scheduled to open this quarter, this preschool, which will offer halfday, full day, special needs and enrichment programs, is looking for a Qualified Centre Head and teachers. (job #2812) Senior Admissions Manager The core purpose of the role of a Senior Admissions Manager is to: Lead the Admissions Team as brand ambassadors

Did you know that employers can post jobs for FREE? Visit www.aasingapore.com/for-employers

who

understand

the school’s value proposition: Appreciate individual parent and student needs in order to effectively

Launch of one-on-one career coaching session for Teens (Ready for College?/ Looking for Work?/Internship?) – August 16/17. Please check website for more details.

sell the school to prospects; Develop

Launch of CRCE’s Power Lunch on October 1 - Mark your calendar (more details in next issue)

appropriately tailor the approach

a deep understanding of individual parent and student needs and to each situation to provide a personalised visit experience and drive a high rate of conversion;

CRCE August Workshops

Qualify and convert enquiries into

register at: www.aasingapore.com Entrepreneurship vs. Employment Speaker: Yana Fry Wednesday, August 20 10am -12pm

Jump Start Your Job Search Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Wednesday, August 27 10am -12:30pm

Embrace Life Transitions and Bounce Forward Speaker: Thierry Moschetti Friday, August 22 10am -12pm

Networking Strategies for Individuals and/or Businesses Speakers: Matt Logan Friday, September 12 10am -12pm

firm applications, helping drive new enrolments. (job #2811)

Starting Your Own Business (Implications for Americans) Derren Joseph & Michael Seet - Part 1 Friday, September 5 10am -12pm

Events Manager

Starting Your Own Business (Your Options) by Asha Dixit - Part 2 Wednesday, October 8 10am -12pm

conception to completion, including

for more information about CRCE www.aasingapore.com - click on the CRCE link

An association is in search of an

enthusiastic,

conscientious,

organized individual to join its team as Events Manager, who will be responsible for annual events from managing the events budget while ensuring events are creative and innovative. (job #2809)


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Singapore American • August 2014

CRCE & BUSINESS

High School Personal Finance Classes Are they Really Useless? By Andrew Hallam

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ailure is frustrating. But it’s part of life. As a Personal Finance teacher at Singapore American School, I’m wondering whether my work, over the past few years, will serve a long-term purpose. Years from now, will my lessons enter a cranial fog, joining (among others) content from AP Physics, Trigonometry or Chemistry? Helaine Olen thinks so. She wrote a strong argument for Pacific Standard, suggesting that personal finance classes don’t benefit high school or college students. I hope she’s wrong because adults, nearly every day of their lives, make some kind of financial decision. I also hope she’s wrong because I want to know my efforts weren’t entirely in vain. Olen, citing a Management Science article wrote, “marketing experts Daniel Fernandes and Richard Netemeyer compiled the results of more than 200 studies of financial literacy programs ... The result? Financial education has a ‘negligible’ impact on subsequent financial decisions and behavior.” She gave further examples citing studies by economists Shawn Cole at the Harvard Business School, Anna Paulson at the Federal Reserve

Bank of Chicago, and Gauri Kartini Shastry at Wellesley College. Their conclusion was the same: “State mandates requiring high school students to take personal finance courses have no effect on savings or investment behavior.” Part of me refuses to believe it. And that makes sense. Upton Sinclair once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Perhaps the teachers weren’t engaging. Perhaps the classes weren’t practical. Perhaps the readings on insurance, wills and checkbook balancing had the relevancy of an obituary. English teachers shouldn’t be smug. We study Shakespeare in school. But how many 30-year-olds can explain iambic pentameter? We study math. But how many adults can define a quadratic equation? We study Social Studies. But during a recent trip to New York City, only one in 20 adults could tell me (within 100 million) the US population. Such facts aren’t relevant to a person’s dayto-day living. Anything can be learned if it’s applicable. Many US high school students purchase cars. From this platform, they can learn about insurance, depreciation, maintenance, purchase plans, credit scores and opportunity costs. Lessons stick when students share what

they learn, especially if it’s real. The parents of one of my students once bought an investment property their daughter introduced them to. Saving and investing? Personal Finance teachers should show the dramatic effects of compound interest and encourage students to save. Have students share and present how they open real bank accounts. Have them share and present how to start their own investment portfolios. Have them share and present investment strategies. Some students may want to present how much they’re earning and saving. When there’s skin in the game (and the students are teaching) lessons will have a long-term impact. How do I know? I don’t … at least not for sure. But instead of carrying a Thor-like hammer, teachers need to whet student appetites. Allow them to be curious. Lectures should be short, provocative lures. Students will bite. Chew. Swallow. Digest. They’ll dig for more on their own and apply it. Helaine Olen’s analysis may be wrong if students are inspired, the material is practical, and the students become the teachers. Andrew Hallam used to teach Personal Finance at Singapore American School. He’s the author of the international bestseller, Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. He also writes columns for The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business Magazine and Assetbuilder.

Corporate Partner


Singapore American • August 2014

USA Girl Scouts Overseas

Cub Scouts: An Ideal Activity for Boys

By Melinda Hiemstra

By Chris Sanda

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ankering to do something really fun? Make new friends? Try new adventures? Develop leadership skills? Then Girl Scouting is for you! USA Girl Scouts Overseas (USAGSO) Singapore has more than 400 girls. Our troops meet at a number of international schools island-wide, as well as at private homes. Some meetings are after school, some are on weekends. Each troop is different. The girls themselves decide how to run the troop with the guidance of at least two adult leaders. That’s what makes USA Girl Scouts the world’s premiere leadership organization for young women. Many troops take part in a wide variety of field trips, learning everything from pottery throwing to prawning to first aid lessons from the Red Cross. Annual events include the Father/Daughter Dance, Camp, Kite-Flying, Songfest, and more. Girls earn a wide variety of badges, teaching them new skills they can use throughout their lives. Service projects include working with animals and a mangrove clean-up, and much more. Cadettes have helped the YWCA Food for Sustenance Programme, delivering food to the elderly. One Daisy troop had a cookie sale and earned enough money to buy a boat for typhoon

victims in the Philippines. Given the transient nature of Singapore, we always need more volunteers and leaders. Most adults get involved for their daughters and end up getting more out of the experience than they ever imagined. Not sure you have what it takes to lead a troop? Don’t worry. Leaders are provided with leadership and First Aid training, and can draw from a wealth of information and on-going assistance from more experienced leaders. USAGSO Singapore, including the Management Committee, is run entirely by our volunteers. USAGSO is holding the Registration Rally for new and returning Girl Scouts at Singapore American School, 40 Woodlands Street 41, Singapore 738547 on Saturday, August 23 from 1-4pm in the Elementary School Gym. • 1:00-1:45pm Daisy Kindergarten (5+) & G1 • 1:45-2:30pm Brownie G2 & G3 • 2:30-3:15pm Junior G4 & G5 • 3:15-4:00pm Cadette, Senior, Ambassador G6-G12 Contact:gsoregistrarsingapore@gmail.com http://www.singaporeusagirlscouts.org Photo by Alicia Mirabelli: "Girl Scouts enjoying a cool treat at Camp".

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oys need an outlet for their boundless energy. Fortunately, Singapore has a Cub Scout pack that is an ideal outlet for boys aged 6 to 10. Pack 3017 follows the same program that the Boy Scouts of America offers in nearly every town across the United States. All nationalities and backgrounds are welcome. Learning Life Skills Scouts meet once per month in small “Dens,” usually at a parent volunteer’s house. Dens do fun activities, many of which also incorporate learning life skills. The boys learn things like Internet safety, self-responsibility, physical fitness, first aid, citizenship and environmental stewardship. There is also a monthly activity with the whole pack, like camping, hiking, biking, zip-lining and model “Pinewood Derby” car racing. Positive Reinforcement The pack also meets monthly at the Singapore American School to do group activities and give recognition to the boys. There are scores of different badges, pins and medals that the boys can earn and wear on their uniforms. These awards are positive reinforcement for activities that the boys enjoy, an incentive to try new things, and a reason to persist at something. “I really like winning awards,” says 8-yearold Michael. And any Scout’s parents can attest to the look of pride on a boy’s face when he has earned an award.

Photo: Awards are given at the Pinewood Derby model car races, where kids learn about physics and woodworking while also having fun.

It Takes a Village to Raise Children Cub Scouts is run by parent volunteers. Fortunately, Pack 3017 has numerous dedicated parents who plan the various activities. It is nice to have other parents bring their energy and skills to keep your son engaged in a meaningful way. But parent involvement is its own reward. When asked what he likes best about Cub Scouts, Michael pauses thoughtfully before answering. “I like that I do Cub Scout stuff with my dad. That’s the best part of Cub Scouts and I am going to remember that forever.” The new scouting year starts in August 2014. More information about Cub Scouts can be found at www.scouting. org. Info on Pack 3017 can be found at www.scouts3017.com or via e-mail to registrar@scouts3017.com.

Photo by Rebecca Sand

Boy Scouts of America Troop 07: Service Back to the Community

Boy Scouts of America Troop 10: Three Eagle Scouts and More

By Timothy Ham

By Don and Mallory Riegger

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ou may think that boy Scouts of America is just about outdoors things, but we also believe in something very important: helping others. You see, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) came along because of a good deed. The founder of BSA, Mr. William Boyce, was lost on the foggy streets of London when a scout helped him find his way. The scout refused to accept a reward, and said it was because he was a scout. Boyce then found out about the scouting movement in Britain, and shortly afterward, he

“Food preparation is hard work, but it’s worth it”

founded the BSA. No surprise, then, that our slogan is “Do a good turn daily.” Willing Hearts is an organization that cooks and then distributes food to the people in Singapore who need it. Troop 07 went to help out at Willing Hearts Kitchen in October 2013. When we went there, there were lots of people doing lots of different things. You could just walk to any corner of the kitchen and find people chopping,

prepping mushrooms or packing. And you could help with any of them. First, a few of us had to open cans of mushrooms and pour them into a basin. After that, I went to chop some spinach. I choose a small chopper and started to chop vegetables. It was fun, and I don’t think anyone got hurt chopping (or doing anything else for that matter). Next, I was assigned to the packing food station. My job was to put two pieces of fish inside each rice pack and then pass them on to the next person. The pieces of fish were the small type that you put with nasi lemak. That was appropriate because they were using nasi lemak rice. When finished, the rice packs contained green nasi lemak rice, vegetables, a tau pok and two small pieces of fish. There were people packing noodles, too. The rice was packed in Styrofoam packs, the noodles in plastic ones. In the end, even though there were lots of people there, we had made a difference in the community. Big or small, it didn’t matter. It was still a difference. Scouting emphasizes on giving back, so if you’re thinking of joining scouts but not sure because you think we only have fun, you are wrong. We give back to the community and make the world a better place. I hope this article will inspire you to join scouting. Contact www.troopmasterweb5.com Photo by Timothy Ham

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roop 10, better known as “The X-Men,” had a fantastic and fun inaugural year of high-adventure scouting. Scouts and scouters conquered the highest mountain in Southeast Asia by hiking Mt. Kinabalu and also survived the Malaysian jungle on their way to earning the Wilderness Survival merit badge. This merit badge was one of over 200 awards earned by the scouts last year as they develop leadership skills and advancement, including three young men who earned scouting’s highest award: Eagle Scout. Additional outings and campouts featured “the Hungry Ghosts” of Pulau Ubin, “German spotlight” with the monkeys on Sisters Island, and a SCUBA diving adventure that resulted in not only the SCUBA Merit Badge but also PADI certification. The troop finished the year with an “Amazing Race” around

Singapore, tackling scouting challenges along the way. The scouts have ambitious plans for the coming 2014/2015 year, starting with two big adventures this summer: the Far East Council Mongolian Camporee in Ulan Bator, and hiking high mountain wilderness of New Mexico with a 12day trek at Philmont Scout Ranch. The fun continues in the fall with a campout in Indonesia for boating and water activities, scouting and camping challenges in favorite Singapore spots, rock climbing and kayaking, and a Big Event in Australia or Taiwan. For more information on the Troop and what we are up to, check out our Facebook page: BSA Troop 10 Singapore. Photo by Mallory Riegger. The Young X Men of BSA Troop 10 climbing Mount Kinabalu and our first 3 Eagle Scouts - Douglas Riegger, Matt Rowe and Henry Zink


Singapore American • August 2014


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Singapore American • August 2014

COMMUNITY NEWS

22nd Israel Film Festival: July 30 – August 5 By the Israel Film Festival Team

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id you miss the Israel Film Festival (IFF)? If you’re reading this on or before July 30, you still have time to see seven award-winning films from Israel! Come join us and take the opportunity to broaden your perspective through the images projected on the big screen. Since its inaugural edition in 1992, IFF has presented over 130 films and a host of award-winning talent. It has also received all-round appreciation from members of the international film fraternity and the cinema-loving audiences in Singapore. IFF remains true to its commitment to launching, nurturing and promoting Israeli cinema while providing a high-profile platform that recognizes the technical and creative excellence emerging from the land of milk and honey. The only Middle Eastern film festival in Singapore, it has grown larger each successive year, becoming a springboard for dialogue and education. Today, IFF has become a staple in the film festival calendar of events in Singapore, with a solid support from generous sponsors and partners. The same can be said for Israel’s film industry. Since the Israeli film industry has become a major international player in the last decade, this has provided an opportunity to present Israeli life beyond headlines and slogans. Israeli filmmakers have increasingly turned their cameras to personal, humanistic stories - of love, loss and relationships - and social issues, such as feminism, assimilation, social alienation and multiculturalism. The result: Israeli movies have been arousing interest around the world. Just this year, six full-length Israeli films made their premiere at Cannes. This new diversity and thriving creative energy shines through in our film selections for this year. The Festival team has carefully selected seven films for your personal enjoyment: www.facebook.com/IFFSingapore.

Hunting Elephants: A troubled young genius finds himself living with his estranged grandfather after a family tragedy. They soon find themselves swept up in an unlikely caper with a band of misfits. Big Bad Wolves: A revenge thriller that finds the father of a murder victim on the trail of the killer, along with a renegade detective who has little regard for due process. The Wonders: A graffiti artist finds his life turned upside down when he crosses paths with a cult, and is soon caught between them and a private detective who is investigating them. Out in the Dark: Two young men fall in love, and are confronted with the harsh realities of a Palestinian society that disapproves of their relationship for more reasons than one. Epilogue: An elderly couple embark on one last journey together, aiming to reclaim their youthful romanticism for the future of Israel. Out of Sight: A brilliant young mathematics student rushes home from America when she learns her cousin and best friend has committed suicide. On her return to Israel, she uncovers the secrets behind her cousin’s death. Sweets: An Israeli-Arab entrepreneur tries to bridge cultural gaps with a new chain of candy stores, only to arouse business, political and cultural tension with an Israeli rival. Photos: Israel Film Festival Team


Singapore American • August 2014

The Balestier Series: Celebrating 200 Years of Cooperation By Clarissa Wong

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any things have changed since President Andrew Jackson appointed New Englander Joseph Balestier as the first United States Consul to Singapore in 1836. The Singapore of today continues to benefit from its strategic geographic location, but Joseph and his wife Maria would surely not find much familiar in the current Balestier Road area where they once operated a tiger-infested sugar plantation. But some things have not changed. Since the Singapore Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1837, relations between Singapore and the United States have built steadily on Balestier’s early foundations. Thousands of US businesses have established operations in Singapore. Already thriving, the trade relationship benefited further when Singapore and the United States concluded the Free Trade Agreement that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. To honor the two centuries of partnership, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) established the Balestier Series earlier this year. In this series, AmCham invites distinguished Singaporeans from both the public and private sectors to address its members on issues of current concern and future significance. “Through this special avenue, we aim to enrich our understanding of the environment in which we live and work in order to take maximum advantage of the opportunities to contribute to the success of both sides of the partnership,” explained AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin. The series’ symbol is the Singapore Revere Bell. Maria Balestier was the daughter of American revolutionary

Paul Revere. One of an estimated 134 bells still in existence that were cast by the Revere foundry and that bear the Revere name, the Singapore Revere Bell is the only one located outside the United States. You can visit the bell at the National Museum. To quote former US Ambassador Patricia Herbold, “To us, the Bell embodies the long-term and peaceful relationship between Singapore and the United States. It also reminds us that the issues that absorb us today in our relations with Singapore -prosperity and security -- are the same ones that brought Joseph and Maria Balestier here.” The Balestier Series kicked off in April with Mr. Chee Hong Tat, Chief Executive of the Energy Market Authority, as the first speaker. His remarks about the energy sector in Singapore painted a vivid picture of the issues facing this strategic sector. The second Balestier speaker will be Mr. Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Defence, who has a pair of portfolios that uniquely situate him to describe how the human dimension shapes Singapore’s contemporary policy framework. Upcoming speakers include Mr. Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Secretary General of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC); and Dr. Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. The Balestier Series has already become an established feature of AmCham’s programming. With this sparkling assembly of inaugural speakers, AmCham believes that the Balestier Series will continue to be a bridge linking Singapore and our member companies together.

The Navy League: Singapore's Own Look at America's Finest By Lauren Power

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on’t miss your chance to get inside a nuclear attack submarine or walk the decks of an aircraft carrier! The Navy League in Singapore is one of the most rewarding ways for many families to get plugged in to both the American community and to Singapore. We provide people of all nationalities with unique opportunities to gain personal experience with the United States’ presence in Singapore and the region. Layton Croft, a new Navy League member, shares his family’s experience on their tour of the USS North Carolina: My boys, Chaandmon and Sky, and I spent an hour walking through the amazing USS North Carolina, a Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, as part of a small private tour group. It is a little older and less advanced than the USS New Mexico, a sub famous for its exploration of the Arctic. To say that we thought the USS North Carolina was awesome would be an understatement. It was an unclassified tour, so we did not see everything. We did see the main control room, which was loaded with technology and felt like being on the set of a Tom Clancy thriller. We saw dozens of tricked out high-tech torpedoes, the place where the tomahawk missiles are stored and launched, and the special sealed compartment where Navy SEALs go to be jettisoned from the sub to carry out their special underwater missions. I was especially struck by the signage all over the ship reminding crew of the paramount importance of silence, and how silence is their ultimate weapon and strategic asset. I couldn’t help but consider the profound spiritual relevance of such a notion for these men. Though the USS North Carolina

was designed to hold 120 crewmembers, we were told that it often carries up to 200. Incredibly, in what are already unthinkably tight quarters, every single human being lives and works without making any unnecessary noise, ever, throughout each underwater mission, which can last up to 60 days. Literally, the sound of a pin dropping is prohibited, and so it never happens. The Navy League offers ample opportunities for members and their families to tour subs, aircraft carriers and other vessels as they come through Singapore, one of the most active ports in the world. As Navy League members, you can look forward to meeting the crews of the vessels at casual welcome receptions and at the annual formal Navy and Marine Balls. Members have the added benefit attending briefings by visiting dignitaries. The Navy League is a vibrant international community of people, most of whom have not served in the Sea Services. Take advantage of your time in Singapore and join the Navy League for the exciting year ahead! The Singapore Council of the Navy League is now open for membership. Please visit the Navy League homepage at (http://nlus-sgp.org/) or contact Ray Corrigan, Navy League President, at (President@nlus-sgp.org) for more information or to request a membership package. Reference for NYT article: www.nytimes.com

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan W. Hutto, Sr.


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Singapore American • August 2014

TRAVEL

A SILK ROAD JOURNEY – FROM DUNHUANG TO KASHGAR By Abha Dayal Kaul

A three-hour flight west from smoggy Beijing transported us to pristine desert air and the surreal, timeless beauty of Dunhuang, an old garrison town in China’s “far west”. Last October, about twenty of us travelled the famed Silk Road in the Xinjiang region. We discovered remote lands and their precious heritage so glorified by those “foreign devils” or Western adventurers made famous in Peter Hopkirk’s eponymous, highly readable book. In the sacred Mogao Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating from the mid-4th century we were awed by generations’ worth of mixing of different ethnic groups, religions and ideas, recorded in vividly painted sculptures, murals and vestiges of wooden architecture – all masterpieces of art to be treasured by the world. A new site museum brought to life Dunhuang’s past glamorous role as a major junction for coveted Central Asian horses, caravans of foreign goods, diplomatic envoys, Western monks heading east to spread Buddhist teachings, and pilgrims going west to bring back scriptures from India, the Buddha’s homeland. Dunhuang’s isolation and dry climate on the edge of the Gobi Desert ensured its grottoes and their invaluable contents stayed well-preserved. While access to the site is regulated, the rest of the small town has developed into a tourist attraction mainly for China’s burgeoning domestic market. Even hardcore history and culture mavens like us thoroughly enjoyed its dramatic, huge “singing sand” dunes and Crescent Moon Lake’s startling blue arc of spring-water cutting through sandy terrain, best experienced riding atop double-humped Bactrian camels. Serious travellers will be captivated by the westernmost bit of China’s Great Wall and Jiayuguan Fort, marking the boundary of “civilisation”, protecting against invasions at the frontier, and intended to keep out the banished and the exiled, and also outside “barbarians”. From this ancient outpost in Gansu, we flew further west to sprawling Urumqi, the modern capital city of Xinjiang province at the foot of the snow-capped Tian Shan or Heavenly Mountains. Here we visited the excellent Provincial Museum and gazed in awe at amazing archaeological treasures from around the central Taklamakan Desert, especially 3,000 year-old mummies with red hair and blue eyes unearthed in the Tarim Basin. The next day we drove out of Urumqi in the single-digit temperatures of a dark but moonlit pre-dawn – there was fresh snow along the roads that had fallen silently during the chilly night – and headed for China’s “hottest city”, Turpan, a desert oasis among numerous ancient cities on the northern Silk Road skirting the Taklamakan. Turpan was a delightful if warm stop, as it is set in the large Turpan Depression; here we enjoyed seeing clever, ancient “karez” underground water irrigation channels that contributed to making it the grape and wine capital that it is today. We loved the town’s sweet melons and raisins, as we did the delicious and fragrant lamb ‘pilau’ rice dish, yoghurt drink and other Uighur food specialties in a picturesque town with mud-brick houses, dusty streets and striking faces of friendly people, quite unlike other places in China. Turpan’s unique and stunning Imin Ta mosque and tapering minaret summed up the effect of changing influences in this old surviving Silk Road town, built along the lines of abandoned mud and clay cities like Gaochang or Yarkhoto and Jiaohe, which feature widely in ancient records and whose spectacular ruins recount a rich history of the many famous men and women who lived and passed through these majestic sites. We met some of them as preserved corpses in excavated tombs in Gaochang’s huge Astana cemetery, naturally mummified by desert air and still wrapped in their fine burial silks. Of the many wonderful sights we saw as we drove through the stony, desert and mountainous landscape from Turpan to Kashgar, stopping for the night at Aksu, Korla and then Kucha, the beautiful Kumtara and the dazzling Kizil caves stand out. These are filled with early Buddhist art, dating to before it became sinicised under the Tang dynasty and in other Chinese regions. Here, especially in Kizil’s 5th century Thousand Buddha Caves not far from Kucha, once an independent and prosperous Buddhist kingdom with its distinct culture and people, we experienced near-nirvana. In its vibrant and accomplished cave art we

saw unique and innovative artistic styles, forms and colors – Indian, Iranian and Greek influences came together in a wonderful blending that resulted from the enormous wealth and confluence of fascinating cultures that travelled along the Silk Road. Sadly, we saw the damage done by prominent “foreign devils” who came this way and were similarly entranced by cave art we saw unique and innovative artistic styles, forms and colours – Indian, Iranian and Greek influences came together in a wonderful blending that resulted from the enormous wealth and confluence of fascinating cultures that travelled along the Silk Road. Sadly, we saw the damage done by prominent “foreign devils” who came this way and were similarly entranced by what they found. Unlike us, they had carted away camel-loads of murals, statuary and documents to their home countries, some of which fortunately lasted in protective spaces of museums around the world. Entire cities have been lost to modernization, as we discovered in Aksu. Once an important stop on the northern Silk Road, Aksu is now more like a shiny new city in a bleak and deserted land through which what some jokingly call the “Oil Road” passes instead. There was nothing left for us to see of the old thriving Buddhist centre described in detail by legendary 7th century Chinese adventurer-pilgrim Xuan Zang, which in those days was full of teeming households, monasteries and monks. Other ancient cities have been lost to the shifting sands of the

deserts, and while much has been excavated and found, there is probably much more lying buried under what used to be known as “Takht-e-Suleiman” or City of Suleiman, now corrupted to “Taklamakan”. Our adventures ended in the distinctly Central Asian and farwestern city of Kashgar, closer in geography to Kashmir both geographically and culturally than other cities east of Xinjiang. In this Silk Road crossroads at the foot of the Pamir Mountains, we learned more about the Great Game of major imperial powers in the past couple of centuries, the proximity of Kashgar with borders of multiple countries from Kazakhstan to Mongolia to Pakistan. Most of all, we were quite happy to learn that Kashgar is still a land of exciting markets and bazaars filled with wares of which we could not see or photograph enough. The Sunday livestock fair was so pulsating and riveting, we had to literally be forced to tear ourselves away from the incredibly attractive sights and persuasive traders selling camels, cattle, horses and sheep; or jade, lapis and cornelian jewellery; or fruit and fresh meat; or even just chai and noodles, on a cool, dusty, noisy morning in October. By the Id Kah Mosque, the largest in Xinjiang and probably in China, we enjoyed people-watching and talking to strangers, sometimes taking photos of them, and at times agreeing to be in their pictures. In the narrow streets by the mosque and in the great covered Central Asian Market, among us, we bought


Singapore American • August 2014

carpets, dry fruits, musical instruments, fur hats, blankets, saffron and silver, and were reminded of the pleasures of a grand historic and coveted center of commerce and culture that has in essence stayed much the same over centuries. What a treat to have visited this wonderful part of the world, some of which is gone forever.

Today, Dunhuang is a charming destination for all travellers, not only history and art buffs who adore stories of those who traipsed through and left incredible Buddhist art at this historic gateway to the Silk Road from two thousand years ago. An oasis town strategically located in western Gansu province, it connected China to Central Asia and thus was an important hub of eastwest trade and intense cultural interaction. Abha Kaul has lived in Singapore with her husband and three children for the past 11 years. From New Delhi, India, Abha practiced law in India and the US in a past life. She has made a career out of pursuing her interests in history, language, travel, yoga, meditation and enjoys writing when inspired. Photos by Abha Dayal Kaul.


Iran Singapore American • August 2014

Preconceptions Shattered W

hen our son, a high school senior, said he wanted our family spring break trip to be to Iran, our first thought was “What a cool idea!”; everyone else thought “Are you mental?” I will admit that “Axis of Evil,” “Argo” and “300,” the Ayatollah, hostages, nukes and a bunch of crazy holocaustdenying fanatical anti-American leaders did cross our minds. But for us, the Tao of travel is to expand our minds, gain insight, achieve perspective and inform our opinions. In fact, all the negative reaction we heard fueled our desire to test these preconceptions even more. We were on a quest to understand a modern people of ancient heritage and to learn just who the Iranian people were. Was such a trip doable? Turns out, it was easy, but only about 1,000 Americans a year visit. We trolled blogs, found some from The New York Times who raved about their guide, sent him an e-mail and his Iranian travel company organized the trip. Our visa was approved in a week, we agreed upon an 11-day itinerary. They booked all hotels, internal flights and transport. We booked our international flights and we were off. It is worth noting upfront that sanctions have crushed the currency, making our trip an amazing value. The dates of our trip lined up with the ancient Persian holiday, Nowruz, the world’s oldest festival, which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. The 13-day celebration occurs in the spring equinox and is a time for family gatherings and lots of family picnics. Norwuz is known worldwide: UNESCO has recognized Norwuz as part of the World Culture of Humanity and, in 2010, in a remarkable sign of USA Congressional unity, The Norwuz Resolution was passed, “Recognizing the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz, expressing appreciation to IranianAmericans for their contributions to society, and wishing IranianAmericans and the people of Iran a prosperous New Year.” We visited Tehran, Shiraz and Persepolis, Yazd, Isfahan and several small towns. The hotels were good to excellent, with the Abassi Hotel in Isfahan really over the top! Every day, one facet or another of the Iranian experience was seen in a different light, creating a more complete holistic picture of the Iranian people themselves. Myth Number 1: Iran is a third world country: Since Iran has been under trade and financial sanctions since 1979, we expected to find a country facing shortages of even the most basic goods. We saw no signs of this; we noticed Coke cans with labels in Farsi, iPhones, US candy, and all kinds of kids’ Spongebob toys. Starbucks coffee beans were for sale and smartphones were prevalent and current. Our favorite was a teenager with the US flag iPhone case cover whose playlist was filled with Western songs. Many Iranian families were traveling over the holidays in private cars, powered by highly subsidized petrol, driving on highways that were new and efficient. Even in the small

villages you can drink water from the tap and eat raw fruit and vegetables, which are abundant, and the streets are super-clean. That’s not to say that sanctions haven’t touched the Iranians in the last five years, tighter sanctions have been behind a 60 percent fall in the currency, causing the prices of all imports to explode and creating high inflation. Myth Number 2: Iran is full of American-hating Muslim radicals The images seen in Western media of the Iranian people bear no resemblance to reality. Yes, the American Embassy in Tehran is plastered with anti-American propaganda, home to the Museum of American Deception and Lies and headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards. We did take a photo of the occasional anti-American billboard; however, the Iranian people know propaganda when they see it and are highly sophisticated in their world view. In fact, far more prevalent are the many billboards honoring fallen soldiers from the eight-year war with Iraq. All over the country, the Iranian people constantly came up to talk with us, leading to large groups forming and many photos taken. They were always polite, interesting, open, friendly and very

by Michael & Shelly Dee

religion to us, which led to some pointed discussions regarding interpretation of the Koran. In one instance, a mullah calmly told us “they hate the American government” but he qualified it with “we do not hate the American people.” We had read about a dozen books on Iran, so we were well prepared for our discussions. Not once did we feel uneasy or at risk – there is basically no terrorism in Iran. We were often invited to people’s homes to share a meal, which we did, and we had a wonderful time with a warmth which we wished all world leaders could enjoy. Myth Number 3: Women are treated badly. Women are treated better in Iran than most Middle Eastern countries and yet are well aware of greater women’s rights and opportunities in the west. Iran’s young adults have a 97% literacy rate with no gender discrepancy. There are more girls than boys attending university; about 60 percent of the university population is female. Women can vote, drive, and many work outside the home, even in professional positions. However, unemployment is higher for women than men and the sanctions have hit women’s work in the textile industry (carpets) particularly hard. It is mandatory to wear the hijab (scarf ) and to cover arms and legs, and many younger women achieve this with great style and fashionable flair. As women only show their face, they do their best to highlight their features with makeup and hairdos slipping out from the scarf. Indeed, Iran is number one in nose jobs in the world, and many proudly wear the postoperation bandage, even men. Iranian women do not have equal rights with men in terms of inheritance, divorce, child custody, employment and travel but, compared to Arabic nations, women feel their rights are far more advanced. Women in Iran have had the vote since 1963 and the President is elected by popular vote every four years. The Supreme Leader is unelected yet is constitutionally more powerful than the President. Clearly women’s issues will prove a stark dividing line in the future of Iran. There clearly is an ongoing, robust debate in Iran as to the role and stature of women in the Koran and within Iran which is shaping up to be quite a battle between President Rouhani and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Myth Number 4: All Iranians are devout Muslims.

interested in the USA. Our teenage son, David, had a blast talking with his teenage counterparts and sharing their respective lives. On our second day in Tehran, we were interviewed on Iranian National Television by their equivalent of Barbara Walters and were on the national news that night. At our first stop the next day, people on the street excitedly recognized our son from the interview! The Iranian people speak very good English, with an American accent. We were surprised to learn English is taught in high schools. All highway signs are in Farsi and English. We would catch up with The New York Times every day unfiltered. The Internet worked everywhere we went and, while Facebook was blocked, there were no shortage of people with ways to get around it. We sat and spoke with a number of mullahs (Muslim holy men) at mosques around the country. Those with white turbans were the elite, being descendants of the Prophet Mohammad. They were not fanatics and, in fact, just wanted to explain their

Many Muslims are fed up with the government being run by religious leaders. One is hard pressed to conclude the Iranian form of clerical government will have a long and illustrious future. The youth born well after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 are put off by religion because it is all-encompassing under the current political situation. According to Zohreh Soleimani of the BBC, Iran has the lowest mosque attendance of any Muslim country with only 2 percent of adults attending Friday services. Three years ago, one cleric said that 73 percent of Iranians did not even say their daily prayers (at home or mosque). The moniker Iran is a recent invention and presents a stark contrast with the history of ancient Persia, one of the world’s great ancient cultures. Islamic and Persian histories present a stark contrast in terms of national identity. Visiting the Shah’s palace, filled with European artifacts and Western influence, clearly shows how out of touch he was with the dual identities of the Iranian people. The pendulum of national culture never swings out of balance for too long before returning to symmetry, in something other than a peaceful transition.


Singapore American • August 2014

We spent a day in the Armenian section of Isfahan, where the religion is Orthodox Christian. As a Catholic family, we found the religious paintings in these churches simply breathtaking. We managed to visit one church even though it was closed and were speechless as we stood alone among the murals covering all the walls. Certainly, the fact that these Christian churches remained undisturbed for hundreds of years speaks volumes about religious tolerance in Iran. Myth Number 5: Iran is a police state. We saw very few police while we were there, and most of those were traffic police dealing with New Year tourists. People can travel overseas and have general freedom of movement. As Americans, we were required to have a guide with us to make sure no one bothered us and we had a good trip. Everywhere we went, people wanted to know “What is your impression of Iran?” and “What did you think of Iran before you came?” When we asked them similar questions about America, they were very enthusiastic and happy to talk to us. Women expressed not wanting to wear the hijab, and note to Netanyahu, blue jeans and rock music was everywhere. One teenage girl discussed the relative merits of various female singers in America and she knew all the lyrics. Another only had Iranian music and schooled us on the local singers. One father, holding his newborn baby, talked of his hopes for the future and others discussed how the government’s nuclear policies were bad for the Iranian people. None want war. During their most important family holiday, it was clear that Iranians are a proud and ancient people who only want peace and a better economy. They realize the threat to all this is external and welcome the current sanctions-lifting negotiations. With the recent thaw in relations with the USA and Europe, now is a good time to visit Iran, and we have the best guide to recommend. Having traveled to over 100 countries, we can confidently say that tourist sites, like ancient Persepolis, the blue-tiled Imam Square in Isfahan and the golden dome in Qom are among the best in the world. The cost of travel is very inexpensive but the people are very welcoming. You’ll be the first of your friends to have ventured so afar. Without question, your preconceptions of Iran and its people will be changed for the better. If the purpose of travel is to expand your horizons then Iran is for you. Michael and Shelly have been expats for 18 years (10 in Singapore), during which they have traveled extensively throughout the world, usually with their 4 children. Iran may be their favorite trip so far because the people and culture were so unexpected. Photos by Michael & Shelly Dee.


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SAN CONTRIBUTORS

Our Contributors Our newspaper would not be possible without the continued support of all our talented team of writers. AAS would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and introduce them all. With diverse and fascinating backgrounds, hailing from a wide array of cultures, each article takes a unique angle. Thank you to all our contributing writers.

Jyoti Angresh is a writer, yoga instructor, fashion business professional, mom and spouse. She continues to fulfil versatile roles and remain fascinated by this dynamic city-state she has called home for over eight years. A perceptive content writer for corporates including Singapore’s Fashion Federation www.taff.org.sg and the UWCSEA Foundation, Jyoti’s growing list of published work includes two coffee table books, chapters in four editions of Living in Singapore and numerous articles in SAN.

Richard Bangs has published more than 1,000 magazine articles, 19 books, a score of documentaries and all manner of digital media. He has lectured at the Smithsonian, the National Geographic Society, the Explorers Club and many other notable venues. He writes a semiregular feature for the New York Times, occasionally freelances for other print and online publications and is currently producing and hosting the new PBS series, “Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose,” www.adventureswithpurpose.tv.

Tom Benner is a freelance journalist who covers public policy, culture and business. Before relocating to Singapore, he served as bureau chief in the Massachusetts State House and as a long-time editorial writer for daily newspapers in the United States. Recently, Tom has contributed opeds to The Straits Times and Today. He blogs at thomasbenner.com.

Angel Corrigan arrived in Singapore in 1999 with her family. She has lived around the world as a military spouse. In Singapore she has worked at the US Embassy and in the fundraising and development field as MD of her own company. She has written articles for the Singapore American newspaper for the past five years.

Laura Coulter is a well-known socialite who has lived in Singapore for seven years. Her moniker of “Girl about Town” provides testament to her experience and insider knowledge in all things associated with fun and good times. Despite working fulltime, she is currently compiling a book on marriage proposals and hosting fabulous events that give back to her community and causes she believes in.

Lucia Damacela moved to Singapore with her family in 2013. A social psychologist and researcher by training, she has started foraying into creative writing and recently contributed a short story to the book Rojak – Stories from the Singapore Writers Group. Lucía is a Friends of the Museums docent who guides at the Singapore Art Museum, writes about culture and life in Singapore, and blogs in Spanish at www.apuntesde-aqui-y-alla.blogspot.sg.

Nithia Devan is keen supporter of arts in Singapore, especially theater, and is happy that she can put her skills to use in this area. She is a freelance marketing communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in a range of industries from B2B healthcare and electronics manufacturing. She is also a professional copywriter and editor. Her other passions are cookery, cinema, travel, arts and crafts. Nithia also writes for City Nomads, a guide to what's happening in Singapore, www.citynomads.com.

Melissa Diagana is a molecular biologist by training. She enjoys studying the broader picture of natural history as much as its reductionist details, and has lived in Singapore for over seven years. She regularly writes about medical and environmental topics, has written chapters for several editions of the Living in Singapore book, and wrote (with Jyoti Angresh) a coffee table book about Fort Canning Park.

Rob Faraone has lived in six countries in the region over 30 years, including three stints in Singapore. After a career in moving/relocation industry, he enjoys sharing settlingin tips with new expats in Singapore.

Andrew Hallam taught Personal Finance at Singapore American School. He’s the author of the international bestseller, Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. He also writes columns for The Globe and Mail, Canadian Business Magazine and Assetbuilder.


Singapore American • August 2014

Richard Hartung is a consultant on cards and payments strategy with over 20 years of experience in financial services, primarily in Asia. He also works as a freelance writer for Today, gtnews and other publications. Richard has a BA from Pomona College and an MBA from Stanford University. He volunteers with the American Club, Jane Goodall Institute and other organizations.

Abha Kaul has lived in Singapore with her husband and three children for the past 11 years. From New Delhi, India, Abha practiced law in India and the United States in a past life. She has made a career out of pursuing her interests in history, language, travel, yoga, meditation and enjoys writing when inspired. Abha is a member and docent with the Friends of the Museums, guides at the Asian Civilisations Museum and thrives in the company of interesting people.

Haily Lai is a nearly native Floridian who has called Singapore home for the last two years. With VietnameseAmerican roots and plenty of international influence, she spends her free time creating new recipes and cataloguing her mother’s family staples (through trial and error) on her blog: www.banana-abroad. com. When she isn’t eating or in the kitchen, she loves to travel, write and learn new things.

Annette Lang arrived in Singapore in 2002 with the expectation of staying two years but fell in love with the culture, the food and the easy and safe lifestyle that is essentially Singapore. As one of Singapore's most entrepreneurial ladies, Annette founded Expat Kitchen over eight years ago after having discovered her helper was only trained in Asian cuisine and her family were craving favorite meals from home. Hence, Expat Kitchen Cooking School was borne with the philosophy of ‘bringing the family back to the table.’ www.expat-kitchen.com

Laura O'Gorman Schwartz juggles her 9-to-5 as an Admissions and Career Consultant with freelance writing, when she is not traveling around the region or devouring a new book. You can read her articles, travel anecdotes and series of tips on how to be a better tourist at: www.thecircuition.com.

Lael Stanczak is an eight-year resident of Singapore and a long-term volunteer who thrives in supporting her children’s extracurricular activities. Originally from Chicago, she loves to travel about Asia and work on her photography skills, especially dive photography.

Jim Tietjen flew USAF fighters for many years but prefers to fly gliders. An avid sportsman and amateur adventurer, he enjoys tennis, golf, diving, trekking and all travel. Jim also has a passion for watercolor paintings, carpets and wine. Most of all, he likes to help people achieve their goals.

Jamie Uy is a ninth grader at Singapore American School. She is the Managing Editor of Parallel Ink, an online student writing and art magazine, and was a commended Foyle Young Poet of the Year. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Huffington Post, Rattle Young Poets Anthology, and GREYstone. In 2012, she published a collection of her poems entitled The 1 AM Astronaut and Other Poems. You can find more of her work on her blog, 1amastronaut.tumblr.com.

Tasmin Vosloo is a South African producer/video journalist. A graduate of Rhodes University who has been based in Asia since 2012, she has an eye for visual reporting and storytelling, is constantly curious and can never turn down an adventure (mostly). Her goal is to utilize the power of media to give a voice to those seldom heard and to effect positive change.

Glenn van Zutphen currently President of AAS, has been a working journalist for 29 years for the likes of CNN International, CNBC Asia, Discovery Channel Magazine and many others. His consultancy, VanMedia Group, works with multinational companies and media to train effective speakers and journalists. Glenn, wife Kat and their two kids have been in Singapore for ten years. info@vanmediagroup.com www.vanmediagroup.com

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Singapore American • August 2014

LIVING IN SINGAPORE

Using Recycled Materials for Endless Hours of Playtime By Laura Coulter

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hildren of all ages love construction, to build things with their hands and to create toys of their own design. To them, it’s not ‘playing’ but creating things that they can see clearly in their minds, be it robots, houses, castles or rockets. The summer months are an excellent time for longer play sessions at home. Instead of racing from one activity to the next and coordinating endless playdates outside of the home, families can use this time for the child to explore in the home environment. Recycled materials are a fantastic (and cheap!) source of inspiration. Bottle caps, egg cartons, toilet paper tubes, newspapers, cardboard boxes and milk cartons can all be used for your child’s project. One challenge that parents face is that it’s hard for young hands to cut the cardboard, to tape the egg cartons together and to secure the toilet paper tubes to another piece. Often the child asks for help at each step and the parent has to do all the work. Everyone is frustrated by the end and usually someone cries. Not what you’d imagined for an independent playtime and summer of fun! A new piece of equipment can help change that. My Make Do (mymakedo.com) contains plastic pieces that children can use to cut cardboard, secure hinges and lock plastic and cardboard materials to each other. This is extremely empowering and liberating for the children. They can now create that robot that they’ve been describing by themselves (or working on with a friend) instead of relying on adult support. The “safe-saw” allows for children to cut through cardboard easily and safely, and the “reclip” secures new pieces onto the base. This allows them to add large pieces onto a construction without the fear that the glue won’t hold or that you’ll need to tape everything together. As the pieces can be re-used, you’ll have endless projects on the go. When a child has independent play

skills, there is no need for a reward system for playing quietly. They simply find enjoyment in working on their own projects. By working on a project from the initial idea to the full creation, they learn how to design, draft and piece together a series of thoughts. This sense of independence will trickle into

What did they dream about last night? What do they like to draw? What are they always asking for your help to build or make? That’s the source of inspiration. Have fun and enjoy your summer of construction! Below are a few links that may act as further inspiration for you in the future: • www.pinterest.com (a collection of ideas that can be used as a good starting point) • www.pinterest.com (Another collection of ideas) • www.gwynethsfullbrew.com (A larger scale piece of art made from cups which could incorporate science, thinker outcomes?) • www.upcyclethat.com (For the more stylish of us) • www.notimeforflashcards.com (Arts Link - recycled bottle caps could be inspired by?) • www.teaching2and3yearolds.com (For the younger ones)

other areas of their life: being able to read a longer book, to sit longer in their seats and to master a hobby or skill. As it’s driven from the child’s accomplishment, no discipline is needed to keep them on-task and it uses their natural curiosity to drive their focus. This critical creativity allows for learning across the curriculum and in the home environment. It encourages design, mathematics, science, language and personal and social development. There are endless ideas for inspiration and guidance on Pinterest as well as several creative blogs. The best place to start is in your own recycling corner in your home and with your child’s ideas.

• www.laughingkidslearn.com (Another small collection of ideas for younger children) • www.rediscovercenter.org (The importance of using a variety of different open-ended materials) Photo by Hydra Arts Laura is a well-known socialite who has lived in Singapore for 7 years. Her moniker of “Girl about Town” provides testament to her experience and insider knowledge in all things associated with fun and good times.


Singapore American • August 2014

To Gap Year or not to Gap Year? By Dr. Mallika Ramdas, Head of University Advising, UWCSEA Dover

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ased on the conversations we have had with a wide range of university admissions officers in our most popular country destinations (USA, UK, Canada, Australia) and other countries, the answer to this question seems to be a clear ‘Yes’. Universities generally consider students who choose to spend a gap year in a productive manner to be valuable members of their college community. They tend to be more mature, confident, purposeful, and enthusiastic about returning to academic life. Also, their interim experiences have shaped their personalities and interests since the time they graduated from high school. They comment, particularly, on students’ enhanced inter-personal and communication skills, greater sense of themselves and their identity and, often, their sharpened skills as both team-players and leaders (since many students’ gap year pursuits develop these character traits and skills). Universities seem to value all kinds of possible gap year activities. These include paid or volunteer work, community service, travel, language study, caring for sick family members, taking short-term courses, gaining work experience in a particular field, attempting extreme physical challenges like mountain-climbing, developing skill in a particular sport or playing sports at a competitive level, or fulfilling National Service obligations - or some combination of these things. That many universities are willing to defer a student’s admission offer in order to enable them to take a gap year is testament to the high value that universities place on the gap year experience. Some universities value gap year experiences so much that they have even created their own gap year or bridging programs, for admitted high school students to undertake before they enroll at university. Princeton University and Tufts University are among a few universities in the United States that are so supportive of gap years that they recently announced the launch of a program that will provide financial assistance to students who would otherwise be unable to afford a gap year. A point to note, however, is that universities are not necessarily concerned with students’ intentions to take a gap year. They are more interested in what students have actually achieved during their gap years. So it doesn't particularly enhance student’s chances of being accepted if they simply declare their intention to do meaningful things during a future gap year. However, students who apply during a gap year (or National Service) who are able to draw on their experiences in their application essays can often be seen as bringing enhanced qualities and skills. Some fields in which we have seen students’ gap year experiences definitely enhancing their ability to get accepted into a desired course include medicine, veterinary medicine and law. Students who use gap years to gain valuable relevant work experience as well as gain greater confidence seem to interview much more successfully for these highly selective courses later on. We have seen several cases of a student being unsuccessful upon applying during Grade 12, but then being accepted when re-applying during a gap year, with considerably more relevant experience and confidence. My final note on the value of a gap year is on the value to future employers. Anecdotally, we have heard both from our alumni and from some employers that a student’s gap year experiences are often an eagerly pursued topic during job interviews. Experiences during a gap year which develop any of the skills that many employers seek in employees (teamwork, communication, language skills, leadership, innovation, problem-solving, etc.) can make a prospective employee stand out in interview. And in today’s global, mobile world, it may also give students a prior familiarity with a country or region where they are now seeking to find employment. Further details can be found on UWCSEA’s website www.uwcsea.edu.sg and on the websites of the institutions mentioned above. Photos supplied by UWCSEA


Singapore American • August 2014


Singapore American • August 2014

23 LIVING IN SINGAPORE

ANNUAL STRATEGIC PARTNER

Life Insurance for Expats: Why it Matters By Expat Insurance

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o matter where we live, creating a family and a comfortable home life are common goals for many of us. Sooner or later, though, we are all subject to mishaps, disease, hereditary conditions or worse. That’s why everyone needs life insurance. For many expatriate families, the well-being of the entire family relies heavily on one income. In those households, the ability to sustain a standard of living and plan for future expenses depends on the health of the income earner. Should this person experience a life threatening accident or illness, the financial situation of the family can become precarious very quickly. Should that happen, a life insurance policy provides peace of mind. It pays out a lump sum of money to the beneficiaries upon the death of the insured. The funds can be used at the beneficiaries’ discretion, so they will be able to remain financially stable in the absence of the policyholder. Typical needs include relocating back to your home country, paying off a mortgage, meeting bills for everyday living costs and funding your children’s education. How to find the right policy There are numerous types of life insurance coverage available, and it is important to personalise the payout to your individual situation. It is a good idea to discuss your preferences with a life insurance advisor for this purpose. As expats, you will probably prefer a portable policy, which continues to provide coverage if you choose to move back home or to a new country. Level term insurance is the most cost-effective method of life insurance for expatriates, as it is purely for protection purposes. A level term policy pays out if the insured person passes away within the policy’s term, which can be any time from today to decades in the future. True to its name, level term insurance has premiums that are guaranteed at a fixed rate. It is important to consider both the length and the limits of a life policy. Most individuals want their policies to be in force for as long as they have dependents who rely on them financially. Most policies set minimum and maximum payout limits. By asking you a range of questions relating to your current and future expenses, an advisor will help you pinpoint

an appropriate payout limit to clear any debts and provide for your family without overinsuring. What Affects Premiums? Your age and health history will affect your premium. So will the length of the policy and size of cash benefit you want for your dependents. Policies taken at a younger age as well as those for non-smokers and healthy individuals will attract lower premiums. Hence, the longer your delay in getting life insurance protection in place, the more expensive the premiums will become. Critical Illness Cover With the rate of cancer and other critical illnesses on the rise, a major financial factor to consider is how your family would cope if the burden of big bills for treatment became reality. When costs for treatment can run to over a million dollars, knowing your family will have coverage for such costs is essential. Critical Illness coverage pays out a lump sum if the policyholder is diagnosed with a serious condition, such as cancer or stroke. A cancer diagnosis while on an expatriate posting can make your family reassess priorities. Critical illness protection ensures that your family is able to make the right decisions at the right time, without being overwhelmed by the financial implications. Premiums for critical illness cover can be high due to the high potential for claims, but you have the more cost-effective option of adding the coverage to your life policy rather than buying it separately. Be Prepared Today Taking the time to determine the right level of protection for your family now will provide you with peace of mind. Should the unthinkable happen, you know your family and legacy will be financially safe. For more information contact: www.expatinsurance.com.sg


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Singapore American • August 2014

SINGAPORE START-UPS

Socially Conscious Cashews By David A. Bede

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ust two years ago, an American couple moved to Indonesia to work as rural health care volunteers. Like their home state of Vermont, northeastern Bali is very rural – but the similarities end there. It is perhaps all too appropriate, then, that Aaron Fishman and Lindsay White had an experience unlike anything they had foreseen. But their arrival began a chain of events that has changed their corner of Bali for the better in nearly every way. Bali isn’t just the land of beachside villas and long weekend getaways from Singapore. The mountainous, less tourist-friendly northeastern corner of the island is home to impoverished rural villages like Desa Ban. With no industry to speak of and an average income of $2 per day, Desa Ban has long been marked by all the afflictions of rural poverty: poor nutrition, few educational opportunities and even fewer work opportunities, and a resulting disenfranchisement of women. Desa Ban is rich in its culture, its heritage, its natural beauty – and cashew trees. But traditionally, the cashews have been shipped off to Vietnam or India to be processed for consumption. This has left the locals with no opportunity to profit from their tasty harvests other than picking them off the trees. As farm labor is largely reserved for men in that part of the world, the local economy offered no real op-

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portunities at all for women and no clear way to change that. Until Aaron and Lindsay arrived. Initially working as volunteers for a health care NGO, Aaron and Lindsay saw what Desa Ban needed to break the cycle of poverty, and they saw an opportunity to fulfill that need. “We realized that social and health programs were not enough to change outcomes,” Aaron explains. “Put simply, people needed jobs.” With initial investments totaling $180,000, he and Lindsay built a social enterprise (a business founded to achieve both a profit and a social goal) that capitalizes upon Desa Ban’s own cashew harvest. In observing the harvest cycle of the cashews, they recognized “a business opportunity to process cashews locally in Bali and save on shipping costs.” East Bali Cashews (EBC) was founded in 2012, and has seen explosive growth since then. Now the process of shelling, drying, peeling, cleaning and flavoring the cashews is completed in Desa Ban. The company created 130 jobs within its first six months, with initial revenues of just over $30,000 per month. Approximately 90% of the employees are women, most of them working outside the home for the first time. This is just as beneficial to the community at large as it is to the employees. As EBC’s own website notes, studies show women in developing countries are more likely

to spend their money on education and health than men are. By providing the women of Desa Ban with meaningful work (in many cases for

the first time in their lives), then, EBC is also providing for the growth of an infrastructure in a corner of the world that has never had one until now. Now the largest village-based employer in northeastern Bali (and still growing), EBC makes its beneficial effect on Desa Ban a key point in its marketing strategy. Each rusticlooking brown package of East Bali cashews features the phrase “Promoting Community Development” on both the front and back. As hard as it was to get East Bali Cashews off the ground, the next step was even harder: they needed a second round of investment

of nearly $1 million to grow the company financially and to increase its social impact. The founders could not do that alone. With the help of Impact Investment Exchange and KKR Asia, just two years into its existence, EBC raised the funds and now produces 50 tons of cashews per month, in varieties including raw, garlic-pepper, sea salt, chocolate-powdered and more. But Aaron and Lindsay have done far more for Desa Ban than sell cashews. In next month’s issue, you will learn much more about how they achieved this growth and the positive social change they have set in motion. This is part one in a two-part series on the benefits of social enterprises. This is the first in a series of two articles. Photos by East Bali Cashews


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SINGAPORE START-UPS

Block 71: Singapore’s Answer to Silicon Valley By Richard Hartung

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ust a few short years ago, Block 71 in Ayer Rajah was another run-down factory building in an aging industrial estate, on its way to being demolished. Today, it’s home to hundreds of start-ups and investors, the hub of an expanding cluster of buildings renamed JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, and the center of what the government hopes will become a miniature Silicon Valley. Michael Yap, the former Deputy CEO of the Media Development Authority (MDA) who came up with the concept for Block 71, said that about five years ago, “I realized that some folks were tearing down a building. That got me thinking about why they are getting rid of the place. It is a perfect place, where start-ups should end up.” He convinced MDA and the Jurong Town Council to save the building for entrepreneurs, put some money into fitting it out, and then put out the word that it was open for business. From that humble beginning, Block 71 has turned into a mecca that has attracted more than 20 incubators, 250 start-ups, and 1,000 entrepreneurs. Indeed, it has become so successful that the government is expanding the concept to more buildings nearby, with a target of 500 start-ups and 2,000 entrepreneurs. “From its beginnings as a JTC flatted factory three years ago,” Minister of State for Trade & Industry Teo Ser Luck said recently, “Block 71 has transformed into a vibrant and collaborative startup community.” The attraction of working at Block 71 is enormous, even if its location might seem out-of-the-way. Rent starts at less than $2 per square foot, well below costs elsewhere. Along with close proximity to other start-ups that enables them to bounce ideas around, tenants have easy access to the MRT, free WiFi, recreational facilities, event spaces and food centers. Block 71 is also close to the National University of Singapore, the Institute for Infocomm Research and other research facilities at one -north. The current tenants include a wide range of firms. Start-ups

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such as iCarsclub and Skoolbo have their own offices, others such as Hagglar and UberSnap operate out of shared facilities in an NUS Enterprise co-working space, and incubators such as Mercatus as well as investors such as locally-owned Credence and US-based Walden International have their own premises. Part of the reason for the success, Yap said, is how Block 71

was designed to include the whole entrepreneurial ecosystem. He brought in SingTel Innov8 as an anchor tenant, convinced NUS to set up an incubator, attracted venture capitalists who could provide funding, and opened it up to start-ups young and old, big and small. “It was very natural,” Yap said. “People start organizing. Everybody is there. It is a flow, learning, activities. Ecosystem vibrancy comes about in an unexpected way.” How it will grow from here is anyone’s guess. Teo credits government intervention with playing a big role as a catalyst

in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and said that “moving on, we will take on a more supportive role.” As Founder Institute CEO Adeo Ressi told Bloomberg, however, even though Singapore has done the best job of any government to spawn an entrepreneurial ecosystem, “I think they’ve gone a little bit too far in making it easy.” And as the Economist said, “Singapore’s government could spoil the party” as new media laws constrain some websites and labor regulations make it harder for firms to bring in workers from abroad. “Most successful startups in Singapore are still run by foreigners,” the Economist observed. While views on Block 71’s future may vary, head out there and you’ll see entrepreneurship in action, along with hearing a multitude of accents from Singaporeans and entrepreneurs from around the world. Even though Block 71 is tiny compared to places like Silicon Valley, and despite how it looks, its thriving ecosystem is quickly gaining a reputation as the place to go for entrepreneurs in Singapore and as a model for other cities looking to set up their own hub for new start-ups.

Photo by Tim Samoff Richard Hartung is a consultant on cards and payments strategy with over 20 years of experience in financial services, primarily in Asia. He also works as a freelance writer for Today, gtnews and other publications. Richard has a BA from Pomona College and an MBA from Stanford University. He volunteers with the American Club, Jane Goodall Institute and other organizations.

Carmen Kot on Surviving Singapore By Laura Schwartz

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ooking at Carmen Kot, you would conclude that she’s a very stylish girl. After speaking with her, you would conclude that she’s also a very pragmatic one. “I think one of the biggest pieces of advice for people starting a business is to just start, because the hardest part for me was just starting,” she admits. “Once you do that, it becomes easier just because you’ve got that groundwork in place. The hardest part is just biting the bullet.” Once she started, it took about eight months for Carmen to turn her idea for SurviveSG into the website’s soft launch last year.

A chic and user-friendly online store, SurviveSG offers products specifically for expatriate struggling with tropical conditions. “The first few years were tough on me,” Carmen states in the About section of the site. “I suddenly had NO IDEA how to deal with such a humid climate — I was constantly battling my frizzy hair, ugly mosquito bites and I felt so hot and bothered all the time! And I'm Australian!” Originally from Sydney, Carmen worked in finance in London

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and Hong Kong before relocating to Singapore in 2009. Not long after, she realized, “I was kind of over working for someone else.” As she had spent years testing out and hunting down the best hair-care, skin-care and cosmetic products for life in Singapore, Carmen felt that she had collected a great range of effective products that not only worked, but were often organic or environmentally friendly. Everything started from her love of that collection. Carmen won’t sell anything she hasn’t vetted herself, from shampoos to umbrellas to lip gloss. As such, visiting SurviveSG is like gaining access to the bathroom of a wise and fashionable older sister. Though the idea for SurviveSG came to Carmen very quickly, she says it was important for her to do things right the first time. Along with her husband and co-founder Geoff, she navigated Singapore’s business regulations in order to establish a company that was best suited for her needs and wants. Besides the legalities and the logistics, finding the right people to partner with was a trial and error affair: “One of the things necessary for being an entrepreneur is knowing when you don’t know something and finding a person who can provide you that knowledge. You have to swallow your pride a lot because you don’t have money to throw at problems and you have to ask somebody for help.” To that end, Carmen has grown close to Singapore’s diverse network of expatriate and local entrepreneurs, whom she has found to be incredibly supportive, particularly Secret Women’s Business and Creative Mornings. In addition to her vivacious networking, she attributes her success to her ability to view setbacks as opportunities. When her courier backed out and she had to make all deliveries in person, she saw it as opportunity to meet her customers face-toface. Currently, Carmen still runs SurviveSG from home, where she packs all orders by hand into chic, minimalist paper bags tied with bright green ribbon. She’s hoping to hire her first employee

in the near future to allow herself to take time to travel, a passion that has recently been neglected in favor of her business. The hard work is paying off. Sales have doubled since last year and SurviveSG is poised to move into the next stage: SurviveAsia. While still actively sourcing her products, Carmen now also fields pitches from a number of companies who want her to carry their goods. But she will not offer any item that doesn’t agree with her mantra of surviving in Singapore. “You have to stick by your brand strategy,” she declares. Despite the challenges and the risks of entrepreneurship, Carmen’s energy and ambition seem endless. “It is a huge emotional roller coaster,” she says. “You absolutely can’t coast and you can’t just blame someone else. But I think if you’re adaptable and are willing to try again, you do make it one day.” Photo from left to right: by The Amazings; Melissa Bailey Laura O'Gorman Schwartz juggles her 9-to-5 as an Admissions and Career Consultant with freelance writing, when she is not traveling around the region or devouring a new book. You can read her articles, travel anecdotes and series of tips on how to be a better tourist at: www.thecircuition.com.


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Singapore American • August 2014

SINGAPORE START-UPS

Asia Maintains its Lead in the Digital Currency Space: Cloud Mining Services Come to Singapore By Neal Blackburn

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ingapore provides unique opportunities for start-ups across an array of industries. While known predominantly as Southeast Asia's financial hub, recently the Lion City has made headlines for its accommodating stance on digital and crypto-currencies. Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other decentralized crypto-currencies are legally recognized and taxed by Singapore’s MAS and IRAS, paving the way for an entirely new (and potentially disruptive) payments market. As the world at large still struggles to understand the implications of this nascent technology, some pioneers have already set out to build the necessary infrastructure to support truly global, peer-to-peer payment systems. Start-ups like Cloud Mining Singapore seek to bridge the gap between the technologically complex aspects of digital currencies and real-world markets. Partnering with Singaporean educational institutions, the company is focused on delivering the most advanced mining technology and payment solutions to its customers on a global scale. The company's branding and positioning are deliberately obvious as we strongly believe the island nation will play a major role in the advancement and adoption of digital and crypto-currencies. Singapore's regulatory environment breeds our core key success factors: trust and transparency. The first quarter of 2014 was plagued with negative press highlighting failed Bitcoin businesses, digital thefts, and investor losses. In the rapidly maturing

digital currency market, dishonest individuals and poorly managed businesses are being exposed and discredited as customers demand transparency and trust. While starting any business is fast-paced (and terrifying), a business operating in the digital currency space must operate, adapt, and grow at breakneck speeds. Advancements in mining technology, customer integration, and regulatory environments require crypto-start-ups to evolve their business models almost daily and execute immediately. But the effort is not without potential reward. The year 2014 is projected to yield US $300 million in digital currency-related venture capital investments worldwide, according to Coindesk. While it is true that flexibility in this space is key, we have understood from the get go that to be truly successful, our operations, strategy, and vision need to be scalable. With all the new innovations and announcements this year alone in the digital currency space, the industry appears to stand on the cusp of appealing to wider markets. Needless to say, the second half of this year is shaping up to be another exciting period of growth and adoption.

Photos: (Mick Baker) Rooster; BTC Keychain

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SINGAPORE START-UPS

Ecology Matters: Tremendously! By Melissa Diagana

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ne Saturday afternoon in March, my 9 year-old daughter and I were poking around relatively untrammeled parts of Pulau Ubin, photographing not-soconspicuous creatures as part of the Nature Society (Singapore)’s “Wildlife Blitz”. Another member of our intrepid little group was Natalia Huang. It turns out that Natalia can often be found in the field, looking for denizens of all sorts of habitats. This young ecologist has recently started her own company. Ecology Matters (www.ecologymatters.com.sg) is a start-up with a focus on fauna studies for environmental impact assessments. An “environmental impact assessment” (or EIA), as defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “is a formal process used to predict the environmental consequences of a plan, policy, program, or project prior the implementation decision”. In the US, federal agencies must consider “the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.” Although there is no comprehensive requirement for EIAs in Singapore yet, the Ministry of National Development recently stated that “EIAs are required for major development proposals if they are near sensitive areas such as nature reserves."

ST A R T -U P S

Natalia is well-equipped to do this work. After growing up in Singapore, she left to study zoology and environmental science at Murdoch University in Perth. She then worked as a biologist with the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation. She eventually formed a sole proprietor company there, and worked as an environmental consultant analyzing the impact of potential development projects on the fauna. Back in Singapore, she joined Wildlife Re-

serves Singapore to work as a conservation projects manager. But she yearned for something else, and so she decided to form her own private limited company, specializing in faunal studies of sites proposed for development. A project begins with a literature review to learn which animals (from mammals to insects)

are either known to be in the area of proposed development, or are expected to be there. Then comes the essential site visit for “ground truth”. Ecology Matters needs to verify what exists in the literature, or if there is no literature precedent, find out for the first time. The goal of such investigations is to determine a “faunal value” – not a monetary value, but the value, for example, of a forest to the faunal assemblage. Which species live in the area? Which species are only visitors, yet still need it? Other factors that are taken into account include the significance of the habitat for the fauna, and how changes in ecological processes such as habitat fragmentation, hydrology, or even the fire regime could affect the animals. When asked why she decided to begin her own start-up, Natalia listed several drivers. From a pragmatic point of view, since environmental science is a relatively new field in Singapore, there are relatively few jobs to be had. But what really motivated her was her desire to increase the awareness and understanding of EIAs in Singapore, and above all to be involved in setting their standards for the future. Photos by Natalia Huang and Alice Reaveley Melissa Diagana is a molecular biologist by training. She enjoys studying the broader picture of natural history as much as its reductionist details, and has lived in Singapore for over seven years.


Singapore American • August 2014

Find New Singapore Restaurants, Shops and Bars with Sugar App

ST A R T -U P S

By Tasmin Vosloo

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ingapore may be small, but that has not stopped it from becoming a hub for tech startups. The combination of start-up-friendly policies and an ambitious population has allowed new and interesting tech companies to thrive. One such start-up is Sugar, a mobile application company created by Singaporean lawyer and entrepreneur Benjamin Lee, and UK management consultant and venture capitalist Stephen Barling. Sugar, newly launched in April, is an app designed to address a problem many people experience in Singapore: frequenting the same places time and again, missing out on so much that the country has to offer. Barling experienced this first-hand: “When I first came to Singapore, my social life was pretty much restricted to the expat community. I was told that Singapore was a nice place to live, but also fairly boring. Every weekend, my friends would invite me to either Club Street or the Tanjong Beach Club because there was ‘nothing else to do’.” But, as a person who loves to “explore cities on a deeper level,” he soon began to discover the plethora of “hidden gems” that Singapore has to offer. Thus began Sugar, the mobile application that allows users to discover new and interesting cafes, restaurants and bars. The app works by featuring a product or service that has been specifically selected, as opposed to simply listing outlets. The merchants are hand-picked to be featured and are known as ‘Sugarmakers’. Users can interact directly with the product or services from the Sugarmakers by ‘skimming’ or ‘spreading it’, which in turn reduces the price. The price reduction is applicable to all users. Since there is only one featured item per day, the users must purchase it before it sells out, using their Sugar app credit. Andre Pezos, an American social media consultant, says one of the first things an expat notices in Singapore is the high prices. When it comes to after-work drinks “having to pay $15 for a pint of beer can really sting the wallet. Thanks to Sugar, however I’ve been exposed to a variety of novelty microbreweries, and I can drink my fill for only $2!” Lee, the company’s CEO and self-proclaimed ‘serial entrepreneur’, has been around to see the Singapore start-up scene mature in the last few years. He says, “People’s perceptions are changing. More and more people are now willing to forgo stability and security in order to pursue their dreams and aspirations.” Despite the challenges and risks associated with starting a mobile application company, Lee is confident about Singapore’s development in the tech start-up sphere and says the “dynamism, the chaos and the speed at which things happen” makes it a rewarding area to work in. Though very young, Sugar has carved out a space for itself in the mobile app world, and has already been featured as an Editor’s Pick on the Apple App Store, a source of pride for the co-founders since this accolade is usually given to apps demonstrating extraordinary innovativeness and design. With their first tech start-up growing daily, Barling and Lee believe a key tenet to attaining success in this sphere is to be proactive and “just go for it,” particularly for younger entrepreneurs who believe the only way to start a business is to have massive capital. “The minute you think like that, half the battle is already lost,” says Lee, who started his first business at the age of 19 with less than $10,000. While Singapore has proved a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs, Lee believes there’s still quite a way to go toward attaining a truly entrepreneurial culture. For this to happen, young entrepreneurs need to be encouraged in their aspirations. From his experience, says the former lawyer, budding entrepreneurs must know that “you win only when you are fully committed and go all out. With only one foot in the water, you will never learn how to swim!”

Tasmin is a South African freelance writer and video producer based in Singapore


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Singapore American • August 2014

FOOD & DINNING

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies By Haily Lai

Ingredients (makes 24 normal sized cookies or tons of mini cookies): 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 bag (2 cups) semisweet mini chocolate chips 1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin filling, canned or freshly made is fine) ½ cup white sugar ½ cup vegetable oil 1 egg 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 1 tbsp vanilla extract 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp milk ½ tsp ground clove ½ tsp salt

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all is just around the corner, which means two star ingredients are coming back into play: apples and pumpkins. While the apple is more widely used in making sweets, the popularity of the pumpkin continues to rise. Companies are doling out everything from pumpkin spiced lattes to pumpkin donuts and even pumpkin ice cream. The wonderful thing about pumpkins is, like apples, they take warm spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger etc.) very well.

Adapted from a recipe I found a long time ago, this cookie dough is not too sweet, so it complements the copious amount of chocolate that melts into mini puddles. Also different from the run of the mill chocolate chip cookies is the texture. These cookies are fluffy, like the tops of cupcakes. Whether you’re getting ready for a bake sale or cooking Thanksgiving dinner, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are a tasty dessert.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix together the flour, chocolate chips, baking powder, cinnamon, clove and salt in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and mix into the pumpkin mixture. Dollop mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you’re making the larger cookies (2.5-3 inches diameter), bake for 10-12 minutes. If you’re making smaller cookies (1.5-2 inches diameter), bake for 8-10 minutes. Recipe & photo by Haily Lai


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Singapore American • August 2014

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Dazzle Your Smile with Orthodontics By Dr Catherine Lee

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id you know that orthodontists are dental specialists? They are experts who provide accurate diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Dr. Catherine Lee, an American-trained orthodontist, received her specialty training in orthodontics from New York University and practices at Dr. Catherine Lee Orthodontics. Harnessing Children’s Growth: Early Does It! Dr. Catherine Lee strongly advises early orthodontic screening for growing children, one of the longstanding recommendations of the American Association of Orthodontists. Children can avoid or minimize major orthodontic work by receiving treatment at an early age, before the bones of the face develop fully. What’s more, problems often run in families, so if you needed orthodontic work, it’s more likely that your children will, too. Dr Lee identifies two phases of orthodontic care for children: • Phase I – Childhood, 5 to 10 Years Old Dr. Catherine Lee recommends that an initial assessment be done between the ages of 5 and 10, as soon as the first permanent tooth arrives. We can then take advantage of a child’s natural development to improve his or her smile, face shape and profile. Many children have benefitted from early interceptive treatment including monitoring and modifying growth of the face and jaws with early interceptive care. This also leads to subsequent orthodontic treatment usually becoming easier, less invasive and more comfortable. • Phase II – Teenage Years The purpose of orthodontic treatment is not merely to straighten the teeth – which may be relatively easy to do – but also to achieve a good, functional occlusion, or “bite”. In Phase

II, children have shed their baby teeth and most of their adult teeth have grown in. The goals of orthodontics include ensuring the top and bottom teeth fit well together, improving facial balance and growth, and helping patients look their best with teeth that last a lifetime. Smile! Wearing braces at this age should be a happy experience. Braces don’t need to hurt in order to work properly. You can choose between conventional silver, tooth-coloured, or modern invisible braces (like Invisalign Teen®). Grown-Ups and Beyond Consider these basic facts: • If teeth are tipped or rotated, it is difficult for your toothbrush and floss to reach all areas exposed to decay. By straightening your teeth, braces help to minimize this exposure and allow your brush and floss to do their job. • Inability to clean crooked or crowded teeth well can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and eventual early tooth loss. • The phrase "healthy mouth, healthy you" really is true -- and backed by growing scientific evidence. A healthy mouth and healthy body go hand in hand. A healthy mouth can improve your overall health, reducing the risk of serious problems including heart disease,, stroke, premature births and perhaps memory loss in your golden years. If you had orthodontic treatment during your teenage years and find that your teeth have drifted over time, you can receive orthodontic refinement to perfect your teeth again. The latest type of invisible braces includes Invisalign®, which can easily fit into your busy lifestyle. If you never had your bite corrected, it’s never too late for

orthodontic braces. The record patient age for Dr. Catherine Lee is 71. Many adults chose to have their teeth corrected not because their teeth weren’t straight, but to correct a “bad bite” that was affecting their food intake and creating significant early wear and tear (e.g. Crack Tooth Syndrome). With orthodontics, you can avoid the need for a prosthetic (false) tooth to close an unsightly tooth gap. In addition, we can often modify the shape of your face as desired. For more information, contact Dr. Catherine Lee Orthodontics, #06-05 Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, 6835 9571, www.drcatherineleeorthodontics.com

Photo supplied by Dr. Catherine Lee


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Singapore American • August 2014

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Victim of a Grotesque Acid Attack, 9-year old Nita Fights Back By Michael Chiam

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ita* first came to Hagar in 2006 when she was two years old with her mother and two older sisters, Raksmey (15) and Pisey (10). They left home due to her father’s escalating domestic violence, which was often fuelled by his alcoholism, with no other place to go and no sustainable means of financial independence. Hagar, a Swiss-based organization that is dedicated to helping women and children who have suffered extreme human rights abuses, helps ensure that children like Nita will always have a place to turn for help. Nita is a special girl - her face carries the lifelong bodily disfigurement of a grotesque acid attack. Just seven days after she was born, Nita suffered an acid attack by a relative. Desperate, her mother sought help from Hagar's residential shelter with three children in tow. Through Hagar's assistance, Nita's mother learned sewing and other trade skills that helped her earn a living. The children underwent intensive trauma counseling and had their medical fees provided for. In addition to Hagar’s recovery program outreach, the children received daily food and school fees to help them continue their education, and regular visits by Hagar case managers to ensure their safety at home. Unfortunately, things did not improve at home, where the children’s father continued to abuse them. In 2010, Hagar case managers decided to take Nita and her sister away and put them up at a foster family trained by Hagar to care for traumatized children. Her mother, however, decided to leave the children and go back to her husband. At Hagar, Nita and her sisters have been living with a highly supportive, loving foster family through the Community Foster Family Program. Their case manager continues to advocate and arrange for essential services that are needed to help these

children build healthier, happier and more productive lives. This includes facilitating monthly contact (by telephone or in person) with their biological mother, in recognition of the importance of this primary relationship. Life has been especially unforgiving for Nita. In addition to the psychological and emotional trauma of being a burn victim, the acid attack had melted her eyes. As a result, she must undergo frequent medical treatment and procedures until this very day. Due to the lack of medical expertise in Cambodia, Hagar decided to fly her to Singapore to get help. Since 2012, Nita has had three surgeries and she's now able to see objects about one meter away, which is an incredible improvement! With only 20% eyesight, Nita has very specific, high-cost medical treatment needs. These include four medical visits per year to Singapore for her quarterly eye checkup at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). Each visit requires immense preparation and coordination by her case manager and counselors to ensure the safety, protection, and emotional and social needs of the child while in a foreign country. Her case manager also works daily with Nita to ensure that she keeps up with her homework, talks to her foster and biological mothers and follows her intense medication routine. Nita’s journey to recovery is far from over. Just last month, we were informed by Nita's attending doctor that her eyes are showing signs of rejection from the last surgery. This means the doctor will have to schedule another surgery for her in the next few months to salvage her debilitating condition. The news hit the little girl hard and she could not stop crying at the clinic. Despite the repeated setbacks, Hagar is committed to walking with her until her life regains normalcy, regardless of what it

takes. Currently, Hagar is garnering the fees needed for her upcoming surgery and post rehabilitative care. Nita says, “I can see a light inside me and I hope that I will have a bright future too. If there were no Hagar, my life would end up with troubles; and I will live in the darkness forever. I thank Hagar staff that they work hard on my case and accompanied me overseas for my eyes surgery. I pray for them to keep their wonderful work. In the future I want to be a teacher because I want to help the small kids like me.” If you would like to help, visit www.hagarsingapore.org. *Name has been changed to protect the child's real identity. Michael Chiam is the Executive Director at Hagar Singapore.

Building a Parent Community By Suzanne M. Anderson, MSW, SACAC

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veryone does this! I don’t want you to talk to Jeff’s mother! Nobody else has a curfew that early! Sarah’s mother let’s her wear shirts like this! You’re going to embarrass me if you ask Steve’s mom if we are going to be supervised when we are swimming.” Parenting in an expat community means that we are parenting in a more diverse, less homogeneous environment than if we were in our home countries. There are strict parenting approaches more in line with the Tiger Mom approach to the opposite extreme where parents provide little guidance for their children and everything in between. This variety of parenting approaches, combined with the frequency that families leave and new ones arrive often means that we don’t feel like we have a consistent parenting community. Psychologist Ron Taffel says, “Parents need help and encouragement in authority building. Harvard Professor Alvin Poussaint highlights the importance of “chitchat”—the value of people having conversations in the places of daily life, the side of the sports field, school events and churches. When parents talk and become more at ease, more self-confident, they gain in personal authority and realize they are not alone. When groups of parents talk together they learn different strategies for dealing with parenting issues. Today’s parents are on the frontier; the first generation to parent children with smart phones, iPads and computers. We can’t fall back on either doing

• When are you giving your child a smartphone? • What is your child’s curfew? • Are you letting your child go clubbing? • How much are you budgeting for your child for senior trip? • How can we keep our children safe during the senior trip? what our parents did or reacting and doing the opposite. In our parents’ generation while we liked to think we were smarter than our parents, the truth was that there was no problem they needed to solve by “calling a 12-year-old”—the current cry when technology is not working. Some parents in Singapore have found the benefit of deliberately building a parent community—or parent peer groups. They talk and build support talking on the side of the soccer pitch, meeting together for the purpose of talking about issues facing their children at school and even employing technology by developing parent communities for specific events through WhatsApp groups. These parents are talking to each other, sharing and learning and finding a lot more courage to parent from their convictions. They talk about things like:

• What are families doing for prom? Prom after-party? We are on a fast learning curve; banding together we pool our experiences, experiments, challenges and successes to meet the challenge of parenting children today. When we get shaky and lose our nerve, the support of other parents reminds us something we can easily lose sight of. Never forget: You are absolutely, unequivocally, irrefutably smarter than your child! (Adapted from Karen Deerwester). For more information please contact: www.sacac.sg. Photos from left to right: Department for Community; Alena Navarro-Whyte


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Singapore American • August 2014

SPORTS

Getting Better with Age By Rob Faraone

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f you are a regular at the American Club you may have noticed an exceptionally fast swimmer doing interval sprints in the pool. When he exits the pool, off comes the black swimming cap and you see a guy in his 40’s with killer abs and the look of a gentleman. Meet Brent Barnes, age 55. Born and raised far from the sea in the middle of Kansas, Barnes has amassed 16 world records since turning 40 in Masters Meets as a 50-meter freestyle champion. When asked about his proudest achievement, he says it was swimming 50 meters faster in his 50’s than in his early 20’s when he was the Big 8 Conference (now Big 12) collegiate champion: 24.2 seconds in April 1980 (Omaha, Nebraska) versus 24.08 seconds in June 2009 (Tokyo, Japan). On land, Brent is the Singapore-based CEO of Globus Consulting (www.globusconsulting. asia), with offices in Tokyo and Singapore, and has co-authored 12 corporate training-related books. So, how does he manage to balance an active career with world-class athletics? What has changed in your training as you have become older? The training volume and intensity. In college I was swimming 12-14 km per day at a slower pace. Now I swim 1-2 km per day but at a faster pace. Less is best and the intensity better correlates to my race. I hate to work out early, so my six weekly 1.5-hour swim workouts get pushed into the

early afternoons or evenings depending on work. Plus, I fit in two weekly sessions of gym lifting for 30-45 minutes. Is there a different competitive environment for swimming as one becomes a senior? The adrenalin rush is exactly the same. And the camaraderie is still there among the guys. As we get older we all realize that the race is against ourselves.

breakfast; lunch for me is eggs or chicken plus steamed veggies; dinner is chicken or fish and veggies; and at 9 or 10 pm, I snack on some nuts or a bowl of muesli and fruit. I love carbs but when trying to keep weight down leading up to big races (82 kg or under 10% body fat), I skip the rice, cheese, potatoes and bread. During the season, I have to cut back alcohol to once or twice a month as 3-4 glasses of red wine kills my workout mojo the next day. Recovery time is tougher as I get older. Are there any training tips for casual and weekend athletes? Avoid the ‘aerobic leg trap’. I see lots of people doing predominantly aerobic legwork. More people need to add in full-body anaerobic: 20 second sprints x 5 x 2:00 interval and nonaerobic : 5 second sprints x 10 x 1:00 interval. This goes for running, treadmill, even gym work. My research and take on things is there are three secrets to longevity: sprinting (chase the gazelle), dieting (lower your body fat via caloric-restricted diets), and stretching (join that yoga class!). Solid wisdom from a worldclass athlete.

What kind of diet sustains your level of training? I’m a disciplined eater (except for some fast food about once a week!): a protein fruit smoothie in the morning and then coffee for

Photos: Joanne Johnson and Brent Barnes Rob Faraone has lived in six countries in the region over 30 years, including three stints in Singapore. After a career in moving/relocation industry, he enjoys sharing settling-in tips with new expats in Singapore.


Singapore American • August 2014

calendar

of

events

Any responder should make any further enquiries with the organizer or should verify the information independently if necessary.

MUSEUMS 1 – 31 August We: Defining Stories National Museum of Singapore Stamford Gallery, Level 1 93 Stamford Road 10am-6pm www.nationalmuseum.sg 1 August – April 2015 Medium at Large Singapore Art Museum 71 Bras Basah Road www.singaporeartmuseum.sg 1 August – 31 December 2015 Defending Science Singapore Science Centre 15 Science Centre Road www.science.edu.sg 9 August DC Super Heroes Open House Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street 9:30am-7pm www.spm.org.sg 23, 24, 30 & 31 August Singapore Night Festival Bras Basah Bugis Precinct www.brasbasahbugis.sg

ENTERTAINMENT 1 – 5 August 22nd Israel Film Festival The Cathay Cineplex www.facebook.com/IFFSingapore 6 – 24 August Rock of Ages Resorts World Theatre www.sistic.com.sg 12 – 31 August Cavalia Under the White Theatre Tent Bayfront Ave next to MBS www.sistic.com.sg 27 August – 13 September Mies Julie DBS Arts Centre – Home of SRT www.sistic.com.sg

LIFESTYLE

SPORTS

12 – 31 August Cavalia Under the White Theatre Tent Bayfront Ave next to MBS www.sistic.com.sg

3 August Tri-Factor Run Punggol Waterways 6:15-9am flag-offs trifactor.sg

27 August Picotin Wednesday Fair at Sentosa #01-06 Ocean Way Quayside Isle 10am-5pm www.theexpatfairs.com

19 – 21 September Formula 1 Marina Bay Street Circuit www.singaporegp.sg

31 August Hedger’s Carpet Gallery Carpet Auction Traders Hotel, 2nd Floor, Cuscaden Road Viewing: 11am – 12:30pm Auction: 1 – 4:30pm www.hedgerscarpetgallery.com.sg 23 – 26 October Milan Image Art Fair Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre 10 Bayfront Ave fantasiabyescriba.com

EDUCATION

17 – 26 October BNP Paribas WTA Championships Singapore Sports Hub 15 Stadium Rd www.wtachampionships.com

MEMBER DISCOUNTS AAS Member Discounts AAS members enjoy discounts at a range of local businesses. Present your AAS membership card at time

4 – 8 August & 22 – 26 September Basketball Camps LJE Sports www.ljesports.com 12 September Open House Canadian International School Lakeside Campus 7 Jurong West Street 41 9am www.cis.edu.sg 15, 17 &18 September UWCSEA East Campus Open Days Primary School (15), Middle School (17) & High School (18) 1 Tampines Street 73 www.uwcsea.edu.sg 22, 23 & 24 September UWCSEA Dover Campus Primary School (22), High School (23) &Middle School (24) 1207 Dover Road www.uwcsea.edu.sg

of purchase. Please see a full list of discounts at www.aasingapore.com/member-discounts.

2 hours free handyman service worth over $200 when you book your move with Allied Pickfords. Call 6862 4700.

Receive a complimentary round trip transportation to and from Changi Airport when you book a package tour with Country Holidays. Call 6334 6120.

Receive complimentary insurance consultations with an experienced insurance advisor. Visitors can choose to receive free, no-obligation quotes on Home, Medical, Life, Travel, Motor and Business Insurance.

Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem: www.expatliving.sg/aas

Receive a 10% discount on all purchases over $100 at both Marina Bay Link Mall and Rochester Park locations.

If you spend over $800 at their Dempsey Store, receive a hand-woven Indian Kelim flat-weave rug (5’6”x3’6”) worth $150 absolutely free (while stocks last). Call 6462 0028.

Receive a 10% discount on a one-year membership.


Singapore American • August 2014

Singapore American Newspaper - August 2014  

Serving the Expatriate Community in Singapore