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Singapore American • February 2015

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

MCI (P) 178/01/2015

Since 1958

February 2015

Throw, Scream, Eat: The Low Down on Lo Hei


By Kevin F. Cox, Culinary Explorer


recently spent nearly five years in Singapore writing about countless things to see and do. With the island’s rich tapestry of history and culture, there’s always something to say and to find a topic one need only to, well, go outside. Holidays like this month’s Chinese New Year offer a host of topics. A strange thing happens when you wander down unfamiliar streets or into buildings that you’ve passed so many times: you discover riches all around you. You smirk with wonderment and scratch your

to the ground, squatting at a well-bolted table in the shadow of an HDB, lost in the blaze of Singapore’s greatest treasure: street food. And I wanted to write about every bite. I roamed every heartland neighborhood to the bewildered gaze of locals. I had become That Guy, the crazy ang moh with the camera, looking for the passion and story beneath each glowing wok and of the cooks and characters who made the magic happen. I ate everything without hesitation and captured it in words

a goat is not a promise of prosperity (just a barnyard animal) and mandarin oranges are not passed around with a smile and the casual slip of a red envelope. But in Singapore, the Lunar New Year is a time for celebration of things to come; of casting upon friends and loved ones wishes of prosperity and good luck for the year ahead. And Singaporeans don’t bring it in gently; think bright lights and jacked-up prices on everything for a week to, y’know, kickstart said prosperity. But the most

head in surprise at the fascinating people and places and things. And you fall in love with Singapore all over again and have to write about it. No wonder this paper is devoting an entire issue to the writing scene in Singapore. For me that love affair centered around one thing: food. From haute cuisine to hawker fare, food was everywhere, tickling my nose and beckoning me to float away on a waft of freshly baked bread or crisp roasted pork. In my case, I craved not the delicate clink of fine china and crystal but the flash and fire of a red hot wok; the sizzle and pop of noodles and chiles and meat and fish. I needed to be low

and images for all to taste. The deeper I plunged into this unadorned world of amazing street food, the more I had to say and the more people wanted to hear. And then I left, as if sucked through a vacuum back to a familiar place where I no longer fit. But I didn’t want to let my Singapore writing go. I didn’t just eat the food; I digested the culture, and I wanted to keep writing about it. Today, 9000 miles away, I still write about Singapore, but to a whole new audience because here, Singapore is exotic and unknown. Take Chinese New Year. Here in the States, it’s just a blip in the news. Here

raucous display of the New Year festivities? Throwing food. Not just any food, mind you, but a specific dish, known as Yu Sheng, or “raw fish” and used in the traditional Lo Hei celebration to ensure new year abundance. Now that’s something to write about. Perhaps dating back to ancient China, the contemporary version of Lo Hei was created in1964 in Singapore's very own Lai Wah Restaurant by chef and culinary king Than Mui Kai. His dream was to recapture the ancient Chinese tradition of sharing raw fish to bring luck and wealth in the Lunar New Year, but with a flick of the hand he added a

Photo: Brian Sizemore

Singapore Writers Scene 1, 9-15



Arts & Culture


American Association CRCE & Business Community News Singapore Writers Scene

2-3 4 5-8 9-15



Health & Wellness


Arts & Culture




What's Happening


Member Discounts


Continued on page 14

American Association of Singapore Strategic Partners


Singapore American • February 2015


A Message from the President...


irst off, Gong Xi Fa Cai or Happy Chinese New Year! If you’re in town over the February 19-22 holiday, make sure you venture down to Chinatown. If you’ve not done it before, be ready for crowds! Where did January go? It’s hard to believe that our Christmas and New Year’s mirth is a fading memory. I hope you had the chance to attend some of our January programs, like the first-ever AAS Quiz night hosted at the American Club Union Bar. Or perhaps you did some Home Hospitality for crew of the USS Makin Island, USS San Diego or USS Comstock? Our Sailors and Marines really appreciate the chance to have a meal with our members. CRCE also hosted several very successful programs for those of you looking for work or looking for qualified employees. AAS has a lot of great events for you in the coming months. Our AAS Annual General Meeting is set for Wednesday, February 25 and will be at the American Club on the 3rd floor in the Colonial Room. This is a very important, yearly event where all members can hear about the inner-workings of AAS, vote on and meet the 2015 officers, and give your feedback about what you’d like to have us do during this year. After the formalities (they don’t last long) we will play some old-fashioned Bingo! Might sound kind of corny, but we’ll do it with a twist that will make it a memorable night. Come for free finger food, drinks and fun. The 82nd George Washington Ball on March 7 is almost here (see facing page). Make sure to get your tickets and get ready for a great evening at the W Hotel on Sentosa. Proceeds from the GWB will go to Singapore Children's Society (SCS) our 2015 charity. While we want to focus on benefiting the SCS, you will personally benefit by our silent auction, amazing lucky draw prizes and an evening of great food, drink and friendship. This is truly our best event of the year. Thanks to the GWB committee headed by co-chairs Valerie Brandt and Tere Aloma. Junior Achievement will be on March 14 and April 11; it’s the AAS’ second JA program and is complimentary for AAS and American Club kids between 12-14 years old. The program is called “It’s My Business” and teaches the four, key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. It’s a great opportunity for your teens to look into the business world in an age-appropriate way. We value your ideas. Contact me or General Manager Toni Dudsak: generalmanager@ Also, please visit our website and Facebook page or tweet us: @AmAssocSG (hashtag #AmAssocSG on Facebook, Twitter). Best,

Glenn van Zutphen twitter: @glennvanzutphen

EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief: Melinda Murphy, Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak,


Graphic Designer: Joanne Johnson,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Angel Corrigan, Laura Coulter, Kevin Cox, Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay, Cris Ewell, Lucia Damacela, Robert Fannon, Adeline Foo, Annette Foster, Sue Harben, Richard Hartung, Lindy Hiemstra, Heather King, Richard Logan, Maggie Loudon, Sean McHugh, Thomas McNutt, Lauren Power, LS Power, Liza Rowan, Laura Schwartz, Jim Tietjen, USA Girl Scouts Overseas, Singapore. American Association : Mary Ferrante, Anne Morgan, Melinda Murphy

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 US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud Non-Voting Member: U.S. Military: Rear Admiral Charles F. Williams


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: • 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.


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 and have the Singapore American delivered to your home. 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, 57 Loyang Drive, Level 3 Annex Building, Singapore 508968.


Singapore American • February 2015

AAS wednesday


Upcoming Events


Past Events

New Year: New Profile! Used to be, it was all about having the right resume. These days, employers are more interested in a strong LinkedIn profile. So how can you make yours pop? To learn more, join us for an informal, networking evening featuring a brief presentation from LinkedIn expert Chris Reed. Even if you are only an occasional LinkedIn user, this is a good opportunity to pick up some useful pointers to ramp up your profile while mingling with some great people!


7-8:30pm American Association of Singapore, Conference Room, 10 Claymore Hill $35 members • $55 non-members




AAS Annual General Meeting Attention members! It’s time to make your voice heard! Please join us for the Annual General Meeting at 6:30pm at the American Club Colonial Room. We’re changing things up this year. Not only will we vote on the Slate of Officers, but we’ll also munch on some finger food, drink some wine, and play Bingo – yup, Bingo. So get your lucky blotters ready and come join us! 6:30-8pm The American Club, Colonial Room (Level 3), 10 Claymore Hill This is a free event for AAS members only

California Wine Tasting




AAS is delighted to be partnering with Mercari to bring you a California wine tasting focusing on Zinfandel and Chardonnay varietals to be paired with an array of light appetizers. The event will be held in our newly remodelled AAS Conference Room. So please come raise a glass and toast our stylish space with both old and new friends! 7-9pm American Association of Singapore, Conference Room, 10 Claymore Hill $30 members • $50 non-members For more info and to register for an event:

STEP BACK IN TIME TO THE GLAMOUR OF THE ORIENT EXPRESS IN SINGAPORE FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY! The Premiere Event of the Social Calendar is Selling Fast! The 82nd George Washington Ball Saturday, March 7, 2015, 7pm W-Hotel, Sentosa Tickets available at Lucky Draw and Silent Auction Prizes include: Luxury cruise from Barcelona to Rome, exquisite carpets, rare jewelery, indulgent spa treatments plus much, much more! All proceeds benefiting the Singapore Children’s Society

Toys for Tots US Marines were kept very busy delivering the record number of toys collected at December’s Toys for Tots hosted by AAS and sponsored by General Motors. Marines visited hospitals and shelters across Singapore bringing a bit of Christmas cheer to sick and less fortunate youngsters. Pictured are children at KK Hospital getting their own goodies on December 23.


Singapore American • February 2015



Spotlight on Jobs

CRCE: Career Resource Center for Expats In Conversation with Robert Fannon Making the Transition to a Civilian Job


ne of the hardest choices I ever made was the decision to leave the military after eleven years of service as an enlisted Marine and Infantry Officer. I learned new skills, led Marines in a combat environment and experienced things that few ever will. With all that know-how, I had high hopes of quickly finding a job and making a smooth transition to civilian life. The first six months after service were spent in the US. During this time, I had numerous job offers. Unfortunately, I had to turn them down because of bad timing or location. Then my wife and I decided to move to Singapore in order to be closer to her family. I quickly realized that a long-term, military career is viewed differently in Singapore than in the US. In the States, many employers look past the resume and focus on the intrinsic values gained from time spent in the military. Employers understand senior enlisted and officers bring a wealth of experience that doesn’t show up on a CV: things like attention to detail, critical decision-making under pressure, the ability to rapidly adapt to changing situations or learn new jobs quickly and efficiently. Conscripted service in Singapore means everybody serves so military service isn’t really an asset here.

Most companies here look for specific industry experience, the right job title or even the last set of responsibilities. Unfortunately, my experiences in the infantry and most of my job titles did not readily translate into terms HR departments understood. I received rejection letters stating that while my background was impressive, they needed a person with five to seven years of experience as a training manager. The fact that I coordinated training for my infantry battalion of 2,000 Marines while serving as assistant operations officer or that I spent a year training the Iraqi army or served for two years as second in command of a Marine Corps Training Company where we successfully trained more than 4,000 entry level Marines didn’t matter. My job title wasn’t training manager. To truly convey the benefits that a transitioning military member can bring to a company requires a face-to-face meeting – an interview. That has been where CRCE has helped. Shortly after arriving in Singapore, I joined the American Association and was introduced to CRCE. I attended as many events as I could. I learned how to write my CV for the Singapore job market. I made contacts in different industries. Eventually, I started getting responses to my applications. The first

Part-time Paralegal/Company Secretarial Reporting to Head of Legal, the successful candidate will be assisting with company secretarial responsibilities for the MIRA fund entities in Singapore and Hong Kong including organizing and minuting of board and committee meetings, issuing of share certificates, change of directorships and committee appointments, and updating of corporate records. (job #2980)

interview often let to a second interview even though my background was not an exact fit for the positions offered. Eventually, I landed a job as Senior HR Executive because I was able to show them that I offered much more than a simple list of skills. Recently? I got promoted to HR Manager. It’s a great job and title, which will surely help me the next time I go looking for work here.

Did you know that employers can post jobs for FREE? Visit

New Year: New Profile! More than ever, employers check you out online before they hire you or even set up an interview, especially your LinkedIn profile. So how can you make yours stand out from the pack? To learn how to get the spotlight on you, join us on Wednesday, February 11, for an informal, networking evening featuring a brief presentation by LinkedIn expert Chris Reed. This workshop is perfect for somebody who uses LinkedIn all the time – or just occasionally. It’s a great opportunity to pick up some useful pointers to ramp up your profile while mingling with some interesting people!

CRCE February Workshops register at: Start Your Own Business: Your Options Speaker: Asha Dixit Wednesday, February 4 10am – 12pm

Your Career Assessment Guide: Learn about Self-reinvention during Expatriation Speakers: Aude Beneton and Severine Charzat Friday, February 6 10am – 12pm

Facilities and Services Manager The Facilities & Services Manager will be working to help oversee the construction of a new school. Upon completion of construction s/he will primarily be responsible for managing and coordinating the activities of new construction, maintenance, grounds, security and transportation departments. (job #2981)

New Year: New Profile! Speaker: Chris Reed Wednesday, February 11 7 – 8:30pm

Create an Effective Resume and Get Noticed Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Wednesday, February 25 10am – 12:30pm

For more information about CRCE: - click on the CRCE link

Full-time SAT/GMAT Teachers Selected candidates will be trained to deliver SAT and GMAT test preparation courses effectively. After successfully completing training, you are expected to be fully prepared for each class, to closely monitor your students' progress, and to motivate and assist weaker students. (job #2976) Administrator A small financial services company is looking for an experienced administrator to assist in the organization and running of the office. Accounting experience would be very helpful. Duties will involve all the usual office administration such as: filing, data entry, processing applications, monitoring new business, chasing outstanding information from clients, accounts and commissions. (job #2975) Admissions and Career Consultant An organization is seeking a consultant for the following responsibilities: Organize and/or participate in seminars, fairs and related recruitment activities; work closely with corporate organizations, educational institutions and media partners; interview clients to find out their academic and professional background, aspirations and preferences; recommend universities/ career paths based on each individual's unique profile. (job #2974) Dental Hygienist A dental clinic is searching for a dental hygienist to join its team. They offer a flexible schedule, including full or part-time opportunities, competitive compensation and benefits and training. Position available immediately. (job #2972) Native English Multimedia Journalists This organization is seeking all-round multimedia journalists who understand its target groups - expat partners and assigning organizations - to cover expat, partner-related subjects in short, in-depth contributions. (job #2970)


Singapore American • February 2015


2015 APCAC Business Summit By Thomas McNutt


he Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) are pleased to host the 2015 APCAC Business Summit from March 11 to 13, 2015 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. 2015 promises to be a landmark year for the United States and US businesses in Asia. At this point, there is little doubt that the rebalance announced by the Obama administration is real. The key question, however, is how much can President Obama and the Republican controlled Congress accomplish this year before the 2016 campaign cycle overwhelms all other developments in Washington. While the two parties have wide areas of disagreement, many of the potential areas of agreement relate to issues that impact business in Asia. The annual APCAC Business Summit sets the stage and the agenda for the year’s dialogue with Washington. While many conferences focus on specific sectors or regions in Asia, the APCAC Business Summit is the only gathering of business leaders from all sectors and regions in the Asia-Pacific with the goal of bringing

together the American business community in Asia and formulating the message it sends to Washington. This year’s theme, The United States and Asia – New Opportunities in the Pacific Century, builds on previous summits’ themes about Asia’s growth and global influence. The Summit will address issues affecting Asia-Pacific and explore what the future holds for the region. Keynote speakers will include Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Ministry of Trade and Industry; George Tanasijevich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marina Bay Sands and Managing Director – Global Development, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and Jim Rogers, Global Investor and Author of Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets. In addition, recognized authorities from business, government, and academia will identify critical trends and provide in-depth analyses across a broad variety of issues important to business in Asia. Panels at the Summit will include the Global and Regional Economic Outlook, Innovation and Technological Disruption, and the View from Washington, D.C. On the sidelines of the Summit, attendees will also have the opportunity to obtain briefs and indepth market intelligence by scheduling one-onone meetings with the senior commercial officers and agricultural attaches from US embassies around the region. AmCham will likewise continue its close working relationship with US Customs and Border Protection and offer in

2015 Slate of Officers As selected by the AAS Nominating Committee

President: Vice President:

Glenn van Zutphen

Secretary: Treasurer: Immediate Past President:

Anne LeBoutillier

Director: Director:

Steven Tucker

Joe Foggiato David Boden Shawn Galey Ana Mims

Director: Director:

Stephanie Nash


Mary Beth McCrory

Christopher Keen

We invite all AAS members to attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday February 25 at 6:30pm in the American Club Colonial Room. At the AGM, you will have a chance to meet the nominated officers, vote on the slate, enjoy finger food and wine, and play some rousing games of Bingo. To attend, please register at If you aren’t yet a member of AAS or your membership has expired and you’d like to renew, you can do so on the website. We look forward to seeing you February 25!

person interviews for Global Entry and APEC Business Travel Card applicants. A true highlight of the Summit will be the two evening events, Singapore’s 50th Anniversary Reception hosted by US Ambassador Kirk Wagar at Gardens by the Bay and the Pacific Century Reception at Universal Studios Singapore, both open to spouses of conference attendees. Spectacular and innovative in design, the Flower Dome is one of the icons of Bay South Garden. During the Pacific Century Reception, attendees can stroll along Hollywood Boulevard and its famous Walk of Fame to reach New York Street with its impressive city skylines and neon lights during the Pacific Century Reception. Visit for more information and to register for the 2015 APCAC Business Summit at an early bird rate until February 8. If you have any questions about the conference, please email Tom McNutt at

Corporate Partner


Singapore American • February 2015


Kite Day By Troop 94


n Saturday November 1, USA Girl Scouts Overseas (Singapore) celebrated the birthday of our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, by flying kites. More than 60 girls and their families met at Marina Barrage for an afternoon of kite flying, cartwheeling, picnicking, fun and relaxation organized by Troop 94. “All the Girl Scouts come together as a big group to fly a kite because when you fly a kite, you get this great feeling buzzing inside when you get it flying. We also come together to help each other. Sometimes you need to help someone who is having trouble getting her kite in the air or you need to untangle the kites. As you can see, USAGSO is a very caring organization. All the girls in our troop have been laughing about all the moments. My favorite part in Kite Day was when my friend and I lay on our back and watched all the kites and ate our picnic. At the end of Kite Day you will get a badge that you will stick on the back of

your vest and remind you of all the new friends you made and the fun you had. I love Kite Day and I am looking forward to the next one.” Hettie, Troop 94 “Kite Day is a fun day to spend time with Girl Scout friends and family. We had a lot of fun flying our kites in Singapore!” Jaida, Troop 94 “Kite Day was awesome! There was a good, strong wind so nearly everyone had a kite flying. There were lots of kites in the air, of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Many people purchased kites at the brilliant kite shop. Some people (including me) lost kites to the wind. My family loved it so much we’ve gone back (to fly kites) twice more. I was so glad I went to Kite Day.” Audrey, Troop 94 Photos by Jeannie Ho


Singapore American • February 2015


The United States Marines in Singapore: Small Numbers, Great Achievements By LS Power


ovember 7 marked the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Members of the armed services, retired military, and military services supporters gathered at the Shangri-La Hotel to celebrate the occasion. The Guest of Honor for the night was The Honorable Mr. Kirk Wagar, US Ambassador to Singapore. Brigadier General Tracy King, Commanding General 3D MLG addressed the gathering as well. The US Marine Corps began on November 10, 1775 through the creation of a resolution by the Continental Congress. It has distinguished itself as an expeditionary force, proudly demonstrating the “First to Fight” motto, as it is famously written in the Marines’ Hymn. Marines deployed around the globe are required to fulfill their role through humanitarian interventions, peacekeeping missions, and perhaps most famously, active combat engagements. The Marines operate

as an amphibious unit, often partnering with the US Navy, and serving on vessels at sea. Through extensive training, a deep sense of duty and pride in the history of the Corps, the Marines have become known as an elite force with a uniquely powerful culture under the slogan of “The Few. The Proud.” In a statement issued in honor of the Marines’ 239th birthday, US Secretary of State John F. Kerry stated, “I have had the opportunity to observe first-hand the extreme professionalism of the Marines serving at our embassies and consulates around the world in a wide range of capacities, from valued advisors to our protectors. I know that our diplomats genuinely appreciate and value the contributions the US Marine Corps makes to US foreign policy.” Indeed, while the number of active Marines in Singapore may be small, their connection to the US Embassy and contribution to diplomacy in Singapore is significant.

During the course of the Marine Ball in Singapore, the Master of Ceremonies, Lieutenant Colonel Carrie Howe recognized both the oldest and youngest Marines present: Corporal William Hook (89), born on June 16, 1925; and Sergeant Jarrel Cook (22),

born on August 6, 1992. As is tradition, these men joined the members of the Color Guard in cutting the Marine Corps birthday cake. Tribute was also paid to fallen comrades, those Marines that gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. A symbolic place-setting, dressed in black and displaying the Purple Heart Medal, stood as a reminder of both the legacy of the departed and the appreciation of their survivors. The 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps was commemorated through ceremony, celebration, and camaraderie in Singapore, and the service of the Marines in

Singapore under Detachment Commander, Gunnery Sergeant Felipe Montes received an appreciative reception by all. The Singapore Chapter of the Navy League of the United States was honored to assist with this event and looks forward to continuing to support the men and women of the United States military in future years.

LS Power is a freelance writer and research consultant. She came to Singapore to enjoy her passion for social, economic and foreign policy studies.


Singapore American • February 2015


How to Help Your Child Become Bilingual By Cris Ewell, Spanish Teacher at Singapore American School


xperts have come in with charts and studies over the past ten years linking bilingualism to enhanced cognitive ability, improved test scores, and twenty first century skills. It sounds like a wonderful utopia in the realm of researchers and linguists, but how do you make it happen for your child? How does a parent who only speaks one language help their child learn a second language? Is it even possible? As a Spanish teacher at Singapore American School who speaks English, Spanish, Russian, and Mandarin, I believe it is possible for parents who only speak one language to give their children the gift of another language, especially if they follow these tips: Value language education and know that it is possible for your child to become bilingual. It may sound simple, but your children know your values and beliefs more than you may

think. If you value language, they will too. Bilingualism is the norm around the world, not monolingualism. It is possible, and - given the right conditions and opportunities - your child can acquire another language. Be positive and have fun with language. Over the past 20 years, I have heard parents across a variety of cultures berate their children as a means to motivate them. I have yet to see one successful language learner as a result. More often than not, these students reject the language completely. Instead of criticizing your child, celebrate every word and utterance in the target language. Marvel in it. Enjoy the journey. Look for what your child can do with the language, instead of what they cannot. Look for a language program that has a clear focus on proficiency. You want a language

program that will tell you clearly what the student will be able to do while studying the language at certain milestones. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages provides a basic outline of how you can measure progress toward proficiency:

“Beep, Beep.” Some cable remotes here in Singapore let you select the language to view. Many children’s programs are available in Mandarin.

Novice: You can list, name, and identify everyday things with words and phrases and occasional simple sentences. You can ask and answer some very common and familiar questions.

Travel opportunities: If you have the opportunity to go to countries where the target language is spoken, this often helps to put the language into context, as well as to provide opportunities to practice.

Apps: 2Kids Chinese provides some great apps as does Raz-Kids for Spanish. BookBox provides stories in a wide variety of languages.

Intermediate: You maintain conversations about yourself and your life. You also use your language to express your own thoughts and get the things that you need. You can connect some sentences together. You ask and answer a variety of questions. Advanced: You narrate, tell stories, and describe people, places and things. You can talk about topics beyond your immediate life. You speak in paragraphs. Look for a program that will get your child speaking well before she is reading or writing. Think about your own process of learning your first language; understanding spoken language comes before reading and writing. Support language learning outside of the classroom. Movies: Very young children often don’t care too much in which language they are watching their favorite cartoon. Look for movies and cartoons with a lot of language. For example, Roadrunner will not teach much more than

Tutoring: Ironically, one of the things that I have found most useful for my own children is not a language tutor, but rather a tutor that teaches something of interest to my children using that language. Examples may be swimming, music, dance, or sports teachers who speak only the target language. In my personal experience, I have found these to be the best language teachers, because they are not focused on the language itself, but are rather using the language to communicate meaning.

International Woman of the Year

Want to Write for Singapore American Newspaper?

By Annette Foster, American Women’s Association, President

By Melinda Murphy, Editor-in-Chief



his is a very special year for us. In March 2015, the American Women’s Association of Singapore (AWA) celebrates 50 years of Singapore, 80 years of the AWA and 10 years of the International Woman of the Year Award. In recognition of all those anniversaries with a zero on the end, the AWA has expanded our annual award to also include Singaporean and International women. The award luncheon will be the Tanglin Club on March 6. Crystal Wagar, wife of the US Ambassador and an exceptional business woman, will speak and other honored guests will present the awards to six, exceptional women living in Singapore, who have inspired others and have made a significant positive impact (locally or regionally) through their service, volunteerism, and goodwill efforts. The six categories are:

• Community Service • Business • The Arts • AWA Volunteer of the Year • Up & Coming Woman to Watch • President’s Award

To nominate somebody or register for the event, log onto

This is a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge and honor women in Singapore who have made an immense difference to our lives. We know you know somebody to nominate. We invite you to do so in a very simple process. We need your name and contact details, the name of your nominee and three compelling reasons why they deserve recognition. Previous recipients: • Dr. Lim Poh Lian, who played a central role in managing the SARS epidemic • Christine Laimer, founder of Food from the Heart • Dr. Sarah Mavrinac, founder of Aidha • Lisa Barron, founder of the Genesis School • Juanita Woodward, founder of PrimeTime • Kerry Wilcox, director of client services at AWARE • Debbie Fordyce of TWC2’s Cuff Road Project • Cathy Livingston, director of DaySpring Residential Treatment Centre • Robin Rheume, founder of People of Singapore

ur theme this month is about the Writing Scene in Singapore. We are lucky here at Singapore American Newspaper (SAN). We have a group of talented, strong writers. Of course, we are always looking to expand our stable. So what does it take to write for us? First off, you have to be a capable writer who can weave a compelling yarn using conversational, easy-to-follow, colorful language about topics of interest to our readers. Every month, we have a theme that needs several feature articles related to it. Those themes have already been selected for the year. We also have regular departments that always need content. These include Travel, Living in Singapore, Health & Wellness, Food & Dining and Arts & Culture. I can assign articles, but I also love being pitched stories. Pitches should be original, well flushed out ideas and include examples of what you hope to include in your article and how long you think it will be as well as what type of images you will provide. A general rule of thumb is that stories need at least three sources. Our writers must be dependable. If you are assigned a story, we expect you to finish it on time. We’re reasonable. We know things happen sometimes and we are willing to work

with you in emergencies, but deadlines are given for a reason. A good story is generally not enough to make it into SAN. We also need strong images to go with your words. If you write a fabulous travel piece about the most beautiful beach you’ve ever seen, our readers want to see the beach. If you write up an article about the new, hot restaurant, we want a peek inside. If you tell us about the unusual set of the new show coming to town, show us the set. You get the idea. High-res, interesting images are key. And here’s the catch: you have to be willing to write for free - but the exposure and experience is worth more than money. If you have a passion and talent, I’m also willing to work with you to be a stronger writer which means better articles to show outlets that do pay. I can also teach you some of the insider writing tricks, how to network and how to get your writing noticed. I can be your greatest cheerleader. Interested? Email me at communications@


Singapore American • February 2015 SINGAPORE WRITERS SCENE


Your New Home Office: Away from Home By Laura Coulter, Girl About Town can some time be difficult to get separation from. The space is for anyone who wants to get some work done! We have freelancers, remote workers, business owners, writers and even had a comment from one mum that she just wants to come and read her book in the peace and quiet! What kind of events do you have? MA: I try to think about what would add value to my members. So either business focused LinkedIn, Digital Marketing. Design Strategies - or health focused. We tied up with Body with Soul for a great health series this year featuring different practitioners each month. It’s been fantastic. We also have a member starting up in-house Pilates classes and hope to expand into yoga next year. Its great to be able come into Woolf Works and get your work AND exercise done in one go.


recent job transition period found me at home, wandering aimlessly from half-finished chores, to job applications and writing projects, to cleaning out closets and baking. Nothing was getting done completely and after a week of staying inside without any human contact, a new work-space was definitely needed. You can only talk to your plants for so long! While coffee shops offer some space and provoke the traditional image of creative types working furiously away at laptops, I needed a more secure environment away from the competing high school students. A tip from a fellow East Coaster led to me to Woolf Works and the calm oasis it provides. Suddenly, my days had structure, the to-do list was getting done and a whole new network opened. The concept of co-working has grown very fast in a very short amount of time. Sharing workspace first started back in the 90s with hackerspaces cropping up in places such as Berlin. Over the next few years, co-working spaces starting appearing in major cities around the world such as New York, Vienna and London. The New York Times wrote its first article about the concept in 2008. By 2010, there were more than 600 co-working spaces worldwide, and by 2013, it was estimated that more than 100,000 people went to work in a co-work space. Asia’s first conference on co-working was held just last month in Bali. Today, Singapore has more than twenty such spaces, each with its own distinct character. Some cater to writers and business people, some to techies, some to artists. I spoke with Michaela Anchan, the owner and creator of Woolf Works, a cooperative workspace for women only. Why did you start Woolf Works? MA: I started Woolf Works because I saw a need for women to have somewhere out of the house to go to work. Women working

from home often end up compromising their own work to answer the needs of the rest of the household. Woolf Works provides a quiet, calm space to work productively. It also helps to avoid the isolation of working from home. It's nice to have 'colleagues' to chat with by the coffee machine and a wider community to plug into for collaborations and inspiration. We have social nights along with talks and workshops, as well. Why the name? Women only? MA: Virginia Woolf, in her book A Room of One's Own, wrote about the need for women to have a space outside the home in order to create art. It was reading her book that reinforced the idea that the space was a real need - that it wasn't just a pipe dream of mine. I found it so interesting that Woolf saw that back in 1929. The women-only concept is not meant to be anti-men. Actually, it has nothing to do with men. It’s all about helping women to put themselves first, to value themselves and their work. It’s about creating a haven for them, a space away from the domestic sphere which

What’s your advice for women? MA: Start putting yourself first! Value your ideas and dreams and goals. My kids have had to deal with me switching from stay-at-home mom to a full-time working mom, but they have coped just fine. I am lucky to be a bit flexible. I can spend some time with my kids if I need to, but this year has really been about me being selfish and putting my needs first. If anything, the kids have a better mother for it. I am happier and healthier as a result. And that’s what Woolf Works is all about: letting women be selfish and putting their needs above the household needs. If you want to accomplish something you HAVE to put in the time and the commitment. If you are putting others first, it’s just not going to happen. What are your future dreams for Woolf Works? MA: 2015 is going to be even bigger than last year. At the moment I’m thinking about another branch of Woolf Works on the western side, or adding to our current one with small office spaces and consultation rooms for rent by the hour. I'd also love to add in services to help out small business owners: accounting and

secretarial services, copywriting, graphic design. My dream is to create a real hub for women to find community and opportunity as well as a place they know they can work productively and really give priority to their own work.

Here is a partial list of co-working spaces in Singapore: Club71 Collective Works Cowork@SG Eclat Office Club HackerSpace Hired Turf HubQuarters Keong Saik Collab MakeSpace Mettle Work Plug In @BLK71 Plus Concept Space Smart Space Springboard The Co The Hub Singapore The Loft The Office The Tool Room Woolf Works Laura Coulter is a globe-trotting journalist, event planner, teacher, fundraiser and builder of houses. She enjoys hosting fabulous events that give back to her community and causes in which she believes.


Singapore American • February 2015


Grabbing the International Spotlight as a Singapore Writer


By Lauren S. Power


t’s tough out there. Turning your passion for writing into a career can be challenging. Whether you’ve been journaling for years or have just started writing, it can be difficult to see future possibilities. How do you go from jotting down your thoughts on paper to making writing a career with international exposure? The truth is there has never been a better time to become an expat writer. There are more conferences, publications, writing circles, and networks focused on issues specific to your experience than ever before. The expat exists as a function of an increasingly global and collaborative socioeconomic system, and as such, expats are in a unique position to provide an intimate and authentic perspective on the world. So, never underestimate the value of your own experience as the basis for a story - but don’t expect to become JK Rowling overnight either. Take baby steps and learn from others. Sue Mannering, an Australian national who lived in Dubai for seven years before moving to Singapore, knows the importance of networking in finding success as a writer. For years, she kept journals of stories and anecdotes

about her life as an expat wife and mother of three. Her writing captured her sense of adventure, her emotions, and her reflections on what was happening around her from her own perspective. Mannering liked writing, but she never knew if she could do anything more with her work. It was not until she moved to Singapore almost two years ago that her writing career took off. After attending an AAS seminar by expat writer and publisher, Jo Parfitt, Mannering and a handful of other aspiring writers (including yours truly) met again for a writing workshop. Encouraged by Parfitt, we began a writers’ circle. For the next year, we met monthly to critique each other’s work, provide support, and share writing opportunities. Several members of the group began publishing regularly in newspapers and magazines in Singapore. The more work we published, the bolder we became. Soon, Mannering found herself applying for writing competitions and keeping a blog. With her growing body of work, Mannering decided that she was ready to take her personal brand international. She applied

for the ParfittPascoe Writing Residency, a scholarship and writing course tied to the Families in Global Transition Conference held in Washington DC. She was accepted as one of four, international scholars and attended the conference in 2014. In preparation for the conference, Mannering and the other Writing Scholars completed a course that equipped them with practical knowledge on how to market themselves and their work, and received feedback from publishers and other expat writers. During the conference, Mannering gained invaluable exposure as a Writing Scholar and made many personal contacts that helped her access publishing opportunities in international magazines. She has now been published repeatedly in New York’s Global Living Magazine, with her latest piece being the cover feature. She landed an agent and had a short story published in the iconic Chicken Soup book series. She also had the opportunity to work as an editor for a 2014 edition of an expat journal because of her involvement with the Families in Global Transition conference. Mannering’s passion for writing and her network gave her the courage to put herself out there at the international level. To her credit, she continues to be successful and is a powerful inspiration to others. Like Mannering, I have benefitted from my writing networks and have been encouraged by my growing body of work. I was accepted as one of the four ParfittPascoe Writing Scholars for 2015 and will be attending the Families in Global Transition Conference in March. I hope that aspiring expat writers will grow their networks through collaborative opportunities like the Families in Global Transition Conference, the Singapore Writer’s Festival, or even their local writing circles, and find the success for which they are hoping.

To learn more about Sue Mannering and her work, please see her blog at: For more information on the Families in Global Transition Conference, please visit To apply for a ParfittPascoe Writing Residency:

Lauren S. Power is a freelance writer and researcher. She lived in the USA, UK, and Japan before moving to Singapore. Lauren enjoys writing about foreign policy issues, travel, culture, and expat lifestyle. See her blog at


Singapore American • February 2015


Expat's Guide to Investing

Is Giving Worth It?

By Sean McHugh

By Richard Hartung


hen I moved to Singapore, I loved the low taxes and the travel opportunities that surrounded me. But when I left the UK in 1999, did I think about how much money my excolleagues back home would get from the UK government’s generous ‘superannuation’ scheme for teachers? The social benefits I left behind? No way. I was earning more money in Singapore than I would have in the UK so I figured I had it made. I was wrong. I should have considered those other factors. In 2001, my son was born and with him came the responsibilities of fatherhood. I attempted to make restitution for the years I’d avoided preparing for my future. After all, “my” future had now become “our” future. Andrew Hallam’s latest book, The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing, is my investment bible. It’s easy to understand and is peppered with chuckles. It’s not a perfect book. My biggest quibble is the paucity of advice on property investing. After all, investing in properties is a viable path to financial freedom but the book is strong in other areas. The first two chapters provide a roadmap. They show how much we should be saving and why and include case studies of real expats. Some are on track with their financial futures. Others aren’t. One chapter describes how to find a reputable financial advisor. The best advisors

aren’t the kind who cold-call you or show up conveniently at work. Those pounding the pavement to build their sales base are often the same people earning massive commissions at the expense of our financial futures. Hallam describes shocking stories of real people and these investment firms. And for do-it-yourself investors? Hallam’s book includes chapters relevant to a broad scope of nationalities: Americans, Brits, Canadians, Australians, Asians, South Americans, New Zealanders and South Africans. The book shows three simple strategies, the same methods employed by the better financial advisors, methods that would take less than an hour a year to manage. You can hire someone to manage your money or simply do it yourself. Two of the methods featured focus on growth. The third focuses on growth with more than a dash of stability. It’s these additional strategies, coupled with the multi-nationality guidance and the “How much should I save?” answers that make this book different (and much better) than Hallam’s previous book, Millionaire Teacher. I highly recommend it. Sean McHugh works as a Digital Literacy coach at United World College's Dover Campus.


ife is full these days. It’s hard to squeeze in things between projects at work and taking care of the family. It might seem like it doesn’t make sense to give up more of your time, talent or treasure to yet another cause. Plenty of studies show that volunteering increases happiness, improves health and even makes people feel they have more time. But studies are just facts and figures. What do donors actually think? To find out, the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership (CNPL), the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) and the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) commissioned me to talk with more than two dozen people from all walks of life who give to non-profits here in Singapore. Their stories are compiled in a new book, Is Giving Worth It? launched in August, now available in bookstores, online and in the library. Their heart-warming stories include how it felt when they brought a smile to a grandmother’s face, saw a man walk for the first or watched children learn to play the guitar - and more. The conclusion? They find that giving is more than worth it. In fact, some were so profoundly affected by giving that it changed the entire course of their lives. Hearing young graduates like Adrian Phoon and Angela Ong tell how they decided to use their free time to make a difference is inspiring.

Hundreds of people have benefitted from Shawn Lum using his decades of experience as a biologist to promote conservation and from Chua Ai Lin taking her knowledge of history to promote Singapore’s heritage. Andrea Tay learned to play the guitar so that she could teach guitar to underprivileged youth. These are just a few of the many people profiled in the book who said that the joy they receive from giving is worth far more than what they contribute. The stories show how important giving is for the givers. As Disabled Peoples’ Association

president Nicholas Aw said, “Making money is just part and parcel of life. When I do (volunteer) work, I feel I make a difference in someone’s life.” And many, like Oliver Bettin, cannot understand why anyone would not give back. “If those who are more fortunate don’t give back,” he said, “we will have problems. You have an obligation.” The stories in Is Giving Worth It? will touch your heart and perhaps even inspire you to say “Yes!” when someone asks for your support.


Singapore American • February 2015



Writing Children's Books in Singapore By Adeline Foo


wrote my first children’s book in 2006. It was a story for a writing contest, managed by the Singapore Book Council and the Media Development Authority (MDA), with an aim to nurture compelling local stories for print, animation and film. Twenty-five books later, I am still writing for kids. My storybook characters have morphed from garden critters to a feisty Peranakan girl to a boy writing in the toilet. So how has the local children’s book scene evolved since 2006? A couple of years before I first started writing, Shamini Flint began releasing her wildly popular Sasha series of books. There was a dearth of stories written with a Singapore setting so Shamini’s books sold very well with both the expat and local communities. When the MDA launched their “First Time Writers and Illustrators Publishing Initiative” in 2006, many local writers and artists burst on the scene to write for children. I was in the first batch of winners who got an S$8,000 grant to work on my first picture book. The initiative ran for four more years, unearthing a few children’s authors who are still writing and producing local children’s literature today. (Emily Lim, Pauline Loh and Linn Shekinah.) Most local authors of children’s books start with writing picture books. As their readers mature, so do their stories. I’d already written thirteen picture books before writing The Diary of Amos Lee series in 2009. When people ask me to describe the book’s hero, I say, “It’s Adrian Mole meets Greg Heffley, driven to excel in school by a completely neurotic mum who makes him write in the toilet.” So how have the books done? According to the publisher, Epigram Books, the series has sold more than 220,000 copies in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey. Humbling to know that what started as my rants in the toilet to get away from my three children became fodder for a successful series of books. Long before I became a writer, I was interested in letting my kids read stories set in Singapore. Seeing my kids’ faces light up when they read about something they’ve experienced was affirming as a parent. That connection propelled them to search out more books in the same series. Reading made them curious and it gave me a chance to discuss things in the books they could see around them. So what were the books they enjoyed when they were much younger? My daughter loved Shamini’s Sasha series of books, as well as this

series I’d chanced upon in the Asian Collection of Children's Books maintained by the National Reference Library at Stamford Road. Written by David Seow and published by Popular (the local book and stationery supply chain), the books were out-of-print and only available for research in the library. But now they have been re-published by Epigram Books and some are available in the library at The American Club. I love this series of books as David Seow cleverly captured what it's like to

be six all over again, visiting the Night Safari and the S.E.A. Aquarium, and a new addition - experiencing the thrill of meeting a real live princess, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, right here in Singapore! My kids are too old to read these books now. But my niece, at age four, is starting to enjoy these charming stories. Recently, a friend asked, “Your kids are older now. Would you move on to writing for older children or revisit your first love of writing for picture books?” My answer is an ambivalent one. There are so many more writers on the scene now that it’s actually a tough market to crack, producing picture books competing with those imported from Europe and America.

The time taken to create a picture book is at least twice that of writing for middle grade. While there are technically fewer words to write (about 600-800 words versus writing 24,000 to 60,000 words for older kids), the appeal of picture books relies on the mastery of the illustrator. But ask any publisher and they’d share that the challenge isn't as simple as hoping that the art from a picture book looks good enough to sell. New audiences have to be created. There are the usual routes of marketing and selling through book stores, schools and pop-up sale events. And now publishers may need to explore unconventional ways of profiling books, such as working with parenting associations or even selling through family restaurants. My wish as a harried, working mother is to subscribe to a bookin-the-mail service where someone will send my kids a book every alternate week, so that they have something good to read, based on their preferred reading habits. Not a bad idea, I trust. When I first started writing for kids in 2006, there were only two children’s authors here, Shamini Flint and David Seow. Eight years on, we are looking at easily 30 to 40 authors writing regularly. In 2013, about eighty local children’s books were published. As a mother and reader, that’s something to rejoice! But as a writer, the bar for local content has been raised much, much higher. So is there anything I would have done differently had I known it was going to be so competitive writing for kids? Naaah. I stumbled on writing because writers like Flint and Seow inspired me. If younger writers tell me now that they have been compelled to write because of the success of Amos Lee, I’d say, “Well, it has been a privilege to be the spark that ignited your interest.” Let’s keep writing and reading local, so that we will be assured of a high standard of quality in Singapore children’s books.

Adeline is a mother of three, and the best-selling author of The Diary of Amos Lee

Taking the first steps to get published (and noticed) Check out this website as a first stop: Another useful site, the Asian Festival of Children’s Content: Look for a list of Singapore Publishers; try the Book Council’s website. Make a note of the submission guidelines for children’s book publishers. Try to get your manuscript edited before sending an outline of the idea to the publisher. NEVER send off the entire manuscript. It’ll never get read. If the publisher is interested in your idea, they will arrange to meet you. Don’t be in a hurry to accept the first publishing offer. Find time to speak to several publishers. Compare terms, ask about their marketing efforts. Most importantly, ask yourself if you’re comfortable working with the assigned editor. Start attending book launches to meet people from the book trade. Sign up for e-newsletter updates from major retailers like Kinokuniya, Times, MPH book stores et al. Attend the Singapore Writers Festival to learn about the publishing scene. Consider signing up with the local chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Meet likeminded members with a passion to write and illustrate for children.


Singapore American • February 2015


Classes for Young Writers By Sue Harben


here is a wealth of opportunities for young writers to learn their craft. According to their own sites, each has its own personality and goal. Anne De Silva’s Creative Writing Programmes aim to train children to develop their minds creatively, helping them to shape their thought processes so they can think independently and with insight. The courses enable children to read fluently and with understanding, to express themselves clearly and effectively, to write creatively, and to think independently. The British Council, which offers the well-received Writing the City program to adults (see the ‘‘Writers Wealth of Resources” on page 15) also generally offers creative writing courses for primary-age students over holiday breaks. The Council also offers a host of writing courses for older children from essay writing to fantastic fiction to key composition techniques for junior college kids. Jan & Elly starts six-year-olds in a pre-creative writing class to learn basic skills. From Primary 2-6, more complicated writing activities are introduced. In their creative writing and composition class, children learn how to brainstorm, “web” their ideas, write out a first draft, make improvements, correct errors, and publish a final draft. The goal is to learn to tell a story to create compositions that will score well on the Primary School Learning Exam. Lorna Whiston offers classes in creative writing for primary-age students. Students explore a wide variety of writing genres. Each lesson contains carefully structured pre-writing, writing and consolidation activities that

familiarize students with the writing focus of the lesson. The school also offers a short course for adults aimed to help parents improve their children’s writing skills. Monsters Under the Bed is a creative writing school, and part of the National Arts Council’s Art Elective Programme. Their writing syllabus is conceptualized by professional writers and vetted by former NIE teachers. Rather than use model essays, MUTB believes in a writing syllabus that involves reading, games, simulation, and multi-modal forms of instruction. As their site says, “We’re not about model compositions or pushing commas around; we teach students to exercise their creativity and write stories good enough to publish.” Morris Allen Study Centres ask teachers to use a story, an educational video, an audio tape or shared experiences to create some lively, stimulating input. The students talk, brainstorm ideas, share vocabulary and contribute to an enriching, interactive session. Then they can write individually with lots of creative ideas and produce a strong composition per week. Even pre-writers are encouraged to create stories verbally.

Sue Harben has been writing for more than 20 years and has had her works published in several national magazines and books about journalism. She is the mother of two young children, one who is determined to be a journalist herself.


Singapore American • February 2015


Writing Groups, Singapore Edition By Lucía Damacela


erhaps you have started the New Year with the resolution of dedicating more time to writing and improving your craft. Joining a writing group can be a solid way of beginning to fulfill that resolution. Anybody who loves writing, seasoned or beginner, can gain from participating in these groups, where people share their work, receive and give comments, and exchange ideas and information about writing. The time commitment is not necessarily intense (once a month meetings of two or more hours is common), but the benefits can be unlimited. After a productive first foray into a writers’ group in England, about three years ago, I was eager to continue with this addition to my writing routine when my family and I moved to Singapore. I contacted a local group ahead of the move, attended the meetings swiftly upon my arrival, and joined another group the year after. Each of the three groups in which I have participated has been fairly different in size

and in the characteristics of its members. I have found respectful, generous and insightful feedback in all of them. Even when a suggestion was not warranted, in my opinion, it was still helpful in opening a different way of looking at a particular text. Additional personal benefits are the support and friendship that develops when a group of people with shared goals and experiences meet regularly. Of course, there is always the potential for pitfalls, and

egos can collide. We all need to fine tune the right balance between contributing and undue criticism. For me, and for many fellow group members, the advantages have definitively overshadowed the inconveniences. Singapore Writers Group. Founded in 2011 by British writer and former Human Rights lawyer Alice Clarks-Platt, the SWG currently boasts more than 600 members. Started as a Meetup page, the group has recently changed its format and now requires a fee-based membership to participate in its activities, such as critique groups (for novels, short fiction, creative non-fiction, etc.). It also holds free, monthly social meetings with open mic. The SWG includes both Singaporeans and international members and is open to anybody wanting to connect and improve their writing. The group offers the opportunity to publish short stories in a yearly anthology. Rojak: Stories from the Singapore Writers Group (2014), was its first publication. Additional information can be found at its Meetup site or at their website, Mickey Lin, a writer from California currently working on a novel and other artistic projects, joined the group in 2013. Having lived in various cities in Asia, he has experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to find writing groups similar to the Singapore group. For him, the main benefit of taking part in the SWG has been being part of a community of like-minded people, all working towards a “common goal of producing a creative piece of work.” Writing the City. Established in 2011, Writing the City is sponsored by the British Council and the National Arts Council Singapore, in partnership with the Arts House. With a team that includes renowned local

and international writers, Writing the City has a main interest on urban Singapore and South East Asia writing, and aims at creating a community that brings writers together to share their work and learn from each other. It is a place to “read, write, discuss and connect.” Writers are welcome to join the more than 2,000 registered members using the online platform. At the moment, the monthly writers meet-up is closed to new members until slots become available. However, the ‘virtual’ group is open. “Writers can post their work, receive comments and offer feedback to others; enter quarterly writing competitions; and access a variety of resources focused on the creative writing process,” says Melissa de Villiers, Writing the City Project Consultant. Additional information can be found at AWA’s Writers Group. This long-standing group is restricted to members of the American Women’s Association. It meets twice a month to share and review written pieces submitted by the members, and to discuss topics related to the writing and publishing process. With around 10 to15 regularly active members, the group values its close-knit character as well as its multicultural richness. It has included women from Singapore, China, India, the Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador and more. Hence, it is not necessary to be an American to belong to the group. Writer’s Block, a monthly column in the AWA’s publication, Bamboo Telegraph, gives participants an opportunity to present their writing to the wider community. Further information about the group can be found at the AWA’s website Shalini Abrol, a Science major, MBA and English Literature Master from New Delhi, India, joined AWA in 2014, and is glad to have done so because attending the meetings has inspired her to write, which she always wanted to do but was never “brave” enough to do by herself. Getting feedback from the members

has had the positive effects of improving her writing and strengthening her motivation. Two more groups round up this list. The Singapore Writers Meetup Group. Started in 2007 as a spinoff of a memoir writing workshop at Toa Payoh library. It is 600 members strong and open to new participants looking for a space to review their work and meet fellow writers while having fun. Additional information can be found at its Meetup page. The Write Team. Currently with more than 50 members, this group was launched in 2013 also as a Meetup group by Eric Alagan, an author and writing consultant. The group has the purpose of mentoring aspiring Singapore writers in the process of publishing their work of fiction or creative non-fiction. The organizers are currently conducting a Short Story Book Project for fiction writers and a non-fiction one is planned for later in the year. Hopefully, this article will help you if you decide to join a writing group find one that “clicks” for you. Look for one in which you feel comfortable sharing, where you can give and receive advice within a supportive and encouraging environment, where you feel pushed to a level that is just right for you; a group with people that you can work and have fun with at the same time. And in case there isn’t a group that suits your needs or your schedule, you can always start one yourself! 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.” Lucia is a museum docent who guides at the Singapore Art Museum, writes about culture and life in Singapore and blogs in Spanish at

Continued from front page: Throw, Scream, Eat: The Low Down on Lo Hei little Singapore twist of airborne fish. It caught on quickly and despite its disappearance in China, Lo Hei has been celebrated annually in Singapore and Malaysia ever since. So it’s only natural that you, too, should embrace your expat experience and join in on the flying fish fun. It seems such a simple dish: slices of raw fish and vegetables layered in an eye-popping circular display of freshness, but that’s where the beauty ends. Because when the party begins, all hell breaks loose around the table so one should not undertake the Lo Hei celebration lightly. Indeed, there are two critical aspects of the event which must be understood and followed by all who try it it: first, the Yu Sheng dish itself and second, what to do with it. The Dish Yu Sheng is a Teochew-style raw fish salad consisting of up to twenty five ingredients and capped with slices of raw mackerel or salmon, shredded vegetables, nuts and a variety of sauces and condiments. Each ingredient represents a specific wish: raw fish for abundance; carrot for luck; chopped peanuts for gold, silver and eternal youth; daikon for a flourishing career; cinnamon for a sweet life, the list goes on. It’s the centerpiece of Lo Hei and, despite its once-a-year appearance during the Lunar New Year, it’s enjoyed in nearly every Chinese household, restaurant or group gathering across the Little Red Dot. The Celebration It’s fish. It’s veg. It’s sticky sauce and tiny chopped nuts. And to properly celebrate Lo Hei, you have to, well, toss

it all up in the air. But the correct manner of consuming the salad is essential. First, all diners must in unison grab chopsticks full of the salad from the large, communal platter in the middle of the table and throw them in the air seven times, not six, not eight, representing the seventh day of the Chinese new year. The words “Lo Hei” must be chanted loudly and with vigor with each fling of the food. The higher and messier the toss, the more fortune will prevail. Everyone at the table must participate, no shyness permitted here or one risks missing out on the prosperity that will surely ensue. Afterwards, the mess across the table is pulled together by the host and served to each diner as the starter to a typically Continues opposite page


Singapore American • February 2015 SINGAPORE WRITERS SCENE


Writers's Wealth of Resources By Richard Hartung


ith demand for freelance writers remaining high in Singapore, aspiring writers here have a wealth of opportunities. For both new writers and experienced veterans, there are a multitude of resources to tap into for learning and networking.

National Book Development Council (NBDC) The NBDC, founded in 1969, says its mission is to provide programs to bring writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, librarians and booksellers together to network, share, cooperate, train and research. Along with running the Singapore Literature Award and organizing events such as the International Storytelling Festival, NBDC conducts courses ranging from copywriting to flash fiction to poetry writing to illustrating picture books. My personal experience is that top-level trainers provide excellent insights. The website ( also has a multitude of information and links to resources for Singapore-based writers.

Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore (FCA) The Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore (, founded in April 1956 as the Foreign Correspondents Association of Southeast Asia, organizes talks and networking events for foreign journalists and others who are connected to the media industry. Membership is open to journalists as well as freelancers and others with an interest in media. Singapore Press Club The Singapore Press Club (, founded in 1971, offers networking and talks for individuals working in media, public relations and media-related areas here. It has members from most of the local print and

broadcast media as well as a growing number of foreign journalists. The Club organizes a variety of functions throughout the year, including talks or forums by politicians, media personalities and other newsmakers.

a biannual festival, but is now held annually. The Festival offers talks and workshops during its ten-day event every year around November. Along with sessions in English, authors and writers also give talks in Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Writers can hear and learn from a multitude of well-known authors. The American Community Organizations in the American community offer opportunities for networking and writing as well. This publication, Singapore American Newspaper (, hosts a monthly meeting for its writers and, as mentioned on the facing page, the American Women’s Association ( has a Writers’ Group that meets every two weeks. International Links Writing here offers obvious opportunities to network in Singapore. However, one advantage of writing professionally is that clients and resources can be located anywhere. It’s easier than one might think to find writing opportunities in North American or Europe even if you’re based in Singapore. Organizations with links to writing assignments include the American Society of Journalists and Authors (,, and While this short list is not an endorsement of any of the groups, this writer has several longstanding clients that came through postings on one of the overseas websites. There are also multitude of magazines, including The Writer (, and Writer’s

Asia Pacific Writers & Translators AP Writers ( was set up to support writers throughout the Asia Pacific region. Its key activity is an annual conference, held in various cities around the region. It’s designed to help connect members with others who may assist their careers. Singapore Writers Festival The Singapore Writers Festival (www., started in 1986 as

lavish Chinese meal. Not only is it fun to celebrate Lo Hei, but one bite of the pile on your plate and you’ll realize, it’s also delicious. So as you celebrate this new Year of the Goat, gather together with friends and family, toss a little fish while yelling Lo Hei and bring some prosperity into your future. And then write about it or whatever else it is that captivates you in Singapore because the Little Red Dot is fertile soil for any writer. You’re surrounded by eye candy and things that surprise, excite and enthrall. Newness prevails in architecture, technology and even social structure, but at the same time, old Asian culture underlies the island, forming the base upon which everything else is built. And what does this mean for those of us wishing to put pen to paper? Paradise.

Kevin is a food and travel writer for numerous publications and online sites. Kevin believes in a low-to-the-ground approach to discovering local food and is the founder of Foodwalkers, a culinary exploration network found at

Digest ( that provide information about writing opportunities, and organizations ranging from private schools such as The Writer’s Workshop (www. to Stanford University offer online writing courses. Connecting Along with the organizations here, there are a number of smaller organizations contactable through Facebook or websites. With these organizations and a multitude of others providing insights and networking, the next step is very straightforward - start writing, and then link up with any of these to start connecting and get support.

Richard Hartung is a freelance writer for magazines, a newspaper and in-house corporate publications. He is on the Committee for FCA and writes for SAN. Photos: Welcometoalville, Joe Flood, Jason Devaun, Nicola Jones, Craige Moore, Tony Hall, Silvia Vinvales


Singapore American • February 2015


Rabies Beware! By Melinda Murphy


felt like I was Shirley McClaine in Terms of Endearment screaming, “Give my daughter the shot.” Only this was real life and I wasn’t asking for a pain shot. My tiny, sweet, fouryear-old daughter needed her rabies vaccine and she needed it immediately. Going to the Monkey Garden in Bali was a lifelong dream. Just outside the entrance, a vendor sold us a giant bunch of bananas. We walked maybe ten steps and the monkeys were

on us. My husband held one banana high up and a monkey leapt onto his head and ended up sitting perched atop while she peeled her fruit prize. We walked a few more feet and saw lots of mama monkeys carrying and feeding their tiny babies. Behind me, my four-year-old daughter Maisie was screaming in joy at one of the monkeys who apparently didn’t like that. In fact, he seemed to hate it. He grabbed her hand and

tried his best to bite it. My husband saved her from the bite, but after she calmed down, we realized the monkey scratched her forearm. It was a tiny scratch - maybe 1/2” in length - but it was bleeding and had a nasty bruise building underneath. We whisked her into the medic’s office there at the Monkey Forest. He put some antiseptic on it and a Bandaid and sent us on our merry way. I asked about rabies and he said in broken English, “No rabies here. Never rabies here. Australian vet studies every year. No rabies.” On the plane later that same night, I started to really fret, replaying the day. What does “an Australian vet studies” mean? Innoculates? Watches? Lives with? What exactly does that mean? And is once a year enough? When I got home, I got online and did some research. If you get bitten or scratched by a wild animal, you should go through a series of rabies vaccines. Timing is everything. You need the first shot within 24 hours of contact. That’s the easy shot. The nasty ones are the subcutaneous, rabies immune globulin shots. One goes into the wound, the other into the leg. Then, you need more vaccines into the arm on Days 3, 7, 14 and Day 30. Should I put my tiny angel through all that? It was just a tiny scratch. I mean, it was TINY. Rabies is transmitted through saliva. The chances were really slim, weren’t they? Seven shots for a four-year-old just seemed so cruel. If it was a bite, well, that seemed more urgent, but a scratch?

Then again, the more I researched, the more worried I got. The Bali Monkey Forest isn’t enclosed. Bali has had a true epidemic of dogs with rabies. Who’s to say a rabid dog hadn’t bitten our monkey that very morning? A rabid monkey killed somebody the year before elsewhere on the island. In fact, there had been so many wild animal bites in Bali that sometimes they didn’t have enough vaccine. The next morning, the doctor and I had a long discussion about what to do, vaccinate or not vaccinate. He told me if it was his daughter, he’d absolutely do it. Then he said the magic phrase, “If she dies, you’ll never forgive yourself.” Continues opposite page

A Seamless Connection from Singapore to America By Japan Airlines

“JAL Sky Wider”


raveling from Singapore to the US has just become more effortless and smooth when you fly on JAL. Gone are the days of sitting around in airports waiting for your connection. That’s because Boston-bound flights departing from Narita Airport will now be leaving in the evening rather than late morning. What does that mean to you? Better connections! In fact, JAL is now offering same day connections to fifteen cities, up from seven. The layover from Singapore to Los Angeles will now only take an hour! With American Airlines being JAL’s code share

and joint business partner, JAL passengers are able to access destinations all across the States, flying to thirty-seven additional destinations from Los Angeles. Dreading the long-haul flight? Fret not! JAL does not compromise comfort even when you choose to fly Economy Class. With the newly refurbished economy class seats, JAL SKY WIDER, there is an additional 10cm of leg space. The seat pitch has been increased to approximately 7cm! These newly-refurbished seats ensure our Economy passengers get to enjoy a comfortable and relaxed journey, too.

“JAL Sky Suite”

And take a look at this seat! Skytrax called the fancy, fully-reclining JAL Sky Suite 777 the Best Business Class Airline Seat in 2013. It’s also very private – almost like your very own cabin in the sky. You can actually arrive in the States well rested when you fly in one of these. If you’d rather surf the web than sleep on your flight, then you’re in luck. JAL now offers WiFi service on its flights with two kinds of plans from which to choose: the One Hour Plan and the Flight Plan. The airline is currently offering a special promotional rate till March 2015 allowing 24-hour usage for just USD $18.80.

Can’t sleep? Tired of surfing the web? Then by all means, eat your way across the globe. JAL is constantly working to ensure that the inflight meals served are delicious and memorable. Best of all, fights from Singapore to America have been launched at attractive rates. Check them out. We hope to have the opportunity to welcome and serve all of you on your next America-bound flight. Choose JAL for your next trip. Do visit for reservations and additional information.


Singapore American • February 2015

The first shot was given right then and there in the office. Maisie wailed as though we’d taken a chain saw to her arm – and the worst was yet to come. The immune globulin shots are only available at two hospitals in Singapore. We walked into the emergency room at KK Women and Children’s Hospital and the place was littered with really sick kids. After all, the island nation was in the middle of a massive dengue epidemic. The sign said there was a two-hour wait. I didn’t have two hours. Our 24-hour window might have been able to slide an hour or two, but nobody seemed to know for sure. The infectious specialist took a look, conferred with his senior doctor and told me she absolutely needed to get the shots. “It’s probably overkill, but if she dies, you’ll never forgive yourself.” Wow - that seemed to be the mantra of the day. So the decision was made. I paid for the medication then waited and waited. The clock was ticking. We needed the shot. I finally went to the nurses’ station and pulled my “Give her the shot!” routine. So they did. These shots were far harder to take - both as a four-year-old and as a mommy. Two nurses and I wrapped Maisie like a mummy in a blanket and held her down while the doctor injected half of the medicine under her skin where the scratch was. The other half went under her skin in her leg. For both, she writhed in agony and screamed at the top of her lungs.


I got on the Internet again, this time to watch videos of people with rabies. Then I knew I’d done the right thing. What is a death from rabies like? It starts with confusion and delusions. Then there’s the hydrophobia. People with rabies are terrified of water. They want to drink, but can’t. Some of the videos I saw made me think of an old horror movie when you see Dracula shunning a cross. As the disease progresses, the sick person starts to flail and attack and must be tied down for the safety of himself and others. Then they quiet, eyes rolling into their heads, foam coming out of their mouths. Finally, they die. It’s a horrible death, one my daughter won’t experience now. So what if I’m overprotective?

My husband called after we got home. He was still in Bali for a conference and I couldn’t reach him all day. He was angry and thought I’d overreacted. He simply couldn’t believe I’d opted for the vaccines. “Now we’ll never know if she got rabies or not.” I explained that the only way to know if she got rabies was if she died. When the symptoms show up, it’s too late. At that point, it’s 100% fatal. Rabies has an incredibly long incubation, too. It could linger up to a year before becoming active and then killing her. I hung up and wondered if he was right. Maybe I’d put her through even more trauma by subjecting her to the vaccines.

Maisie took the entire series and each one got easier. The surprising upshot of all this is that her fear of shots seems to have disappeared. Shots are kind of routine now. Who would have thought there’d be a silver lining to all this? The best part? She is still my little traveler, undaunted and ready for her next animal adventure. And, like her mother, she still loves monkeys, “all except for that mean one.” So what if she had to have a few shots? She is alive. Of course, my friend’s brother was BITTEN by a monkey the same day at the same place. He didn’t get the shots and almost two years later, he’s just fine.

Melinda Murphy is currently the editor-in-chief of Singapore American Newspaper. She is also an EMMY award-winning television journalist who worked for many years as a correspondent for CBS News. She is passionate about traveling and her family.


Singapore American • February 2015



HONG KONG By Laura Schwartz


f you’re homesick for the gritty vibrancy of New York City or just looking to spend a weekend somewhere other than a tropical beach, Hong Kong is the perfect whirlwind. Grungy, chaotic, and built amid a range of tall hills, Hong Kong seems to be opposite in personality from manicured, flat Singapore. And while you’ll never be able to see or do it all in a single weekend, the following itinerary will give you a taste of the buffet of experiences Hong Kong has to offer. Friday Evening

Getting from the airport to the city is a piece of cake. Purchase the Airport Express Travel Pass, an Octopus card that holds oneway or roundtrip airport-to-city trips plus three consecutive days of unlimited travel on MTR. You can ride the brisk Airport Express straight to Central. If you arrive before ten o’clock in the evening, head to Tsui Hang Village restaurant (New World Tower, 16-18 Queen’s Road) for Hong Kong’s most delicious tradition: dim sum. Like many of the city’s hidden gems, Tsui Hang Village is tucked away on the second floor of an innocuous office building. Their dim sum menu isn’t as extensive as one would hope,

but the quality of their barbecue pork buns, tofu pudding and hand-torn chicken make up for it. Drop your luggage off at your hotel and change into something swanky before taking a cab to the International Commerce Centre (the ICC building), which houses the RitzCarlton Hong Kong. On the 118th floor, you’ll find the ultra-modern Ozone Bar, the highest bar in the world. Cocktails aren’t cheap, but the view of Victoria Harbor at night is nothing short of breathtaking.

Saturday Eminently walkable yet also stocked with reliable public transport, Hong Kong was built to be explored. Take the MTR to Diamond Hill Station in Kowloon and follow the signs to Nan Lian Garden, a Chinese classical garden designed in the style

Singapore American • February 2015

DAY TRIPS FROM HONG KONG CHEUNG CHAU Tired of Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle? Hop a 40-minute ferry ride from Central to Cheung Chua, adored for its open-air seafood restaurants and age-old temples. You can catch a glimpse of Hong Kong’s past, exploring the car-free streets either on foot or on bike. The harbor is alive with junkboats, houseboats, and fishing trawlers. DISNEYLAND Dreams come true at Hong Kong’s version of Disneyland, located just a quick-ride from the airport. Here you can enter a magical kingdom and explore seven lands filled with great rides and Disney characters. The park isn’t as large as its US cousins, making it an easy day trip for the whole family. LANTAU The Big Buddha, Tai O Fishing Village, Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping Cable Car. Believe it or not, you can hit all these sites in one day. Either book a tour or do it yourself using public transportation. The Cable Car takes you to Ngong Ping plateau with breath-taking views. of the Tang Dynasty. While the popular Wong Tai Sin Temple is an easy walk away and worth a visit, I found the nearby Chi Lin Nunnery to not only be quieter, but more fascinating. Founded in 1934, this Buddhist monastery’s interlocking wooden architecture is the only of its kind in Hong Kong.

Then it’s on to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden. You could take the MTR to Prince Edward Station, but I found it more fun to meander through Kowloon’s bustling suburbs which allowed me to stroll through the charming Kowloon Walled City Park and to snag a snack in the food district. “Bird Garden” is bit of a misnomer. It’s actually a miniature market tucked onto a raised walkway enveloped in lush greenery. Even if you’re not looking to take home a sparrow or cockatiel,

the towers and aisles of twittering cages are mesmerizing.After all that exploring, it’s time for a luxurious interlude. Take the MTR down to Tsim Sha Tsui and indulge in Afternoon Tea in the lobby of the oldest hotel in Hong Kong, The Peninsula. When you’ve finishing savoring the delicate pastries and elegant architecture, the Hong Kong Museum of Art is just a short walk away. Finish your time on Kowloon by wandering along the famous waterfront, Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. Take the last Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central, soaking in the view of the skyline on the way, before heading to the raucous Lan Kwai Fong area, a cluster of bars and restaurants where you can grab a bite and party until all hours.

MACAU Macau is more than just glitzy casinos where James Bond goes to play baccarat. A onehour ferry from Hong Kong will land you in a beautiful mixture of astounding colonial charm and Chinese culture. Ferries sail every 15 minutes throughout the day for the UNESCO World Heritage city. Sunday Linger over breakfast and coffee at one of the city’s many cafés before making your way to the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware which opens at ten o’clock in the morning and is located inside Hong Kong Park. Originally built in 1844, the museum building was the office and residence of the Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong up until 1978. In addition to admiring the gorgeous building, you’ll learn about the history of tea drinking in China and the gentle art of creating clay teapots. Next to the Museum of Tea Ware is the KS Lo Gallery, which houses ceramics dating from the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD) to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644AD). For a real treat, settle into the Chinese Teahouse on the ground floor for traditional tea snacks and tea prepared the old-fashioned way. From the park, it’s a quick walk to the famous Peak Tram, a Victorian-era train that hauls visitors up to the highest peak on Hong Kong Island. If the weather is clear, the views are well worth the crowds and the ticket price.

After descending, wander towards Hollywood Road and en route be sure to ride the Central-Mid-Levels Escalators, the longest outdoor, covered escalator system in the world. Hollywood Road and its many side streets are chock full of antique shops, boutique clothing stores, artisanal coffee shops, and chic wine bars. Spend the afternoon getting lost and finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs to take home.

SAI KUNG Explore the New Territories popular for hiking, villages, seafood and gorgeous beaches accessible only via boat or a 20 to 90 minute hike. The longer you hike, the better the beach. However you get there, you’ll see incredible views and require an early morning start.

When Laura O’Gorman Schwartz is not traveling around the region or devouring a new book, she juggles her 9-to-5 job as an admissions and career consultant with freelance writing. You can read her articles, travel anecdotes and series of tips on how to be a better tourist at Photos: Jo Schmaltz; Lei Yanan; Claire Maw; Pablo Pola Damante; Mojo Baron; Lidia Ramalho; Edwin Lee; Mari Ma; William Chu; Reyna Mohanani; Mary Ferrante; Ncburton; Spreng Ben.

Singapore American • February 2015


Singapore American • February 2015


Prom-Posals: Deserving of Caution! By Richard Logan, MSocSc, Counselor and Psychotherapist


one are the days of asking your partner or desired partner to the Prom in the hallway between classes, all done with varying degrees of anxiety, but also with a level of privacy. The asking would be done and the answer given. We would deal with our excitement or disappointment with those we chose to include. Those days are disappearing! These days something dramatic and very, very public is becoming the norm: a performance involving public displays of lavishness, a song and dance, cupcakes, snow sculptures, fireworks, flowers, twerking, flash mobs, table tennis balls, even scavenger hunts. There is competition to outdo the last person: bigger, more extravagant, and always very, very public. The Prom-posal is an avenue for students to use their creativity, trying to come up with something original. It can be an avenue for students to use their skills of cooperating and working as a team, either in the background or up front as part of the performance. Students can often use their design and technology skills to present their prom-posals. They are usually a lot of fun, very entertaining for all around, and a great experience for many of the participants. With all this energy and visibility, it can seem to be impossible to decline the proposal. Herein lies the need for caution. Many students at this age are still developing a healthy sense of self - of who they are; their sense of acceptability; their sense of being okay the way they are. They are exploring romantic relationships how they work, how to negotiate them, how to establish healthy boundaries. In a word, they are often fragile, although this may not be presented to the world.

The very publicness of the prom-posal can set both the proposer and the proposee up for a huge measure of humiliation. If the proposee is asked by somebody in whom they have no interest or don’t like, they have a choice to make. They can either accept the proposal - which is not a good boundary - or reject the proposal and end up feeling guilty for humiliating the proposer. On the other hand, the proposer can publicly have their proposal rejected and be humiliated. Then, of course, we have the effect of social media where any humiliation is very, very public and able to be viewed repeatedly. This, to me, is an unacceptable risk for the students.

“Personally speaking, I think the whole idea just adds pressure to kids and makes it potentially uncomfortable. However, after speaking to my kids they seem to think it is all just fine and are not bothered by the notion whatsoever!’’ Patty DuCharme, SAS mom

Children need to learn that if they ask a question they need to be prepared to get not only their preferred reply, but one they may not want as well. They also need to learn when asked a question they have the right to give the answer with which they are comfortable. If the prom-posal is between those in an established relationship all should be well. However, if your children are planning to ask somebody, encourage them to first ask privately and get a response before embarking

I think some of the guys really enjoy coming up with unique ideas…but some of the girls have high expectations…. It is a lot of pressure on the girls, as well. I even heard of a few cases where the girls accept the proposal, but then later tell the boy “no” because she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of everyone. Lan Fisher, SAS mom

on the prom-posal. If they are not willing to do this, work with them to explore all the possible replies they might receive and how they would deal with them. If they are unable to deal with any of them, advise them not to proceed. If your child is worried about receiving a promposal, assure them that they are not indebted to someone who asks them. They can choose how to reply. Perhaps brainstorm ways they can reject the proposal in as sensitive a way as possible. May the prom-posals that occur be fun and emotionally safe for all involved. For more information on this topic or specific support, kindly contact the SACAC Counselling office at 6733-9249 or via email at

Photos: EH Dome; Zeherfoto; Brian Woods; Amanda Rykoff; Michelle Moya; momfluential; sandyfeet.


Singapore American • February 2015


Strep Throat By Dr Heather King

When to see your GP If you have increasing pain when swallowing, have noticed white or yellow spots at the back of your throat, develop a fever, feel increasingly sick or vomit, develop a rash or feel very tired then it is important that you make an appointment with your doctor.

Symptoms Sore Throat Fever of greater than 38°C (100.4°F) Pus on tonsils(white/yellow spots)


iruses cause the majority of sore throats so sore throats caused by bacteria are less common. These nasty bugs have a variety of names - strep throat, streptococcal tonsillitis and streptococcal pharyngitis – but they all mean the same thing: a type of throat and tonsil infection caused by the bacteria group A streptococcus. Causes Strep throat is caused by group A beta-haemolytic streptococcus. It’s an infection spread by airborne droplets usually through close contact with an infected person. Crowding in certain settings like schools can increase how quickly it spreads. Diagnosis Your doctor may feel that you have strep throat based on your history and findings on examination. Other times swabs may be taken from the back of your throat to aid the diagnosis. One type of swab can give a result within minutes right at the doctor’s office. However, this test isn’t precise. The other type of swab is sent to the laboratory for culture. This is the definitive test for strep throat, but it can take a few days for the result to return to your doctor.

Enlarged lymph nodes (glands in the neck) Treatment Sore throats caused by viruses usually resolve within days. Several things can be done at home to try and relieve your symptoms. Paracetamol and ibuprofen taken regularly can alleviate the pain and fever associated with the infection. Throat lozenges and keeping well hydrated can also help the symptoms. Strep throat infections are different. Antibiotics are the treatment of choice as they may shorten the length of time people have a sore throat and can help reduce the spread of infection. Giving antibiotics can also reduce the risk of complications associated with strep throat such as the development of a throat abscess, rheumatic fever and kidney problems. Fortunately, these are rare complications. Prevention • Wash hands regularly. • Ensure covering of nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing and any used tissues should be thrown away immediately. • Avoid crowded places and close contact with other people.

Other symptoms Headache Tummy pain Nausea and Vomiting Rash

Dr King graduated from the University of Dundee Medical School in 2002. She became a Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners (UK) with Merit (2006). She has more than 7 years of experience as working as a GP within a busy urban practice in Scotland. Dr King has obtained the Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2004), Diploma of Child Health (2005) and became a Member of the Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare (2005). Her interests include family medicine, woman’s health, family planning and sexual health.

For more information please visit

Can You Get All Your Nutrients from Food Alone?

A Glass a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

By Angel Corrigan

By Liza Rowan



ver the years, I have read many books, blogs and webpages about the relationship between nutrition and health. I’ve gone to lectures on nutrition and anti-aging. My family has faced many health issues that improved with dietary changes. With all this, I have become a novice nutritionist. People always ask me, “Can you get all the nutrients you need from food alone?” You may be eating healthily and exercising, but nutritionally deficient in a particular area due to stress, quality of the food you eat, excessive alcohol intake, medications that sap nutrients from your system, low-calorie diets, poor digestion— the list goes on. For these reasons, your diet is not a guarantee of getting the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrients. Aging is another factor. When you are young, you can get away with certain behaviors and your body will compensate for your poor choices. But at a certain age, the tide turns and all of that neglectful behavior can make growing older a considerably harder battle. So what’s the answer? First, consider the fuel that we put into our bodies. We wouldn’t dump low-grade, dirty fuel into a Ferrari! The body we live in is far more valuable than any car. Our body has to last a whole lifetime. Sit down and do a little reading about what you and your family need in the way of nutrition to grow and maintain healthy bodies. Take a good, hard look at what you are eating and feeding your family.

Investing in good food and nutrition pays off in quality of life and fewer medical bills in the long run. Second, you may come to the realization that you can’t get all of the nutrition you need from your diet alone and you will need to consider supplements. Again, look at quality and make sure the supplements you take are actually something that your body can use and breakdown. As with food, cheapest is not always the best. Third, consider making an appointment with a nutritionist or naturopath. They will be able to guide you in specific choices and changes to make. You are the one living in your body 24/7. With a little investigation and education, we all can live healthier and happier lives. Remember, as Robert Ulrich wrote, “A healthy outside starts from the inside.” Angel Corrigan has lived around the world as a military spouse. In 1999, she arrived in Singapore with her family and has worked at the US Embassy and in the fundraising and development field as MD of her own company. Photo by Den Asuncioner

an something that tastes so good be healthy for us? Well, yes, but as with all things in life, in moderation. Studies have shown that alcohol can improve HDL (our good cholesterol) when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. Improving our HDL levels lessens our risk of heartrelated illnesses. Other research concludes that moderate consumption can slow down mental decline as we age in relation to our teetotaler friends. Red wine in particular is touted for its health benefits as it contains the antioxidant, Resveratrol. The French suffer less heart disease although they consume high levels of saturated fat. “The French Paradox,” as it’s called, is put down to the fact that they also drink a glass of red wine every day. Resveratrol increases the antioxidant capacity of our blood therefore protecting against the formation of blood clots which lead to heart disease. Red wine can also offer protection against some cancers because it contains antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities. Red wine can also put you in a good mood – and not just because it tastes good and contains alcohol. Like chocolate, red wine can raise our serotonin levels which boost our mood and give us a natural lift. For an even

healthier boost, choose an organic wine, now widely available. These are made without the use of potentially harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides. My favorite wine quote: “I enjoy a glass of

wine a day for its health benefits. The other glasses are for my witty comebacks and flawless dance moves.” Savor your one glass a day for sure – but rely on your natural wit and leg work for the other rewards.

Liza Rowan, a mother, fitness enthusiast and holistic nutritionist, is passionate about helping families improve overall health, energy levels and general wellbeing. A substantial part of her fees are donated to charity supporting underprivileged children in Cambodia. Photo by Brent Hofacker


Singapore American • February 2015


The Most Romantic Gifts Ever By Lindy Hiemstra


y husband is lucky. My heart swells with excitement when flowers or jewels or iPhones appear with a bow on Valentine’s Day. Heck, I even love it when he buys me a cheap, lightweight backpack because he knows mine is too heavy. But how would his thoughtfulness stack up against these, arguably the most romantic gifts ever in history? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon Nebuchadnezzar II supposedly built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the sixth century B.C. as a gift for his wife, Amytis of Media who was supposedly quite homesick and hated living in the desert. The terraced gardens within the walls of the city were said to be hundreds of feet wide, filled with a variety of exotic plants, herbs and flowers. A marvel of engineering included as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the oasis was likely irrigated from the Euphrates. Archaeologists aren’t even sure the gardens really existed, but it’s nice to think they did, isn’t it? Taj Mahal The world’s most famous mausoleum is another example of a man going to extremes for his wife. Mughal emperor Shah Jahan commissioned the famed landmark around 1632 and it took more than a decade to finish. It was intended as a tomb for his third bride, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth

to the couple’s fourteenth child. When he died in 1666, the Shah was buried alongside her in the white marble tomb. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the finest example of Mughal architecture and the jewel of Muslim art in India. Siegfried Idyll Imagine you’re Cosima, wife of Richard Wagner, the composer. It’s Christmas morning. You wake up to the sound of music – really loud music. You get up to see what the fuss is and, there, at the bottom of the staircase, is a 15-piece orchestra playing what is now considered one of Wagner’s greatest works, a piece he wrote just for your thirty-third birthday. Deeply moved, Cosima would later write in her diary, “When I woke up I heard a sound, it grew ever louder, I could no longer imagine myself in a dream, music was sounding, and what music!” Edward VIII’s Abdication of the Throne Edward became king in 1936 after the death of his father, George V. But there was a problem: the new king was infatuated with Wallis Simpson – a married, already

divorced American socialite. Rumors flew that she was a scheming seductress or maybe even a Nazi spy. The monarchy spiraled into crisis over the affair. Forced to choose between his love and the crown, Edward abdicated the throne in December 1936. Simpson quickly divorced her husband and married Edward in 1937. Lucky for him, it was her last divorce and they spent the rest of their lives happily married in France. Joe DiMaggio’s Flowers for Marilyn Monroe Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were only married a tumultuous 274 days, not even

a whole year, but Joltin’ Joe never quite got over the blonde bombshell. He continued to be there for her in both life and death. DiMaggio was the one who rescued her from the psychiatric ward when she had a nervous breakdown after her divorce from playwright Arthur Miller. And as one of the most famously romantic gestures of all time, he sent red roses to her Los Angeles grave three times a week for twenty years after her death. Lindy Hiemstra has been married to the love of her life for almost 15 years. The best gifts he ever gave her were two children, now aged four and six.


Singapore American • February 2015


Teahouse By Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

“Teahouse is a triumphant moment in Theatre realism…. Although no single historical figure is mentioned, this is an authentic account of Chinese history. What we see on stage is society in all its complexity.” Liu Hou sheng, celebrated Theatre academic


aving premiered in Singapore twenty nine years ago to resounding success, Teahouse makes a triumphant return to our shores in 2015! Hailed as an enduring classic in contemporary Chinese theatre, Teahouse, written by noted Chinese playwright and writer Lao She, was premiered by the Beijing People’s Art Theatre in 1958. It was such a sensational creation

that the production has been playing for more than half a century in major cities all over the world, becoming the signature showpiece of the Beijing People’s Art Theatre. Teahouse offers a riveting peek into the microcosmos of Beijing (Peking) through the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. The story weaves together the lives of more than 70 characters from all walks of life into a gripping

tale of shifting fortunes and perseverance. The story centers on Lao Yu Tai Teahouse in imperial Peking. The proprietor, Wang Li Fa, is an ambitious businessman who dreams of growing the business he inherited from his father. Yet, despite his industriousness, time and tide works against him and Wang’s dream is eventually dashed brutally. The three acts of this play bring the audience through the

twilight of the Qing dynasty, the Republic era and the Japanese Occupation. Over a 50 year span, this venerable teahouse goes from bustling to bust, through which the playwright parades the customs and lifestyle of the period as a backdrop to the fates of the various characters. Fans of the play will get to relive the captivating moments of this seminal theatre work, while newer audiences should not miss the opportunity to be acquainted with a theatre masterpiece. Come experience this theatre tour de force performed by the Beijing People’s Art Theatre and brought to you by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. Performed in Mandarin with English and Chinese Surtitles (3 hrs including 20 minute intermission.)


Singapore American • February 2015


Pink Martini: You Will be Shaken and Stirred By Jim Tietjen

The Band Pink Martini is not a drink. Nope, it’s an American band featuring twelve musicians who perform a multi-cultural repertoire on stages worldwide. They’ve performed with 50 symphony orchestras in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North and South America. During their travels they’ve collaborated and performed with many well-known musicians. The Music Pink Martini has released eight studio albums since 1997. Many have gone gold and one platinum. Their latest release, Dream a Little Dream, features four grandchildren of the legendary von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame. This album spans the world from Sweden to Rwanda to China to Germany. It features appearances by The Chieftains, Wayne Newton, Jack Hanna, and Charmian Carr. Coming to Singapore Having last performed at the 2010 Singapore Mosaic Music Festival, Pink Martini will return to the Esplanade Theatre on Tuesday, March 31. They will charm us with their infectious rhythms, distinctive vocals, and colorful instrumentation in an international musical extravaganza. With elements of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and Edith Piaf, including Latin Samba, Afro-Cuban Salsa, Bossa Nova, Italian Folk, and Middle Eastern influences, this is one musical performance you will definitely want to see and hear!

The Interview JT: What brings you back to Singapore? PM: We love Singapore! We would play in Singapore every year or two if possible. We booked the Hong Kong Arts Festival for late March followed by Singapore! JT: What was your impression of Singapore from your previous visit? PM: Singapore is such an exciting, cosmopolitan city. We were impressed with how familiar the

audience was with our music, even though Singapore is across the globe from Oregon. And, we loved the food! JT: You still make CDs in this age of streaming and downloading. Your loyal Singapore fans would probably like to purchase your latest releases and maybe a few oldies. Are the oldies still available? PM: CDs are still a major part of our business. As you imply, the CD business is declining across the music industry. Our fans seem to enjoy having an artifact in hand, a souvenir of our shows. We also sell vinyl now, which is a natural for our music. Of course, we are available on Spotify, Rdio, and iTunes. All our albums are still available and our first album, Sympathique, remains our best-seller! We will have albums for sale at the show and will sign them afterwards. JT: Of your ten CDs so far, which one do you think Singaporeans might like best and why? PM: Singapore is such a global city. I think Get Happy, which we released a year ago, would appeal to Singaporeans most because it is our most cosmopolitan release. It has songs in eight languages including German, Mandarin, Farsi, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian, French, and English! It features many fabulous guest appearances -- Rufus Wainwright, The von Trapps, the cabaret singer Meow Meow, and more. Singaporeans who are new to the band might also enjoy Hang on Little Tomato, which contains the largest number of our hit songs.

JT: How has the release of your 7" Vinyl record gone so far? PM: The 7" vinyl release has been well-received. It's a fun little souvenir and we rarely release an unreleased track from our archives. Having an unreleased track on the b-side helps to make this title really special. These days, when CDs are harder and harder to sell, we enjoy releasing music in other formats. [Note: Pink Martini’s Zundoko-bushi 7" vinyl really is a 45 rpm vinyl single record (Beam me up, Scotty!). Its previously unreleased B-side is called Foxy Strut. This single is also available on iTunes, Amazon, etc.] Be There Pink Martini will play Singapore only once, on Tuesday evening March 31 at the Esplanade Theatre, 8 pm. Tickets are available through SISTIC. Get ‘em fast! They’re going like Original Oregon Hotcakes! You don’t want to miss Pink Martini, a musical cocktail made with heart, soul, and a twist of rhythmic adventure! Jim Tietjen is an avid sportsman and adventurer. He enjoys flying gliders, playing tennis, playing golf, cycling, diving, sailing, trekking, climbing, and traveling. He has a passion for art, especially watercolor paintings, and music, oriental carpets, and wine. He studies international relations, political economy, and foreign and public policy. Most of all he revels in family and friends, and likes to help people succeed. He also loves Pink Martinis - shaken, not stirred! Photo by Holly Andres

Return to Sender By Singapore Philatelic Museum


eturn To Sender - An Exhibition celebrates the phenomenal career of a man who came from very humble beginnings. Primarily a singer, Elvis Presley made thirty-one movies and two music-tour films. His music ranged from country to rock ‘n’ roll to gospel to ballads. With his easygoing style and good looks, Elvis captured the hearts and attention of the American youth in the 1950s. From music to fashion, Elvis often made ground-breaking choices. The hip-swivelling King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had a huge following beyond the United States contributing about 40% of records sale. It is estimated that Elvis sold more than one billion records. The selected items featured in this exhibition reflect the dedication of one dedicated fan. Started around the same time as the discovery of Elvis, the collection showcases the singer’s career through vinyl records, posters, magazines, books, first day covers, stamps and mementoes. Although it has been almost 40 years since Elvis’ death, the collector continues his earnest pursuit of collectibles related to the legendary singer. Swedish Post Office issued a series on 50 years of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which featured Elvis Presley, on October 2, 2004. The stamp was jointly engraved by the master engraver Czeslaw Slania and Piotr Naszarkowski. Part of a souvenir sheet, it is believed that the colour is to match Elvis’s Blue Suede Shoes. The United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp issue honouring Elvis Presley in 1993.

Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street, Singapore 179807 Opening hours: Monday (1:00 – 7:00pm) Tuesday – Sunday (9:30am – 7:00pm) Photos by Singapore Philatelic Museum


Singapore American • February 2015


Swimming for Fun and Fitness By Maggie Loudon


ere in Singapore, our kids begin swimming early. Babies are in the water at six months learning to splash, blow bubbles and submerge. Toddlers and preschoolers often can resemble little fish, swimming and playing in the water. School-age children develop their strokes, while teens join swim teams, try synchronized swimming or learn lifeguarding skills. As adults, we look for an opportunity to get in the water and relax or cool off and maybe even get in a few laps. Water Safety for Kids As parents, we want our children to have fun and be safe in aquatic environments. With so much open water here, it is imperative that even toddlers learn some basic water skills. In the US, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children twelve years and under. Statistics show that formal swim lessons for this age group help reduce the risk of drowning. Some basic water safety knowledge for parents is critical. Always actively supervise your child around water and keep your toddler within arms reach. The variety of floating devices can be helpful in preventing a tragedy, but there is no substitute for active surveillance. Keep your eyes on your child at all times. Also, teach your child to “wait for mommy or daddy.” This will slow them down and instill the lesson that they never swim without an adult present.

As kids grow, their swimming skills improve. Be mindful though: this does not decrease your responsibility for closely monitoring children in an aquatic environment. Be aware of the dangerous “toos” that increase the risk of accident around water: too tired, too cold, too much sun, too much strenuous exercise, too far from safety. Establish water safety rules, set limits and learn first aid, CPR and how to use an automatic external defibrillator or AED. Have an emergency plan and know the emergency number. In Singapore, the emergency number for the ambulance or fire brigade is 995. Download the free American Red Cross First Aid App. Search “Red Cross First Aid” in the Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon Marketplace. Swimming for Adults Okay, so the kids are safe. You’ve reviewed your first aid and CPR (www.redcrossrefresher. com). Now, it’s adult time. The water is cool and inviting on a hot Singapore day. What a great way to relax and ease the stress of work. If you don’t know how to swim, Singapore is a great place to learn. If you swim even just a little bit, then take advantage of the climate and take lessons to improve your strokes and technique. A few laps in the pool two or three times a week can have amazing benefits.

Benefits of Swimming • Swimming helps increase muscle strength and improves bone strength. • The aerobic exercise derived from swimming helps build a healthy heart. • Swimming is a big calorie burner, especially when using interval training. • The stretching and relaxing of muscles, combined with deep rhythmic breathing, release endorphins, reducing stress and tension.

Maggie Loudon has lived in Singapore three different times for a total of twenty-seven years. She teaches American Red Cross courses in swimming, lifeguarding, CPR/AED and first aid. For more information, visit

Singapore American • February 2015




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



From 1 February Ancient Religions of India Asian Civilisations Museum 1 Empress Place Daily 10am-7pm; Friday 10am-9pm From 1 February Chinese Ink Works from Lee Kong Chian Collection of Chinese Art Lee Kong Chian Library, NUS 50 Kent Ridge Crescent Tuesday-Friday 10am-7pm; Weekends 10am-6pm 1 – 28 February DiverseCity 2014 National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road 10am-6pm 1 February – 31 May Medium at Large Shapeshifting Material & Methods in Contemporary Art Singapore Art Museum 71 Bras Basah Road Monday-Sunday 10am-7pm; Friday 10am–9pm 1 February – 1 July RETURN TO SENDER – An Exhibition Celebrating Elvis’s 80th Birthday Singapore Philatelic Museum 23-B Coleman Street Monday, 1–7pm; Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30am –7pm 1 February – 10 August SINGAPURA: 700 years National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road 10am-6pm 2 – 18 February Artist in Residency – Shirazeh Houshiary Singapore Tyler Print Institute 41 Robertson Quay Singapore 238236 ENTERTAINMENT ENTE


1 February Discovering Music! – Enigma Variations (SSO with Associate Conductor Jason Lai) Victoria Concert Hall 6 February Bill Burr – Live in Singapore Kallang Theatre 13 February Singapore Short Film Awards Fringe Screening Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium UTown, NUS 13 – 22 February World Cinema Series: The Films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan Gallery Theatre National Museum of Singapore 3 March Lindsey Stirling Shatter Me Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands

4 & 5 March Evocation 2015: Shamiyaana UCC Theatre 5 – 8 March TEAHOUSE – Beijing People’s Art Theatre Esplanade Theatre 12 – 15 March Sleeping Beauty Esplanade Theatre 17 March The Best of Rufus Wainwright Esplanade Theatre 20 March Words and Music: A Love Story Told in Jazz UCC Hall 21 March – 12 April Disney’s Beauty & The Beast Grand Theatre MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands 22 March Concerts for Children Adventures in the Magical Kingdom (SSO) Victoria Concert Hall LIFESTYLE


1 – 28 February New Year Carpet Sale – up to 70% off Hedger’s Carpet Gallery 15 Dempsey Road #01-09 10:30am–7pm 2 February Superbowl Breakfast Party Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill 91 Tanglin Road #B1-01, Tanglin Place 6am T: 6738 2800 EDUCATION


From 1 February UWCSEA Applications for Admission to UWCSEA in 2015/2016 open now Dover or East Campus 4, 11 & 25 February Dulwich College Open Day 71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8 10-11:30am 13 February Open House Stamford American International School 279 Upper Serangoon Road 9am 24 February & 4 March Open House Canadian International School Lakeside Campus 7 Jurong West Street 41 9am

SPORTS 7 & 8 February Safari Zoo Run Singapore Zoo and Night Safari Sat: 4-7pm, Sun: 9am-12pm 8 February Terry Fox Run 902 East Coast Parkway, Big Splash 6:30am 14 February Brooks Marina Run 2015 Gardens by the Bay, Bay East 5:30pm (10km)/7:30pm (21km) 8 March Green Corridor Run Tanjong Pagar Rail Station 9am


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Singapore American • February 2015

Profile for American Association of Singapore

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Singapore American Newspaper February 2015