Singapore American Newspaper June-July 2017

Page 1


Since 1958

June-July 2017

American Association..... 1-7 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business............... 6 Community News......... 7-11 Travel........................ 12-13 Go Green................... 14-21 Health & Wellness........... 22 Education........................ 23

AAS 1-7

Travel 12-13

Health & Wellness 22

Go Green 14-21

Even Storm Troopers Get Involved in Charitable Acts

Eco-tourism Highlights in the Philippines

Home for the Holidays: How, Why and When?

All Things Green from Tea to Tourism

MCI (P) 197/03/2017

Photo courtesy of Erick Lo Photography

Tournament Champions: ChamPengWine, Second Place: Expat Dental 1, Third Place: Team Hiemstra

The 2017 Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament By Sarah Walston


n honor of the American Association of Singapore’s (AAS) centennial anniversary, on April 30 the 2017 Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament was held in Singapore with a 19-FORE-ties twist. Donning dapper 1940s attire, from knickers to flat caps to argyle galore, more than 140 golfers gathered at Orchid Country Club to continue the tradition of a tournament that has been played annually since 1947. Co-hosted by AAS and The American Club, the tournament kicked off with a buffet lunch at the Vanda Terrace and welcome led by Stephanie Nash, AAS President, then it was off to the tees for a shotgun start. Throughout the day, golfers enjoyed special competition holes, including an opportunity to beat our golf pros, James Quilley, President of Emerald Golf and Lim Kian Boon, Member of Singapore Professional Golfers’ Association (Class AAA). At the Beat the Pro holes, golfers ‘chipped in for charity,’ to benefit AAS’

100 Acts of Charity initiative; all participants enjoyed whiskey shots, compliments of Fireball Whisky. To keep up golfers’ energy throughout the tournament, refreshment stations offered delicious pulled chicken and hot dogs from Michael’s Bar & Grill, Brewerkz beer, and wine from PengWine. Although the tournament was cut short due to lightning threats, golfers remained in high spirits and moved on to cocktails at Orchid’s Tee Garden Foyer, while anxiously awaiting the scores of the day. In the spirit of the 1940s, golfers enjoyed custom Sidecar and Gin Rickey cocktails from Drinkdings, and sparkling ChamPengWine, courtesy of PengWine. As the final scores rolled in, first place was awarded to Team ChamPengWine’s Praveen Lingamneni, Steve Innes, Andrew Rogers and Aaron Simmons; Team Expat Dental’s Shaun Thompson, Chris Camerieri, Brian Schwender and Sam Vatrano came in second; while

third place went to Team Hiemstra’s Tom Hiemstra, David Cox, Ben Plant and Mat Wilson. The evening concluded with a buffet BBQ dinner and awards presentation, in which all of the day’s winners were announced (see page 4). Special recognition went to Brian Hill, honoring his 20+ years of participation in the tournament. A heartfelt thank you to all of the tournament sponsors who helped make the day a success, as well as the fantastic Ambassador’s Cup committee, led by Chris Milliken, for their dedication and support. While this year’s tournament brought new winners, new stories and new memories, the spirit always remains the same. The Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament brings a day of camaraderie, friendly competition, and a chance to honor a long-standing tradition of fun on the fairways.

American Association of Singapore’s Centennial Partners


Singapore American · June-July 2017

A message from the President...


hanks to those of you who took the time to vote at our Annual General Meeting in April. I am thrilled to be taking over from Glenn van Zutphen as President and would like to thank Glenn and the outgoing members of ExCo for their commitment and dedication to the American Association of Singapore (AAS). I would like to wish a very warm welcome to the new Executive Committee members, I look forward to working closely with them and the AAS team. We’ve been pretty busy with some great events here at AAS in recent weeks, including a fun evening at the first Quiz Night of 2017. Quizmaster, Glenn van Zutphen, posed the questions as our teams battled it out to be crowned AAS’ smartest. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves at the Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament, which teed off on April 30 at the Orchid Country Club, right here in Singapore (no passports required!). This year’s tournament continued our centennial celebrations with a 1940s vibe, in honor of the inaugural Ambassador’s Cup back in 1947. Many thanks to those who helped to organize and support the day, including the members of the Golf Committee, sponsors, volunteers and, of course, our AAS team. Lots of members enjoyed our Chit and Chat evening at Café Iguana in early May, catching up with old friends and making some new ones over a couple of beers and margaritas. Check out the photos on our website of this and our other recent events, including lots of fun pictures from the Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament! Don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Independence Day celebration, which will be held at Singapore American School on July 1. We have a super fun day planned with carnival games, music, food and an enormous bouncy castle – don’t miss it! Many of us are thinking about a visit back ‘home’ for the summer holidays. If you’re heading home, or to other exotic locations, we wish you a safe and enjoyable trip and look forward to seeing you at our Welcome Back event, details of which will be in the August issue of SAN. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media). Best,

SINGAPORE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief: Cath Forte, Publishing Editor: Sarah Alden,

DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Hazlyn Aidzil, Dr. Suzanne M. Anderson, Faith Chanda, Alex Edwards, Augustus Prescott Gaylord, Katie Goggins, Richard Hartung, Priscilla Koh, Hannah Olsen, Bill Poorman, Ilana Rosenzweig, Laura Schwartz, Marc Servos, Bonnie Taylor, Jim Tietjen, Betty Warner For AAS: Katie Baines, Alka Chandiramani, Sarah Walston

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Stephanie Nash • Vice President: Shawn Galey Treasurer: Michael Borchert • Secretary: Joseph Foggiato Directors: Sammie Cheston, Blair Hall, Bill Poorman, Brian Schwender, Jenn Wood Immediate Past President: Glenn van Zutphen • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins The American Club President: Kristen Graff • AWA President: Tara Eastep SACAC Chair: Greg Rutledge • SAS Chair: Anita Tan-Langlois Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud US Military: Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson

PUBLISHER – AMERICAN ASSOCIATION The American Association of Singapore (AAS) is a professional, not-for-profit organization established to enhance the well-being and living experience of Americans residing in Singapore and to promote relationships, both business and social, between Americans and those from different cultures and nationalities. 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.


Stephanie Nash

A subscription to the Singapore American is complimentary with an AAS or CRCE 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 · June-July 2017

AAS Saturday

1 July

Upcoming Events

Past Events

Independence Day Celebration

Quiz Night

Time to celebrate the American spirit in Singapore with the AAS annual Independence Day Celebration, in partnership with Singapore American School. This family-friendly event features a day of fun, music, food, carnival games and patriotism. The day is capped off with a spectacular fireworks display! Log onto our website for all you need to know, including what you can and cannot bring: 4-10pm Singapore American School 40 Woodlands Street 41, (S)738547 Admission is free of charge and open to the public. All are welcome to attend. Food, drinks and games/activities are payable at attendee’s own expense (cash only).

COMING SOON! September

Welcome Back Celebration Join us in September for the 2017 Welcome Back Celebration, sponsored by AAM Advisory. This family-friendly event is a fun way to catch up with old friends and to make new connections, too. Meet and mingle with representatives from our sister organizations, as we enjoy a relaxing afternoon of fun, food and friendship. In honor of AAS’ centennial anniversary, this year’s Welcome Back will have a 1960s and 70s twist. Stay tuned for more details.

AAS members and friends met up at Brewerkz Riverside Point for the always popular Quiz Night on April 19. Boggling brain teasers and tricky trivia were no match for the winning team of Dave Alden, Bill DeCamp, Kathy DeCamp, Paul Harris, Kelly Payfer and Jessica Ward, who proved their wits and won out after a suspenseful tiebreaker round. Special thanks to Glenn van Zutphen, quizmaster extraordinaire, who led the exciting and entertaining evening.

Annual General Meeting

AAS members came together to elect a new slate of officers on April 20. Outgoing President Glenn van Zutphen led the event, sharing insight into the accomplishments of the organization and looking ahead to the rest of our centennial year. Glenn honored the many successes of departing General Manager, Toni Dudsak, while welcoming new General Manager, Sarah Alden, and the new Executive Committee. Congratulations to the incoming ExCo – President: Stephanie Nash; Vice President: Shawn Galey; Treasurer: Michael Borchert; Secretary: Joseph Foggiato; Directors-at-Large: Sammie Cheston, Blair Hall, Bill Poorman, Brian Schwender and Jenn Wood. Glenn remains on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past President.

100 Acts of Charity Beach Clean-Up at East Coast Park

For more info and to register for an event:

USA Girl Scouts Overseas (Singapore) Brownie Troop 82 spent a Sunday morning cleaning up East Coast Park. The girls were surprised at how much trash they found, mostly left behind by picnickers and smokers. The cleanup was part of their Wonders of Water Journey in conjunction with Earth Day. Great job, Annabelle, Iris, Roxane, Carinna, Lily, Ella, Hana, Maisie and Nicole!

Earth Day Mandai Mudflats Clean-Up AAS Members and friends, Democrats Abroad Lion City Committee Members and scouts from Boy Scouts Troop 07 joined together with Nature Society (Singapore) to clean-up the Mandai Mudflats on Earth Day weekend. Volunteers helped clear more than 400kg of garbage from this important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Well done to all who participated.

LOVE, NILS Toy Drive & Donation 2017

In the second annual LOVE, NILS Toy Donation each child with cancer at the National University Hospital (NUH) was given the opportunity to choose a new toy to call their own. They also furnished the NUH playroom with new toys, with help from the Star Wars Storm Troopers. Fantastic job, Claire Berggren, Ian Bickerton, Emily Fisher, Nalyn Nachon, Lesli Berggren, 501st Legion Star Wars Storm Troopers and the Children’s Cancer Foundation!


AAS members enjoy discounts at a range of local businesses. Present your AAS membership card at time of purchase. Please see a full list of discounts at

AAS members enjoy 2 hours free handyman service (valued at over $200) on their moving day when booking a move with Allied Pickfords.

Present AAS membership card to receive 15% off total bill. Valid for dine in on a la carte menu at all Brewerkz and Cafe Iguana restaurants through December 30, 2017. Limit to one (1) redemption per bill, per table. Not valid on

concert days, eve of and on public holidays. Not valid with lunch menu, other set menus, discounts, vouchers, promotions or privileges. The management reserves the right to amend the terms & conditions without prior notice.

Book online using promo code SGAME17 and enjoy a 10% saving on regular fares or a 5% saving on promotional fares in Business Class and Economy Class to the United States, Europe and Colombo.

Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem:

Present your AAS membership card and receive $10 in vouchers when you sign up for a Warehouse Club membership. Valid till December 31, 2017.

201 7 Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament

Eagle Sponsor

Birdie Sponsors

Supporting Sponsors

Photos courtesy of Erick Lo Photography

Food & Beverage Partners

Logistics Partner

Committee Chair: Chris Milliken Khair Baharin Stephane Fabregoul Steve Innes Praveen Lingamneni Andrew Rogers Aaron Simmons

Golf Pros Lim Kian Boon James Quilley


Tournament Champions: ChamPengWine

Praveen Lingamneni, Steve Innes,

Andrew Rogers, Aaron Simmons

Second Place: Expat Dental 1

Shaun Thompson, Chris Camerieri,

Brian Schwender, Sam Vatrano

Third Place: Team Hiemstra

Tom Hiemstra, David Cox,

Ben Plant, Mat Wilson

Best Dressed Men: Praveen Lingamneni Women: Helena Mae Kim Longest Drive: Sam Vatrano Nearest to the Pin Dendro: Wade Dawson Vanda: Tom Hiemstra


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” JOHN QUINCY ADAMS

Everyone a Leader By Alka Chandiramani


ll of us in our own capacity form groups, either as families, organizations or teams, to lead towards collaborative action plans. In one way or the other, that makes us leaders in our own individual circumstances. Increasingly, as I learn and observe, it seems more pronounced to me that leading is not one person making sense of all the communication, but rather all members collectively working with each other in an unbiased emotional state of mind. We are all leaders of our own lives. Whether as a jobseeker, a spouse, a parent, an entrepreneur, a business owner or a team leader, our role in every aspect is that of leadership. A heightened awareness of understanding that body language, tone of voice, words and culture are all-important elements towards enhancing group dynamics is clearly needed.

“…when moving to a new country, making a new transition, we have to take charge and become leaders of our own career and personal growth” Similarly, when moving to a new country, making a new transition, we have to take charge and become leaders of our own career and personal growth. No doubt, the environment can sometimes be challenging, making it difficult to find the appropriate position; however, there are tools that one can utilize to enhance the job search process. It has been said, “Excellence is never an accident; it

CRCE WORKSHOP Using Social Media Effectively to Promote your Brand Speaker: Geetika Agarwal Friday, June 2 10:30am – 12:30pm

is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.” Through years of coaching and working with many people from all walks of life, I have found that in reflective moments all it takes is a paradigm shift to make things happen. Suzanna Borst has been helping many people find their path over the years at CRCE’s one-on-one career solutions. Suzanna runs Resume Building Workshops where she encompasses years of her expertise to help participants showcase their strengths and accomplishments; understand their transferrable skills; overcome some of the job search hurdles that they may have come across and evaluate “Real resumes” before and after. If you’ve been thinking about what’s next and how to get there, don’t miss the upcoming workshops with Suzanna on job search hurdles and interviewing techniques in August and September!

This workshop will deepen your understanding of the key benefits of social media and how best to use it for business purposes, with particular focus on Facebook and Instagram.

Student Career Solutions For students in need of assistance with resume writing, interview skills, etc. We offer one-to-one sessions with a career advisor for a special student rate of $75.

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Camp Advisor and Coordinator A two-month position for an enthusiastic and bubbly personality to advise families on signing up their children at a summer camp. The successful candidate will require a thorough understanding of the product and the ability to address client concerns effectively. Once children are signed up, this person will be in charge of following up with customers on all required documentation and organizing camper lists. (job #3462) Finance and Accounting Manager An opportunity to be part of the Finance & Accounting Team who will report directly to the General Manager. The Finance & Accounting Manager will be responsible for Accountancy and Audit, Management Reporting, Thought Leadership, and People Management and Development. (job #3463) Marketing and Communication Executive In this role, you will be part of the Sales & Marketing Team of our Club, reporting directly to the Sales and Marketing Manager. Responsibilities include development of marketing collateral, coordination of advertisements, design of the bi-monthly magazine, maintenance of the Club website, and management of media and public interest to generate coverage and awareness. (job #3464) Primary Teachers for Gifted Children Our school is looking for a Primary English Teacher (must be a native English speaker), a Primary Maths Teacher and a Primary Science Teacher. Applicants should have at least a bachelor degree, and five years relevant teaching experience. (job #3465) Admissions and Family Liaison Officer An outstanding opportunity has arisen for a new team member to join one of Singapore’s most influential and dynamic international preschools. The Admissions and Family Liaison Officer will support our strong community of families and provide newly enquiring families with a warm welcome and informative introduction to our unique preschool experience. (job #3466) Admissions and Career Consultant (Full-time) A full-time position as an Admissions and Career Consultant has arisen to advise clients in their career paths and recommend universities based on their background, goals and aspirations. The role will require coaching of candidates on developing their written personal statements for university admissions, proper interview/ communication skills and building career self-esteem, as well as other duties. (job #3467)

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Ho


Are you an employer with an opening to fill? Did you know employers can list jobs for free on the CRCE job board? Log onto to find out more.


Singapore American · June-July 2017

1960s: A Time of Independence and Growth By Marc Servos


he 1960s was the decade of my birth, which occurred around the time of the iconic events in the United States that are seen as symbolically changing the character of this period. John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Beatles’ historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show both occurred shortly prior, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a little after. The following year saw the escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. What had started as a time of innocence was revolutionizing into a period known for its protests, hippies and psychedelic music, among many other things. During this time, our host country was experiencing perhaps the most critical moments in its history, as it gained independence in 1965 and sought to establish itself in the world community. Singapore began the 1960s with its selfgovernment led by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, but it remained a British colony at this time. On September 16, 1963, Singapore joined with Malaysia, which had attained independence in 1957, as well as Sarawak and North Borneo. However, this was an uneasy union from the start. An unsettled time ensued, with political and religious differences coming to a head in the riots of 1964. In August 1965, Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, sought to avoid further troubles by asking his parliament to expel Singapore. This was done unanimously on August 9, 1965. Despite the involuntary nature of Singapore’s independence, National Day is celebrated with immense pride each year on August 9; with festivities culminating in the annual National Day Parade (NDP). The first NDP occurred on Singapore’s first birthday in 1966. Even prior to independence, Singapore’s forward-thinking was apparent, with programs implemented to improve the standard of living for the people. The Housing Development Board (HDB) was established in 1960 and built its

first developments that year, giving people the opportunity to afford quality, modern homes. The Economic Development Board (EDB), founded in 1961 to help attract foreign investment, helped spearhead industrial development in the new Jurong Industrial Estate, opening Jurong Port in 1965. Singapore was also catching up in terms of entertainment, with the advent of MediaCorp’s television broadcasting in 1963. US Government representation transformed from that of a Consulate General to an Embassy, after American recognition of an independent Singapore on August 11, 1965. A new structure was completed in 1966 on Hill Street and operated until the current one on Napier Road was built 30 years later. The American Club hosted its 1967 Thanksgiving dinner with Prime Minister Lee as the honored guest. While the Vietnam War waged in the region, Singapore was a destination for American servicemen enjoying rest and relaxation (R&R) as the new country was fostering ties with the United States. The American Association of Singapore (AAS), which had been previouslly known as the American Association of Malaya, continued to organize activities for the community, and started the American Chamber of Commerce in 1969. Back in the US, the Sixties headed to a close with some dramatic cultural changes, including the assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and US Senator Bobby Kennedy in 1968. The decade finished off with the iconic Woodstock festival in 1969. Graphic television news reports covering the Vietnam War fuelled the anti-war movement, which urged the world to give peace a chance. However, televised news also brought some positive stories, including live space launches, such as Apollo 11’s Moon mission in July 1969. As a pre-schooler by the decade’s end, I recall most people continuing with their lives as

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normal, enjoying the same comfort and stability that they had when the decade began. Singapore, too, entered the 1970s with a greater sense of stability and security, with the establishment of its own Armed Forces. This progress would continue to flourish in the coming years. Marc Servos is a Hoosier in terms of his home state and alma mater. The Fort Wayne native and US Army vet is married to a Singaporean and has lived here for a number of years. He has two children ages 15 and 7.

Aboard the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) By Priscilla Koh


he Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group One, including their aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN70), arrived in Singapore for a scheduled port visit on Tuesday, April 4. The carrier was first deployed to the Indo-Asia Pacific region in 1983. Navy Leaguers were among the few privileged, including US Embassy staff and Ambassadors, on board the carrier for a reception, followed by a tour by the crew. The ceremony began with a demonstration by the color guard followed by the national anthems of both Singapore and the United States. Rear Adm. James Kilby, commander, Carrier Strike Group 1, and Capt. Doug Verissimo, commanding officer, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); Fleet Commander, Singapore Fleet Commander Colonel, Cheong Kwok Chien; Commander, US 3rd Fleet Vice Adm. Nora Tyson; and Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., US Embassy Singapore, took the stage to address the guests on board. During their speeches, they highlighted the fact that it was the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Singapore Navy. Ms. Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath also took the opportunity to celebrate the 51st year of diplomatic relationship between Singapore and the United States: “In today’s world of global transition, people are asking about US commitment to the region and to our world, I think we can look around this deck tonight and know the answer. Carl Vinson first operated in the South China Sea in 1983, and it continues to sail in these waters close to 35 years later.” After a ceremonial cake cutting, guests enjoyed food specially prepared by the crew, took a tour of the ship’s hangar bay and experienced the aircraft elevators, under a blanket of stars. Navy Leaguers also had the chance to tour the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), and had the following to say:

“It was an honor and privilege to attend the reception on board the USS Carl Vinson during its port-of-call in Singapore in April. My late grandfather served as a US Navy captain during the Korean War, and the men and women who serve continue to play an indispensable role in safeguarding security and peace in the region, especially with rapidly evolving geopolitical challenges and heightened uncertainty.” – Adam E. Click “The tour of the Carl Vinson was amazing. To see the power of the ship and the dedication of the crew made me proud to be an American. It was an unforgettable experience for our family, one that we will always remember and cherish!” – John N. Viverito Find out more: Photos courtesy of Adam E. Click and Singapore Chapter, US Navy League


Singapore American · June-July 2017

Recycling: Starting Young By Augustus Prescott Gaylord, Katie Goggins and Hannah Olsen


ne afternoon at lunch, pre-kindergartner Alex noticed her teacher throw away a plastic fork. “You just threw your fork in the trash can!” she said, “You could recycle it!” Pre-kindergarten children in the early learning center at Singapore American School (SAS) were becoming increasingly curious about garbage, after noticing the amount of daily waste produced at the school, and worried about how human actions impacted the earth. The children demonstrated a desire to protect the natural world, particularly the animals and trees with which they had already developed relationships. The young learners demonstrated a strong level of empathy through their care for living things. As the children became concerned about plastic use in the cafeteria, questions about recycling at SAS started pouring in. Prescott Gaylord, the in-house sustainability planner, offered to join the children in doing some research on recycling and its impact on the environment. With their newfound awareness, the children took the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ message to heart and became passionate in their drive for sustainability. “In my world, there is no landfill and everyone recycles everything,” Stella announced, as she explained her vision for the world. Once they realized that upcycling could make something more valuable than it was before, they were hooked. The children decided to collect plastic forks and spoons, and were shocked to discover how many they had gathered over a short period of time. 200 pieces of cutlery and three weeks later, they designed and created a collaborative art piece, upcycling the cutlery as a way of making visible the impact of waste on the earth. In a surprising twist, the children later discovered that the cutlery they had upcycled was made of biodegradable corn plastic. Curious, they sent questions to Gaylord about how corn could be made into plastic and if it was really compostable. An experiment was devised. The class of 31 cut up used forks and put them into the school composter. Several weeks later, the food waste had been converted into compost, but the plastic remained unchanged. Inference: Not compostable. The children concluded that it was better to reuse a single metal fork, rather than produce and slowly compost many plastic ones. It was time for change. They prepared a persuasive presentation for Mr. Tan in the cafeteria, which convinced him to offer metal forks and spoons to the children in the early learning center. The drive for sustainability did not stop in the school cafeteria. SAS students took the message home to parents, grandparents and siblings, and shared their learning with children and teachers in other parts of the school. Their enthusiasm for environmental protection, along with a deep desire to care for and help others, did not go unnoticed. They were able to extend their passion into practical experiences, such as gathering recycling, composting organic food waste and making their own paper, as they thought about alternative possibilities. As citizens of today, it is important that our children are able to shape their own environments and are encouraged to consider and pursue different possibilities for how the community runs.

Achieving their aim of reusing metal forks was a definitive moment for some of SAS’s youngest learners, who enacted the positive change they wanted to see in the world. Find out more: Photos courtesy of Katie Goggins and Hannah Olsen

Singapore American · June-July 2017

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., US Embassy Singapore Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath congratulating 42 companies at the AmCham CARES 2017 ceremony.

150,000 Employees Dedicated Over 44,000 Volunteer Hours to Community Service in Singapore By Hazlyn Aidzil


he American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) honored 42 large and small companies across multiple business sectors and industries for their outstanding corporate citizenship at its 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on April 28. Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development, and Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., US Embassy Singapore, congratulated and presented certificates of recognition to senior representatives of each company. More than 150,000 employees from the 42 American companies recognized, contributed over 44,000 volunteer hours and led dozens of community-based activities throughout Singapore. Some of the highlighted projects include youth mentorship programs, food distribution, corporate skills-based engagements, humanitarian relief efforts and clean drinking water initiatives. To ensure effective reach, companies work closely with local implementing partners such as Art Outreach Singapore, Association for People with Special Needs, Children’s Cancer Foundation, Community Development Centers, Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics Singapore, Singapore Committee for UN Women, Operation Smile, and World Vision to change lives for the better.

“I would like to commend each AmCham CARES recipient for their outstanding effort in addressing the needs of the community.” TAN CHUAN-JIN, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT Commenting at the event, Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan-Jin said, “It is heartening to see many companies who believe in doing good. I would like to commend each AmCham CARES recipient for their outstanding effort in addressing the needs of the community. AmCham’s ongoing efforts to foster sustainable corporate social responsibility efforts to support more local communities are in line with the Singapore Cares movement. The Singapore Cares movement aims to promote a culture of care and inclusivity in Singapore, through forging partnerships, increasing volunteer opportunities, and enhancing capabilities of volunteers and organizations. There is still much for us to do, but I am positive that with our continued partnerships with corporates and other community partners under Singapore Cares, we will be able to amplify a culture of caring and giving to achieve even greater impact. With AmCham’s support for Singapore Cares, we hope to work together to encourage others to give back to society.” Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., US Embassy Singapore, said, “AmCham CARES recognizes a distinctly American model of corporate citizenship that combines sustainability and socially responsible business practices with strong community engagement. By promoting the open sharing of effective best practices, the program aims to encourage even more companies to spread their skills, caring, and sense of volunteerism through community engagement in Singapore and the region.” The AmCham CARES program is well into its second year. Find out more: Photo courtesy of AmCham


Singapore American · June-July 2017

Mobility Aids Service By Alex Edwards


n April 2, ten scouts and adult leaders from Boy Scouts of America Troop 07 went to the Mobility Aids Service and Training Centre in Tampines to help repair and clean discarded wheelchairs. The event started at 9am and continued through the afternoon. After many hours of service, the scouts helped restore more than 15 wheelchairs, while building rapport with other local volunteers. The scouts made substantial progress on the wheelchairs, removing and repairing wheels and sanding off as much rust as possible from the frames. Many scouts helped clean; some even learned how to inflate and change wheelchair tires. In spite of the hot and humid conditions outdoors, the work continued most of the day. Other volunteers joined the scouts to help fix many mobility aids, bringing smiles to people’s faces as they watched their worn-down wheelchairs shine once again.

Centre volunteers were touched by the generosity and kindness of the Boy Scouts and other volunteers. Recipients of these cleaned and refurbished wheelchairs include elderly members of the community without the means to purchase new, expensive wheelchairs and other mobility aid tools. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Boy Scouts, they now have what they need to live more mobile lives. Despite mobility aids such as designated parking spots and seats, persons with disabilities lack the freedom of mobility that many people take for granted. It is vital that they have opportunities to be as mobile as possible. The scouts of Troop 07 exemplified the charitable and helpful spirit of the Boy Scouts of America by supporting the local community in this very important endeavor; gaining a true appreciation of the agility enjoyed by able-bodied people. Photo courtesy of Linda Darmawan

And They’re Off! By Ilana Rosenzweig


ack 3017 just held its Pinewood Derby. The scouts work for months designing and building cars to race against each other. Some cars are built for speed, others try to be most creative. For the past three years, we have been welcomed by the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). They open up their design lab and offer their expertise and state-of-the-art equipment to help the scouts build the cars of their dreams. Thank you SUTD! And for a second year, the overall winner for Pack 3017 will face off against Pack 3010’s winner to name an island champion. Go 3017! But that is not all ... the scouts have also been busy with community service projects. Tigers did a beach clean-up and Wolfs did a clean-up around an MRT station. The Pack did a group hike in Bukit Timah. And individual dens also did hikes in MacRitchie to learn trail skills and explore wildlife. The hikes started with a checklist of items you should always bring with you for safety; in Singapore, that

of course means plenty of water. Scouting also includes learning about things beyond our planet. Tigers toured the NASA: The Human Race exhibit and tried out a rocket launch simulator. The spring brings many ceremonies. We said goodbye to our Arrow of Light recipients as they bridged to Boy Scouts. And our Webelo and Bear scouts completed the achievements to earn their ranks and proudly participated in their rank ceremonies. The year is winding down and will conclude with the Blue and Gold Banquet in May. It’s been a fun and fulfilling year. We look forward to the start of the new one in August. Check out the August Singapore American newspaper for details about registering for our 2017-2018 year. Photo courtesy of Konrad Ferguson

SCOUTING IN SINGAPORE Boy Scouts Troop 07: Boy Scouts Troop 10: Cub Scouts Pack 3010: Cub Scouts Pack 3017: Girl Scouts:


Singapore American · June-July 2017

SABANG: Eco-tourism Done Right By Katie Baines


here is something quite paradoxical about a country that sets itself up as a tourist destination for vacationers seeking paradise and then goes about it by over-developing, over-populating and, as a direct result, destroying the natural beauty it set out to showcase in the first place. Take Thailand’s Kho Phi Phi as an example. In 2000, British movie director Danny Boyle chose the island’s Maya Bay as the setting to shoot his adaptation of Alex Garland’s The Beach; the story of a pristine and, by all accounts, unreachable utopia, found by only the most die-hard of travelers. Today, the same beach is visited by somewhere in the region of 5,000 tourists daily, and it’s suffering for it. According to Sustainable Siam, promotor of responsible and sustainable travel in Thailand, based in Phuket, Phi Phi produces an average of 25 tons of trash a day; that number jumps to about 40 tons during the high season and all on top of the 83% of untreated sewage that is released into the surrounding sea because its sewage plant simply can’t cope with the island’s population. But parts of Asia are waking up. Ironically, the actual beach that Garland portrays in his novel is not in Thailand at all; it’s in the Philippines. A backpacker in his younger days, he was supposedly inspired to pen his first paperback while exploring the islands surrounding Palawan on the eastern side of the archipelago and the local government has done a remarkable job at keeping it in accordance with how he describes it. Palawan, with its seascapes to rival any of those of Southeast Asia, and its wildlife in and out of the water, is the Philippines’ least populated region. From Singapore, a flight of little over three hours to Manila followed by an internal flight of about an hour to the island’s capital, Puerto Princesa, means you are a hop, skip and a jump away from Sabang. This lush village is nestled among mountains, covered by rice paddies extending towards an unravaged stretch of sand at Honda Bay, tantamount to a private beach, which locals have worked hard to keep litter-free. If you leave a mess, you’ll pay for it. Literally. Depending on the severity of the offence, fierce penalties to the tune of between PHP5,000 – PHP500,000 (about S$140 – $14,000) are imposed if anyone deigns to go against this policy, and it works. But more than this, there is an acute awareness among the local restauranteurs and hoteliers that you should take care of your own trash, not as part of some self-congratulatory marketing ploy to demonstrate how great their organization is to the environment, but because it’s the right thing to do. To help conserve the natural beauty that

resides there, there are signs aplenty dotted around the resorts that line the beach asking guests to be mindful of their mess. Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort, for example, is a three-time winner of the ASEAN Green Hotel Award and has been consistently listed as one of the top “green” eco resorts in the Philippines through its commitment to the environment. Although a sleepy retreat, Sabang offers plenty in terms of things to do. Day trippers from the less leafy capital of Puerta Princesa take the journey down to visit its underground river, a UNESCOlisted, subterranean expanse of limestone caves accessed by paddle boat tours, and often wish they had factored in a few days to explore the region more. Although tours of the caves can get busy in the middle of the day, care and attention is taken to respect the cave’s interior by the provision of audio guides to keep noise to a minimum so as not to disturb the thousands of bats living there. Lighting only comes in the form of head-torches to avoid heat from halogen beams changing the temperature and eco-system. Following the tour there is also the opportunity to hire a guide to take you through the forest. Guides are from local indigenous tribes and have a vast amount of knowledge about the vegetation and limestone formations on offer over the three-hour trek. Lesser advertised, but well worth the jaunt, is a boat trip through the mangroves organized by the aptly named Mangrove Paddle Boat Tour; a community based eco-tourism initiative. The 45-minute tour on the Sabang River allows visitors to observe what a centuries-old mangrove forest free of human intervention looks like. Visitors can also contribute to conservation by planting a mangrove sapling in their planting area. Above all, though, Sabang is simply a nice place to “be”, to the point that you don’t really need to do anything at all. The dirt track along the bay is punctuated by various rustic-looking watering holes, restaurants offering local fare and if you’ve had as much Chicken Adobo as you can take, a shack with its own clay pizza oven will keep your appetite sated. Or just sit back, grab a beer and watch the sun go down over your trash-free beach before you take in the spectacular display of stars from an unpolluted sky. Photos by Katie Baines

13 Singapore American ¡ June-July 2017

Recommendations Hotels Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort Sheridan Resort and Spa

Transport Daluyon Beach and Mountain Resort offers private transportation for a surcharge. Sheridan Resort and Spa offers a shuttle service to and from Puerto Princesa at scheduled junctures throughout the day, or for a surcharge of PHP 5,500.00 an exclusive van can be arranged.


Sustainable Siam Palawan Official Website



Singapore American · June-July 2017

Go Irish Green! By Jim Tietjen


e found Ireland such a lovely destination in the summer of 2015, with the friendliest people we’d ever met anywhere, that we decided to visit again in 2016... two wonderful experiences in many, many ways! Our 2015 visit first took us to Northern Ireland and the towns of Port Rush, Belfast and Derry. The Antrim Coast near Port Rush is spectacularly green. Visits to the Giant’s Causeway, the Dark Hedges and Dunluce Castle prove the point! The capital city also has a fair bit of greenery, like Belfast Castle. For a dose of non-green reality, a tour of the city to learn about “the troubles” is sobering and educational. Derry offers a kaleidoscope of history, dating back 1000 years. Walk the old city walls of Derry and you will be enraptured. Next, the cities and surrounds of Galway, Cork and Dublin revealed the essence of the Irish green (i.e. very lively) spirit. Staying in Airbnbs, we got to know the locals; where they eat, drink and listen to unique, live, resounding Irish music! We were lucky to be in Galway during “the [horse] races,” when the city is filled with frivolity. Cork was a bit more subdued, in a wonderful way. From Cork we visited the lush castle at Killarney and got a taste of the Ring of Kerry. Dublin is a story in itself. A city tour is recommended. Be sure to visit the source of the “national anesthetic,” the Guinness Brewery! Phoenix Park is huge, so set aside some time to wander and enjoy the colors; it’s also home to Dublin Zoo, so a favorite for families. A late afternoon drive to Howth, on the Irish Sea, will amaze; a perfect way to round off the day. Enamored by our first taste of Irish green, we visited Sligo, Clare, Dingle and Dublin (again) in 2016. In Sligo we enjoyed a jazz festival and outstanding pubs. From Sligo we toured Donegal (think wool, tweed and Irish linen; green of course!) and the dramatic cliffs of Sleeve League on the northwest coast. Seeing is believing! Clare was a center for music and more dramatic scenery. Our Airbnb host, a musician, ensured we spent an evening in Kilfenora listening to the famous, 110-year-old Céili (pronounced kay-lee) band, “Kilfenora.” Clare also offers The Burren and The Cliffs of Mohr nearby, both natural wonders. Perhaps our greenest highlight was Dingle, on a rural peninsula, with indescribable views, seafood, walks and even swimming! There’s a picture postcard moment around every curve in the road. The rocky mounts, sun and rain, sky and clouds, winding seaside roads, wind, waves, offshore islet views, and seafood, beer and gin are unforgettable. Dublin, stately and modern, yet historic and quaint has great vibes for all ages. It’s a great place to finish an Irish green holiday. Ireland travel tips: Drive... it’s fun, the country roads are narrow and safe and the highways quick and easy. Music; embrace it, you can find live Irish music everywhere. The weather is often rainy, that’s why it’s so green, so get used to it. Tourist offices are excellent, use them. Golf! Seafood! Buskers, wow! Irish whiskey, gin, beer... excellent. Are you green with envy? Go!

Dinner in Dublin.

Killarney Castle, Kerry, on a cloudy, rainy day.

Jim Tietjen is an avid world traveler and adventurer. He enjoys sports such as cycling, diving, driving, flying, golf, mountain climbing, tennis and trekking. But, his passion is people: family and friends, old and new, as well as art, culture, food, drink, music, photography and writing. He likes to help people in need and help all to succeed. He especially enjoys planning, running and participating in charity events. Photos courtesy of Jim Tietjen

Galway seaside.


Singapore American · June-July 2017

Green Tea By Laura Schwartz


onfession: I’m a tea snob. I turn my nose up at grocery store brands, trumpet the superiority of loose-leaf tea over teabags, and was co-head of Bard College’s High Tea Club for three years. It’s easier to make-do with a below average black tea, as milk and sugar can be added. But a subpar green tea, which ought to have a delicate aroma and layered body of flavor, is intolerable. Often, the problem is the water. Boiling water (212°F) will actually scorch green tea leaves, diminishing their delicate flavor. According to the master tea blenders at Harney & Sons, the prime temperature at which to steep green teas is between 160°F and 190°F. I’m not alone in my obsession. Tea has been around for a long while. Estimated to have been discovered in 2700 BC, it is one of the oldest beverages in the world. As legend goes, some tea leaves accidentally blew into Chinese Emperor Shennong’s pot of boiling water and: voila! Tea became widely popular throughout North America in the 1600s, but the 1773 Boston Tea Party, a precipitating event of the American Revolution, branded tea­drinking as unpatriotic. To this day, coffee remains more popular than tea in the United States. Due to Cold War complications, green tea in particular was difficult to find in the US, owing to a ban on trade with China, which was lifted in 1971. Since then, tea has grown in popularity and the American tea market quadrupled between 1993 and 2008, a period when antioxidants entered our common lexicon. As with most trendy health foods, the benefits of green tea are widely misquoted and often exaggerated. Clinical trials have found the effects of green tea consumption to be inconsistent or nonexistent when it comes to weight loss, inflammation or cancer prevention. However, there are proven health benefits of green tea. A 2015 meta-analysis in the British Journal of Nutrition

found that one cup of green tea per day was linked to a four percent lower risk of death from any medical cause, but is especially useful for averting cardiovascular disease. You may have heard that tea is the number one most consumed beverage in the world (excluding water, of course). This claim was first made back in 1911 by British scientist John McEwan. Surprisingly, it holds true, especially if all varieties of tea are treated as a single beverage. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, China remains the largest tea-producing country, accounting for more than 38% of the world’s total, with India in second, followed by Kenya and Sri Lanka. Japan, however, is the second­largest producer of green tea. Global tea consumption has also been steadily rising in recent years. In 2013 alone, China was recorded to have produced 1.9 million tons of tea and to have consumed 1.61million tons. This makes China the largest consumer of tea by far, though Turkey consumes the most tea per person: about seven pounds per year. While temperate Ireland and the UK are second and third after Turkey, the tea plant itself needs a hot, humid climate to thrive. This geographical limitation means that ideal growing conditions and tea production are at risk from the effects of climate change. Just one more reason to be environmentally-conscious. Living green means being able to continue drinking green. Laura Schwartz was born in Ireland and grew up in Japan, Singapore and New Jersey, finally becoming an American citizen at age 18. She graduated from Bard College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Language & Culture. When she’s not traveling or devouring a new book, she juggles her nine-to-five as an Admissions and Career Consultant with freelance writing.

Protecting Greenery in Singapore: Green Groups Lead the Charge By Richard Hartung


n a tiny island that’s only 719 square kilometers (277 square miles) and that has the third highest population density globally with 7,797 people per square kilometer, it might seem that there would be little space for greenery. Yet the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has said that nearly 47 percent of Singapore’s land is dedicated to greenery. While 19 percent is for defense and five percent is for reservoirs, URA’s Master Plan 2013 targets saving nine percent of land for parks and nature reserves. Those trees along the road and even golf courses add to the total, making the place what Singapore calls a City in a Garden. Dig a little deeper, though, and some of the best parts of that greenery are vulnerable. While more than a dozen golf courses cover about 1,500 hectares or two percent of the land area, according to Chope for Nature, the 201 hectares of primary forest here cover only about 0.28 percent of the land. And even though nature reserves cover about 4.5 percent of the island, they and other green areas can easily be threatened or even disappear. The good news is that about 50 non-governmental organizations and non-profits are running programs and activities related to protecting the environment, according to consultancy Green Future Solutions, and 72 other groups here are also doing work on conservation. One of the oldest groups here is Nature Society (Singapore), which was formed in 1954. Along with promoting conservation and nature awareness, they conduct conservation projects and surveys, campaigns to protect natural habitats and organize activities such as nature walks. New groups continue to spring up as well, often focusing on specific causes. For instance, Love Our MacRitchie Forest was recently set up as a collaborative effort among nature groups in Singapore to preserve the forests in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, near MacRitchie Reservoir. Other organizations run the gamut from large multinationals to small, specialized, informal groups. On the multinational side, for example, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) organizes education and outreach programs such as Earth Hour; Greenpeace Singapore organizes campaigns to protect the environment; while the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) does work on primate conservation. Local organizations, such as Mangrove Action Squad, ACRES and the Waterways Watch Society, focus on issues their members care about the most. Many of these groups have been successful in saving forests, protecting animals, creating awareness and organizing other initiatives to keep Singapore green. There are plenty of opportunities to do your part; check out and click on Green Groups to find a group that matches your interest so you can use your skills to help protect the environment here in Singapore. Richard is on the board of the conservation non-profit Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore).


Singapore American · June-July 2017

The Elephant in Your Closet By Betty Warner “Women ditch clothes they’ve worn just seven times: Items being left on the shelf because the buyer feels they’ve put on weight or they’ve bought them on a whim” – Headline, Daily Mail, June 10, 2015.


ot to name names, but I think this Daily Mail reporter may have been talking about me. Is it time to rethink our fashion habit? The people at Fashion Revolution Singapore certainly think so. Each year, in the last week of April, consumers in over 90 countries are encouraged to start a conversation with their favorite brands by asking #whomademyclothes. The Fashion Revolution was a response to the devasting collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in April 2013, which killed 1,138 workers and injured another 2,500; mostly young women producing garments for large global brands. It was a tragedy that shined a light on the $3 trillion global apparel industry, an industry that is the second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil. Fashion Revolution Week brings together consumers and the industry for a week of public talks, documentaries, clothes swaps and refashioning workshops. Here’s what I learnt: One: Demand supply chain transparency. The average cotton t-shirt passes through one of the longest, most complex and opaque supply chains in the world before it hits the sale rack. “Tracing of raw material remains a huge challenge, with just seven percent of companies knowing where all their cotton is coming from,” notes Baptist World Aid in its 2017 Ethical Fashion Report. Ironically, Topshop launched its new Clear (transparent) Plastic Jeans during Revolution Week; part of me thinks this rain-coat-for-your-legs was an April Fool’s joke that missed the deadline. Not so ironic: Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index gives Topshop a low-to-middle rating. Two: A brand that puts in the effort to educate its customers is also a brand that takes pride in the quality of its clothes. Check out want to know where they buy their cotton? No problem, it’s the Texas Organic Cotton Cooperative. Lucky for us, our region offers on-trend clothes with a back-story for our fast fashion fix. Singaporean brand Etrican designs affordable clothing for women and babies using 100% organic cotton as part of its Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified production cycle. The brand competes on price and service, offering free delivery for orders above $150 and 30 days free return. Bali-based shoemaker, Indosole, repurposes tires for soles and uses organic materials like banana leaves for uppers. Indosole has undergone a rigorous process of B Corporation certification for social and environmental performance. MATTER has launched a new organic cotton pant collection pitched at women who like to

travel, comfortably. Provenance is important to the MATTER brand story. Their striking fabrics are hand printed by local artisans in India using low-impact dyes. For the home sewer, Spotlight stocks a range of certified organic cotton and low-impact dyed fabrics by Cloud9 Fabric. Want to explore more options and #LiveMoreConsciously? Green is the New Black Festival is a homegrown annual event that encourages families in Singapore to discover new brands doing different things. Brands like ‘green’ laundry detergent ETL (that has just opened its flagship store at Hong Lim Complex) and Malaysian brand, Bio-home, which offers 100% plant based active ingredients. Now in its third year, co-founder Stephanie Dickson hopes to make it a twice yearly event in May and October. Three: The not-so virtuous (re)cycle: In 2016 Singapore households managed to throw out 150,000 tonnes of textile and leather waste, and according to the National Environment Agency, just seven percent was recycled. But again, entrepreneurial Singapore is responding, offering consumers an alternative: to sell, swap or rent the look they’re after. From fast fashion websites such as Swapaholic; The Heart Bazaar; Refash and a Facebook group, Your Clothes Friend Swap, to ball gowns and cocktail dresses with Covetella for your glamorous night out, your options are growing. One of the two documentaries featured at Fashion Revolution Week, Unravel, tells the story of the garment recyclers in India’s industrial belt who turn massive bales of unwanted clothes from the West into yarn. With little exposure to Western culture, these women with great humor imagine what our lives in the West must be like, based on the clothes we discard. It’s well worth sitting your kids down to watch its 13 minutes on YouTube. And with that, I’ll close with a quote from one of these recyclers: “You tend to get dressed for other people, but at the end of the day you’ll be as beautiful as God made you.” Betty Warner has crossed over to the slow fashion lane by learning to sew her own clothes. The results have been, well, mixed. You can follow her on Instagram at bettystartstosew. Photos courtesy of Covetella and MATTER

Find out more country/singapore Documentaries Unravel, an Aeon Video available on YouTube The True Cost available on Netflix


Green Kids By Faith Chanda


aybe your family has come to Singapore without the fabled “expat package”, maybe you want to save as much money as possible to take advantage of all the great travel opportunities, or maybe you just want to reduce your footprint on Mother Earth. No matter the reason, there are lots of ways you and your kids can “go green” by repurposing, upcycling and DIYing and have fun while you’re at it! Since my kids were little, we’ve had a box of recycled loose parts like bottle tops, plastic containers and empty boxes. With a little imagination, those bits and bobs have been turned into small buildings, jewelry, art sculptures, musical instruments and more. Now the box is a little more sophisticated; these days we call it our Inventor’s Box and it also contains more interesting bits like pulleys and suction cups. Whenever my kids pull out the Inventor’s Box, I know something creative (and usually a bit crazy) will result. With so many expats always coming and going in Singapore, the proliferation of websites and Facebook pages selling used goods is a fabulous green pathway for reusing and upcycling. Don’t run out to the shops until you check online; often you can find new or like-new items at a fraction of the original cost, including furniture, accessories, books, toys and children’s clothing. And the upcycling possibilities are endless ... Pre-loved furniture can be upcycled as toys, such as turning a chest of drawers into a sweet doll house or a TV stand into a play kitchen. You can spice up anything that’s not your style with paint or stain, or perhaps by just repurposing interesting items as new hardware for knobs or drawer pulls. Small toys, shells, costume jewelry and even old rulers can be fun ideas for furniture in a kid’s room. With all the time we spend on public transportation (saving both the environment and our wallet!) I’ve found that old CD and DVD cases make great on-the-go play kits. Stock with small pieces of paper and crayons, or Lego bricks or even cover it with a checkerboard pattern, fill it with buttons and practice strategy games, such as checkers and tic tac toe. My youngest is about to turn six and we still use recycled containers from diaper wipes to store everything from action figures to art supplies. They are also good for storing jigsaw pieces; you can even stick a photo of the finished puzzle on the top. In my book, nothing beats handmade, especially when it comes to holidays. So, when we were packing to move to Singapore, I made a bold decision and packed virtually no ornaments for our Christmas tree and very few other holiday decorations. As a result, the kids and I have had a great time DIYing our own. The first year, we made cut out cinnamon salt dough ornaments for the Christmas tree using holiday shaped cookie cutters and they turned out beautifully. Since then, we’ve made Diwali banners and Easter buntings, added colored paper to balloons to make dinosaur decorations for a birthday party and created faux gingerbread houses and pine trees out of old wrapping paper, which we used as a Christmas centerpiece for our dining table. Expanding our creativity, saving money and spending quality time with my kids beats shiny and new every time. And protecting the environment? That’s just a big green bonus!

Faith Chanda relocated to Singapore in January 2015 with her husband and two young children. She is a freelance writer and marketing consultant as the sole proprietor of F. Chanda Communications & Events. Faith enjoys exploring food, culture, nature and design through her travel adventures and looks forward to many new discoveries throughout Asia.

Singapore American · June-July 2017


Singapore American · June-July 2017

By Bill Poorman


he majority of us spend most of our days in the urban areas of Singapore, but if you’re looking for a way to connect with the natural side of the island, you couldn’t do better than a hike through the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Sungei Buloh, meaning Bamboo River in Malay, opened in 1993. It’s a preserved area of mangrove forest on the northwest side of Singapore, along the Johor Strait, looking across at Malaysia. It features a well-developed, architecturally interesting trail network, complete with modern facilities, that mean the park is accessible to most anyone and makes the most of the views of the strait. But the highlight here is the amazing variety of native wildlife. There are, of course, monkeys and monitor lizards, which can be seen in many parts of Singapore. Also, it’s perfect for birdwatching, with an area set aside for migrating flocks that has special viewing stations both at ground level and a tower a couple of stories high. But that’s only the beginning. I don’t mean to discourage the less adventurous, but in my hikes, I’ve enjoyed seeing crocodiles, spiders as big as my hand is wide, and a small snake coiled in the branches of a tree hanging over the trail. My all-time favorite, though, is seeing mudskippers, dozens of mudskippers. Mudskippers are fish that have partially adapted to life on land. Seeing them skip around (get it?) and interact on the mud flats is simply a lot of fun. Speaking of mud flats, I have one strong recommendation when visiting Sungei Buloh: Make sure to visit at low tide. That’s when it’s easiest to spot and enjoy the shoreline wildlife. Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is open daily from 7am to 7pm.

Bill Poorman has lived in Singapore for three years and greatly enjoys seeing the variety of natural areas the country has to offer. Photos by Bill Poorman

21 Singapore American · June-July 2017

Blue Gold By Bonnie Taylor


ne commodity that Singapore seemingly has no problem in retaining is water; the nigh-on daily deluge that falls upon our island gives us a certain level of complacency in our access to it. While we appear to be the fortunate ones, however, our neighbours are feeling the pinch. Malaysia, for example, experienced average temperatures almost five degrees higher this year, which had a knock-on effect on its reservoirs with Johor’s Linggiu reservoir being at 27 percent of its capacity in January; in January 2015 the figure stood at 83 percent. According to Foreign Minister Balakrishnan, there is a real danger that the level may reach zero. But while we dance in the rain, this lack of water across the border has ramifications for Singapore as this particular reservoir is one of our four water sources and will continue to be until 2061. We have very little control over where and how much rain falls but what we can do is be mindful of our own personal consumption of water.  Every time you flush the toilet it uses around seven liters of water, so don’t use it as a trashcan for tissues.  Restrict time in the shower; 100 liters is used for every five minutes you spend under a high power faucet.  Rinse your razor in the sink and turn the tap off when you brush your teeth; you’ll be saving around 10 liters of water.  Get a rainwater collection tank for your garden and use the water for your plants or to wash the car (your paintwork will be streak-free too).  Washing machines and dishwashers use up to a staggering 225 liters of water for every load, so make sure that the machine is full before running a cycle.  Don’t throw away practically unused paper; it takes 10 liters of water to produce one sheet of A4, so re-use where you can. Mark Twain was reputed to have once said “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over,” in reference to the battles over water rights in the Western region of the United States. In the wider context, though, if a basic human necessity such as water that is ordinarily bountiful becomes in short supply, the repercussions are far more serious than a glut in anything considered a luxury, and as world citizens we have a responsibility to play our part in protecting our resources. Bonnie Taylor, originally from London, moved to Singapore in 2014. She graduated with a BA in English Literature, an MA in Photography and, after ten years in the business sector, picked up her camera and started exploring. When she’s not wining and dining in exotic locations, she freelances as a photographer and writer.

Did you know, it takes…* 2,400 liters to produce a 150g hamburger 1,120 liters to produce one liter of coffee 200 liters to produce a glass of milk 120 liters to produce a dozen roses 120 liters to produce a glass of wine 75 liters to produce a glass of beer 7 liters to produce a barrel of crude oil

*Source: Jac van der Gun (2012) Groundwater and Global Change: Trends, Opportunities and Challenges



Going ‘Home’ for the Summer By Dr. Suzanne M. Anderson


t is time for the summer ‘expat exodus’ and an important time to think ahead about what you need from your trip home. While we may get wiser from our year-to-year experiences, there is no magic formula. Our needs are likely to change each time we visit, depending on the needs of our immediate and extended family and friends. Here are some questions to think about. Is it time to visit home? If you have just moved overseas, especially if you are having difficulty settling in your new home, it may not be a good time to head home and stoke the fires of homesickness. This is especially true for children who may not have the same ability to rationalize their emotions with the obligations that required the family to move overseas. Is traveling home a holiday or time to fulfil family obligations? Maybe both. Often it is the time to rest that gets forfeited. An entire summer can be spent running from one social gathering to another. It is important to maintain family connections that you will one day return to permanently. Some families plant themselves at an attractive location (a waterfront cottage or family’s summer home} and invite others to visit. What are the things you can’t do while you are in Singapore? Use your time at home to enjoy food, experiences and especially cultural customs that are not available to you overseas. What do family and friends think of your life overseas? Are they interested? Sadly, most of our family and friends are not going to be interested, especially if it highlights the privileged aspects of your life; having a helper or international travel, for example. Look for the special souls who are really interested, the ones that pull out the map to find the place you are talking about; save your tales for them. What do my children need the most to feel grounded, safe and secure? While some children are more flexible than others, the reality is that the foundation of safety and security for children is consistency and routine. For very young children that is often being with their parents and a comforting blanket or stuffed animal. For older children, it will be time to play with other children their age, perhaps cousins, and for others a good week at camp. For adolescents, it is likely to be some time where they can just chill and not having to respond to the expectations of aunts, uncles and grandparents. Home leave can highlight the double life expats live: becoming comfortable in our adopted home, and the familiarity of our original home. We can look at it as a glass half-empty, that we can never be satisfied because we will never have all the things we like in one place again. Or we can take a glass half-full approach and make the best of both worlds.

Dr. Suzanne M. Anderson DPST, MSS is in practice at the International Counselling & Psychology Centre, providing a full range of counselling support. Learn more:

Singapore American · June-July 2017


Singapore American · June-July 2017

GEMS Singapore’s New Head of School Richard Henry outlines his Vision and Plans for the School GEMS World Academy (Singapore)


acked by 30 years of education experience, Mr. Richard Henry shares with us his vision and plans in his new role as Head of School at GEMS World Academy (Singapore). Mr. Henry has a degree in biological and chemical sciences, as well as a Masters in Education.

Can you share more about your previous work experiences before taking up the role at GEMS Singapore? Prior to joining GEMS Singapore, I was the Director of Global School Services at International Educational Foundation – International Baccalaureate in the US. During my tenure there, I oversaw the authorisation and evaluation of all International Baccalaureate schools across the globe, developing key relations with accreditation bodies, such as the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, as well as the design and implementation of new school enhancement services. Additionally, I have served on multiple school boards. What makes a child’s educational experience enriching? I strongly believe that the triangle of partnership among students, parents and teachers within a school community is the key to that. If there is no strong connection between these three stakeholders, then the educational experience will not reach its full potential. Parent involvement is a major part of this triangular partnership, but not every parent has the time to spend on this. How do you intend to make this triangular partnership among students, parents and teachers work at GEMS Singapore? Various avenues for parents will be provided so they can receive information from, and communicate with, teachers and school leaders. These communication channels provide parents with the opportunity to engage in their child’s learning relative to their personal capacity. What is GEMS Singapore’s X-factor? GEMS Singapore takes pride in the fact that students are supported as individuals. This personalised approach to teaching and learning sets this school apart: from the moment parents start inquiring about the school, through the admissions and enrolment process and ultimately in the classroom and on the sports field. What are some of the immediate plans that you have in mind for GEMS Singapore? I want to ensure that there is a positive and supportive culture within the school and that high quality teaching and learning is taking place. This will be measured by both student and parent satisfaction.

Apart from the constant and effective feedback to parents and students, I also have to plan an educational strategy that is in line with the school’s vision and mission, ensuring that the core values are embedded and lived, as well as maintaining the quality of staff performance, among others. Find out more:

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