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Since 1958 Singapore American • November 2015

AM ERICAN AS S O CIATION O F S INGAP O RE November 2015 American Association.....2-3 Member Discounts..............3 Putting Down Roots.........4-5 CRCE & Business..................6 Community News...........8-11 Travel............................12-13 Giving Back..................14-28 Health & Wellness............29

Community News 8-11

Travel 12-13

Health & Wellness 29

Giving Back 14-28

Arts & Culture....................30

The reason why Americans celebrate Veteran's Day

A visit to the West Coast of the United States

The real toll of the haze

An insider's guide on where and how to give back

What's Happening.............31

MCI (P) 185/03/2015

Making a Difference By Melinda Murphy


oing good. That’s the focus of this issue of Singapore American Newspaper: people taking care of people, animals and the planet. That simple concept is the basis of most of the world’s major religions. But where can you volunteer? Who most needs your help? Delve into these pages and discover what organization best suits your interests and abilities. Here at the American Association of Singapore, we try to do our part, too. Just last month, AAS worked with the National Parks Board and spearheaded “Putting Down Roots,” an event to celebrate the SG50 heritage, support AmCham’s Corporate Community

Day and give back to the environment. On the morning of October 3, more than 200 members of the community turned up to ceremoniously plant 51 trees at the Woodlands Park Connector, one tree for every US state and one for Singapore. The event was a roaring success and a wonderful way to connect to the community and support our host nation. Take a look at pages 4 and 5 for photos of the special morning. Every year, the AAS annual bash, the George Washington Ball, raises funds for a local charity. This year, we supported the Singapore Children’s Society (SCS), an amazing organization that benefits at-risk

children here in Singapore. Through the generosity of the attendees, we raised more than $50,000 for SCS. Next month, AAS will host our fifth Toys for Tots event with the US Marines supported by our major sponsor, General Motors and our annual partners. At this family-friendly event, we collect new toys for less fortunate children in the region. Attendees get to do crafts, eat and – yes - visit with Santa Claus himself! We’re proud of what we do here and are always impressed by the generosity of our members. We truly are a special bunch.

American Association of Singapore Strategic Partners

See photos on pages 4 and 5


Singapore American • November 2015

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


Graphic Designer: Joanne Johnson,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,


A Message from the President...


uring my four years as an ExCo and Board member, I'm used to seeing our AAS team excel at everything they do. From the most basic event to the most complex, they rise to every challenge and give our members amazing and memorable experiences. We had several wonderful events in October, but our special “Putting Down Roots” event reached new heights. Despite the haze and logistical challenges, they put together an amazing event, one that I hope will be remembered until SG100. Some 200 AAS members and friends planted the "American Grove," providing trees that will give shade and habitat for all kinds of animals. For me, it was special to see so many participating in this activity, showing our host country that we value this place and our environment. Special thanks to NParks and Singapore Sports School, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Blair Hall and US Navy Rear Admiral Charlie Williams for supporting this great event. We had a lot of other partners, without whom this would not have been a success. One of my other favorite events is our annual, family-friendly “Turkey Trot,” a run through the beautiful Black & White homes of old Sembawang. Sign up for a 2k fun run (for kids and parents; baby joggers welcome), as well as the 5K and 10K race. After the run, join us for the best breakfast in Singapore, Lucky Draw prizes and the awards ceremony. You can run alone, with friends or as a team. Our annual “Toys for Tots” with the US Marines will be on December 3. This seasonal, family event brings out all the best in holiday fun including seeing Santa Claus and giving to a great cause. Please check out page 8 for information about the US Embassy Smart Traveler (STEP) Program. It ensures that the Embassy Consular Office can contact you with important information in the event of an emergency. I highly recommend that you sign up. Please contact me or General Manager Toni Dudsak: with your great ideas and visit our Facebook page or tweet us: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG on Facebook, Twitter. Best,

Glenn van Zutphen twitter: @glennvanzutphen

Sunayana Bose, Melindah Bush, Faith Chanda, Lena Chong, Laura Coulter, Lucia Damacela, Nithia Devan, Melissa Diagana, Natalie Epton, Rob Faraone, Dan Gedal, Richard Hartung, Koh Xin Tian, Penny Morris-Hardee, Lauren S. Power, Conn Schrader, Laura Schwartz, James Sullivan, Clarissa Wong American Association: Mary Ferrante, Melinda Murphy, Valerie Tietjen

A MERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Joseph Foggiato • Secretary: Stephanie Nash Directors: James Arpin, Shawn Galey, Christopher Keen, Mary Beth McCrory 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: US 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 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 • November 2015

AAS thursday


november thursday



Upcoming Events

Past Event

Singapore Scenes

Living in Singapore

Singaporean artist Ang Cheng Chye is known for his beautiful Singapore scenes, very popular with expats and locals alike. Come hear the stories behind his masterpieces and take one home for your very own.

A record crowd gathered at this popular event to hear valuable tips on culture and heritage, shopping and health and wellness. Thank you to our wonderful speakers and contributors. Our next LIS talk is in January.

7-9pm AAS Conference Room, 10 Claymore Hill

Joint Networking Event with Money Matters Mark your calendars for this fun and informative networking event. It’s a great chance to meet business owners and listen to informative speakers.

Meet the Author

6:30-9:30pm The American Club, Colonial Room (3rd Floor), 10 Claymore Hill

Six diverse and accomplished authors from the community shared their personal stories at this unique event. It was the perfect opportunity to hear about what inspires an individual to write a book. For more info and to register for an event:




the 83rd


s u o l u b a F Las Vegas



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

Two hours free handy-man service worth more than $200 when you book your move with Allied Pickfords. Call 6862 4700.

JAL is offering a special promotional discounted air fare to AAS members at about 7-9% off the published market air fare. Please take note that this is applicable only for travelers who book through Country Holidays.

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

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

FIRST DRINK FREE – every day, every visit for AAS members. Valid on house pours until December 31, 2015. Show your membership card at the bar to claim.

Present your American Association membership card and receive $10 off Warehouse Club membership fee. Valid till December 31, 2015.

Present your American Association membership card and receive: 5% Discount for long term leasing on a Harley-Davidson 10% Discount for daily rental on a Harley-Davidson Call 6475 0123 or email to

Singapore American • November 2015

Lori and Jim Arpin • The

The Barker Family

Sandra and Steven Bern

Amy Buchan and Raegen Siegfrie

The Bucknall-Starker Fam

The Fergin Family (in memory o

The Galey Family • The Hiemstra Fam

Indiana University Alumni Associatio

The Keen Family • Ana and Sydney Mim

The Olson Family • The Pa Mary and Kirk Schulz-Utermoehl

Jim and Valerie Tietjen • The van Z

In honor of the Yong Fa




Singapore American • November 2015

Bakker-Kingman Family

y • Mark Bentkower

nasek • The Bose Family

ed • In honor of the Buchan Family

mily • The Dudsak Family

of Jason Peck) • Joseph Foggiato

mily • David Hoss & Michael Fiebrich

on – Asia Pacific • The Jurgens Family

ms • Anne Morgan and Alastair MacLean

aine Family • Rick Perdian • In honor of the Siegfried Family

Zutphen Family • The Wood Family

amily • The Zink Family




Photos by: Alexandra Dolibic, Joanne Johnson, Sue Levens, Melinda Murphy, Natalia Wakula.


Singapore American • November 2015




As a trailing spouse, I joined the American Association and CRCE in 2004, before even arriving in Singapore. Once settled in, I realized that volunteering with a charitable, non-profit organization would provide me an opportunity to help those in need while also serving as a fast-track to meeting great people. One organization I eventually became very involved with is ReAct, a non-profit with a base in Singapore, but operating mostly throughout Indonesia. In working with ReAct, I quickly realized that children could not concentrate and develop fully when the bare essentials are not even met, a common problem of many youth in Indonesia’s orphanages and childcare institutions. When the basics are barely met, it is difficult to reach the next levels of development: learning retention, confidence and pride in oneself. Indonesia has around 8,000 childcare institutions, housing up to 500,000 children, 85% of whom have at least one living parent who cannot care for them. This is not the children’s fault, yet they bear the brunt of these circumstances. Many of these institutions are privately owned and operated and do not necessarily come under any type of government supervision or monitoring. Therefore, the task of parenting these children falls primarily to caregivers who are often overworked, underpaid and virtually untrained. As a result,

many institutionalized children in Indonesia generally receive inadequate care, preventing them from developing well emotionally and/ or physically. ReAct’s unique programs provide the essential training and mentoring to caregivers and social workers in childcare institutions and orphanages. In doing so, ReAct impacts many more children than it could otherwise help, by bolstering the care, skills and knowledge (good nutrition and first aid, for example) of the person with the most regular and constant contact with these kids. The children, in turn, exude greater confidence and are seen to be emboldened to think beyond the walls of their village or orphanage. ReAct hosts and trains caregivers on a range of hard and soft skills required for effective child and youth care. In some of these trainings, covered topics include how to instill a growth mindset into the kids or how to properly recognize and deal with attachment and bonding disorders experienced when being separated from, or losing, their families. For those caregivers returning for additional trainings, it is encouraging to see how their confidence grows from session to session. Some of the training sessions are followed the next day by a Career Fair targeted towards the older youth, many of whom will soon graduate from high school and be required to leave the orphanage to fend for themselves. Professionals from all walks of life share insights on their respective professions. There are also skillsbuilding sessions covering resume preparation, how to search for a job, grooming and more. ReAct is proud to be celebrating 12 years in operation. To support or get involved with ReAct’s initiatives in Bali and in other parts of Indonesia, visit or contact Dan Gedal at

CRCE NOVEMBER WORKSHOPS Trials and Triumphs of the Male Trailing Spouse Speaker: Dr. Yvonne McNulty Wednesday, November 4 11:30am – 2:30pm Career Assessment and SelfReinvention during Expatriation Speakers: Aude Beneton and Severine Charzat Friday, November 13 10am – 12pm Asking Better Questions – Release Your Potential and Achieve Greater Success! Speakers: Lindsay Tighe and Alka Chandiramani Tuesday, November 17 10am – 12pm Create an Effective Resume and Get Noticed Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Wednesday, November 25 10am – 12:30pm



SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Events Coordinator /Manager The Events Coordinator/Manager is responsible for organizing, planning and executing all external school events in order to reach growth and retention goals. S/he will need to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders including, but not limited to, the school administration, teachers, prospective parents and parents to ensure optimal delivery of the school brand, mission, vision and values. (job #3170) Client Relationship Manager A financial services consultancy is looking for candidates to support its clients working within the financial services sector across all disciplines from investment banking, asset management, hedge funds, private banking, insurance, retail banking, accounting and legal work. (job #3169) Graphic Designer The successful candidate will produce the monthly newspaper which involves: layout, design and production of a 28-40 page monthly newspaper according to a specific theme; work with the team on concepts, design, pagination and all aspects of the production; liaise with Advertising Manager on all the art to be placed into any given issue for quality, ad size and content. (job #3168) Major Gift Fundraiser Working with the Director of College Advancement, Foundation Trustees and Senior Management, you will build and enhance relationships with all constituents for the purpose of increasing financial support to the school. (job #3167) Head of Education and Content Delivery This organization is looking for a self-motivated, energetic, creative and passionate individual to join them as Head of Education and Content Delivery. Your overall responsibilities will include: Developing new ideas for lesson packages and designing lessons plans for computational thinking together with a team of academic advisors; Enacting lessons based on designed lesson plans; Evaluating the outcomes of the lessons for refinements and improvements. (job #3166) Senior Finance Manager The Senior Finance Manager will be responsible to ensure financial governance including the accurate, complete and timely recording and reporting of the financial state of the School, budget tracking, cost control, filing of the annual financial statements, regulatory and statutory compliance and relationship management with auditors and other technical advisors. (job #3165)

Singapore American • November 2015


Singapore American • November 2015

Be a Smart Traveler

The Next Generation

By Conn Schrader

By Clarissa Wong


mong the many benefits of expat life in Singapore is the opportunity for exciting (and inexpensive) regional travel. It is important to remember that not everywhere is as safe or predictable as Singapore and that the unexpected can come up here, too. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) helps keep you informed, connected and safe through updates from US Embassy Singapore and other posts around the region. Stay Informed to Stay Safe We take for granted the smart phones that give us moment-by-moment updates on time, weather, Twitter and just about everything else. It can be easy to forget that unexpected events can happen with surprising speed and in surprising locations. Tokyo is the prime example of a safe and stable city that was rocked by an earthquake (perhaps not unusual for Japan) and a nuclear accident (highly unexpected and very unpredictable). With STEP, you can stay up to date on issues that could impact your travel or your safety. When a safety and security issue arises that may impact US citizens, the embassy will issue an alert as quickly as possible. If you are enrolled in STEP, you will receive this message by email or text to let you know what is happening, how it might affect you and with advice on how to respond, including when and how you should contact the US Embassy or Consulate in your area. This can be about natural events such as storms, earthquakes, volcanos or human events including demonstrations, political unrest or terrorism.

Stay Connected Another reason to sign up is to ensure that we can reach or find you when the unexpected does happen. If public communication breaks down, the US Embassy or Consulate will begin looking at how many US citizens are in the affected area and seek ways to reach them for news and to check on their welfare. During the recent Nepal earthquake, the Embassy in Singapore was in touch with families of US citizens living in Singapore traveling in Nepal and was able to pass information as to their welfare and whereabouts. Please take a moment to visit to create an account and update it when you take trips overseas. We hope that nothing will get in the way of an enjoyable vacation, successful business trip or a peaceful life in Singapore, but it is best to be prepared and to travel smart.


ith our eye firmly on the future, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) introduced the Next Generation of Business Leadership program this year. "NextGen" supports the professional development of member companies' rising leaders in the 25-to-35-year age range. It combines conversational opportunities with senior executives, seminars targeting key areas for successful career development and peerto-peer connections to expand participants' professional networks. “American business flourishes because it invests in its people,” said AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin. “We hope that our NextGen program will build leadership pipelines to help guarantee that our members continue to develop and thrive.” With several dozen companies having nominated their rising talent to participate, the 2015 program kicked off on May 5 with an orientation and networking session at the HP Helion Innovation Hub in the AmCham

office. To mark NextGen's official launch, US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar hosted the group for a reception at his residence along with AmCham Governors and CEOs of several AmCham member companies. The NextGen program covers a wide range of subjects that are important to career success, from developing an organizational culture that supports innovation and the disruptive impact of technology to the role of the CEO and media management skills. The knowledge shared during the sessions will equip the next generation of leaders with in-depth understanding and different perspective that will enhance their contributions to their companies and the American business community. AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin kicked off the Next Generation of Business Leadership program at AmCham’s office. If you missed the opportunity to register your employees for this year’s program, be on the look-out in January for the announcement of the 2016 Next Generation of Business Leadership program. Space is limited, so early registration will be essential! For more information on the program, please contact Priscilla Koh at


Singapore American • November 2015

Service Starts Young

Pack 3010 Hike Day

By Koh Xin Tian

By Melindah Bush

2. Make it regular and sustainable, not a single hi/bye experience. Build meaningful, direct partnerships. 3. Help folks where your children’s help is needed. The best service responds to actual needs. 4. What are your abilities? Budget? How many beneficiaries can you realistically help? Do you have enough manpower? Start small. When your friends and family see your children’s successes, they may pitch in! 5. Involve more folks by offering clearlydefined ways to contribute money or effort.


nvolving your children in volunteer work is a great way to help them learn about their new community, country and continent. Service also lets children practice responsible citizenship, reinforcing what they learn in school through real-life projects. You’re never too young to help someone! Activities benefitting social organizations that Singapore American School elementary and middle school students join include: befriending Adventist Rehabilitation Center patients; thanking blue-collar workers; visiting Christalite Methodist Home to teach residents arts and crafts; raising funds with for water filtration systems and becoming pen-pals with younger students in local schools. Almost all our high school students volunteer for service projects, with nearly fifty student clubs helping others locally and globally. Our interim trips are week-long educational experiences beyond the traditional classroom and students in our Singapore community service interim programs design their own schedules, identify their learning objectives, plan activities, work on a budget and arrange transport. Tips on maximizing your children’s service experience: 1. Find a local, hands-on opportunity where they can actually engage with your community. There are people at your doorstep who can use a leg up.

6. Crowdfunding? Offer your donors services or favors at each donation step. Your children can wash cars, do chores or send donors back home handwritten or homemade gifts! One service idea for busy adults is a donation circle. One Hundred Women Who Care @100WomenSG on Twitter is a group of 100 faculty and staff at Singapore American School who give $100 four times a year to benefit two organizations. 100 people can provide one local charity with a donation of $10,000 at once! Last year, they helped Transient Workers Count Too and Tubs of Love tubs-love. They are now supporting Home For Good Singapore for children to find loving foster families. Learn more about the Singapore charity landscape at and!


he Cub Scouts of Pack 3010 spent the hot and humid morning of September 11 hiking through the Southern Ridges area of Singapore with their den leaders and parents to study the local wildlife, learn about local conservation efforts and to practice their “Leave No Trace” hiking skills. The Bears and Webelos hiked more than three miles starting from Hort Park and up through the hills of Kent Ridge Park. Scouts identified local plant and wildlife species and practiced their mapping skills with their compasses. Each one of the Webelos were given a chance to practice a leadership role during the hike, such as trail leader, first aid leader, lunch leader or service project leader. The hike also included a discussion and tour of a memorial commemorating one of the most important battles in the fight for Singapore during World War II, called the Battle of Opium Hill (Bukit Chandu) at Pansir Panjang.

On the same day, the younger Scouts in the Tiger and Wolf dens of Pack 3010 participated in the pack’s Hike Day by hiking through Labrador Park where they learned about the local mangrove ecosystem and worked on their community service project by helping to clean up a local children’s park. During the hike through the mangroves, the Tigers and Wolves used their binoculars and magnifying glasses to study and identify local wildlife. The Scouts were very excited to spot a large water monitor lizard and several turtles and then had fun studying an intricate ant colony up close using their magnifying glasses. Although the younger scouts had fun studying the local wildlife, a highpoint of their hike was the chance to tour a World War II machine gun bunker overlooking Keppel Bay and to visit a replica of the “Dragon’s Tooth” rock, which was used by ancient navigators to find their way into the nearby harbor area safely.

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


Singapore American • November 2015

Ten Years & Going Strong By Penny Morris-Hardee


he American Dragons of Singapore celebrated their tenth anniversary in August with a full weekend of events with alumni veterans returning from around the world. Activities included bar room Olympics with other expat teams at Ice Cold Beer on Emerald Hill as well as a dinner banquet and a race between various years’ alumni in the Kallang River. It all started back in 2005, when then American Ambassador Frank Lavin saw a dragon boat race here. He noticed there was no American team while many other nations were represented. The American Association took up the task of starting a team and the American Dragons were born.

Over the years, we have grown from one rental boat to owning three, 20-person dragon boats and one ocean outrigger canoe. In 2005, it was a challenge to find 20 people to fill a boat for practice. Today, we are now a serious presence at all major Singapore paddling events as well as some overseas races. Terrence Ong, a member of Singapore’s National Team, is currently our coach.

Our team has been repeat champions of the International Business Community (expat) league as well as Women’s and Master’s (age 40 & up) National Champions in Singapore dragon boating. We are a thriving family of more than 120 paddlers from more than 28 nationalities in the Singapore dragon boat community. People from all walks of life, including local and international communities, schools, universities, military, government, organizations and corporations island-wide make up our team. We dragon boat on the Kallang River and outrigger canoe in the ocean off Tanjong Rhu Beach on Sentosa. Many thanks to the American Association of Singapore for starting it all and also to former team members scattered around the world, who have contributed to our ongoing success. All adults, from beginner to expert, are welcome to join us for paddling and social fun. Newcomers can try dragon boating for three practices before joining. We also offer dragon boating for corporate events which has been very well received in the international business community. Check us out at See you on the water!

THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE NEEDS YOU! Share your time & talent with the American Community by joining the American Association Executive Committee Work with the team that contributes to programs, publications and events for the expat community in Singapore. The nominating committee is seeking candidates who have experience in marketing, with non-profit organizations to sit on the American Association Executive Committee. There are monthly, afternoon/evening meetings and the position will run until March 2017. Candidates must be US citizens. Please send your resume to: Deadline for submission is Nov. 30. All interviews to be completed by Dec. 15.


Singapore American • November 2015

A Time for Reflection By Lauren S. Power


n November 11, we observe Veterans Day, a United States federal holiday that honors men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces. Unlike Memorial Day, which commemorates those who have died in United States military service, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans. Veterans Day was born from the profound appreciation of peace that followed the end of World War I. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, all major hostilities between Germany and the Allied countries formally ended. This peace of November 11 is celebrated as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day by countries outside the United States.

For Americans, it is a time to reflect upon the contributions made by their forbearers in helping to end the deadliest conflict the world had yet known. Called “The War to End All Wars,” World War I claimed the lives of nearly ten million combatants and seven million civilians in little more than four years. On April 17, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson reluctantly declared war, committing the United States to join the Allies in their fight against the Central Powers. More than 24 million men registered for the draft and 2.7 million men were enlisted in the US Army by conscription. The number of volunteer enlistments was more than 300,000.

Until the end of the war, more than a quarter of the US male population between the ages of 18 and 31 were in military service and more than 100,000 died. “While we rejoice that our losses were no heavier, we still bear in mind the thousands of homes throughout the country upon which the heavy burden of war has fallen.” said Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. “To these homes, the nation owes a debt of fullest gratitude. From them has sprung unbounded courage to face hardships, heroic strength in battle and the nation’s power to right the wrongs of selfish despotism.” The Singapore Chapter of the US Navy League invites you to join us in observing a

moment of silence at 11am on November 11 in honor of US veterans. Veterans Day is not only a time to remember the contributions of US Service men and women in war. Perhaps, more importantly, it is an opportunity for us to remind ourselves of the value of peace and the very great service veterans give to protect it.

Photos courtesy of the US National Archives. 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 • November 2015

San Francisco, famous for its surrounding hills, seaside fog, cool summers and chilly winds is probably most well-known for the magnificent and historic Golden Gate Bridge. The suspension bridge spanning the mile-wide Golden Gate strait has six lanes of traffic along with sidewalks on either side for pedestrians and cyclists. Walking across the bridge, with the wind blowing, was a memorable and charming experience. Connecting San Francisco’s center to the northern counties, the bridge’s towers are 746 feet tall. More than ten million people from all parts of the world visit the bridge annually.

The Japanese Tea Garden inside the Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States and one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco. The exquisite garden with excellent pagodas, artistic bonsai plants and a Japanese koi pond makes for a unique and peaceful haven in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. For refreshments, we checked out the Tea House in the center of the garden. With a farmhouse style décor, the different kinds of teas and light snacks are quite reasonably priced. The Tea House Cookies are a must try.

by Sunayana Bose

GO WEST Lombard Street, the most winding and crooked road in the world, was indeed a unique experience. The street is lined with exquisite Victorian mansions and beautiful flowers adorn both sides. This street has the most expensive real estate in the city. If you are fit, you can get a good workout by walking up the street on the sidewalk, but it is a very steep walk so be prepared. Fisherman’s Wharf is the nearest point from where we could see the Alcatraz Island, famous for its prison. The wharf is a very lively area, with plenty of mouth-watering seafood

restaurants, truly a gourmet’s delight. You can try a wide range of activities in this area ranging from bay cruises to sightseeing tours and sport-fishing trips. A comfortable walk from the pier area is Ghirardelli’s, the third-oldest chocolate company in the United States, known for its sumptuous ice cream and desserts. The place is always full and you need to wait for your turn to sit, but it is worth the time. Ghirardelli Square is a center of activity during the day time where you can shop, eat, stroll and more.

Singapore American • November 2015

Monterey is an agricultural area where fresh fruits and vegetables are abundantly available, a place where vegetables are grown and sent to the entire US. The Old Monterey Farmers Market is held every Tuesday late afternoon where farmers sell all sorts of locally-grown fresh vegetables such as strawberries, cherries and more. The spinach and artichoke dip was awesome. Entertainment from local

For a beautiful drive, take California Pacific Coast Highway south to Monterey and check out the aquarium there, located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll see everything from octopus and squid to crabs and lobsters to sea anemones and more. The jellyfish are the featured exhibit. Seeing the range in size and color was striking! It’s a great place to spend quality time with kids.

musicians made the market all the more happening. We took a day’s excursion to Carmel Valley and Carmel-by-the-Sea, a small town within Monterey County. The landscape has a fairytale-like picturesque feel and the town has its own endless charm and beauty with European-style houses and shops. Film legend Clint Eastwood used to be the mayor there. Carmel's central street is lined up with unique boutique shops, galleries and cafes. The Carmel Plaza on Ocean Avenue is one of the renowned shopping allies in Carmel-bythe-Sea. We also visited Pebble Beach Golf Links some miles away, which is rated as the best golf course in the United States. There is an entrance fee of US$10 for visitors to drive into the Pebble Beach community, but if you dine or shop within the community, the toll is reimbursed. There are numerous turnouts where you can stop and take pictures. The winding roads and coastal scenic beauty of Pebble Beach are favorites of tourists.

California is definitely one of the most picturesque US states and we carried sweet memories of our lovely holiday back to Singapore. Photos by Christina Lauren, mLu.fotos, National Museum of the US Navy, Steve, Sunayana Bose. Sunayana Bose is originally from Mumbai, but has been living in Singapore for the past ten years. A banking professional specializing in forex and risk management by trade, Bose has always had a passion for writing and has contributed to publications such as the Bamboo Telegraph and India Se.


Singapore American • November 2015

A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out By Laura Coulter


n March, I completed my tenth build with Habitat for Humanity. This time, I was volunteering in beautiful Sri Lanka. Working on a team with ten volunteers from around the world, we lay bricks, sifted sand, hauled water, shoveled gravel and sweated buckets…all while on holiday. I kept a travel diary, which was

amazing considering that sometimes, I couldn’t lift my arms at the end of the work day. A reflection…. Days 1-4! Each morning, the team of eleven (all repeat HFH volunteers) have split up into groups of two to three and gone to work on

five houses in the village. We are in Matale, in the middle of the country, in a small farming village. The houses are in various stages and the jobs are varied according to the site. Laying brick, shoveling dirt for actions, mixing mortar for the mason, sifting sand (my job for the last three days). It’s been hot (37 degrees), but the fabulous food and the smiling families make it worthwhile. Oh, and an icy cold Lion beer at the end of each day helps, too. We’ve been spoiled beyond belief with the lush meals. We eat all three meals at the hotel and, most often, it's an array of Sri Lankan delights. One very hot day, we returned weary and dirty for lunch to find that the staff had set up a buffet under the trees next to the river. The homeowners provide “tea time” each morning and afternoon at the sites and it's always exciting and interesting to see what they whip out of their kitchens. We've had fluffy soft bread and curry, coconuts picked right from the tree, a chutney that was so spicy it would blow your head off, fresh sweet bananas and various sweets wrapped in leaves. (This is not a weight loss trip!!) For three days, we dug a hole in the ground for a cistern. The goal was to have it eight feet deep and six feet across. We are using a few hand tools (and a wooden stick to measure the width) and it's back-breaking work as we hit different layers of rock and clay. A group of four of us took turns hauling the dirt out, but it was frustrating to spend days doing what a backhoe could do in an hour. A frog jumped into my pants. We ended with our tallest worker in the hole passing out dirt. During a rain shower, we hid in the shelter together and the homeowner brought out a baby lemur kitten! Day 8: Today, we worked on two homes in hopes that they are ready for a home dedication by the time we leave. I used a coconut husk to brush the wood frames with diesel fuel to prevent termites. We returned home hot, burned and weary, but our energy returned after a shower and some are now singing karaoke! Day 10: The last day of building is done. The entire team worked on one house with the goal of getting the floor and roof finished early to clean up for the closing ceremony. Things went much slower than expected and, when it was time to go, only one room was done. So, we stayed a little longer...and a little longer... skipped lunch and had a full day at the site, but left with both rooms done. That was a two coconut drink day. We went straight to the closing ceremony in our work clothes and then back to the hotel for a delicious alfresco BBQ. There’s the reality that once the teams leave, the projects stall and enthusiasm dies downs. Despite the roof not being complete, we felt satisfied leaving with a major part done. Our work, at times, may not be too specialized (or even helpful?), but the energy generated by 15 people working at a site can really boost spirits and help build the hope and community: one of Habitat's aims.

Time to pack up and split up our little group. It was sad to leave the Dambulla Family Park, our home for the past two weeks. They took such good care of us and it was such a green, peaceful and calm place with early morning coffee and tea, no other guests and lively card games at night. It was a bit of a shock to travel back to Negombo and see other tourists, hear all the traffic and be hassled, “Madam, come to my shop, just two minutes!” I wondered how the families are doing back at the houses - a sign of a great project. As we drove from the building area back to Colombo, we went by way of Kandy and stopped at some interesting places. Habitat for Humanity volunteer trips do an excellent job of combining work with sightseeing. They present opportunities to eat local food; interact and work with local families; stay at local hotels and put your volunteer efforts and dollars to a good cause. The goal is helping families with a hand-up, not a hand-out. If you are interested in volunteering (1-2 weeks), look on for a list of the international destinations, which range from small teams to large blitz builds. Build homes, build hope, build community.

Photos by Laura Coulter 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.

15 Singapore American • November 2015


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Singapore American • November 2015

Green Volunteering for the Planet By Melissa Diagana

The People’s Movement to Stop Haze Even if you have endured only one bout of haze in Singapore, you know that the “transboundary haze” coming from fires in Indonesian forests is nasty, nasty stuff. Volunteer with PM.Haze to encourage sustainable palm oil and paper product production and consumption. Worldwide Fund for Nature The WWF works to protect biodiversity, whether in forests or the ocean, across the Asia Pacific region. Please contact them if you could help them raise funds, assist with events or administrative work. Singapore Environment Council This NGO is dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and action, by working with the government, private sector, academic institutions and the community. Register as an “Earth Helper” to help them out in their mission.

The Naked Hermit Crabs Join this self-described “motley bunch of volunteer guides” to lead walks along the shores at Chek Jawa, Pasir Ris or a few other spots. Water Public Utility Board PUB is responsible for all things water in Singapore and it has plenty of ways for you to get involved in them. Become a “Friend of Water” and volunteer as a guide, a photographer or an educator. You can also get involved in one of their punctual projects, such as World Water Day. Singapore International Foundation SIF fosters interaction between Singaporeans (including lots of volunteers) and the rest of the world, “to enrich lives and effect positive change.” Their “Water for Life” projects provide clean water to poor communities in Southeast Asia.

Gardening NParks NParks conducts several gardening programs and is always in search of green-fingered volunteers. You could get your hands dirty by sowing seeds, pruning, weeding, fertilizing, composting or identifying plants. GroundUp Initiative GUI wants to connect people to the earth to achieve social and ecological harmony – from the ground up. You are always welcome to help these really friendly people with soil preparation, planting, weeding or harvesting. Right now, they are building “Kampung Kampus” and need your skills in agriculture, digital media, inventory management, creative arts or fundraising.


espite Singapore’s intense urbanization, there are still plenty of people interested in and concerned about our natural environment. All of the organizations listed here fit that bill and all need help from YOU! Conservation National Parks Board Volunteer with one of NParks’ conservation programs to become involved in planting, weed management, flora and fauna surveys or forest and coastal clean-ups. You may also get training to act as a volunteer parks guide and lead groups on walks about history, heritage or flora and fauna. Nature Society (Singapore) The NSS spearheads efforts centered on conservation of our natural heritage and

welcomes volunteers with many skills such as media, publishing, law, science, exhibit staging or office assistance. They also have a Mangrove Horseshoe Crab Training program for people interested in joining them on their monthly horseshoe crab rescue missions. NUS Toddycats! Toddycats! are nature and environment volunteers with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. They are also responsible for coordinating the annual International Coastal Cleanup (disappointingly cancelled this past September due to the haze). Toddycats are looking for volunteers passionate about nature and the environment to be nature guides, do project management and participate in mangrove and beach cleanups.

Marine Biodiversity WildSingapore This website, chock full of up-to-date information about Singapore’s wild places and creatures, also has a good list of green organizations on its Volunteer page. You can find out about diving on our coral reefs, monitoring sea grasses, taking guided nature walks or even becoming a nature guide yourself. The Hantu Bloggers The mission of this deceptively-named volunteer dive organization is to raise awareness about tiny Singapore’s biologically diverse reefs. They do that by conducting regular guided dives for the (certified diving) public at Pulau Hantu, a Southern Island with sheltered and biologically diverse reefs.

Photos by Melissa Diagana A molecular biologist by training, Melissa Diagana enjoys studying the broader picture of natural history as much as its reductionist details. She regularly writes about nature and environmental topics.

GroundUp Initiative The Hantu Bloggers The Naked Hermit Crabs National Parks Board Nature Society (Singapore) NUS Toddycats! The People’s Movement to Stop Haze Public Utilities Board Singapore Environment Council Singapore International Foundation Worldwide Fund for Nature


Singapore American • November 2015

Taking Care of Animals By Richard Hartung


ittle more than a decade ago, the SPCA ( was one of the few nonprofit organizations in Singapore that looked after the interests of animals and Nature Society Singapore ( was one of the few to provide education about them. Today, the animal welfare scene has expanded tremendously and a multitude of non-profits have sprung up to look after animals in a variety of ways, from a focus on caring for just one type of pet to providing support for many species on a global basis. One of the most prominent local nonprofits at is ACRES, an animal protection organization that rescues injured animals, helps to educate the public and undertakes investigations to prevent animal trafficking. The ACRES team is on standby 24/7 to help

Save a Pup wild animals in need of help or abandoned exotic animals, whether they’re tortoises or iguanas or larger animals. The organization is looking for volunteers and full-time staff, so there are plenty of opportunities to help with anything ranging from manning a booth at an exhibition to helping care for injured animals. With Singaporeans keeping more pets at home and with more strays on the streets, concerned residents have banded together to help dogs and cats, as well. A group of volunteers that wants to feed and rescue stray dogs collaborated to create Save our Street Dogs ( and Siew Tuck Wah, a Singaporean doctor, recently left his medical practice to work full time for the organization. The Cat Welfare Society ( similarly looks after stray cats, with a mission of sterilizing stray cats in order to reduce the population over time, while also educating the public to care for the many stray cats across the island. And from the Animal Lovers League and Causes for Animals to the House Rabbit Society Singapore and Naked Hermit Crabs as well as other groups of animal lovers, there are plenty more organizations providing education and support for local animals, as well. Green Future Solutions tracks many of the groups and more information is available at International animal support and research organizations have also set up locally, both to

expand their international networks and to support animals here in Singapore. The Jane Goodall Institute Singapore, part of an international network founded by renowned primatologist Jane Goodall that focuses on conservation globally, supports green groups in schools and runs “monkey walks” to educate people about how to interact successfully with the macaques that roam wild across the island. While WWF Singapore has long worked to support conservation of biodiversity across the Asia Pacific region and has begun to focus more on activities in Singapore in recent years. Volunteers can support initiatives ranging from Earth Hour and “Say No to Shark Fin” to Eco-Schools Programs that focus on making environmental sustainability an integral part of school life. Other international groups that support animals include Conservation International ( and BirdLife International ( have also set up offices in Singapore. Whatever type of animal may interest you and whether your interest is local or global, there are opportunities to support the pet or wildlife you want. Photo courtesy of ACRES Richard Hartung is a consultant on payments strategy with more than 20 years of experience in financial services, primarily in Asia, and he is a freelance writer. He volunteers with the Metropolitan YMCA, the Jane Goodall Institute and other organizations.

Want to help animals? Rescuing just one dog is a great place to start. These three dogs from Exclusively Mongrels all need a home. Honey Rescued from a factory where she was at risk of getting attacked by the pack which didn't accept her, Honey is very gentle and calm and likes to be around humans and other dogs. Oreo Bailed out from the AVA, Oreo is the epitome of a child-friendly pup. He will give kisses and ask for cuddles.

Heigo Together with two other siblings, Heigo is the runt of the litter and very small for his age at three months. He is very curious and friendly and extremely food motivated. Please contact Kevin at 9789 0569 for adoption enquiries. Note: These dogs are NOT approved for public housing.


Singapore American • November 2015

Protecting our Oceans By James Sullivan


ou are at the gym, hear a Springsteen song...and start thinking. You are with your family at the annual Fourth of July celebration at the (oddly named) Terror Club...and wonder. You suddenly realize that your two-year overseas plan now sits at four, or seven or 16 years (in the case of your humble writer) and you ask yourself, “How can I stay connected? How can I give back, living on the other side of the world?” One opportunity for volunteer service, open to all US Citizens over the age of 17 anywhere in the world, is the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. The US Coast Guard (widely thought to be solely focused on domestic missions within the US) has been active in Asia since 1947 and has active-duty personnel on the ground in Singapore and Japan. Mission responsibilities include International Port Security (working in partnership with port operators and shipping companies in 47 partner nations in Asia), Environmental Stewardship (working towards

the health of the world's oceans) and Marine Inspections (inspecting US flagged ships as well as servicing facilities around the region). The responsibility of the US Coast Guard Activities Far East (FEACT) includes eight out of the top ten container ports in the world as well as waters through which half of the world’s shipped oil passes. FEACT needs your help. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer branch of the Coast Guard, currently made up of more than 30,000 volunteers. The auxiliary supports US Coast Guard missions, working hand-in-hand with active duty personnel. Auxiliarists are trained to assist with inspection of safety equipment servicing facilities; to develop and implement public affairs strategies in countries across the region and more. Training opportunities for auxiliarists include everything from leadership skills to all aspects of boating skills and more. US Coast Guard core missions in Asia are more important than ever. Marine security is becoming a critical issue close to our current island home of Singapore. The epicenter of global piracy has shifted from the waters off the Horn of Africa to those of the 17,000 islands of Indonesia. In fact, Indonesian waters were the location for almost 40% of global piracy activity in the first half of 2015, according to the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau. Environmental Stewardship. This is also an era where scientists estimate that more than half the world’s marine

species are trending towards extinction and 60% of the world’ major ecosystems that underpin livelihoods are being used unsustainably. Want to give back, to reconnect and to make a difference in both your adopted and "real" homes? Looking for an opportunity to expand your work self to include broader horizons? Then take a look at or contact me at

Photos by James Sullivan and courtesy of the US Coast Guard James Sullivan has been a Permanent Resident of Singapore since 2004 and has been in Asia since 1998. He has held several positions in the financial industry during his time here inclusive of eight years in the fund management business. He currently serves as a Managing Director for J. P. Morgan, Head of Asia ex Japan Equity Research. He has volunteered with the USCG Auxiliary since June 2015. He has been married to Marcella since 2002, and they have four children ages four to eight.

Singapore American • November 2015


Singapore American • November 2015

Living and Giving as an Expat in Nepal By Laura Schwartz


e’ve all seen the photos: the streets of Kathmandu flooded with rubble; the Nepalese families picking through the remains of their collapsed homes; the piles of bricks where Durbar Square used to be. But since the two earthquakes in April, which left more 8,700 dead and reportedly shifted Mount Everest by three centimeters, Nepal has been steadily rebuilding. A United Methodist Pastor in the Detroit Conference who has lived in Nepal for the past few years, Reverend Dr. Jan L. Beaderstadt has been actively involved in the disaster recovery and has been working with Renaissance Outreach Ministries to raise aid money for those living in the mountains, which were

some of the hardest hit areas. He recently traveled to Tinmane Village in the Gorkha District to distribute tents to families who lost their homes. “I am impressed with the attitude of the people,” Beaderstadt said in an interview. “They have pulled together to help each other. There has been very little in the way of looting. Even though the government has been slow in getting aid to the people who need it, the people haven’t resorted to violence like they would have in other developing countries. Nepalis are patient people.” Walking around Kathmandu with Beaderstadt was like being escorted by the mayor. Every few minutes, he called out jovial greetings and shook hands with those he knew, from trishaw drivers to shop owners. “You never run out of new things to try in Kathmandu,” he declared before leading us into a restaurant posted with a sign that read “Probably the Best Pizza in Town.” Inside, he immediately launched into a long conversation with the head waiter, apparently an old friend. We met Beaderstadt a few days earlier in Nagarkot, just after my husband and I had trekked 18 kilometers through the mountainous Nepalese countryside, a section of the Kathmandu valley that the earthquakes devastated. He mused that the earthquakes has brought people together, as the disaster has given people of all castes and religions something around which to rally. In addition to long held social and ethnic hierarchies, the recent transition from monarchy to democracy has not been

an easy one. The king relinquished sovereign power in 2006 and, although elections were carried out relatively peacefully, quagmireinducing political tensions and power struggles continue. Regardless, Beaderstadt said, “For the most part, life goes on even when government is almost non-functioning at times. The people here demonstrate that they can function as a highly-civilized society, even if the country [has taken nearly a decade to draft] a constitution.” While many expats hold themselves separate from the communities in which they reside, since leaving American soil in 1998, Beaderstadt has enmeshed himself wholeheartedly in every new environment. While running a Bible School in Bangladesh and making frequent visits to Kathmandu, he was approached by his current partner, Kul Bahadur Gurung of Alliance Treks & Expeditions. Together, they co-founded the Be-Kul Language Training Center to conduct leadership, management and English-language training for local businesses. Though Beaderstadt noted that dealing with bureaucracy, particularly navigating the expectation of bribes, was one of the greatest challenges of living in Nepal. “The people are wonderful, although lousy time managers,” he said. “Everything gets done by ‘tomorrow’ but tomorrow never seems to come. We often have severe power cuts that can last up to 11 hours a day. You often don’t have water on demand. But you get used to it, learn to plan ahead (they publish a daily power outage schedule) and learn to take life a bit easier.” In spite of the unpredictable availability of amenities and the impending task of

reconstruction, Beaderstadt has no plans to leave Nepal any time soon and is anticipating the arrival of his wife after she retires in a few years. “Those living here get a chance to really immerse themselves in the local culture and make some really good friends. It is a relaxed atmosphere. I love it here.” Photo by Laura Schwartz When Laura Schwartz is not traveling around the region or devouring a new book, she juggles her 9-to-5 as an Admissions & Career Consultant with freelance writing. You can read her articles, travel anecdotes and series of tips on how to be a better tourist at:


Singapore American • November 2015

The Best Way to Help If you’ve been wondering how you could best support Nepal’s efforts to reconstruct, the answer is fairly straightforward according to Beaderstadt: book a trip. Half a million people in Nepal work in tourism and it’s a crucial pillar of the impoverished nation’s economy. While aid is helpful, tourist dollars are a much-needed source of funds to keep the nation on a steady path to recovery. If you’re worried about safety, know that travel warnings have been lifted for most areas. The photos, though dramatic, are hardly the whole story. Most of the country was unaffected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, with only 14 out of 75 districts suffering damage. Almost all national parks and protected areas, including UNESCO heritage sites and popular trekking destinations, were untouched.

Helping When Disaster Strikes By Lindy Hiemstra 1.Donate money and only money. Donations such as blankets, clothing and food often end up rotting. Many times, there is no way to get these items to those in need because of bad roads, closed runways or not enough boots on the ground. Money, on the other hand, is put exactly where it’s needed purchasing things such as jet fuel for helicopters, tankers of water, bags of rice and more. 2.Choose your organization carefully. The best organizations keep a low overhead so most of your donation goes to the victims. and www.guidestar. org can help you determine which charities are most efficient. Charities with a local presence make the biggest impact.

3.Raise funds locally You can hold your own fundraiser which can include anything from a child’s lemonade stand to a major charity event. There are lots of good tips for creating a fundraiser online. 4.Find somebody to match your funds. Big corporations often will match donations so check with your company or other avenues. 5.Beware of scam artists Sadly, scammers are very aware that people feel the need to help when disaster strikes. There are lots of cons on social media and over the telephone. Make sure the organization is legit. Remember, the need remains long after the journalists and television cameras have gone home.


Singapore American • November 2015

Fountain of Youth By Faith Chanda


s someone who enjoys global travel, I am always struck by what is different and what is the same wherever we go. One thing that’s the same everywhere? Children. They all have the same basic needs: food, water, shelter and clothing. They deserve the same opportunity to meet needs like sanitation, education, healthcare and safety. In general, volunteer opportunities with children can be found in a multitude of places. Public libraries, parks, community centers and hospitals, as well as schools, places of worship and international charities such as Habitat for Humanity and the Singapore Red Cross can always use some extra help. But it’s a

little harder to connect with more local organizations that don’t necessarily have powerful voice of government or international bodies behind them, but still need volunteers. At Beautiful People, part of Beyond Social Services, you can “Be a Fun Raiser or a Fund Raiser” by volunteering to mentor at risk youth or raise money as a Beautiful People Ambassador. aLife’s Caterpillar Club aims to provide underprivileged kids ages 4-12 with opportunities for learning and fun to which they might not otherwise have access.

The Children’s Cancer Foundation has opportunities for volunteers to play with or tutor children with cancer. For those with a passion for start-ups, Enactus recruits mentors to help young students get hands-on experience in the entrepreneurial business world. Marketing Lead Jing Song Ng says “You can join their Fast Forward Committee, a group of people lending our professional skills to youth leadership and social entrepreneurship on a pro bono basis.” Lakeside Family Services, recently partnered with the American Women’s Association, provides a variety of support areas to underprivileged children and families. Volunteer opportunities include homework coaching, performing arts therapy and facilities improvement project work. www. Singapore Children’s Society (SCS), the charity the American Association of Singapore chose to support in 2015, does wonderful work with at-risk children here in Singapore. It protects and nurtures children and youth of all races and religions. Lasat year, the Society reached out to more than 68,000 children, youth and families in need. SCS lists all sorts of volunteer opportunities on its website. Riding for the Disabled Association facilitates therapeutic horse riding experiences for children with disabilities and are always looking for volunteers to act as “side-walkers” to assist the riders (no horse riding experience necessary). Libby Vine, who moved to Singapore eight years ago from Chicago via London, has volunteered in a variety of roles in Singapore including foster parenting, literacy coaching and mentoring. Vine says she volunteers “Because I’m happy to give back to this country which has so generously provided an amazing lifestyle for me and my children. Plus, there are needs here which are not so easily recognized among the glitz and glamour of expat life.”


Singapore American • November 2015

Kids Giving Back According to the American Citizens Abroad, only about two percent of Americans currently live overseas. That means we are among the privileged few who get to experience the day-to-day reality of a culture different from our own. The old adage says that with privilege comes responsibility. One way to help expat kids live up to that responsibility is to find ways for them to work to better the “home away from home” that you’ve chosen. But finding opportunities to give back that are accessible and interesting to kids can be a challenge. One way to involve children is to look for walk-a-thons or fun runs that raise money for charity, like the Santa Run for Wishes this December benefitting Make-A-Wish Singapore. Your kids may even get a chuckle out of the Urgent Run taking place on November 7 for the World Toilet Organization, a United Nations sponsored event which aims to provide clean safe sanitation for all. Other volunteer projects can include children as long

as they are accompanied by adults. Food from the Heart provides “food, toys and hope” to those who need them most. Their website has a nifty tool that gives users a “tour” of their volunteering opportunities and helps you select the one that might be best for you and your child. Children could also become an animal benefactor for rescued or endangered animals through the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) for just $1 a day (less than lunch money for most school kids!). Among the animals to choose from are “Kanmani” the green iguana, who was found abandoned in the garbage; “Cyclops” the pig-nosed turtle, who temporarily lost his sight due to neglect; “SpongeBob” a tortoise and “Stubby” a python who was likely smuggled all the way from Africa to Singapore. For youths aged 15-25, the YMCA offers the chance to create projects of their own design through the Youths for Causes initiative. Winning entries will receive seed money, mentorship and training to enable fundraising, publicity and volunteer recruitment to benefit a charitable cause. They say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I say it’s always a good idea to remind the child to thank the village. Photos: SKM – “Picture reproduced courtesy of the Singapore Kindness Movement” and “Courtesy of ENACTUS Singapore”

Faith Chanda relocated to Singapore with her family in January from the idyllic small town of Cornwall, NY. She has nearly 20 years of experience in Marketing, Promotions and Event Planning in a wide variety of industries. Lately, she has been spending her time navigating the unique culture of Singapore with a mixture of fascination and bewilderment.

Singapore's Big Heart Singapore even has its own national Kindness Movement that offers a variety of opportunities to volunteer in Singapore. There are several portals to search for volunteering opportunities that fit your skills or passions. and Next month, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre will launch ( which will bring together platforms like (www., and others to centralize efforts among schools, individuals, families, businesses and charities to benefit arts, education, environment, health, social service and sports.

Grassroots movements are a great way to get the word out about charitable efforts that need support. Jason Cai started a Facebook page called “Project Act of Random Kindness (P.A.R.K.)” which gave rise to the “P2P (PARK $2 Project)” Facebook group, highlighting the fact that a little bit (of money or time or effort, for example) goes a long way. Cai says he started the page to “provide opportunities for people to contribute easily so they don’t even need to go looking for it… people will just come in and be notified of how to connect up with possible volunteering or donation opportunities.”

Have time to give to an organization? Then maybe sitting on the Board of a charity is for you. Log on to and check out the “What’s New” section to learn all about what it takes to be on a Board and why it might be a good fit for you.

Singapore American • November 2015


Singapore American • November 2015

Uncluttering for the Common Good By Lucia Damacela


etting go of clutter is a liberating experience: it opens up physical and mental space to reinvent ourselves and our surroundings. But instead of just tossing things out, why not donate or re-home items that are still perfectly usable? If you are new to Singapore or haven’t yet needed to dispose of items, perhaps you are not familiar with the options available. Here are a few suggestions for you to find the right place to channel your unwanted items while contributing to worthy causes. Donation of Specific Items Does helping a charity while swapping fashion and sipping wine sound good? Then Your Clothes Friend Swap is for you. A popular event with both local and expat women, the next swap is coming up on November 3 at

7pm, at Carry On Café, 348 Tanjong Katong Road. You may bring clothes and bags and accessories that don’t work for you then leave with as many pieces as you like. Also, bras for a girls’ school in Ethiopia will be collected. Taking part in the swap costs $25 at the door, which goes to support Habitat for Humanity. (check out the Facebook page) Alternatively, you may drop-off a bag of unwanted garments at any H&M shop on the island. They will reuse and/or recycle the items as part of their H&M Conscious initiative. As the donor, you get a 15% off voucher at the cashier and the company donates money to a local charity for each kilogram of textile collected.

Help a Child – Donate a Book accepts new and gently used children books in English, from preschool to Primary 3, as well as audiovisual material for the same age group. Books have been supplied to underprivileged children and orphanages throughout Southeast Asia. Donation of Assorted Items Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) accepts donations of pre-loved clothing, accessories, bags, shoes, crockery, utensils, books and toys for its New2U Thrift shop. The money raised is used to support Star Shelter, a safe house for women and children victim of domestic violence and other initiatives. Pass It On is an online portal created by the Central Singapore Community Development Council, managed by The Helping Hand with about 260 participating volunteer welfare organizations (VWOs). This portal matches offers from donors with requests from VWOs. Prospective contributors may donate brand new or used (but fully operational) items to fulfill requests posted by VWOs on behalf of their clients; or they could list items on the portal so VWOs can reserve them if needed. Delivery can be arranged, sometimes at a cost to the donor. To support the wide array of social services it provides to underprivileged communities, The Salvation Army accepts clothing, furniture, books, toys, household goods and electronics for their thrift shops. These items can be dropped-off at any of its seven donation points in Singapore. For large items, pick-up can be

booked online, by phone or email, with an optional contribution of S$60 per collection. Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) provides services for the advancement and integration of persons with intellectual disabilities. As part of their fundraising efforts, they have five thrift shops thorough the island, which accept donated furniture, clothes, accessories, collectibles and housewares. The shops offer MINDS’ clients the opportunity to be involved in the day-to-day managing of the stores. Pick-up services for bulky items can be arranged. Happy uncluttering with a cause! Photos by Lucia Damacela and Laura Coulter 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


Singapore American • November 2015

Golden Giving By Rob Faraone


o your kids have flown the coop and your career has slowed down… or maybe even you’ve retired. You find yourself with time on your hands and think, “Now what?” For many in their autumn years, the answer is volunteering. Volunteerism among Singaporeans dropped between 2012 and the present so, as part of an effort to get things back on track, the Singapore government set up a program targeted at seniors with time on their hands. President Tony Tan recently announced the Silver Volunteer Fund, with an eventual target of $40 million for programs, training, developing systems and recognition of volunteers. This program dovetails perfectly with RSVP Singapore, “the organization of senior volunteers,” established in 1998 after then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong envisioned a need. It is modeled after the Retired Senior Volunteers Program in the US. Membership is just $2 a month for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents. Those who do not meet the membership criteria can still volunteer as a “Friend of RSVP.” While most RSVP volunteers are over the age of 50, some people as young as 40 are involved in the organization. RSVP offers nine programs which are outlined on their website They range from working half day per week as a helpful "roving ambassador" at Changi Airport to helping seniors in healthcare facilities become computer savvy, to hosting NUS international students. RSVP provides appropriate training. Generally, the volunteers are sent out in teams of four to six persons.

These programs work best with a fixed time commitment to ensure continuity. There are also shorter volunteering opportunities such as hosting, entertaining, photographing events, manning exhibition booths or providing administrative support. RSVP Executive Director Edmund Song said, “We warmly welcome the foreign expat community to volunteer alongside our members. Engaging and building relationships with the less fortunate in the society in which you live, even for a few years, can bring a deep sense of fulfilment.” RSVP Volunteer Manager, Neo Hong added, “Often, new volunteers get to know one another and become lasting friends.” RSVP also established Pro-Guide, a competitively-priced business consulting and training enterprise catering to small and medium-size companies. Pro-Guide relies on the services of RSVP members when their professional expertise is required for a project. Specialities include: • Strategic planning • Financial management • Human resource management • Corporate communications • Work process redesign and standard operating procedures • Business planning for social enterprises RSVP provides its members Medical and Death or Permanent Disablement insurance coverage should a mishap arise in the course of duty.

Additional help in Singapore There are other Singapore organizations to help you find a volunteer experience. Concern SG ( describes itself as a guide to all things at the intersection of volunteering, Singapore and social change. SG Cares ( enables caring, but busy, people in Singapore to volunteer as and when they can. It is modeled after New York Cares ( and is affiliated with HandsOn Network (www.handsonnetwork. org) and Points of Light Institute (www. The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre ( is the national body established to promote volunteerism and

philanthropy in Singapore. Its Match Program matches volunteers, donors, philanthropists, and like-minded individuals to their preferred interests or cause. Volunteers often say they get more from the experience than the time they give. There are plenty of deserving causes and Singapore resources are prepared to get you on your way.

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

Singapore American • November 2015

International opportunities abound Seniors who are not PR or citizens can also look beyond this island toward the region or global needs. The time commitments tend to be more structured and longer. Projects tend to be in less developed countries so be prepared to give up Singapore’s cosmopolitan lifestyle for a back-to-basics stint. Short term volunteers are asked to bear the cost of flights, lodging and living costs. (One Canadian organization charges close to $2,000 for a 7- or 8-day trip). Those interested in a longer-term commitment of months or a year can find volunteer positions as well as compensated staff positions. Check each organisation's website for positions or use a conventional job search portal. Your work experience and skill sets are relevant. Here are a few to get you started: • Global Volunteer Network runs 93 volunteer projects, in 17 countries, on five continents.

• Operation Hope Foundation is Singapore -based and has five programs in the region. • Over 50 and Overseas provides volunteer opportunities for people over 50. • Projects Abroad is specifically for retirees choosing to take some time out volunteering. • Retire Early Lifestyle is a lifestyle site and blog focusing on volunteering and travel. • Retired Brains is an independent job and information resource for boomers, retirees and people planning their retirement. • Retirement and Good Living offers information for anyone contemplating retirement. • Transitions Abroad is a travel guide to paid work, study, living and volunteering.

• Helping Abroad partners with IFRE Volunteers, one of the world's reputable and affordable volunteer programs.

• Travel-to-Teach is an international volunteer organization linking volunteers with grassroots community projects in Southeast Asia and Central America.

• Open Minded Projects provides support in rural areas where education is poor and resources are scarce.

• Volunteer Match provides volunteer information and listings in your local community.


Singapore American • November 2015

Yes, You Can Make a Difference By Lena Chong


lmost 60 million people. That’s how many refugees the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates have been forcibly displaced around the world. Often, there is a shortage of aid and getting any aid through corrupt environments adds to the complexities in those regions. Syria and Somalia are probably the two most well-known countries with refugees in crisis. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres called the Syrian situation “the most dramatic humanitarian crisis the world has faced in a very long time.” Syrians are now the largest refugee population under UNHCR's mandate with more than four million people of concern.

The Somali situation is now in its third decade. Three years ago, a famine killed 260,000 people there and, while the situation is slowly getting better, half the population still faces abject poverty, according to the UN. It’s obvious that more needs to be done. But how can you help all the way from Singapore? The answer is easy. Donate money or time. Below are organizations they provide aid to refugees around the world. In 2014, Action Against Hunger runs life-saving programs in more than 45 countries benefiting 13 million people each year with a goal to end world hunger by 2030.

CARE works in 90 countries around the world to support more than 900 povertyfighting development and humanitarian-aid projects. Doctors without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for its work in more than 80 countries. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the largest humanitarian network in the world and has been in operation for more than 150 years. International Medical Corps teams deliver health care services and provide humanitarian relief to victims. Besides donating, you can also join their international operations in-country. The International Rescue Committee was founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein and works in more than 45 countries. You can donate at or give a rescue gift to a loved one that benefits those in need. Mercy Corps works in more than 40 nations and employs local people and more than 90% of its employees are in-country hires. OXFAM’s aim is to reach at least three million people, including helping a half a million in Somalia and providing clean water to about a million Syrians. Save the Children works in 120 countries and reaches 166 million children. You can donate money or help with fundraising events such as races in cities around the world.

UNICEF, UN’s children’s organization, is among the most active charitable organizations buy addressing health, nutrition, immunization, water and sanitation, as well as education and child protection needs. UN’s World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is the UN agency specifically charged with helping refugees, taking a lead role in the protection, shelter, health, education and livelihoods of those displaced. Although there is much that needs to be done and the end of the tunnel seems so distant, we can start in our little ways to help them eventually rid the need for aid. If spending time living there isn't possible, the next best thing is to give through reputable charities. It’s the safest way to navigate the corruption so that the money goes to the people who need it most. Remember, even Anne Frank said: “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Photo courtesy of Oxfam International Lena Chong is a traveler, fashionista and eternal optimist who hates to admit she adores food. Her love for life shows in her curiosity and fascination for all things. She has trekked through malls, villages and forest alike to look for the illusive new restaurant or new outfit, eating tarantulas and burgers along the way.


Singapore American • November 2015

Children and The Haze By Dr Natalie Epton, Specialist Paediatrician and Neonatologist, International Paediatric Clinic


he haze hanging over Singapore for weeks caused lots of concern with many people. But what’s the truth? How bad is haze for children really? And what should you do on the next hazy day?

What can we do to offset the haze? Minimizing exposure is the best strategy. Close all windows and doors and use your air conditioner. Consider investing in an air purifier with a HEPA filter, especially for the children's bedrooms. Increase your child's fluid intake and antioxidant-containing fruits such as blueberries; fruits full of vitamin C such as oranges; foods rich in vitamin E such as nuts and seeds and foods rich in omega oils (oily fish). Any child with difficulty in breathing or severe irritation of the eyes, nose or throat should be seen by a doctor to ensure there is no serious illness.

Should children really be wearing masks during haze season? Do masks make breathing more difficult? The best advice continues to be that children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoors activities if the PSI is greater than 100 and avoid outdoor activities altogether if the PSI is greater than 300 (or greater than 200 for younger children and those with existing heart or respiratory conditions such as asthma). Although masks for children have recently been made available through a local manufacturer, these have not received US FDA or Singapore HSA approval. Local studies leading to approval are planned. However, there are masks available overseas that do meet the US FD standards. If you choose to use these masks for your children, be aware that they may make breathing more difficult and you should discontinue their use immediately if your child experiences any dizziness, difficulty breathing or discomfort.

Although the surgical mask may provide some barrier against larger particles, thereby reducing some irritation, it will be of no help in reducing exposure to small particulate matter (PM 2.5 microns).

Because the standard N95 masks are often too large for a child, is a surgical mask better than nothing? Surgical masks are designed to protect other people from the wearer's saliva or spit, not to protect the wearer from particulate matter.

How can we protect babies and toddlers who cannot wear masks? Should they be kept indoors unless it’s absolutely necessary to bring them outside? You should follow the same recommendations as for a child with respiratory or heart conditions.

Are there long-term effects for children exposed to the haze at unhealthy levels? Although exposure to haze has been linked to a potential increased risk of severe illnesses such as heart disease and lung cancer, the actual risk of short term exposure such as during the haze is estimated to be extremely low. Most studies looking at long term risk were evaluating populations with prolonged continuous exposure. Studies in Singapore are ongoing. Can you describe the signs of respiratory distress to look out for in case of an emergency? Any child with increased difficulty in breathing should be assessed by a doctor. If your child has asthma or other breathing problems, your doctor may have already given you a plan of action (a written asthma action plan) for you to use in such situations. Follow it, but be prepared to take your child immediately to a doctor if your child deteriorates. Signs

such as lethargy and poor feeding in younger children or inability to speak in full sentences (out of breath) in older children are signs of severe compromise. Seek immediate medical attention.

Photo by Natalia Wakula A graduate of Birmingham Medical School, UK, in 1999, Dr. Natalie Epton underwent her postgraduate medical training at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, UK and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore. She is recognised by the Singapore Medical Council and Specialist Accreditation Board as a Specialist in both Paediatric Medicine and Neonatology. She has lived and worked in Singapore since 2002, predominantly in the field of Neonatology and care of the well baby and infant.


Singapore American • November 2015

Cultural Philanthropy By Nithia Devan


f you enjoy theater, music, visual arts and more, there are many ways in which you can support both the arts and the community at the same time: cultural philanthropy. Cultural philanthropy is all about creating a stronger appreciation of the arts and culture while at the same time promoting monetary and in-kind support for the local arts groups. There are several government schemes to encourage both corporations and individuals to contribute towards developing Singapore’s cultural landscape. In 2013, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) announced the launch of a $200 million Cultural Matching Fund (CMF) that matches dollar-for-dollar cash donations to arts and heritage charities.

Another scheme is Give2Arts, Singapore’s only cultural philanthropy online portal. Through Give2Arts, the public can support the arts by making a donation via credit card to their preferred arts charity. As a bonus to donors, in celebration of SG50, all donations made to arts charities will qualify for a 300% tax deduction. You can also support your favorite arts groups directly as a “Friend” or an “Angel.” In turn, these arts group help support the

underprivileged in Singapore. There are many in Singapore for whom a visit to see a theater or concert performance is out of reach, in terms of accessibility or cost. These are the individuals and groups that several of the arts groups support. The Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) has set up an Education Fund which has benefitted close to 4000 less privileged children and ensured their “right” to arts exposure since its inception in 2012. Charlotte Nors, SRT’s Executive Director said, “Our education programs help ensure that drama is used as a tool in the classroom and it helps create a strong sense of identity and belonging. On the more economical argument side, we put every single dollar back into the community and thus create employment for close to 300 people on and off stage a year.” W!LD RICE, another of Singapore’s wellknown theater groups, offers a “Gift of Theatre” as part of its Christmas Tradition. It aims to give underprivileged children and young people the opportunity to experience the magic of live theater. Last year, the “Gift of Theatre” project sponsored 602 beneficiaries and their caretakers from seven homes and charities to watch W!LD RICE’s 2014 pantomime, “Monkey Goes West.” This year, the year-end production of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” W!LD RICE is hoping to raise $25,000 to pay for tickets for 400 beneficiaries. With assistance of corporate sponsors, Pangdemonium, another theater group, has created a “Really Youthful Theatre Fund.” The fund provides a generous subsidy towards each ticket purchased by a student, as part of a group booking by schools or tertiary institutions to

ensure less fortunate students have access to theater. Sing’theatre, an arts company that promotes French culture and heritage, has been supporting the community for several years. Nathalie Ribette, the Founder and Director of Sing'Theatre, believes that “Art is a fundamental right of every individual, regardless of cultural background, status or health. Sing’theatre aims to fight cultural exclusion by developing its community outreach activities.” Since 2011, Sing’theatre has invited underprivileged children and women to performances, followed by post-show talks with directors and cast. In 2013, Sing’theatre developed a partnership with the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) called MusicFest@SGH, an annual day of

music, in many locations on the SGH campus. There are many such groups that help give back to the community by making the arts more accessible to them. Help to do your bit by promoting the spirit of cultural philanthropy and supporting Singapore’s arts and heritage! Photo courtesy of Singapore Repertory Theatre Nithia Devan is a freelance marketing communications professional, copywriter and editor. She is a keen supporter of the arts in Singapore, especially theater. Her other passions are cookery, cinema, travel, art and crafts. Nithia also writes for City Nomads, a guide to what's happening in Singapore,

Thanksgiving in the Lion City By Valerie Tietjen


hanksgiving is a very special holiday for Americans, a time when they get together with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings in their lives. It generally involves a big feast, a nod to the origin of the holiday when the European pilgrims threw a huge banquet to give thanks to the Native Americans who showed them how to survive in the new land. Even though I am lucky enough to be invited to friends on the actual day, I will also take the opportunity to cook a Thanksgiving lunch at our home during the festive week. So, whether you are eating out or cooking the whole dinner at home, here are some places which will meet your needs. You can buy uncooked and cooked turkey, ham and trimmings from Huber’s Butchery,

Cold Storage and FairPrice Finest. The American Club has a whole spread of meats, sides, desserts, cookies and wine for its members. Do check the wet markets for yams, sweet potatoes, beans and other vegetables. A local favorite is Chia’s Vegetables Supply at Tekka Market. If you plan to dine out, you can head to Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill, mezza9 at The Grand Hyatt or Seasonal Tastes at The Westin Singapore for a sumptuous Thanksgiving meal with your family and friends. Whatever you chose to do, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo courtesy The American Club

Singapore American • November 2015




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

ENTERTA I N M ENT 1 November – 22 November Cirque du Soleil - Totem Under the Big Top Next to Marina Bay Sands 12-15 November Affordable Art Fair F1 Pit Building www. 17 – 21 November Peter Brook’s Battlefield Capitol Theatre



14 November Helping Children Dealing with Separation & Divorce The Counselling Place 7500A Beach Road, #04-323 The Plaza 2:30 – 4:30pm Register by November 7 28 November Understanding Parental Alienation The Counselling Place 7500A Beach Road, #04-323 The Plaza 2:30 – 4:30pm Register by November 21

20-29 November Kalaa Utsavam – Indian Festival of Arts The Esplanade


20 November – 12 December The Emperor’s New Clothes Drama Centre Theatre

From 1 November UWCSEA Applications for Admission to UWCSEA in 2016/2017 open Dover or East Campus

24 November Def Leppard – Live in Singapore Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre Level 6, Hall 601-604 3-6 December Swan Lake Esplanade Theatre


5 November Canadian International School Open House Tanjong Katong Campus, 371 Tanjong Katong Road 9am 13 November Stamford American International School Open House 279 Upper Serangoon Road 9am



14 November WE CARE – The Amazing Race 10am – 1pm

Singapore American • November 2015

Profile for American Association of Singapore

San November 2015  

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