AM ERICAN AS S O C IATION O F S INGAP ORE
American Association...... 1-6 Member Discounts.............. 3 CRCE & Business............. 7-9 Community News........ 10-17 Travel......................... 14-15 Surviving the Holidays.... 18-23 Health and Wellness......... 24 Arts & Culture.................. 25
Health and Wellness 24
Take a Chilly Trip to Antarctica
Tips for Managing Holiday Stress
Arts & Culture 25
Two Great Productions You Just Can’t Miss
Surviving the Holidays 18-23
Make Your Holidays the Best Ever MCI (P) 116/04/2016
Photo by Tatyana Kildisheva
Welcome Back Celebration 2016 By Sarah Walston
he American Association of Singapore’s (AAS) annual Welcome Back Celebration (cosponsored by GEMS World Academy this year) is always a great way for those coming back from summer holiday travels to reconnect with old friends and for newcomers just arriving in Singapore to be welcomed into the AAS community. This year’s celebration did not disappoint, as more than 180 AAS member families and friends gathered together. A big thanks to the exciting new location, Zoom Park, for an afternoon of trampoline jumping, eating and good old-fashioned fun. Whether it was challenging others to a friendly game of dodgeball, testing skills at the rock climbing wall, slam dunking a basketball or free-style jumping high into the sky, there was something for everyone. Just about
everybody gave bouncing a try and it’s hard to say who had more fun doing their best impression of Tigger the Tiger. The younger tots giggled endlessly, bouncing just the tiniest bit while older kids gave their try at some more complicated tricks. Adults? They tried their best to keep up (and some were pretty good)! With all the excess energy burnt, quite an appetite was worked up and, thanks to Smokey’s BBQ, guests enjoyed a flavorful spread of barbecue, brisket and all the fixin’s, along with delicious cookies from The American Club. Certified Public Accountant Hayden T Joseph also contributed to ensure a great time was had by all. US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar and AAS President Glenn van Zutphen joined in the excitement and gave a short welcome message to the
group. Guests had the opportunity to learn all about AAS Strategic Partners: CitiBank; Expat Dental; Singapore American School and The American Club. Attendees were also able to pick up some special treats at the Warehouse Club table. Sister organizations were represented, including the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the American Women’s Association (AWA), the Navy League and the US Embassy. As the afternoon drew to a close, the many tired, smiling faces heading home were a testament to the fun had by all and the anticipation of more exciting events in the weeks and months to come. The AAS team welcomes all families and friends, both old and new, to Singapore and we look forward seeing you again soon!
American Association of Singapore’s Annual Strategic Partners
2 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · November 2016
A message from the President...
SINGAPORE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER
Is the US Election over yet? Someone PLEASE tell me it is! It’s been a wild ride and we at AAS certainly hope that you exercised your right to vote. I’ll have the privilege of emceeing AmCham’s Election Watch Party on November 9 at the Conrad Centennial Singapore. Our members can attend, but sign up fast. Space is limited. Ambassador Wagar will be there along with a huge crowd of AmCham members to watch the election results come in. Regardless of who wins, I’m personally looking forward to this “interesting” campaign cycle being over. No matter which side of the political fence you sit on, my hope is that all Americans will come together, stop the mud-slinging, rollup their sleeves and get down to the urgent business of solving our country’s challenges. Did you like these? Looking to events closer to our Little Red Dot, we hopefully gave you some fun events over the past month or so with our Wine & Chocolate event at The Vintage Club and an enjoyable and thought-provoking night at the theater at a first-rate production of RENT, followed by a panel discussion about the show’s message of inclusion and diversity led by Ambassador Wagar. Crystal Wagar gave her thoughts to a packed Champagne breakfast about how they’ve enjoyed their years here in Singapore and what’s next for the Wagars after they leave in January. A big thank you to Crystal for sharing her experiences. Upcoming events We think you’ll love our Taste of Italy cooking demonstration (and tasting) by Clessidra on November 15. Join this, one of our most popular events each year, and sip some wine while you shop for delicious holiday gifts. And if you’re planning to eat more than your fair share at Thanksgiving this month, come to our Annual Turkey Trot fun run with the US Navy MWR Singapore on November 19 and pre-burn off some cals before you sit down to your turkey and stuffing. This event is always great fun for singles, couples and families. AAS 100th Anniversary Sponsors, we need you! Planning for the AAS 100th Anniversary in 2017 is nearly finished. We now need individual and corporate sponsors who want to connect with our dynamic members while supporting the American community and our AAS mission to be “The leading non-profit organization that enhances, promotes and celebrates American culture among expats from all countries and the Singaporean community – through social events, charitable activities and career support.” Please contact our Business Development Manager Shu Khanduja at email@example.com for details on the many exciting programs and sponsorship options. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter: @AmAssocSG, (hashtag #AmAssocSG for all social media).
Editor-in-Chief: Melinda Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak, email@example.com
DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen, firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen, email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Faith Chanda, Angel Corrigan, Laura Coulter, Rob Faraone, Andrew Hallam, Koh Xin Tian, Steve Kreutter, Ashley McInerney, Anne Perng, Lauren S. Power, Jenifer Raver, Conn J. Schrader, Laura Schwartz, Eric Walter For AAS: Anne Morgan, Melinda Murphy, Sarah Walston
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Patrick Jones • Secretary: Shawn Galey Directors: James Arpin, Joseph Foggiato, Mary Beth McCrory, Ana Mims and Stephanie Nash Immediate Past President: David Boden • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Tara Eastep SACAC Chair: Anne LeBoutillier • 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: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.aasingapore.com The Singapore American newspaper, a monthly publication with readership of 10,000+, has been published by the American Association of Singapore since 1958, with the purpose of enhancing the expatriate experience in Singapore.
SUBSCRIPTION A subscription to the Singapore American is complimentary with an AAS or CRCE membership. AAS annual family membership is just $70. CRCE membership is $160. To join, visit www.aasingapore.com and have the Singapore American delivered to your home. 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.
Glenn van Zutphen email@example.com twitter: @glennvanzutphen
3 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · November 2016
Election Watch Party
Wine & Chocolate
Please join the US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar and the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore for an Election Watch Party. Election results will be broadcast live, so please feel free to come and go to experience the excitement as the 2016 US Elections unfold. Light refreshments and American treats will be served. 8am-1pm Conrad Hotel, Main Ballroom 2 Temasek Boulevard, (S)038982 Complimentary for AAS members only Limited Space Available
There was lots of lick lippin’ at this fabulous event held at The Vintage Club’s warehouse, an incredibly cool location. Participants started the night off with some bubbly then sampled three red wines with chocolate to complement. What an incredible taste treat! After all, what could be better than pairing wine and chocolate together?!
Night at the Theater: RENT
Taste of Italy
There are few things in the world better than Italian food made by a real live Italian cook! Come see for yourself at this Italian cooking demonstration by Clessidra in a unique shophouse setting. Sample the recipes and sip some wine while you shop for fabulous holiday gifts. This is one event not to be missed! 7-9pm The GoDown, 44 Zion Road, (S)247776 $30 AAS Members; $50 Non-Members
Calling all runners for the AAS annual Thanksgiving run! This is the perfect way to burn off some calories before indulging during the holidays! For more info, see ad on opposite page. 7:30am registration; 8am race Terror Club, Deptford Road, (S)759657 $35 Adults; $15 Children (12 years old and under); $180 Team of Six
Theater-goers had a grand time, first sharing a glass of wine then enjoying the ground-breaking musical RENT. After the show, the large crowd really got into the panel discussion about the show’s message of inclusion and diversity, chaired by US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar.
Crystal Wagar: Reflections
Hearing the wife of the US Ambassador to Singapore look back on her time in Singapore was really fun and fascinating, especially over a Champagne breakfast! What an incredible few years the Wagars have had in the Lion City. A big thank you to Crystal Wagar for sharing her experiences!
For more info and to register for an event: www.aasingapore.com
Santa Claus is coming to town!
Get into the holiday spirit to support Toys for Tots
Monday, December 5 · 5-7pm The American Club, The 2nd Floor 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Honorary Chairperson: Mrs. Crystal Wagar For registration and price info: www.aasingapore.com
Volunteers Needed The American Association of Singapore (AAS) would like to invite members to volunteer to serve on the Nominating Committee being formed to produce the AAS slate of officers for 2017. Responsibilities include attending committee meetings, interviewing candidates and speaking with community members to formulate the slate of officers that will be submitted to the AAS Board of Directors at its monthly meeting in December 2016. Interested parties must be AAS members and US Citizens. To volunteer, please contact the Board by November 15 at: Nominations2017@aasingapore.com
Major Event Sponsor
AAS MEMBER DISCOUNTS
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 www.aasingapore.com/member-discounts.
Two hours free handy-man service worth more than $200 when you book your move with Allied Pickfords. Call 6862 4700.
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 from January 4-December 30, 2016. 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.
Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem: www.expatliving.sg/aas
Enjoy cash rewards of up to 50% of the first month’s nett rental when you lease an apartment/ house or refer a friend to us. Valid till December 31, 2016. Terms & Conditions apply. Call 6223 5223 or visit rentFarEast.com.
FIRST DRINK FREE – every day, every visit for AAS members. Valid on house pours until December 31, 2016. Show your membership card at the bar to claim. Check out their new location at: 32 South Buona Vista
Survival Chic Discovery Dining Program 30% off the table bill (including alcohol and guests) at 50+ top restaurants around the city. $25,000+ in savings, for less than $1/day. 10% off Survival Chic Membership for AAS members! www.survivalchic.com
Present your AAS membership card and receive $10 in vouchers when you sign up for a Warehouse Club membership. Valid till November 30, 2016.
Welcome Back Celebr
co-sponsored by GEMS Wo
of Singapore Presents
ration at ZOOM Park
orld Academy (Singapore)
FOOD SPONSOR: Supporting Sponsors: Photos by Tatyana Kildisheva
American Smokehouse & Grill
Navy League Hayden T Joseph CPA LLP
6 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION
Singapore American · November 2016
Party of the Century! By Melinda Murphy
ext year marks the centennial anniversary of the American Association of Singapore. One hundred years. Ten decades. That’s quite a reason to celebrate! And celebrate we will! We have busily been planning some amazing events in the coming months and, as the year progresses, so will the timeline of our happenings. • We’ll start with a nod to our origins back in 1917: a kickoff event in January celebrating the arrival of Americans in the Lion City. • In March, we’ll host our George Washington Centennial Ball, the ball of all balls with a 1920s feel. Won’t we all look dapper in fashions inspired by both Western and Eastern culture from that era? • The Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament will be held in 1940s Singapore. Think G&Ts and playing a hole or two with real wood golf clubs. Knowing our crazy fun golfers, maybe we’ll even see some knickerbockers and county flat caps on the course! • Independence Day will harken back to the 1950s, featuring fixtures from the decade such as apple pie contests and barber shop quartets. Your kids will get a taste of what life was like in simpler America. • We’re planning a 1960s giant picnic for Welcome Back. Think of a kid-friendly Woodstock, Singapore-style. Ready to sport some psychedelic clothing?
American Association of Singapore
Early bird tickets on sale now
• Dig out your 80s track suit, sweat bands and Walkmans for Turkey Trot, then enjoy a meal together following the big run. • Toys for Tots became an official mission of the US Marine Corps Reserve in the 1990s and we’ll celebrate with a good, ol’ fashioned Christmas. Children will make handmade decorations and try their hand at games from yesteryear. Perhaps the part of our centennial we are most proud to share is our initiative called “100 Acts of Charity,” a salute to our strong and long heritage of charity work in Singapore. Monies from this year’s George Washington Centennial Ball will go to support charitable acts across Singapore. The AAS Board and staff are launching this intiative in January with Project Homeworks, aiming to clean homes of several elderly Singaporeans. We are asking our American sister organizations and friends to contribute to the 100 Acts throughout the year, which we will track on a map via our website. We want people to know just how much Americans have always given back to Singapore, our second home. So please, if you do any charity work in 2017, let us know about it so we can tell the world! We are very proud of our heritage and excited about the year ahead. We look forward to seeing you at all of our events. And if you want to volunteer or sponsor an event, please let us know.
George Washington Centennial Ball Join us for this special evening in celebration of the 100th anniversary of AAS. An AAS members only event. For tickets and more info: www.aasingapore.com
March 4, 2017 · Capella Singapore, sentosa
CAREER RESOURCE CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS “Careers can be difficult journeys; you need a passion to keep you going when the going gets rough.” MIKE MASSIMINO
In conversation with Jenifer Raver, involved with CRCE since 2010. How did you hear about CRCE? I heard that CRCE was as a good resource for those making a transition in their careers from working friends. At the time that I signed up, I was looking to return to fulltime work after working part-time for several years while I had my children. Share with us your experiences as a member of AAS and CRCE? I remember attending several workshops with Alka Chandiramani and other CRCE team members. They helped me focus my job search efforts, meet new people and build confidence while looking for a job! Since that time, I’ve suggested CRCE to friends and associates. How long have you lived in Singapore? I’ve lived in Singapore for almost 12 years. I originally hail from the US and have also lived in Japan for two years. I have two children and a close circle of friends who keep me happily busy! What is your current role and basic responsibilities? I currently work as Director in the Dean of Faculty Office at Yale-NUS College, a fouryear liberal arts and sciences college founded by Yale University and National University of Singapore. My responsibilities include faculty recruitment and appointments, creating policy, supporting faculty committee work and doing special projects for the college.
From your job search experience, what are your top three insider tips? 1) Invest in building professional and personal relationships. These will see you through thick and thin times. 2) Do your homework on prospective companies and people that you meet so that you can truly engage others. 3) Be flexible. Consider positions (parttime, freelance and volunteer) that you might not otherwise consider to get your proverbial foot in the door. What’s your favorite cuisine and restaurant in Singapore? Having lived here a while I have many favorite restaurants including Original Sin, LingZhi, The Clan and any Din Tai Fung branches for the kids!
Check out next month’s CRCE article which will include information about changes to the rules for Dependent Pass holders who want to set up a sole proprietorship.
CRCE NOVEMBER WORKSHOPS Create an Effective Resume and Get Noticed! Speaker: Alka Chandiramani Wednesday, November 2 10am – 12:30pm How to Present Yourself Effectively Speaker: Victoria Mintey Friday, November 11 10am – 12pm Career Assessment and SelfReinvention during Expatriation Speaker: Aude Beneton Wednesday, November 23 10am – 12pm
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 www.aasingapore.com to find out more.
LOOKING TO REINVENT YOURSELF? AAS OFFERS PERSONALIZED CAREER COUNSELING SERVICES. SIGN UP NOW FOR A PRIVATE APPOINTMENT WITH A PROFESSIONAL CAREER ADVISOR. PLEASE CONTACT CRCE.INFO@AASINGAPORE.COM
Outplacement Consultants Consultants must be dedicated to help others in their career transition and to guide them to consider what they would like to pursue in their next phase of life. You will need to use your senior management experience to assist candidates in their job search using our proven outplacement processes and techniques. (job #3397) Project-Basis Trainer The Trainer will facilitate group workshops for soft skills development and for admissions and career skills. Certification in MBTI, STRONG / RIASEC / Hollands Code, StrengthsFinder, DISC etc. are considered plus points. Training in image consulting or personal grooming are considered plus points. (job #3396) Website Operations Support (part time) The Website Operations and Support person will be responsible for developing all aspects of the organization’s online presence. In addition to maintaining site content, this person will also continually seek to refine and improve this important communication channel. As content manager, the Website Operations and Support person will work closely with the office team, the association’s subgroups, and our membership, so strong communication skills are essential. S/he will also be responsible for overseeing the core membership system that manages our website, membership and ecommerce activities. Tasks require excellent attention to detail and the ability to work under tight deadlines. (job #3394) Pediatric Dentist A dental clinic is looking for a dynamic and motivated Pediatric Dentist to fill a full-time position in its practice. The clinic will assist with necessary visas, work permits and licensing in Singapore. Residence in Singapore and a minimum commitment to the practice is a requirement of this position. Qualified applicants will have the following credentials: DDS/DMD from a dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation; current, valid license to practice dentistry in state where providing care (License must be in good standing) or eligible for licensure. (job #3392) Communications Executive An international school is seeking a Communications Executive to develop engaging and persuasive content for all properties (including website, collateral, email, blogs and social networks) that drives awareness and demand generation. The ideal candidate loves to write and knows that great content should continue to evolve based on measurement and optimization. (job #3391) Lawyers and Legal Professionals Adventurous people sought for interesting legal sector missions. Do you have approaching 20 years’ experience in the sector, preferably some of it in the corporate environment? Can you orchestrate such critical projects and major change while making the complex seem simple, and build others’ capability to do the same? Must be Singapore-based with at least a Dependant’s Pass (DP) and thrive on flexible and sometimes uncertain working opportunities. (job #3380) Assistant Teachers – Early Childhood A school is looking for teachers who will support the lead teacher with classroom duties that include class management and activity preparation. A diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education, Teaching or Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education is required. (job #3378)
9 CRCE & BUSINESS
Singapore American · November 2016
A Low-Cost Way for US Expats to Invest By Andrew Hallam
ome people feel they don’t need a financial advisor, yet they want to build a low-cost portfolio of index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). But how can they do it? Many US-based brokerages have said “no” to expats. Schwab, for example, won’t allow Singapore-based Americans to open new accounts. Singapore joins a growing list of countries on the firm’s “can’t serve” list. In 2014, Fidelity slammed the door on US expats who wanted to buy their mutual funds. Vanguard won’t let expats open new accounts. That leaves an island in a sea of sinking boats: Interactive Brokers (IB). They want expat business, but they won’t hold your hand. They simply execute investment trades. Expats with at least US$10,000 can open an account. Barron’s rated IB the lowest cost US broker for the 15th straight year. Often, the best solution is the simplest. Investors could use just two funds. They include Vanguard’s Total World Stock ETF (VT) and Vanguard’s Total Bond Market ETF (BND). Both can be purchased through Interactive Brokers. Vanguard’s Total World Stock ETF (VT) charges fees of just 0.14 percent per year. It also provides exposure to US and foreign stocks. The weightings are based on global market capitalization. For example, the US is the world’s biggest stock market. That’s why it makes up about 54 percent of the fund’s holdings. European stocks make up about 22 percent. Asian and Australian stocks make up almost 19 percent. Vanguard’s Total Bond Market ETF (BND) adds stability. It represents a broad selection of US bonds with expenses that total just 0.06 percent per year. With just two ETFs, investors would have a fully-diversified portfolio. A cautious investor might have 55 percent in the global stock market index (VT) with 45 percent invested in the US bond index (BND). Working expats should be investing every month. At the beginning of each month, they could see which of their ETFs lagged the other over the previous 30 days. That’s the one to buy. This helps to maintain a balanced allocation. At the end of the calendar year, if the allocation is slightly out of whack, the investor could rebalance, bringing the portfolio back to its original allocation. Younger investors can afford to take higher risk, with the hope of higher long-term returns. That’s why they should commit more money to the stock market index (VT). Many older investors seek more stability.
Many investors, however, fear investing on their own. Fortunately, they can find some low-cost guides. One is PlanVision’s Mark Zoril. He helps US expats use Interactive Brokers. “Our firm charges just $96 a year,” he says. “I set up video conference sessions to discuss the process and I help clients complete the transactions. During our video sessions, we also do screen sharing so I can provide instruction.” Robert Wasilewski of RW Investment Strategies offers something similar. Most of his expat clients already have accounts with Schwab or Vanguard. He says his clients shouldn’t be surprised if their accounts get closed. That’s why he’s ready to work with Interactive Brokers. “I do sessions on Skype that typically last about 75 minutes. I charge $160 per session and most people are doing their own investing after one or two sessions.” US-based brokerages keep shutting doors on American expats. That bodes well for Interactive Brokers and the advisors who can lend a hand. Photo by Andreas Breitling Andrew Hallam is the author of The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing and Millionaire Teacher. He writes personal finance columns for The Globe and Mail and for AssetBuilder, a US-based investment firm.
10 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · November 2016
Reaching the Highest Summits By Anne Perng
n early love of all things computers set Roopal K. of USA Girl Scouts Overseas (Singapore) Troop 99 on an amazing journey which eventually led to India – and the Gold Award. Four years ago, at the tender age of 12, Roopal was the youngest participant by at least ten years at an SG Geek Girls’ class on HTML and CSS. Roopal’s early experiences in computing got her interested in tackling the digital divide, that gap between those who have access to computers and the internet and those who do not. Guided by the Girl Scout Gold Award guidelines, Roopal developed a curriculum to teach high school students the basics of Microsoft Office and internet safety. The program was tested on an initial audience of domestic helpers and, later, a younger Girl Scout troop. They provided her with feedback to improve that curriculum and her teaching skills set. Then, last summer, she traveled to Bangalore, India to teach 80 students her program. The Gold Award journey has made an impact on not only the students, but on Roopal herself. Only 5% of all Girl Scouts do the 80 hours of work on a sustainable project to earn this achievement. “I feel so privileged to be a Gold Award recipient. I feel that receiving the Gold Award has bolstered my confidence and I believe that whatever I do actually makes a difference, brings about change and, ultimately, will help the world become a better place.” Currently, a senior at the Singapore American School (SAS), Roopal’s project is strongly supported by the school. SAS students have now built a computer lab in Batam so Roopal can continue teaching. Roopal herself hopes to major in Computer Science or Computer Engineering when she goes to university next year.
The Gold Award is generally acknowledged as the highest award in Girl Scouts, but there is actually one award higher – so rare that most don’t even know about it: the National Young Women of Distinction Award. This award goes to only ten Gold Award recipients a year. This year, for the first time ever, a girl outside of the United States received this honor: Singapore’s own Hanna C. Hanna graduated SAS last year and is currently a college freshman at the University of Southern California. Hanna’s Gold Award project involved establishing a Rural Education and Development (READ) center in Bhutan. With the help of a service club she co-founded at SAS, the program will be sustained with yearly interim trips to Yangthang Village. We are so proud of both these girls and hope that they continue to inspire younger Girl Scouts here to do their part in fulfilling the Girl Scouts mission: Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts is also a lot of fun! Coming up this year, the girls will go Dragon Boating, attend a Father Daughter Dance, try their hand at camping and a whole lot more! Registration for the Spring semester opens December 1. Interested in getting involved? Great! Leaders are needed! Don’t worry: leading a troop is lots of fun and we teach you everything you need to know. You’ll enjoy it as much as the girls do! Just log onto our website to find out more! Photo courtesy of Roopal K.
SCOUTING IN SINGAPORE Boy Scouts Troop 07: www.bsatroop07.org Boy Scouts Troop 10: www.facebook.com/BSATroopX Cub Scouts Pack 3010: www.sgpack3010.org Cub Scouts Pack 3017: SGPack3017@gmail.com Girl Scouts: www.singaporeusagirlscouts.org
The Little Three-Wheeler That Could By Koh Xin Tian
tudents now live in a world requiring people to develop things quickly, get their ideas out, test them, fail, iterate and try again. “Unfortunately, Singapore as a country doesn’t share this mentality. Schools and parents program students to not fail,” observed middle school technology teacher James Diebley at the Singapore American School. “But sometimes, it’s better to be ‘roughly right’ than ‘precisely wrong.’ It’s important for students to see teachers walking the walk. Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing.” At a recent TEDxYouth@SAS talk, Diebley took to the stage to share how teachers like him have always encouraged students to take risks. He shared his own herculean effort to get a special vehicle to Singapore, an effort that was fraught with failure before success. Long before Singapore’s discussion about the viability of electric cars on the roads, Diebley purchased his Corbin Sparrow vehicle, way back in December 2000. The quirky orange threewheeler was the brainchild of motorcycle saddle designer Mike Corbin, designed, developed and built in Hollister, California by Corbin Motors. From there, Diebley’s vehicle was transported to San Francisco and shipped to Singapore in its own container. After ten days in customs, it finally arrived at SAS in May 2001. But getting it here was only a part of the challenge. Motorcycle or Car? Diebley then spent a year wrangling with Singapore’s government authorities, trying to convince them to let him register his Corbin Sparrow as a motorcycle. The LTA finally requested that the Sparrow be registered as a car instead. Gathering the necessary component testing paperwork and securing financing for the Certificate of Entitlement and additional registration fees to register the vehicle as a car took him another year and a half. During this time, Diebley drove it around the private property of his school campus, giving educational talks and delighting students and teachers with the sight. After two and a half years of hurdles and headaches, Diebley finally registered his vehicle in September 2003. The most frequent question Diebley gets isn’t “How far can it drive on a charge?” or “How fast can it go?” but rather “How much you pay, ah?” Let’s just say it was a very expensive journey! “I knew this vehicle wouldn’t be the cheapest or the easiest to maintain, but I really had no idea! Hopefully, students will be inspired to see how one of their teachers took a huge risk to do something different,” says Diebley. Photo courtesy of James Diebley
12 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · November 2016
The US Embassy in Singapore: by the numbers
Celebrating Years of Partnership
By Conn J. Schrader
By Ashley McInerney
ith the close of the US government’s fiscal year, we review how much stuff we did over the previous twelve months. To illustrate the elements of consular work that go beyond the routine services to US citizens, take a look at some of this [unofficial!] data. We hope to have served well the 50,000 people who walked through our doors. We saw close to 40,000 nonimmigrant visas applicants this year, a number that is steadily rising and up substantially from the 31,000 applications five years ago. About 70 percent of our applicants were nationals of countries other than Singapore and just over half of our applicants are business and tourism travelers. There are also large numbers of student and exchange visitors, skilled workers, official government travelers and others who contribute to the growing partnership between the United States and Singapore and the ASEAN region. The fact that international visitors contributed more than $200 billion to the US economy in 2015 adds to the importance of these travelers. There were about 500 immigrant visa applicants over the course of the year and these
are among the most important visas we issue. Most are for family unification as a US citizen or legal resident seeks to have a spouse or child join them in the United States. We also see a small number of Diversity Immigrant Visa applicants. Each year, the United States offers 50,000 slots worldwide via a lottery draw from millions of applications. Some restrictions and qualifications apply, but winning entrants can then apply to go live and work in the United States. US citizen services remain our most important line of work and we took in about 5,000 US passport applications. Among our favorite things is documenting the citizenship of US citizens born in Singapore and there were almost 500 babies in our waiting room with their parents last year. When you add in 4,000 notarial services, requests for voting and other assistance, we expect that we served close to 10,000 US citizens. Unfortunately, this number also includes US citizens and their families who were victims of crime, mentally or physically ill, injured, deceased or run afoul of Singaporean law. We are here to help where we can. Photo courtesy of IIP Photo Archive
he American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) hosted the 2016 Welcome Back Reception, an annual celebration marking the return of the American community to Singapore, at the Shangri-La Hotel at the end of August. The reception was attended by more than 300 senior business leaders, American community members, US Embassy representatives and friends. The reception kicked off with AmCham Chairman Dwight Hutchins highlighting this year’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. He touched on AmCham’s Career Kickstarter, a program to engage and educate local Singaporean students about existing job realities; October’s Corporate Community Day, Walk for Rice, an event to raise bowls of rice for needy families in Singapore; and AmCham Cares, an initiative to spotlight AmCham member companies that understand the link between business operations and society and have taken action to develop programs that benefit the local community. Hutchings and AmCham Executive Director
Judith Fergin both focused on the importance of United States-Singapore bilateral ties and the role business leaders play in supporting the on-going community service efforts occurring across Singapore. For the remainder of the evening, guests were treated to live music and sponsor give-aways as they caught up with familiar faces. Prizes included airline tickets, spa and food vouchers, staycation packages and apparel. AmCham would like to warmly thank everyone who contributed so generously to the Welcome Back Reception. Our speakers and presenters ensured that a grand time was had by all. Special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor: Stamford American International School and Event Sponsors: AETNA, Allied Pickfords, Chili’s, Far East Organization, Rutgers Business School, Sarpino’s, Sun Electric and The American Club. For more information, please visit www.amcham.org.sg/membership. Photo courtesy of AmCham Singapore
Singapore American Â· November 2016
A NTARCTIC A DVENTURE By Rob Faraone
Singapore American · November 2016
ene Wasosky, known as “The Expat Artist,” paints vibrant images, many of his works inspired by his extensive travels worldwide. Wasosky has lived in Asia for more than 40 years as a professional in the energy industry. He started in Istanbul, Turkey, developing an early wanderlust. He traveled extensively for work and then chose to spend his personal time exploring yet more countries. By the time he moved to Singapore in the mid-1980s, he had been in 105 countries. Having now settled in Singapore, his current country count is 173. Wasosky’s most exotic cruise took 42 days on a small ship through the Amazon. He has also traveled the Trans-Siberian and Mongolian railroads several times. Via the internet, Wasosky met Loretta Anderson (Lori), a career pharmacist in Oregon. She had developed her own taste for travel while escaping the cold wet winters there. Sharing a mutual love for travel, their relationship blossomed and she moved to Singapore. They now maintain a home in Hawaii as well as a holiday homes in Phuket and Spain. About two years ago, Wasosky suggested a Celebrity Antarctic Cruise. A long cruise in a cold, yet exotic environment, appealed to him. Lori liked that the cruise started from Buenos Aires, a beautiful European-like city. From there, the ship went to the Falkland Islands where land mines, the remnants of the war between England and Argentina, still remain. The capital, Stanley, is like an old English village. From Stanley, the ship sailed down the coast of Argentina and stopped in three different, small cities along the way, eventually reaching Cap and the tip of South America. From there, it took three more days on the open water to reach Antarctica. Entering the Antarctica’s waters was eerie, with overcast skies, stark mountains and plains, a glacial landscape featuring snow-covered terrains and even icebergs. Wasosky said it was exceeding beautiful, but cold with a spine-chilling wind constantly blowing. To walk the deck and get a glimpse of variety of wildlife such as whales, penguins and sea birds, they would have to bundle up to protect themselves from the wind. Chilled to the bone, they would often have to duck into the warm embrace of the ship’s library.
It wasn’t just the sights that made Antarctica special, but the sounds were quite interesting, too. The winds interacted with the glaciers to create a whistling effect. Then there was the “low groan,” created by glaciers as they slowly moved down the slope, moving only a few inches each year! Wasosky contrasted the difference between endless hours viewing a bleak landscape by rail and viewing the Antarctic from a ship. The long train ride across Siberia to Moscow entailed endless scenery, crossword puzzles, social drinking with fellow passengers and finding ways to entertain themselves. There was no Club Car. Meal times were based on Moscow time so that dinner might be at three in the morning! The two-week cruise experience was easier in many ways because of the various amenities, space to move around and variety of activities. A typical day included enjoying a large buffet breakfast, working out at the gym, eating lunch and later an evening meal. There were also a variety of classes and nightly entertainment. And like on a train, the couple could still fraternize with other passengers. Would they do it again? Not necessarily. Wildlife was not as abundant at they’d hoped and the scenery was a bit monotonous. They missed the palm trees. But they liked the cruise experience, so much so that they just completed two Caribbean cruises in April. They both enjoy travel so much that they always feel a need to explore new places and new adventures throughout the year. We expats are well advised to keep a sense of adventure and do trips which are rewarding and fun for the whole family, especially as these opportunities come up in Asia for unusual and exotic places to visit. Photos courtesy of Lori Anderson and Maria Michelle Rob Faraone has lived in six countries in the region over 30 years, including three stints in Singapore. After a career in the moving/relocation industry, he’s now engaged by the International Association of Movers and regularly writes for its global publication.
17 COMMUNITY NEWS
Singapore American · November 2016
Home Away from Home By Steve Kreutter
avy men and women who are on deployment are often away from their home base in the United States for seven or eight months at a time. While they do have some access to the internet and can make occasional video calls, it is a long time for anyone to be away. Imagine the stretch of holidays they miss away from loved ones while serving their country. In response, the American Association of Singapore, in partnership with the Navy League, created Home Hospitality. When ships come into port in Singapore, we match sailors who would like to have a meal away from the ship with families who would like to host them. Some families invite two or more sailors (we use a buddy system) on an outing. Perhaps a bike ride at Pulau Ubin followed by a meal at Changi Village is something you’d like to sponsor. A little home hospitality can go a long way to cheer up anyone, especially someone who has been away from family and friends for months at a time. Why not help yourself and others at the same time? It can be so rewarding to get to know some of these fine men and women. Russ Ferguson, the Navy Chaplain who helps to coordinate this program for the Navy, comments, “This is a valued program for visiting Sailors and Marines. We routinely receive comments from participants that the time spent with Home Hospitality was the highlight of their time in Singapore.” We are very likely to have a crew in port in Singapore over Thanksgiving. Opening your home and your hearts to our Navy Personnel is a wonderful way to show gratitude for all our blessings and to say “thank you” to those who serve our country. Home Hospitality will be providing you with more information on the program for Thanksgiving in the coming weeks. We encourage you to take this opportunity to show your thanks and be part of our larger community. If you are interested, please send your name and contact email details to firstname.lastname@example.org Photos courtesy of Barton Miller and Suzanne French Swiderski
We met up with two sailors at Cafe Iguana last night and had a great time getting to know them! They were both married with children ages three and younger and it was so nice seeing their faces light up as they spoke about their wives and children. It was interesting to hear how and why they joined the Navy and what their long-term future plans are. They both asked if we were on Facebook and wanted to friend us so that they could keep in touch. I messaged them both last night to tell them how much we enjoyed meeting them and one of the wives has already messaged me thanking us for taking her husband out last night and how much he enjoyed it. Marjorie Kennedy Stennis Strike Group Hospitality Host Family
Celebrating Holiday Traditions By Laura Schwartz
ith the unchanging weather and the long distance from home, the end-of-year holidays may just not feel the same and you might find yourself approaching them with a heavy heart. But holiday traditions are more adaptable than you think they are. You may not be jumping into piles of leaves or building snowmen, but here are some ideas for keeping the spirit of your favorite holidays alive while living abroad:
Thanksgiving is the holiday most easily transplanted, but you will need to get used to celebrating it on a weekend, since you won’t have all Thursday to cook and all Friday to recover. It can be challenging, assembling all the ingredients for the typical dishes, but it’s absolutely possible. The larger Cold Storage stores sometimes even create a tiny Thanksgiving section with cans of cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie filling, stuffing and more. You can pick up your turkey at Cold Storage or go to specialized grocers such as Meat the Butcher. If you really can’t bear the thought of sweating over an oven for the requisite hours of feast preparation, you can make a reservation at one of the several American restaurants that do a full Thanksgiving spread. While Thanksgiving is often all about the food, the soul of the holiday is in spending time with loved ones. The best part about Thanksgiving in Singapore is that you’ll often have the opportunity of introducing this laidback, secular holiday to non-American friends. I’ve had British, German, Indian, Malaysian, Singaporean and Portuguese guests over for Turkey Day and every time the diversity has only added to the love in the room.
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 Bard College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Language & Culture. When she’s not traveling or devouring a new book, she writes freelance for a series of publications.
As the local Jewish community is only about 2,000 people strong, Chanukah is not widely known about by most of Singapore. Nevertheless, the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) coordinates gatherings and events for almost every Jewish holiday. For Chanukah, in the past, the JWB has hosted a public Menorah lighting on Orchard Road, followed by a gala banquet and performance. You can purchase tickets on the JWB website (www.singaporejews.com). If you’d prefer to celebrate at home and are looking for latkes or other traditional Jewish fare, the most authentic you’ll find here is at the New York- style deli, Sacha & Sons, at Mandarin Gallery. And for those who keep kosher, there’s a specialty food store in the Jacob Ballas Center and next to it is Awafi Restaurant, Singapore’s first and only fully kosher, rabbi-supervised eatery.
Singapore has a long history of helping expats recreate Christmas, especially the Christmas shopping experience. And although you can obtain a real fir tree, buy scores of decorations and see Orchard decked out in lights, it can still be difficult to spend Christmas away from home. If you’re really blue at the thought of trying to summon your family’s holiday traditions and all their magic to Singapore, then don’t try. One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I first moved here was to avoid attempting to recreate exactly what you would do back in the States or in Europe, because it won’t ever really feel the same (even if you crank up the air conditioning so you can drink hot cocoa without sweating). Instead, do something completely different. Spend the day volunteering at a local charity or riding roller coasters at Universal Studios. Go to Thailand and have a grand party on the beach. Honor the heart of your traditions (connecting with family and friends, the spirit of giving and gratitude), but give yourself the gift of permission to create new ones. You might create holiday magic in ways you never thought you could. Photo by Wenje Zhang
20 SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS
Singapore American · November 2016
Being a Good Guest By Angel Corrigan
s expats, visiting friends and family becomes a big part of our lives. Without these precious visits, we would not be able to maintain any of those sweet ties that bind us together. So it is of utmost importance that we learn how to be a good guest. After making a list about how I felt a good guest should behave, I googled around a bit and there were a few recurring themes. “I sustain myself with the love of family.” Maya Angelou Respect other people’s time. Arrive when you say you will and leave when you say you will. Your host should not be waiting around for you to show up, nor should they have to ask you when you plan on leaving. Go to bed at the same time as your host and, if they do turn in before you, be mindful of noise you make after they have retired. If you are sharing a bathroom, make sure you find out when your host gets up for work so you don’t throw off their morning routine. If you are staying longer than three days, consider getting out from under your hosts’ feet for an evening by sightseeing alone or catching up with other friends you might know in the same town. Let your host know your plans and when you will be back. Be transparent about your plans. Your hosts might like to be invited along, but they also may welcome a bit of space. In the age of Uber, it is worth considering booking a car to and from the airport when you visit someone. This is especially true if you are arriving late at night or early in the morning.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” John Wesley Even if your hosts are not clean freaks, they will appreciate not having to deal with your extra mess. BE TIDY! Keep your sleeping area neat, make your bed, keep your items out of the bathroom. Strip the bed and take the sheets and your towel to the laundry area, if possible, when you leave. Make sure you check for any of your belongings and tidy up your room. Leave everything as good or better than how you found it. “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” Oscar Wilde Bring a small hostess/host gift when you arrive. On your way out, let your hosts know how much you have appreciated their hospitality. If you really want to be a hero, leave a hand written note of thanks for them to find after you have left. Being a good guest gives us good memories and strengthens ties with our family and friends. Angel Corrigan arrived in Singapore in 1999 with her family. She has lived around the world as a military spouse. In Singapore, she has worked at the US Embassy and in the fundraising and development field as Managing Director of her own company.
“Everyone needs a house to live in, but a supportive family is what builds a home.” Anthony Liccione Offer to cook dinner for your hosts or take them out one night as a way to say “thank you” for the free room. Offer to help clear the table after meals and do dishes. Take the dog and the kids out for a walk and give your host a short break. Even if your host says “no” to any help, at least you have made the offer and they know you appreciate their hospitality. “A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” Aesop Eat what your hosts offer. Let them know if you have dietary restrictions before your visit. Bring special food with you and go out and buy the special things you need when you arrive. Offer to buy groceries if you are staying longer than a few days. Bring your own toiletries. Ditch your electronics as much as possible and interact with your hosts. Do not bring uninvited guests or animals without asking your host first. Really, does this even have to be said? Well… yes, I have had guests surprise me with pets more than once and I was not amused, especially since I did not have a pet of my own. On one occasion, I was babysitting a friend’s blind Chow Chow and he did not like other animals! That situation could have ended really badly. Pet etiquette is a must. “Visitors should behave in such a way that the host and hostess feel at home.” JS Farynski Observe what your hosts do in their home and follow their lead. If they leave their shoes at the door, do the same. If they put their dishes immediately in the dishwasher after using them, do the same. If they hang up their coats in the coat closet, do the same.
Call Center Confidential By Eric Walter
o your new smart phone won’t send or receive calls. Perhaps that high end flat screen seems to be stuck on the fishing channel. Or maybe that top of the line laptop is displaying the infamous blue screen of death. Take a deep breath; you need to call a helpline. You poor fool. Having to call customer service or tech support can often be frustrating in the extreme. It is also all too often a necessity around the holidays as we give and receive gifts. Thing is, it doesn’t have to be so hard. These days, I make my living as a writer, editor and content consultant. In a previous life, however, I worked the front lines of a call center (yay student jobs). It is because of this that I can give you the inside dope on how to get what you need from customer service/tech support without going insane. Tip 1: Know What You Want Before You Call The first step to getting what you want from customer service or tech support starts before you even pick up the phone. It is as simple as this: decide what you want out of the call. This may seem obvious, but you’d be shocked how often people call tech support in a cloud of rage or frustration without a clear idea of what they want. What follows is almost always unnecessarily stressful both for the caller and the call center employee(s) trying to assist. Trust me, I’ve seen – and experienced – this many times. So avoid the stress, take a breath and figure out what you want here. Is it a refund? An explanation of how a certain feature works? Prorated service for a certain period of time? Being able to state your wishes at the beginning of the call, whatever they might be, will generally get things resolved faster.
Tip 2: When You Truly Reach a Roadblock, Escalate Understand that the first person you talk to will generally be what is referred to at my old place of business as a Tier 1 employee and thus may not have as much power to affect change on your behalf as a manager or employee at the next tier. If the person you are talking to can’t (or won’t) give you what you need, they may offer to transfer you to the next level. If they do, it’s generally a good idea to agree. If they don’t, I recommend you ask for one yourself. If you can’t get things resolved on that level, ask to escalate again until you can’t any higher. Tip 3: Compassion Can Take You Far By the time you call that tech support/customer service line, something has probably seriously gone wrong. That’s frustrating. We get it. Taking that frustration out on the rep that picks up the phone is virtually always a mistake, however. The thing to remember is that any given call center worker on any given working day has probably already had multiple people flip out, yell, swear or insult them before they got to you. While we are not likely to be openly rude or defiant back, believe me, it wears on us. You should also remember that there are generally dozens of ways for a rep to be, shall we say, less than helpful without breaking any of the rules of the center they work for, so alienating yours unnecessarily isn’t a good move. Note that I am not advocating you be a pushover. In many cases, you can and should be adamant that your issue be resolved, but doing it in a calm and (if at all possible) polite way will generally take you farther than going in hot right off the bat. Beyond all this, it’s important to remember that the person on the other end of the phone is a human, just like you. Keeping that in mind isn’t just smart strategy, it also makes you a good human being. Eric Walter is a freelance writer and editor focusing on business, technology and travel.
21 Singapore American · November 2016
HO-HO-HOSTING FOR THE HOLIDAYS By Faith Chanda
xpecting visiting family or friends this holiday season? A little planning ahead will go a long way in helping to keep everyone in the holiday spirit. To check out how functional your guest room or guest space is, run through your usual morning and evening routines and see what you might need or wish for that isn’t already there. It’s nice to have a luggage rack to hold suitcases or an empty drawer or two. “A surface to put personal belongings on is handy, use a desk, console or chest of drawers for this purpose (a bedside table works, too, if you’re limited on space),” suggests Priya Naik, Founder and Design Director of Interior Design Journey Pte Ltd. Also consider items visitors from other climates may not have anticipated needing, such as reusable water bottles, extra sunscreen and bug spray. Naik says “If you have some Asian collectibles or art to display, this is a great room to do so. Guests will enjoy these elements and it’ll really give them the vibe of holidaying in the tropics.” Don’t forget to take guests on a quick tour of the facilities in your building so they can find their way to enjoy them. To help your guests stay connected while they’re reconnecting with you, advise them how to purchase SIM cards for their phones, provide travel plug adaptors and power strips along with your WiFi password. Once everyone is settled, you’ll need to have a plan for how your guests will spend their time. Some guests will arrive, no doubt, with a detailed itinerary in hand. Others will expect you to play tour guide 24/7. Most will expect something in between. When family friends visited us from America last year, we learned the hard way that jet lag also has to be a factor in your planning. I’ll never forget looking over five minutes into the Night Safari tour and finding both parents and both kids asleep in their tram seats! “I always put a travel guide in my guest room and a street map, showing MRT and bus routes, in case they want to have a wander by themselves. I have given my guests MRT cards inserted into a lanyard along with my address. I help my visitors download taxi, bus and navigation apps so they can easily use public transportation,” says blogger Aleathia Holland, who manages the Travelling Expats Facebook page. Remember to take into account what kind of budget with which your friends or family may be working as well as special interests or hobbies that might influence what they would like to see and do while they are visiting. Also, if your guests are members of a club back home, they might have reciprocal membership privileges with a club in Singapore. Or if you are club members, you may be able to provide guest passes to yours. Holland adds, “I also think that country etiquette is really important when traveling and I try to advise my guests on different Singaporean customs that may be different from their homeland. For example, saving a seat via a small pack of tissues or thanking the taxi ‘uncle’ as you hop out.” Think about practices your guests might not be used to by remembering what was new to you when you arrived. Taking your shoes off before entering most homes, the role of your helper in your home (if you have one) and the ubiquitous lizards and cockroaches (a few other creatures that come to mind). Some may not be familiar with the idea of separate air cons in each room and water heaters for each bathroom. If kids are part of the party, make sure parents are well aware of possible danger zones such as balconies and windows and secure them ahead of time. Most importantly, don’t forget why your guests have come: to see you and experience the wonders that Singapore has to offer. Depending on your relationship, the proportion of those two priorities may differ, but make sure you get an idea of what your guests’ expectations are upfront. If they will be with you on a specific holiday, such as Christmas, consider what traditions, both secular and religious, may be important to them and to you so that you can all enjoy the day in ways that are comfortable and fulfilling. And it’s okay to take a break from traditional holiday celebrations sometimes. Before my husband and I had kids, we would often travel over traditionally family-oriented holidays such as Thanksgiving and Easter because accommodations and attractions were often less-crowded and sometimes less expensive, too. It can be freeing to just enjoy time together without all of the stresses holiday celebrations can bring. If you create a shared folder where you and your guests can upload photos from the trip, you’ll have a treasure trove of good memories and a great start on creating a photobook to preserve them. Once the good times have rolled and your guests are safely back home, you’ll be able to put your feet up, toast your hosting success and enjoy the memories you made together. Faith Chanda has reinvented herself as a writer, after spending most of her career in Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles.
SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS
23 SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS
Singapore American · November 2016
How to Conquer Your Inner Grinch By Lauren S. Power
he 2016 holiday season is slated to be one of the busiest in the history of our adult lives. My husband, Nick, will be graduating from his MBA program. We are moving house and possibly relocating to another country. I am running my first half-marathon. We both have social and work obligations to manage. I am submitting applications for graduate school. We are preparing to export/import our precious chihuahua. All while juggling the annual duties of holiday cards and gifts for everyone. These four weeks would be hard just on their own, but… I am also planning a two-week holiday for my in-laws to Singapore and Hong Kong. So how will I deal? Step 1: Recognize that you have a problem. You might think that organizing activities for a few family members would be the least of my worries, given all the other life changing events with which we are dealing. Somehow, however, that is not the case. We’ve hosted many guests in Singapore before, including my in-laws. Maybe it is because there is so much going on. Maybe I’m nervous about spending a prolonged amount of time with my in-laws after not seeing them for a year. Or maybe it is because this could be our last holiday season in Singapore. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I am stressed! I am at risk of being a real Grinch this year. Step 2: Decide to change. Just because I have good reasons to be stressed doesn’t mean I have an excuse to rob others of holiday cheer. There is no need to feel guilty about being distracted from family fun. There is a lot to manage, but we also have so much to celebrate this year. I want to make it a priority to be present for my family. Step 3: Surround yourself with a support network. My in-laws are well-traveled within the United States, but they don’t have much experience in Asia. This means that they are used to feeling informed and in control. They aren’t especially used to being confronted with the unknown and having to adapt and this has led to some insecurity about their upcoming trip. My initial reaction to this was to just plan everything for them, put all relevant information into a set of documents and submit them well in advance, giving the in-laws ample time to crosscheck and ask questions. But in reality, I don’t have to handle this by myself. I can delegate elements of the planning to my very helpful husband or to my in-laws. We will all have a better trip if we all have a hand in planning it. I will have more emotional energy left for celebrating if I don’t expend it all in the planning process. Step 4: Be prepared to compromise. Does anyone else order customized designer holiday mailers? Isn’t that a thing? Since Nick and I have been living abroad, we have used our holiday card to show to our friends and family why we love living in Asia. It has been a priority to send Christmas gifts to our family every year, as well, to emphasize that we still care about them, even though we’ve lived far away for many years. This year, we may have to cut back. The bigger priority is to enjoy the time with my husband and in-laws who are with me, not to stress over getting every family member a card and gift. If the crush of obligations seems overwhelming, have a shortlist of items you can cut out. Prioritize and compromise. Step 5: Create a positive model for success. Once you have established your method for overcoming your inner Grinch and refocusing your energy into productive activities, you can use this model of behavior for other tasks. It would work well in managing an international relocation, for example. Acknowledge that your negativity, though warranted, is a controllable force that need not overwhelm you. Work within a realistic set of expectations for both yourself and your family as you prepare to celebrate the holidays. And when you encounter another Grinch, do not judge them too harshly. We have all been down that path of Yuletide dread. Instead, offer them words of hope or an encouraging smile. Guide them through these five steps so that they, too, can conquer their inner Grinch and have a happy holiday! Photo by David Porter Lauren S. Power is a Texas native who has lived in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Singapore. As an independent writer and researcher, Lauren uses her involvement with Southeast Asian institutes and think tanks as inspiration for the social and political themes in her writing.
24 HEALTH & WELLNESS
Singapore American · September 2016
Beating Holiday Stress, One Weight at a Time By Laura Coulter
oliday stress is as familiar to us as the holiday tunes that stores start playing in October. Presents, parties, family visits, travel, year-end work projects, treetrimming, obligations at schools, work and with friends all contribute to sometimes feeling a bit overwhelmed. I talked to Aimee Barnes, a Health & Behavior Change coach, about some tips for beating the holiday stress. Aimee, what do you know about beating the seasonal stress? I used to be a hard-partying, hard-living, Type A woman, an ideal candidate for burn-out or heart attack. I cleaned up my act in 2009: quit smoking, quit drinking and quit taking antidepressants. I got into the long distance running scene. After a while, I found that I was better at weightlifting and enjoyed it more than running. So a few years ago, I decided to train with the aim to compete as a figure athlete. I’ve since won international and national competitions in that sport. How can we keep from feeling deflated at the end of the year because we haven’t achieved our goals? I truly believe that there aren’t any limits to what we can achieve and the way we visualize our future should represent that truth. My life has proven this over and over again. I use Vision Boards to keep myself clear and inspired and to remind me of where I’m heading. Holiday Tip: Use the end of the year as a chance for reflection and goal setting for the coming year. Celebrate your accomplishments of 2016 and get ready for the big dreams of 2017.
How can you create a winner’s mindset and enjoy the holiday season for all that it includes? Create the meaningful holiday that YOU desire. If guilt is weighing you down, there are many volunteer work options available during this time, such as delivering gifts to children in need through non-profit programs, working with a local soup kitchen, volunteering at a prison or hospice or signing up for a Habitat for Humanity build. If a well-deserved vacation is more your speed, consider planning something that keeps you active and engaged with others or brings you to a country that could really use your tourist dollars. This can also be a time of spiritual connection and reflection and a wonderful opportunity to finally go on a silent or religious retreat or to experience pilgrimage to a sacred place. Everyone’s Facebook is full of photos with the perfect tree, the perfect cookie recipe and the perfect family. Help! Get off Facebook. During the holidays, we’re particularly prone to comparing ourselves with others and losing sight of the bigger picture. Equally, it’s a time where many of us feel like we need to put on a mask, which means a lot of photos and status updates in your feed that will definitely not represent reality, as well as added pressure to share your own carefully crafted “highlights.” If you’re stressing out just thinking about it, consider quitting Facebook (and Instagram, Snapchat etc.) for the month of December. The gift of your full attention is one of the best you can give. I haven’t worked out much in 2016. Is it even worth starting or should I wait for a fresh start in 2017? The holidays are a great time to work out with your trainer. The gyms are quiet which helps to balance your stress. Take an hour away from family to get a work out in and you’ll return to be with them in a much better mood. Consider it a gift to yourself. Start now and finish the year strong. For women, there are a number of great female trainers and female-friendly gyms to try. (See sidebar) It’ll also be easier to maintain your weight and keep your alcohol intake in check by increasing your mindful focus on well-being, despite the many temptations of the season. Don’t wait until you’ve made your New Year’s resolutions. Encourage a fun and fit festive season by getting your blood flowing and drawing up an exercise plan of action now. Any tips for resisting the endless offers of alcohol and sugar? Look at the parties to which you’ve been invited and choose where you will eat. Don’t get caught mindlessly, eating the cookie tray next to the photocopy machine at work. Preparation is key. By preparing and packing meals and snacks, practicing
Women in Fitness Roz Alexander, BeachFit: Australian certified master trainer, nutrition coach, specialist in performance nutrition and PNBA professional figure athlete with more than 18 years combined professional and competitive experience. Roz provides one-on-one coaching, executive wellness programs and four-day transformation retreats Thailand. www.beachfit.com.sg Sam Blakey, Ooberfit: voted best PT in Singapore by Expat Living, running a very successful fitness business while raising five children. www.ooberfit.com Lisa Clayton: Total powerhouse in Singapore’s fitness community, running OzFit bootcamps and SheFit retreats. www.ufitbootcamps.com.sg Cheryl Lin, Eat Train Love: Personal training and nutrition consultancy that takes a practical, holistic and sustainable approach to health and fitness. www.eattrainlove.net Urban Remedy Asia No matter your age, ethnicity, budget or where you are in your wellness journey, they are here to help. With a very active and supportive Facebook group, you can find encouragement, fitness classes and groups to workout with, along with a shot of daily motivation. www.urbanremedy.asia
mindfulness around eating and scheduling meals instead of dining out impulsively, you can get through the holidays with flying colors. Holiday Tip: Eat before you meet. Taking the time to eat a healthy snack in the taxi on the way to a party will help you resist the sugary treats at the event. Photo courtesy Sugarlight Photography 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.
25 ARTS & CULTURE
Two Stand Out Productions By Anne Morgan
he Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) has endeavoured to inspire, engage and entertain audiences of all ages since its founding in 1993. The American Association has thoroughly enjoyed organizing some memorable events to watch a number of productions over the years, including the spectacular Richard III, starring Kevin Spacey and several Shakespeare in the Park productions at Fort Canning Park. It is with great anticipation that we look forward to the Singapore premier of the Pulitzer Price-winning play, Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar. The play focuses on the central character Amir, who has worked hard to achieve the American Dream. His life, however, begins to unravel when a celebratory dinner with friends leads to a fiery clash about his culture and identity that he’s worked so hard to cultivate. Has Amir removed himself too far from his roots? Disgraced has been the most staged play in the United States this year. The Singapore production is being directed by Nate Silver, who was involved with the
Broadway production. He says “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Disgraced to Singapore and to the audiences at SRT. The play is always evolving. Its meaning continues to shift along with the world around us and its profound resonance is different in every city and with each individual performance.” Disgraced runs from Wednesday, November 16 to Sunday, December 4. For a younger audience, SRT is showing Charlotte’s Web, another American classic named “the best American children’s book of the past two hundred years” by The Children’s Literature Association. It is an enchanting story of a pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a barn spider named Charlotte. To avoid Wilbur being sent to the butcher, Charlotte proves to be a true friend by coming to his rescue, using her web-spinning skills to weave messages that praise Wilbur, making him a celebrated pig treasured by the farmer and his family. Charlotte’s Web is a poignant play that spins a positive message about friendship. It runs from Friday, October 28 to Sunday, December 11.