What is the Singaporean identity? When attempting to define what makes a Singaporean Singaporean, it is tough finding the exact words – is it the food? The mannerisms? Or even the lahs, lehs and lors? Despite the difficulty in labeling, all Singaporeans will instinctively know what is, or is not Singaporean.
In hopes of having their own children experience Singapore for themselves at a deeper level, many overseas Singaporeans engaged their children in the latest edition of the popular Camp@Home, a consecutive three-day programme from 12th January to 14th January 2015. Its first 2015 run gave 12 overseas Singaporean children the opportunity to reconnect with their Singaporean roots and learn the story of how Singapore came to be.
The overseas Singaporean campers giving their well-wishes for Singapore’s 50th birthday at Chinatown
During the three-day programme the children rediscovered Singapore’s places of heritage such as the Civic District, Kampong Glam and Chinatown where they learnt a little more about Singapore’s nation-building journey and her racial diversity. The children also relished the opportunity to get hands-on in their learning about Singapore. They spent some time learning to make lanterns for Chinese New Year with angbao (red packets), and also sat through a batik art-making workshop, where they drew SG50 icons like the Merlion, Vanda Miss Joaquim and the ever popular Chicken Rice to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday.
To experience first-hand the typical day of a Singaporean student, the OS children also joined their peers at Pei Tong Primary School for a full day of school immersion, complete with morning assembly and lessons (as well as racing to the canteen for recess). What was a seemingly routine day at school, proved to be a novel experience for many of these overseas children who have spent their growing years abroad.
Alisabeth, Kai Jie and Ziyi (Left to Right) painting their best impression of SG50 icons during the batik art-making workshop
“Priscillia always had a strong desire to come back to Singapore. She was very hesitant and skeptical [about making new friends at Camp@Home], but look at how much fun she’s having right now! The last thing that I, as a parent, would want is for her to forget our Singaporean roots,” said Angie Ng, a parent of one of the Camp@Home participants who currently resides in Australia. “In the future, these kids would be able to come back home to visit their friends in Singapore, like how we do, and that’s really great.”
Mrs Heng Gay Lee, Vice Principal at Pei Tong Primary School, said that the programme provided the students with the opportunity to be more confident. She also expressed a desire for the overseas Singaporean students to “develop a sense of belonging towards home and [bring back] good memories of schooling in Singapore.”
Sarah interacting with her Pei Tong Primary School buddies on Day 2 of the Camp@Home programme
As Camp@Home continues into its 11th run, more overseas Singaporeans are finding that the value of bringing their children back home is much more than just understanding, with all its diversity and nuances, what Singapore’s culture really is. Rather, it is about allowing their children to put meaning to the words “Singapore”, “roots” and “home” for themselves, making possible for a better awareness of their identity - even if it might be the simple discovery that their favourite food is Chicken Rice.
Take a peek into all of the other activities at our latest edition of Camp@Home here!
Specially designed for overseas Singaporean kids aged 7 - 12, the Camp@Home journey aims to help your children re-discover Singapore and learn more about local culture and heritage.