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Dover Court Outdoor Education Programme

Outdoor education at Dover Court starts as young as Early Years with children having flexible access to outside spaces to spark their imagination and develop their gross and fine motor skills. Learning in early years blends child-initiated learning and teacher-led activities, and the outside spaces are key to this programme and their development. Our lush campus is where students can go on expeditions, climb trees, run on real grass and get muddy during playtime.

The Dover Court outdoor education programme is fully integrated into the curriculum and has been designed to balance challenge with independence. The programme graduates from day trips in Early Years to Expeditions in Secondary, with students spending more time away from home and participating in increasingly challenging activities. Students are encouraged to step outside their comfort zones to build their confidence and develop key skills, such as resilience and collaboration. We want all our students to leave DCIS as global citizens, well aware of the world around them and prepared for any challenges their future may hold.

In addition to the residential trips that commence in Year 3, our students also have access to expedition opportunities through Nord Anglia Education. Each year students from years 9 and upwards can join students from schools all over the world at one of two expedition centres, located in Switzerland and Tanzania.

In May this year, two groups of Secondary students travelled to Switzerland for their Alpine adventure; for some this was their second trip and as such were taking part in the advanced mountaineering challenge. The purpose of the expeditions is to guide students in setting and achieving their own personal targets and milestones. Students are encouraged to take calculated risks and persevere when the challenges become more difficult. They learn to lead others, as well as be an active part of a group.

The Personal Challenge Expedition took the students to Les Martinets in the Swiss Alps. It is one of our physically most challenging expeditions, where the students must push their limits. Set in the breath-taking Swiss Alps, the students undertook a journey through the mountains, while working in teams together with students from other Nord Anglia schools to overcome challenges such as weather, altitude, navigation and cooking.

“The Les Martinets expedition was an amazing trip, I was challenged to do things I’d never thought I’d be able to do and I loved working together with students from the other NAE schools, we became really close friends during our time together.” Jenna, Year 9

“I have been on two of the Switzerland expeditions, this year I was part of the advanced expedition. It is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.” Hugh, Year 10

“The Personal Challenge Expedition was a fantastic experience for both students and staff. It truly tested the students’ determination and character, the highlights being an epic two day hike up into the snow, where we saw marmots and ibex and visiting a Glacier at 3000m, walking across it on snow shoes to eat our lunch overlooking the blue ice of the glacier itself.” Mrs Harris, Trip Leader


Author Interview: Rosie Milne

British expat Rosie Milne is the author of four novels: How To Change Your Life; Holding The Baby; Olivia & Sophia; and Circumstance: Truth & Lies in the Malayan Jungle. She has lived in Singapore for 16 years and also runs the literary website Asian Books Blog.

Your first historical novel ‘Olivia & Sophia’ is the story of Stamford Raffles’ two wives. Why did you choose to write about them?
Somewhere I learned that Raffles had two wives. Then I learned dribs and drabs of his life story, that his children had died, that he’d lost everything on a shipwreck. I thought ‘this is a story that reads like fiction’. Very early on in my research, I had the idea that I would do one diary for each wife.

It was quite a brave decision, writing the story in a diary format.
There were things that were hard about using the diary format. One was that I was obviously limited to the first-person point of view, so how to get information into the story was a challenge. I was forever having to have characters ‘overhear’ something. Another huge challenge was timing. Because it was following the diary format, historically maybe twenty things happened in April 1825 and then nothing until March 1827. That doesn’t really work in a novel.

Your most recent book, Circumstance, deals with a young bride in the 1920s, arriving in Malaysia to find that her husband had previously lived with a local woman who bore him four children. Where did you get the inspiration for that?
Years ago when I lived in Hong Kong, another writer friend said to me that she thought all expat writers in Asia were writing in the shadow of Somerset Maugham. At the time I completely agreed. I’ve changed my thinking about that now, but I thought at the time, that’s interesting, so how do you address that? You address it by engaging directly with Somerset Maugham and with one of his works. So I looked for a short story, one of his Far Eastern Tales, that had enough in it to make a novel and had a fairly generic setup so I could do what I liked with it. Basically it’s a love triangle (the story is Maugham’s The Force of Circumstance).

How hard do you think it was for your characters when they arrived in the colonies for the first time with no family or friends apart from their new husbands? How hard was it for them to find their own network or community?
I don’t think there was their own community. I think they had to be incredibly brave, incredibly adventurous women who handled isolation very well. I always think it must have been like if we went to the moon now. Leaving England in the 19th century, with the difficulty in communication, the heat here, the bugs, the lack of medicine. It was incredibly difficult.
They had little contact with their families and friends back home. For Rose (in the novel Circumstance), in the 1920s, it would take about three months to write a letter, send it off and get a reply. For Olivia and Sophia, in the late 1700’s/1800’s you could write a letter today and it wouldn’t arrive for 18 months and then the reply would take 18 months and it might get lost on the way. So – and this is based on fact – you could actually get a letter enquiring about the health of a child who had died.

On that topic, Raffles’ second wife Sophia bore him five children. All but one died before their fifth birthday. That must have been hard to write about.
I allowed myself one complete sobbing breakdown, then I told myself I had to write it with no more emotion. It shows how lucky we are now. If I was writing a contemporary novel about the loss of a child, the loss of that one child would be the focus of the novel, and would be expected to be the entire focus of that main character’s life for a long time. These women had to deal with the deaths of three children in six months, as well as deaths of brothers, friends and associates. There were actually a lot more deaths of people around them, which I had to leave out otherwise there would have been a death every second page. They had to deal with so much that it almost doesn’t read to be true.

On a lighter note, what are you working on now?
I’m working on a novel that is very loosely inspired by truth. It’s about somebody who came out from England in the early 19th century, and set up a little Kingdom on Borneo, and then got thrown out of that kingdom and set up another kingdom somewhere else. One of the things I learned from Olivia & Sophia is how difficult it is to write a historical novel that sticks strictly to history, because you bend it (the history) out of shape in all sorts of ways. So I’m thinking it’s going to be loosely inspired by history rather than following the actual true story.

You run the website asianbooksblog.com, who are your favourite regional authors?
There are some fantastically interesting things coming out, particularly short stories. Singapore literature’s having a bit of a moment, both internationally and locally. I actually don’t want to name anybody, because that would mean excluding other people! But I would say, read local literature, novels, short stories. Read people who are published by local presses, like Epigram, or Math Paper Press. Monsoon, who publish me, is also a local press, but they’re based in England and publishes books about SE Asia, the whole region, whereas a publisher like Epigram is probably more focused on Singapore. So, I would look at what local publishers are bringing out.

ANZA Writers Group needs a new leader!

Calling all budding writers!
ANZA’s Writer’s Group is seeking a new leader and new members. All levels of writing experience welcome. Contact us at info@anza.org.sg

Meet Carmen Goh – National Netballer and ER Doc!

Carmen Goh balances playing for Singapore and a demanding career as an ER doctor

Favourite moments from this year’s Netball World Cup tournament?
During the Sri Lanka game in the final seconds of the last quarter, when I made a pass to Kaiwei from the centre third – going past taller and bigger defenders to her right under the pole – was a highlight. My absolute favourite moment was finding out that my mum had flown to Liverpool as a surprise. My younger sister who’s currently living in Prague had made plans to come for the later matches, but they secretly hatched a plan for my mum and aunt to come along too.

How do you balance your netball training and competitions with your work commitments?
A lot of understanding from my friends, family, colleagues and bosses. Friends because I can hardly meet up with them and sometimes reply to their messages only days later. Family because they barely see me at home, but constantly fuss over my wellbeing. Colleagues and bosses who allow me to pursue netball and offer to do extra shifts, so I’m able to make it to training.

When did you start playing netball?
I started playing in primary school at 10 years old. I went to CHIJ Kellock, a school that was strong in netball and I attended the trials which were held during one of our PE classes. I was small but I guess the coach saw something in me.

What is your favourite thing about playing netball?
I love tricking the opponents together with my teammates. I love making a pass that skims the defender’s fingertips but lands perfectly in my teammate’s hands.
I love finding new ways to play the game and challenging conventional styles. Above all, I love that some of my oldest and best friends came from the various netball teams I’ve played in over the years.

What are the best and worst parts of your job as an ER doctor?
The best part is the unpredictability – what’s this patient going to complain of? – then figuring out the diagnosis and subsequent management. I could go from tending to an elderly patient who complained of giddiness to re-setting a broken bone to suturing a laceration in one shift (and then to netball training). The hardest part would be having to inform family members that their loved ones have passed on. I’ve been the messenger a couple of times and it is always difficult, especially watching parents cry over the unexpected death of their child.

Favourite place you’ve travelled to?
New Zealand. I’ve gone for the last three years to the Remarkables to snowboard and it holds special memories because it’s where I first learnt snowboarding, first went bungee jumping and first stayed in a campervan!

What’s next for you?
For me it will be settling in back at work with a short trip to Koh Samui to unwind. Then it’ll be back to the grind for netball again. Our next big tournament will be the M1 Nations Cup, here in Singapore from 20-26 October.*

*Check out Carmen and the Singapore Netball Team at M1 Nations Cup, 20-26 October. The six-nation netball championship hosted in Singapore will see Team Singapore (26th) compete against Ireland (24th), Namibia (32nd), Botswana (25th), Papua New Guinea (19th), and Cook Islands (16th) at the OCBC Arena. Tickets from apactix.com

Hotspots: Frieda & Blue Jasmine

Arcade@The Capitol Kempinski,
Given the Kempinski brand’s German heritage, we expected their German restaurant to serve up some authentic dishes. The menu did not disappoint with its offering of sausages, schnitzel, meatloaf and pork knuckle. We started light with a shared platter of cold cuts. Ample as an entrée for two, it had several good-quality hams and salamis, fresh country-style bread and a serving of ‘obatzda’, a Bavarian cheese dip.
Next was the veal wiener schnitzel, thinly sliced with just the right amount of crumbing, served with a potato salad and sweet cranberry sauce. A half serve is sufficient, especially if you’re ordering entrée or desserts.

Frieda’s pork knuckle dish is a standout

Frieda’s highlight is undoubtably their signature pork knuckle. A free-range Australian pork hind leg knuckle, slow cooked in pork stock with bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, juniper berries, garlic and onion for three hours before the skin is removed and baked. It’s a generous portion, crisped to perfection and served with herby pretzel dumplings to soak up the rich sauce. Homemade sauerkraut completes the dish.
Verdict: Traditonal European comfort food. Go on an empty stomach.

Don’t miss Blue Jasmine’s moreish sesame beef bites

Blue Jasmine
Level 5 Farrer Park Hotel,
10 Farrer Park Station Rd
Blue Jasmine, the Thai restaurant at Park Hotel in Farrer Park, has launched a new, authentic menu of Thai classics and street food staples. The new alfresco bar is the perfect place to try some tasty Thai snacks and cocktails, or head to the dining room for more substantial fare.
We sampled a lunch set with a mildly spicy tom yum soup loaded with seafood, some vegetarian spring rolls, and mango sticky rice. Great value at $15.
Another favourite was the sesame beef bites: strips of beef loin fried with sesame and a chili tamarind dipping sauce. This dish has a bit of a kick to it, perfect for spice lovers.
The standout dish was the red curry. This dish tempers its chilli with the addition of grapes, lychee and pineapple, giving a tasty balance of sweetness and heat.
Durian lovers can sample a durian and sticky rice dessert, where the D-24 durian is cooked down with milk making it almost custard-like.
Verdict: Good value authentic Thai.

Tips to Grow your Community in Singapore

Facebook group Expats in the East organises a Halloween meet-up IRL

Meeting Online
Facebook abounds with expat groups. Some groups arrange offline meeting for members, or you can arrange your own. The Meet Up app also has lots of niche groups, so no matter what you’re looking for, chances are there’s a group for it. meetup.com

Expats in Singapore is probably the largest of the expat Facebook groups here, with nearly 24,000 members. It’s run by Aussie expat and local DJ Andrew Mackay. “A friend of mine was an admin but he wasn’t really that involved, so I took it on. I wanted to develop a Facebook group that would play a useful role in people’s lives, instead of just being a noticeboard for ads. Members arrange informal get togethers, from ‘who’s up for Futsal on Friday evening’ to ‘I’m new in town, let’s meet for drinks’.” facebook.com/groups/124648157604640/

Expats in the East was set up by British expat and East Coast resident Kate Moreau in 2017, and now has over 1500 members. “I had been an admin on some of the big Singapore groups (Storks’ Nest and East Coast Mums’ Support Group) but I realised that there wasn’t a vibrant group on the east for anyone who wasn’t a mum. I wanted to offer a resource for men, singles and non-parents. We started a Book Club through the group and last year we were instrumental in organising a Halloween Trick or Treat in Opera Estate in Siglap. It was huge and loved by many. We are planning to join forces with the local Neighbourhood Officer this year for an even bigger event! I think being active in a smaller Facebook group specific to your needs can be immensely rewarding in a new country.” facebook.com/groups/ExpatsInTheEastSG

Also check out: Singapore Expat Wives, Singapore Expat Husbands, Storks Nest (for parents), and Singapore Expat Newbies, all on Facebook.

Books & Beer is a book swap meet-up with a difference

Meeting Face-to-Face
As well as the many groups that ANZA offers, check out some of these fun local meetups:

Books & Beer is a book swap club that meets regularly at different bars, cafes or restaurants. Bring a few pre-loved books to swap, grab a drink and have a chat with other avid readers. Singaporean founders, Melissa Low and Eileen Lee, say: “Part of what we wanted to do was to bring about a revival in the reading culture. Having books as a common topic definitely helps strangers interact, you get far less awkwardness.” They regularly get 60-80 people at the swaps and special events. “Our collaboration with The 1925 Brewing Co. for the ‘Buy SingLit’ campaign promoted not only Singapore literature but also Singapore craft beer.” facebook.com/booksandbeersingapore

Friends of the Museum
All well as free entry to many Singapore’s museums, joining Friends of the Museum gives you access to their extensive program of cultural events and interest groups. An Asian Film Club, an ‘Explore Singapore’ group, a textiles enthusiasts club, and an Asian study group for people who want to learn more about this region, are just some of the ones you can join. fom.sg

Sketch your way to new friends and connections

Urban Sketchers. This group organises monthly ‘sketchwalks’ at outdoor locations around Singapore. Check their Facebook page for locations and come along with your preferred medium (paint, pencil, whatever). All levels of ability welcome. “Urban Sketchers is an international movement (with chapters in many cities around the world) of sketchers passionate about showing their world through on-location sketching,” explains Pat Ng, the chapter representative for Urban Sketchers Singapore. “It started with three people 10 years ago. Today, our sketchwalks draw 70 to over 100 people. We have sketchers aged from four to 80, but the majority are between 18 and 50. It’s a good mix of locals and expats, or sketcher friends visiting Singapore.” facebook.com/usksg

SheSays offers networking events and talks for women in Singapore

Business Networking
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or working in a multi-national corporation, networking is essential to your career. Try these groups:

Creative Mornings hosts monthly breakfast lectures aimed at creative types (like entrepreneurs, developers and designers). These free events include a 20-minute talk and coffee. Creative Mornings aims to bring people from different creative disciplines together. Recent speakers include Sonny Liew, a New York Times bestselling graphic novelist, architect Jason Pomeroy, and editor/publisher Kelley Cheng. creativemornings.com/cities/sg

Austcham or New Zealand Chamber of Commerce. Both Austcham and the NZ Chamber of Commerce have a very active program of events. These include presentations on aspects of doing business in this region, as well as more informal ‘meet and greet’ networking events. Austcham also has a social dragon boat team, and there’s a netball team for the NZ Chamber. austcham.org.sg, nzchamber.org.sg

Singapore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. From starting in business in Singapore to a free ‘create your own website’ seminar, and informal social networking sessions, SCCI has a solid calendar of events worth checking out. scci.sg
Primetime Business & Professional Women’s Association. “We usually run about 70 events in a year, featuring well-known speakers and experts. We also have special interest events, around themes such as finance, law, marketing, entrepreneurs, working moms, career, and so on,” explains Aurelie Saada, President of Primetime. primetime.org.sg

SheSays is a business networking group primarily aimed at women, but some events are open to men also. “We alternate between hosting a panel and a networking event every month – typical attendance is anywhere between 150-200 people. Our International Women’s Day Festival event in March was our most attended event ever, with over 600 women and men joining us at the Accenture Innovation Hub for a day of engaging panels and hands-on workshops,” explains Eleni Sardi of SheSays. facebook.com/shesaysSG/ SheSays

What’s On For Cryptocurrency Fanatics in Singapore?

Photo: Pixabay

Singapore has long been a nation that is driven by technological innovation and economic growth. As a forward-thinking city-state that’s regularly dubbed the ‘Switzerland of Asia’, it’s therefore unsurprising to hear that Singapore is becoming a leading hub for cryptocurrency. Digital currencies have become a new way of the world, creating decentralised digital payment platforms that are efficient and better protected against the threat of cyber-attacks.

The Block recently analysed the website traffic levels alongside 48 of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges on the planet. It discovered that Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland registered the highest interest in cryptocurrency exchanges, relative to their nations’ populations.

Given that Singapore has long been considered one of the most prominent and influential forex trading hubs in the Far East, it’s unsurprising that the Lion City is taking a keen interest in burgeoning crypto coins. Singaporeans looking to get involved can find plenty of reading material on the industry, with beginners’ guides explaining exactly what is cryptocurrency and the pros and cons of each of the leading cryptos now rife online.

Aligned with the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies in Singapore, there are plenty of seminars and conferences scheduled in the coming months that could better educate you on the fundamentals of the industry and how to trade the likes of Bitcoin in the years ahead.

Photo: Pixabay

Crypto Expo Singapore 2019 (26 October)

Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands resort is due to play host to Crypto Expo Singapore 2019, with some 3,000 delegates expected to embark on the area for the biggest ever cryptocurrency and blockchain forum the city-state has ever seen. A host of industry-leading analysts and leaders from the crypto and blockchain sectors will be discussing leading topics on trading, new technologies, and trends that will be of note to the expo’s visitors.

Some of the speeches from VIP speakers that have already been approved for use include The Future of Decentralised Cryptocurrency Exchanges and The Common Pitfalls of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). Tickets are free if you only want access to the exhibition hall and the open presentations.

The Singapore FinEdTech Conference 2019 (5 – 6 November)

As Fintech is one of the fastest-growing industries of the 21st-century economy, it’s little surprise that Singapore is at the coalface of the company. Aside from the core concepts of cryptocurrency trading, cryptocurrency and blockchain’s impact on the education sector is expected to be transformational.

The Singapore FinEdTech Conference welcomes tech experts, educators, and members of the public sector to discuss and learn more about technologies such as cryptocurrency, blockchain, and digital banking that alter the way we learn, not just spend money. Unlike the free entry to Crypto Expo Singapore, tickets for this conference are $190 per person.

The Capital: CoinMarketCap Global Conference (12 – 13 November)

CoinMarketCap has evolved into one of the leading online portals for information on the cryptocurrency industry, ranging from market capitalisations and rankings of cryptocurrency exchanges through to resources and the latest crypto news. Amazon’s Alexa ranked it in the world’s top-100 most visited websites last year.

With such a font of knowledge on cryptos, it’s unsurprising that the platform is launching its inaugural global conference on cryptocurrency assets and the next phase of growth in the sector. Given Singapore’s appetite for cryptos, CoinMarketCap selected the city’s Victoria Theatre as the venue for its free two-day event, bringing together cryptocurrency project leaders and crypto enthusiasts in the same room.

With everything that’s happening this year, even just in the city-state itself, it’s undeniable that this new wave of currency is coming in thick and fast. The impact of said wave is yet to be confidently analysed, but one thing is for sure: the future is now – and it’s digital.

Singapore Short Break: Khao Lak

Photos: Patricia Almeida, Julie Phebey

Taking advantage of a school-free Friday, I joined with two friends and our kids to escape to sunny Thailand. We chose Khao Lak for its proximity to the stunning Similan islands, famous for having some of Thailand’s best snorkelling and diving. There’s no accommodation on the islands, but they’re just a short speedboat ride from Khao Lak.
Our day trip to the islands was the highlight of the weekend. As the Similans can get quite crowded with tourists, the hotel helped to arrange a private boat for the six of us.
Heading out at 8.30am, the comfortable speedboat got us to the Similans in around 1.5 hours. As we could choose our own itinerary, we skipped the usual tourist boat route and started with some snorkelling and swimming in a more secluded area. The Similans are part of the Mu Ko Similan National Park, and the Thai government takes its protection seriously. The national park is closed to the public during the monsoon period from mid-May to October each year. In 2018, the government banned overnight stays on the islands and restricted visitor numbers to just under 4,000 people per day.
Because of these protections, marine life is abundant. During our time in the water we were lucky enough to see a turtle, colourful corals and loads of fish, including some curious clownfish who obligingly posed for photos.

We then cruised to the largest island in the archipelago, Koh Similan. As well as incredible marine life, the Similans are famous for their pristine beaches and impressive rock formations. A short trek up to a coastal viewpoint gave us a birds-eye view of the aquamarine bay, giant boulders and white sand shores around the island. The kids had great fun clambering over the boulders then leaping into the warm ocean.
A magnificent picnic lunch awaited us, so we stretched out on the beach to enjoy some delicious Thai food. Then it was back to the water for more snorkelling before returning to Khao Lak.

Khao Lak itself has a wide stretch of pretty beachfront, and our hotel, The Sands, was well located close to the area’s attractions.
A quirky mini-golf course nearby was an immediate success with the kids. The course is modelled on an Indiana Jones movie set, so we played 18 holes surrounded by jungle and ‘ancient’ ruins.
The best feature of The Sands hotel is undoubtably the water park. Nine different pools, numerous water slides, a fountain play area, lazy river with inner tubes, and dedicated toddler pool make this ideal for family fun. There are separate adults-only pools too, in case the grown-ups need a break!
The Sands has a good selection of rooms catering to families. We chose interconnecting rooms, and some of the family rooms have a living space that can be partitioned off from the bedroom, to give kids and parents their own space. If you need more, there are two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites.
In the afternoon, we dropped the kids off at the kids club. The club is well-equipped with climbing structures, ball pit, crafts, games and an outdoor playground. While they played, we indulged in happy hour at the swim-up bar. A perfect end to a relaxing weekend.

Destination details
Getting there: Khao Lak is a 1.5-hour drive from Phuket International Airport. Just two hours from Singapore, multiple airlines including Scoot, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia and Jetstar will get you to Phuket.
When to go: November to May. Rainy season in this part of Thailand is during May to October, and the Similan islands are closed to tourists at that time.
Where to Stay: The Sands Khao Lak, rooms from $250 a night. thesandskhaolak.com

Singapore’s Last Kampungs

Pulau Ubin

Overshadowed by towering HDB blocks and shopping malls, Lorong Buangkok is a living piece of Singaporean history. Deep in the heartlands, this is the last of mainland Singapore’s traditional kampungs (villages). The little village was once home to more than 40 families, now around 20 households remain.
On a weekday morning, the kampung is peaceful. When I turn off the main road and walk down the dirt track leading to the kampung, traffic noise melts away. A handful of roosters crowing is the only sound. Some of the wooden houses are colourfully painted in pastel shades. Bird cages swing gently on verandahs, and chickens peck in the gardens. There is greenery everywhere, from pot plants and vegetable patches, to bushes, trees and overgrown grass between the houses.
The site has been earmarked for future development, with the government planning a major road and both a primary and secondary school for the site. But the plans have met with significant opposition.
Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio (the ward in which Lorong Buangkok lies), Intan Azura Mokhtar, has called for the kampung’s preservation. “Surely we can explore ways where the kampung can coexist and, in fact, enhance and bring value to urban life,” she said in Parliament in October 2017.
Her suggestions included integrating the kampung with the schools planned for the site, to teach students about history and traditional communal living.
Minister Desmond Lee of the Ministry of National Development subsequently announced that the proposed developments were part of a long-term masterplan for the area, and would not proceed for some years, maybe even decades. So it seems that the last kampung is safe for now.
In the meantime, the kampung has become something of a tourist attraction, especially for locals keen to show their children what their own kampung childhood was like.

While Lorong Buangkok is the last kampung on mainland Singapore, the island of Pulau Ubin hosts a small but thriving village of its own.
Around 40 residents are the last remaining occupants of the island, whose population once reached around 2,000. In the 1950s to 1970s, Pulau Ubin offered plenty of work, in granite quarries and on plantations like coffee, nutmeg, pineapple, coconut, tobacco and rubber. These industries declined from the 1980s, and many locals moved to mainland Singapore for work.
While some current residents still work in farming or fishing, the majority run businesses that cater to the 300,000 people who visit Pulau Ubin each year.
In 2014, the Ministry of National Development launched The Ubin Project to preserve the island’s cultural and natural heritage. The Project is restoring several kampung houses, including ‘Teck Seng’s Place’, the home of a local provision shop owner from 1970 to 2005. It has been conserved as a model kampung house, complete with furniture, appliances and decorations typical of a 1970s kampung house. It’s open to the public on the 2nd and 4th weekend of each month, and on public holidays.
If you want an in-depth look at life on Pulau Ubin, National Parks offers regular guided historic tours to the island to demonstrate the traditional way of life. nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/walks-and-tour

Keeping the Kampung Spirit Alive:

Kampung spirit refers to community-mindedness, locals helping locals, and looking out for your neighbours. But modern lifestyles, with long working hours and a preference for online conversations, can impact our human connection. Some community initiatives are aiming to keep Singapore’s kampung spirit alive in modern times.

Singapore Kindness Movement
This non-profit organisation exists to encourage kindness and civic mindedness. It has several initiatives that promote getting to know your neighbours, including ‘Let’s Makan’. A simple concept to invite neighbours to get together to share a meal, SKM provide tips for organising your ‘Let’s Makan’ session and invitation templates and publicity posters to advertise the session around your HDB or condo. kindness.sg

Ground up initiative
Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) is a non-profit organisation that aims to encourage community consciousness and showcase best practices in sustainable living.
“We aspire for urban dwellers to explore and reconnect with ourselves and others through conscious living. Our current mission is to build a Kampung Kampus, where we work to showcase the best practices in sustainable living and build towards a ‘5G Nation’ by being Gracious, Green, Giving, Grounded and Grateful,” explains GUI’s Koo Hui Ying.
GUI is building Kampung Kampus, a low-carbon footprint campus in Yishun, as a community space and venue for their educational programs. Part of the campus is an organic farm, where they offer harvesting experiences for groups and families. They also teach traditional skills. “Our most popular programs include Earth Oven Pizza Making, Fundamentals in Woodworking, and Harvesting Season.”

Human library
The Human Library concept started in Denmark and has spread all over the world. In a Human Library, real people are on loan to readers, giving them opportunity to hear people’s stories first-hand. If you have an interesting story to tell, you can sign up to be a ‘book’. Interested readers can register, choose who they’d like to hear from, and receive a meeting timeslot at the next event. It’s designed to promote conversation and empathy in society, as well as breaking down stereotypes. There have been four Human Library events in Singapore so far, with the next one planned for later in 2019.

Male Trailing Spouse Support

Paddy Taylor, left, and Jason Hyndman, centre.

Jason Hyndman, from Auckland; Sydneysider Dominic Evans; and Paddy Taylor, also from Sydney, met through ANZA’s Secret Men’s Business (SMB) group, which Paddy runs.

What brought you to Singapore?
Jason: We came for my wife’s career, she’s in HR. As a plumber and gas-fitter, there’s no way I’d earn the kind of money that my wife is earning. So it was a no-brainer to come.
Dom: I had my own company in Sydney, and my wife was in Singapore for work for about 12 months before me. We decided I’d sell my business and semi-retire so the kids and I could be with her here.
Paddy: My wife’s work moved their Asia-Pac headquarters from Sydney to Singapore.

How did it feel not working?
Dom: For me it was strange. I’d gone from running a business, surfing every morning, looking after my kids, to suddenly not doing anything. We have a helper, so I had an enormous amount of time on my hands to do nothing. Everyone thinks it’s easy but it’s not.
Jason: I loved it, I went to the gym all day. For the first three years, before our kids were born, I was doing the cooking and cleaning. Then when the kids were born, we got a helper. Just before that I got certified as a Personal Trainer, but then we had the babies (twins), so I couldn’t really do much.
Paddy: I had a lot of friends and family in Sydney, so I got on the plane to Singapore kicking and screaming. I said, let’s give it six months. My wife said, ‘how about we give it 12?’ For me, it was something different. I wanted to spend some time getting to know the country.

When you first arrived, how easy was it to meet people and make friends?
Paddy: About two weeks after arriving, I went online and found ANZA, and the Secret Men’s Business group. So I went to Harry’s at Boat Quay, and had a very long lunch! I didn’t play golf at that stage but joined the boys at golf the next day. Also, I used to play a bit of rugby, so I got in touch with Bedok Kings and started coaching there.
Dom: When I first got here, I didn’t really meet anyone for six months. Then a couple of people at functions mentioned Secret Men’s Business, and said it’s good for playing golf and catching up with other guys in the same situation. And my son was a rugby player, so we joined the Dragons. Straight away I met other parents.
Jason: I used to coach and play rugby back home, so as soon as I got here I went to play for Bedok Kings. Paddy was actually my coach. We’re members of the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce as well. Playing social mixed netball there was something I could do with my wife, we met a good bunch of people that way.

When you meet new people, how do you answer the question “So what do you do?”
Dom: The problem with Singapore is everyone’s networking. As soon as they ask what I do, and I say ‘I’m retired’; or ‘I’m a trailing spouse, I play golf and I surf’, their eyes go over my shoulder and they look for somebody else. That’s what I found, whereas SMB wasn’t like that. They were just intrigued about what you were doing, and as long as you could buy the next round, that’s all they worried about!
Paddy: I say, ‘I’m a Social Director for a small organisation’! Then I explain Secret Men’s Business. Particularly if I’m talking to guys who are working 60, 70 hours a week in the finance markets or whatever, they go ‘you’re kidding! How did you get that gig?’
Jason: I’m a true house-husband! My wife was pretty worried about me when we first got here, she thought I’d be bored out of my mind. But once I got my foot in the door with the rugby and was going to the gym every day, it was all good. All my mates were jealous!

Dominic, left, and Paddy, right.

Tips for new arrivals:
Paddy: Join something like SMB. You’ve got to make an effort, whether you’re a trailing spouse or not. People aren’t going to just knock on your door and say, ‘I hear you’re new, let’s go and do something’.
Jason: The first thing we joined was ANZA, and second was the NZ Chamber of Commerce. And the rugby. Straight away you have ‘meet and greet’ drinks with the NZ Chamber and ANZA.
Dom: The best advice I got was ‘vote yourself off the island’. Every few weeks I’d plan a surfing trip to Bali. It helps clear your head, gives you something to look forward to and something to talk about.

Taking trailing spouses seriously
Dr Yvonne McNulty, Senior Lecturer at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, researches the role of trailing spouses in the success of international work assignments. She believes that for male trailing spouses it’s particularly difficult. “It’s challenging being ‘different’ in a world that pigeon-holes stay-at-home partners as the woman or wife, and to find trailing spouse support tailored to the male perspective: golf instead of yoga, beer nights instead of coffee mornings etc,” explains Yvonne.
According to Yvonne’s research, 84% of trailing spouses (both male and female) have a tertiary qualification or college degree. Yvonne’s research has found that the dual-career issue has been the most common cause of overseas assignment refusal, and a major factor hindering trailing spouses’ adjustment.
“With localisation of expats (no more fat expat packages!), companies are shifting responsibility for trailing partners onto the families themselves. Support for families was never great among multinationals and I’d say now it’s almost non-existent. There are outlier companies that do outstanding programs – but they are one-offs. Most expat families today have to take responsibility for the ‘trailing’ partner themselves,” says Yvonne.

Meet the International Cooking Club Singapore!

American/British dual citizen expat Michelle Pilarczyk arrived in Singapore with her family in 2012. Three years later, when she was still struggling to meet people, she posted on a Facebook forum searching for a handful of women to start a cooking group. “I just put it up and said ‘I’m looking for nine women from different countries to cook with me’, and I got around two hundred responses,” says Michelle. After realising the huge interest in the idea, she formed an organisation to manage the administration of the group, and International Cooking Club Singapore (ICCS) was born. “We started out with 20 cooking groups and we grew to a peak of 30 cooking and baking groups,” explains Michelle.

The structure of the organisation is simple. Each group of approximately ten ladies meets either fortnightly or monthly at one of the participants’ homes, on a rotating basis. The host decides the recipes for that meeting and gathers the ingredients. The group cooks the meal together, then eats it as either lunch or dinner. There are no fees, you simply buy the ingredients when it’s your turn to host.
To accommodate both working and non-working ladies, there are groups that meet on weekdays, evenings and weekends. Dietary restrictions are also accommodated. “We have a gluten-free group, and two vegetarian groups,” says Michelle. Ladies wanting to join just need to fill in a form outlining their available times and any dietary preferences.
One of the key factors in forming each cooking group is diversity. “Back in 2015 our mission statement was to promote cross-cultural exchanges. We don’t want too many people of the same nationality in one group,” explains Michelle.

This focus on diversity and multi-culturalism has resulted in ladies of 93 different nationalities participating in the organisation. “Food has a special way of bringing people together and opening minds, regardless of culture, religion, nationality and race.”
Singaporeans are also included. “We’re not just expats. I think it’s a shame when you go to a country and you never get to know people who are local. I very much wanted to encourage Singaporeans to join,” says Michelle. “Currently around 5% of the active participants are Singaporeans.”
The organisation welcomes all levels of cooking experience. “When it comes to cooking skills it doesn’t matter, what’s really important is that they’re keen to make friends, have fun and learn. That’s what it’s about,“ says Michelle. “We welcome the type of person that says ‘I can’t cook that well’ – to them we say ‘awesome, come on in’! That’s the spirit of what we are.”
The multicultural nature of the group encourages people to learn recipes from across the globe and expand their culinary repertoire. “Because we’re so diverse, what’s basic to one person is exotic to another. I have a Japanese lady in my group and we all wanted to know her miso soup recipe. She was saying ‘it’s just miso soup!’ But it’s intriguing to the rest of us to learn how to make homemade miso soup, especially as it was an authentic family recipe.”
Over her years of running the group, Michelle has noticed other benefits for the participants. “It’s not just culinary skills and making friends, but gaining confidence. For example, it helps people to build their English in a very unintimidating setting. In the kitchen you don’t really need to talk, you can just watch, but little by little you
chime in.”
The club holds larger functions three or four times a year, so ladies from different groups can meet. “We have around 60 people and everyone brings a dish, ideally from their own country. We usually get at least 30 nationalities in the group, it’s incredible.” A popular feature of the lunches is the tasting competition, where attendees vote for their favourite dishes across several categories. “It’s so exciting because you get the ladies who, when they joined said, “I’m not a good cook”, and then they’re winning prizes. They just feel so proud.”

To find out more about ICCS, head to iccs.org.sg or instagram@iccs_sg

The Red Dot Melting Pot Cookbook
In 2017 Michelle self-published a collection of recipes from the ICCS meetings.
The 223 recipes in the book come from 75 different countries. Michelle chose the final ones from dishes that won prizes at the Pan-ICCS events, and the recipes that were most popular within the groups. Michelle admits it was a challenge. “We took more than 38,000 photos!” The initial print run of 2000 copies sold out in four months. Order online at iccs.org.sg.