School. That’s a place where young people from different racial backgrounds congregate together. We study a wide range of subjects together, take exams together, try not to fall asleep in class – together. And there’s something magical about that.
A tight-knit community culture is something characteristic of Singapore. Because we’re a small country, we put in the effort to unite the darling population and various communities within. Thus results in the appearance of ‘block’ – literally HDB ‘block’ – parties, community buffets, and post-legislation dialogues.
Where do young people fit all of this into their lives? No, that sounds wrong: Shouldn’t we be naturally making time to attend such events?
The truth is, we don’t have a remarkable amount of time to spend on community events or initiatives because we’re students who are often sardine-packed with homework, curriculars, and various other commitments. This leaves us with a very slim snatch of space in our regular routines to interact with people of different racial communities, through community events, on a meaningful level.
If we can’t find the time to physically be present with each other at such events or occasions, or do not have the opportunity to – we still do not have the excuse to act like we have never been given chances to try and understand other people.
And this is precisely because we spend so much time in school doing all the aforementioned activities, interacting with people from different races. So we’d like to invite you to reflect on your day-to-day interactions with others – think about it to yourself, in a spare pocket of time you have, if there is anything you could do to show someone else that you are interested in learning about their race-exclusive experiences.
It’s worthy to have this conversation with yourself – better yet, with others at events where you can spend time with someone else of another race – because we can no longer just play lip-service to the idea of having a racially-harmonious future. It is so easy to slip into stereotyping others or relating traits of individuals of one race to adverse incidences that occur in your life or others’, and it is therefore easy to develop a rigid construction again.
Take action to break the mould. You can do it. We can all do our part, as young people, to extend appreciation to all corners of our society.
Yan, we are honoured to have had this conversation with you. We appreciate it.
Text & Concept: Athena Tan
Photography: Trevor Wee