Sunday, August 15, 2010

Living dreams, blazing trails, and celebrating in style

August is a month for mile-stone celebrations in Singapore. My own one-year anniversary with this island city-state is fast approaching. On 9 August 2010, Singapore celebrated her 45th birthday under the theme “Live our Dreams, Fly our Flag.” And, Singapore just hosted the opening ceremonies for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games on the evening of August 14.

I have been lucky enough to take part in all of the events in one way or another. I will, of course, play the biggest part in my anniversary celebration with Singapore on 24 August…more likely than not with my friends sushi, sake rice wine, and, a new discovery from the brilliant minds of Singapore’s own Island Creamery which also serves Tiger Beer-flavored ice cream, pear sake-flavored ice cream.

While I was unable to attend the annual National Day Parade, which I understand was quite the spectacle displaying, in true patriotic fashion, marching uniformed groups, tanks, helicopters swinging giant red and white flags above the city, and an impressive fireworks show, I did witness my school’s National Day celebration. Not only was I impressed with and touched by my students’ enthusiasm for their country’s birthday, but also I realized what a unique experience it was for a person coming from a country which celebrates its Independence Day over the summer holidays to simply see such a celebration in a school.

After the celebratory parade, I was left feeling a bit sentimental. While I am quite looking forward to coming home to my loved ones, I am also, I have realized as the time draws nearer, going to miss the people, weather, exotic vacation destinations, food, and cultural exposure which Singapore has so willingly provided.
Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965 after being occupied by both Britain and, briefly, Japan during the Second World War. Every year since 1966 they have paraded through their beloved city to commemorate their independence, and every year since the mid-1980’s they have dedicated a special song to the day. One song in particular, from 1998, appealed to me not only for the warm memories of Singapore it carried in its cords, but also for the underlying beats reminding me of my South Dakota Home.

This is Home truly
Where I know I must be
Where my dreams wait for me
Where the river always flows
This is Home surely
As my senses tell me
This is where I won’t be alone
For this is where I know; it’s Home

In addition to taking part in the nation’s birthday celebrations, I also accompanied my students to watch the first ever Youth Olympic torch as it ‘Blazed the Trail’ by my school carried by one of Commonwealth’s own. That same evening, I went with some 40 Commonwealthians to two girl’s preliminary soccer matches. We saw Turkey beat Iran 3-2 and Chile win in the last seconds against Trinidad and Tobago 1-0. I am so pleased with the interest in general knowledge and the world outside of Singapore that the YOG has stirred up in my students and also with the teachable and learnable moments with which both National Day and the YOG have provided to me.

So here’s to living dreams, blazing trails, and celebrating in Singapore in style this month.


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