|Title||Boon Lay Secondary School (Singapore) Inaugural Homestay Exchange with Indian Schools|
Mr Tan Chor Pang/Principal at Boon Lay Secondary School
|Date||March – April 2016|
Boon Lay Secondary School (Singapore) hosted Rishikul Vidyapeeth School (India) and St Marks Girls Secondary School (India) from 17 to 23 March and 25 March to 2 April respectively. The visits had the objectives of promoting global citizenry through the development of socio-cultural sensitivity and awareness as well as enhancing students’ communication and collaboration skills. To this end, the exchange students and teachers were hosted to a home-stay by their Singaporean hosts for the entire duration of their stay.
Throughout their stay in Singapore, both exchange students and teachers were thrust into experiencing an intimate and uniquely Singaporean experience. It was soon apparent that despite differences on the surface, the students from the two cultures shared a myriad of interests ranging from sports to music. Not to be outdone, the teachers from both countries bonded over professional sharing and comfort food.
In school, our guests were treated to the offerings of Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-cultural heritage. True to our reputation of being a food paradise, students were taught how to make traditional Malay Kueh-Kueh. The visiting students were also put through the paces of Singapore’s academic curriculum starting each day at 7:30 am and ending some ten hours later. What was new to our guest were the mother tongue lessons where students had to study Mandarin Chinese, Tamil or Malay as a second language.
For our students, it was a rare opportunity to share their lives with foreign visitors. Although it took some time for both hosts and visiting students to warm up to each other, there was scarcely a dry eye on the day of farewell. In the course of a week, these young people shared their lives, hopes and dreams with a new found friend from another culture and country. With promises made to keep in touch and for our students to make a visit to these schools at the end of 2016, it is our hope that these bonds of friendship endure and when the time comes for our students to take up responsibilities in the global community, they would have had a friend willing to lend a hand and support.
As testament to the invaluable experience, host student Cheyene YONG, 16 described the week as interesting, incredible and impressive. Furthermore she reflected that she was grateful for the experience as the week allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of another culture while revelling in the joy that bond can be formed between peoples of different cultures in a matter of days.