From 29 November 2013 to 14 December 2013, 18 Year 4 Bicultural Studies Programme (BSP) students and two teachers, Ms. Tan Chien Ming and Mr. Goh Pai Shen, embarked on a trip to the United States of America. As this was the first BSP trip to the West, it was much anticipated by all of the students.
This trip has allowed us to gain an insight into America; in areas such as politics, society and economy, just to name a few. During our stay at Washington D.C. , we were given the opportunity to take a tour in the Capitol, which houses both the Senate and the House of Representatives. We also went to a few museums such as the Holocaust museum where we were educated on the horrors of wars and the havoc Mankind could wreak simply due to unfounded prejudices. Next, we travelled to Philadelphia where we visited the Pentagon; learning about the different workings of the American military system before visiting the actual 911 site where many people lost their lives regrettably. Following, we made our way to Boston, where we were able to visit two of the world’s most renowned universities, Harvard and MIT. The last city that we visited was New York where we volunteered at two local soup kitchens, which serves to provide food for those who need help on a regular basis. Other notable places that we have visited include the National Gallery of Art, National Museum of American History, Library of Congress, Liberty Bell, 911 Memorial, Federal Reserve Bank and United Nations.
Although this trip was rather tiring for most of us, we had undeniably benefitted much from it in many different aspects. Through our interaction with our guides and the locals, we were able to better appreciate and understand the American culture; which is very different from the culture we are used to in, in Singapore. The trip has also encouraged us to think critically, examining and questioning the knowledge that were imparted to us. Overall, the trip was both meaningful and educational; we truly enjoyed it!
“I would have never been able to step foot into the States at this age if not for the BSP trip. The impression that most of us had of America prior to the BSP trip was one largely characterized by what we were shown on the screens of our media devices. From the Ellen Show to the Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the States has always been a destination the majority of us looked to with anticipation. Experiencing the “American Life” for almost 12 days long, we got ourselves acquainted with some of the American founding ideals and flirted with some of the most controversial national issues currently in hot debate at the Capitol. Inspired by some of the Singaporean scholars we met, an urge to recreate and improve ourselves surged through the veins of each and every one of the scholars. The trip was indeed a fulfilling and refreshing journey for us!”
13Y4E Lee Yi Xian
“The places visited which made the greatest impression on me were the Embassy of Singapore in the U.S. and the Singapore’s Mission to UN. We were warmly welcomed there, and I felt glad to find a trace of Singapore (and Singaporeans!) in the States. Being given the chance to speak to diplomats, I have definitely gained insights about many issues, both domestic and foreign. Diplomatic relations with other countries are of fundamental importance to Singapore, and it occurred to me that these people are really admirable in terms of the nature of their job. Being a diplomat does not only require great eloquence and mediating skills, but also a true love for our country!”
13Y4H Siow Jing Yi
“This is the first time that I have been to a Western country despite having been to many Asian countries. The BSP scholarship programme has provided me with this chance to visit a Western country, giving me a stereoscopic view of the world. This trip to the United States truly changed many of my perceptions and also the way I view things. This trip provided us with valuable experiences and life-long lessons. Before the trip, we only know about the United States through books, shows and movies. During this trip we visited Washington D.C. , Philadelphia, Boston and New York, which all played a great role in shaping the United States. During our stay in the United States, we visited many places that normal tourist were not able to visit. Although it was only a short stay of 12 days, we definitely did benefit from this trip and widen our knowledge and perspectives through guides, walks and most importantly observations. Out of this trip, the place that left the deepest impression in me was the 911 memorial. At the 911 memorial, we could see how humanity could be so frail, strong and courageous at times. Despite having read about the 911 conspiracy theory before the trip, the visit to the 911 memorial made me changed my perception that the 911 incident wasn’t a conspiracy. One important value that I have gained through this visit: Our loved ones may be with us today but they may not in the next second, minute or day.”
13Y4K Chew Tian Wei