STEP Homestay, Singapore
21 – 28 January 2013: 13 students and 4 teachers from Rayongwittayakom School, Rayong province, Thailand, arrived on the shores of sunny Singapore to embark on the Singapore-Thailand Enhanced Partnership (STEP) Homestay programme. This is the second leg of the STEP homestay programme as the Dunman High students and teachers had already headed over to Thailand in early November last year.
On arrival at Dunman High School, they were given a warm welcome by our school’s Lion Dance troupe, teachers and students of the Junior High population at the school hall. After the welcome ceremony, our guests are led to join in formal lessons with their buddies for a taste of the life of a Singaporean student. They also had an opportunity to tour our school grounds and had a chance to watch some performances by some of our School’s Band and Chinese Orchestra members.
The next day, we had fun at Universal Studios where we challenged our limits by braving the theme park’s high-octane and thrilling rides. We also had an insightful tour with our Thailand buddies at Gardens By The Bay, where we gained much understanding about our ecosystem in maintaining a green and stable environment. The learning journey was followed by a city tour, where our Thailand buddies visited our famous iconic landmarks of heritage such as the former Indian National army monument site, Tan Kim Seng fountain, Lim Bo Seng Memorial and the Merlion Park. We had a better understanding of Singapore’s history by learning about the contributions of our early pioneers and their lives under the Japanese Occupation. Thereafter, we were brought to Chinatown for retail therapy. Our Thai buddies also had a chance to experience the Chinese culture by creating works of Chinese calligraphy and paintings.
The week ended on a high note as we had our farewell party for our guests, hosts and the host families. We had a mini concert featuring our very own Wushu, Chinese Orchestra, Junior High EDS dancers and all participants of STEP. Our Thai buddies performed a traditional Serng Kratip Khoa dance, which was a dance about women who bring food to men working in the fields in rice baskets known as Kratip. They also had a modern dance item and it was evident that their choreography was carefully planned and they placed huge efforts to present it. We ended the dinner with our Thai buddies freestyle dancing along to radio hit songs with us. It was a night of joy and laughter and definitely a night to remember.
During the weekends, the Thai buddies each followed their hosts who had planned different places to bring them around. From Arab Street to Orchard road, Kaya Toast to Chili Crab, we made sure our buddies tried them all. We have had so much fun together despite the language and cultural barriers. We also interacted more and deepened the friendship that we had forged in our last trip to Rayong. When it was time to say goodbye again, it was a bittersweet and rather emotional moment for all of us. Looking back, we had been to many places and had new experiences together and went from complete strangers to great friends.
The greatest takeaway for this STEP would be learning how to be a good host to our Thai buddies. Throughout this period, despite stress piling up on us, we needed to remain composed and smile at all times. In addition, we needed to ensure their safety and comfort at all times. It allowed us to exercise a sense of responsibility. STEP immersion programme was not just a platform to help us grow in maturity, but also a platform to bond despite cultural and language barriers. It helped us to understand how to respect and to treat each other with a genuine heart. And indeed, we had an incredible time. We like to thank Mr Wong Yexiang, Mr Kantapon Numpilai, Ms Siti Arfah and Ms Lee Siew Choo for their guidance and support for the STEP programmes. Even though it had come to an end, the memories formed will be with us for life.
13Y3E Chua Hong Lin
13Y3F Yang Xinyan