Actually I didn’t plan anything before I went to Singapore. So the country felt like a big surprise to me and turned out to be a very positive one. I got to spend the first evening with wonderful people, my friend Eng Chow I know from the International Air Cadet Exchange 2016, his girlfriend Shari and his family. It was a very friendly welcome evening and I shared a room in their apartment with Eng Chow, his brother Eng Heng and ... the fan! For an European the humidity was incredible ;)
The next day I walked around the city for maybe seven hours and was surprised by the peaceful coexistence of all the different ethnical groups. Within one street I went in a church, a mosque, a Buddhist temple, a Taoist temple and a Hindu temple. All of them are neighbors. This it how it is in the whole country of Singapore. Especially the colorful Hindu temples were very impressive to me. In the mosque I got books about Islam and monotheism before it took me a very long time to explore the Buddhist temple close by. I just sat down and enjoyed the peaceful and unique atmosphere there. After all the new impressions I met up with friends I got to know in a surf camp in Bali in 2016 and we went to a quiz night together.
The following day I was on “sick leave”. I’ve done so many things in the weeks before and had so many impressions that I felt quiet powerless on my second day in Singapore. I think I’ve just given my body not enough rest because I’m always very excited about each day to come and about all the new things I want to see that I haven’t had a real break yet. The “day off” turned to be a super interesting one. I had lunch with Eng Heng and had time to ask many question about Singapore. We ate in a community place next to a food court. The place is directly at the apartment complex. Around us were many of Eng Hong's neighbors. He explained me that the neighbors quiet often eat, watch TV or play games together in the community areas. In Germany we hardly know the neighbors, especially in big cities. Here they are part of the daily life. Moreover the apartment buildings have certain proportions of the ethnical groups. They are supposed to be “mixed” to prevent segregation. So people from all ethnical and religious groups come together and share their backgrounds with one another. When there’s a festivity like Christmas the Christians prepare something and share their traditions, when there are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist etc. festivities these groups invite and explain their traditions. Eng Hang said “we embrace the differences”. Even the food court consisted of many different restaurants from all kinds of backgrounds. In addition young and old come together in the community places. But the recent development shows that since people go online more often they tend to stay in the houses more than sharing time together.
The experienced I’ve made during the international exchanges are lived in Singapore on a bigger scale. People see differences as a chance to learn and grow. Being different is positive because it makes life more colorful and interesting. From what I've seen it's a role model and inspiration for other societies and countries.