A Malay student appears dressed up a Chinese fortune god for the Chinese New Year. Giving out blessings in the form of golden token chocolates, this fortune god student is celebrating “One New Year in Asia 2014.” Showcasing how the New Year is celebrated in different Asian countries, One New Year in Asia displays traditional food with performances from diverse cultures.
To activate and maintain its cospomolitan demography, NUS has been trying to draw vigorous interactions between students. Firstly, for incoming foreign students, NUS provides events and systems to help them harmonize in the new environment.
“It is challenging for foreign students to adjust to a new environment,” said Chan Sheau Huei, an officer of International Students Section (ISS). “To facilitate integration of international students into local community, ISS arrange many programs such as ‘The International Students Orientation Briefing’ and ‘City Tour.’”
ISS also sends out e-mail notifications about its various programs and events. In addition, foreign students can receive support through the Buddy Programme. This way, students are able to easily get along under unfamiliar environment.
“The fact that there is a person I can always turn to relieved me a lot,” said Lee Soo-jin (Political Diplomacy, 4).
However, what is most unique about the cultural exchange on NUS is that both local and international students become the main operators. Capitalizing upon NUS’s globalized community, i.CARE Network works as the bridge between local and international students in closely interacting and living together.
The i.CARE Network is a group of student volunteers which organizes events to help international students settle down and promote cultural exchange in NUS. “One New Year in Asia” organized by i.CARE well displays what the organization aims for, a cross cultural appreciation.
“The most important goal of i.CARE is to create environment where students comfortably share and respect each other’s cultural backgrounds,” said Benjamin Chee (NUS, 5) who is the president of the i.CARE Network.
For instance, foreign students can get exposed to Singapore’s languages such as Singaporean English (so-called Singlish) and Malay at the Local Language Exchange. On the other hand, at International Language Exchange, students are able to learn foreign languages such as French or Polish from exchange students. At Language Cafe following the event, students share food from different cultures.
“It was fun trying different food from various countries like Russia and Eastern Europe,” said Choi Soo-ji (Economics, 4), a Ewha student who is currently studying at NUS as an exchange student.