Singapore #2: Arrival!

After long travel delays, both student groups have finally made it to Singapore! Leela ’25, describes her first impressions of Singapore and expresses gratitude towards faculty trip leaders, Ms. Kelly and Ms. Feng.

Today, June 6th, was easily the best day so far. Ms. Feng attentively led a group of five students who landed in Singapore at 6am. This group was composed of Emily, Kayleen, Kai, Matt, and myself. The nearly seventeen hour plane ride was far from fun, but the activities that followed made up for the sedentary start to the day. After passing through customs and retrieving our checked luggage, we were introduced to our CIEE trip leader: Anna. She is a Singapore native who speaks both English and Mandarin. Once we checked into the hotel, we were given some time to unpack and relax before the day truly began.

At 12pm, our small group went out for a delicious lunch in Singapore’s Chinatown (中国城)。 Once our meal was complete, we were given some time to freely explore the surrounding area. This was amazing because it allowed us to become familiar with the area we would be exploring for the rest of the day. We peeked into some of the stores that Chinatown had to offer, knowing that our time following would consist of structured learning.

When it was time to meet as an entire group again, we met another educator: Natalie. She is also bilingual, which made it easy for us to engage with her in Chinese and ask follow-up questions in English. Natalie’s passion for Singapore was clear throughout our entire tour. She took us to mosques and temples where she explained their respective impacts on Singapore as a whole. Walking through the temple in particular only reinforced the connections between China, the Chinese language, and Singapore. Another key topic that she touched upon was how exactly Singapore became as diverse as it is. Religion played a role, but a small one. A bigger factor was the passage that many men took. In an attempt to better the lives of themselves and their families, grown men would travel to singapore in attempts for a better life. The 2-4 week passage between their countries and one like Singapore was so expensive that these men would have to work for the fees that they had to pay. Eventually, they became so overworked that they seeked relief in the form of an illicit substance: opium.
Understanding the history of a place like Singapore is essential in order to respect the society we are visiting. I feel grateful for the opportunity to learn so much alongside my classmates, friends, and teachers.

The other students: Isabella, Aviel, Ryan, Elizabeth, Jazmin, Finn, and James had taken off at around 11:30 am. The entirety of their day was spent on the airplane, but they’ll be sure to make up for lost time! The group led by Ms. Kelly arrived at 6:45 pm Singapore time, leaving them enough time to get some dinner and then settle in at the hotel.
By transporting two separate groups on an international flight, Ms. Kelly and Ms. Feng demonstrated just how integral their roles are. At a moment’s notice, they adjusted our plans and safely traveled with twelve Deerfield students. If anything, our turbulent start to the trip will continue to provide us with both perspective and gratitude.