Travelling to places is the best way to learn

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  As our lives get more hectic and busy, it is crucial that we find ways to relax ourselves. Travelling is one of those ways. Not only will we be able to experience many wonderful things, we can also pick up many important lessons that will definitely stay with us throughout our lives.

  Firstly, one of the benefits of travelling would be that it enables us to learn more about culture. As the saying goes “In Rome, do as the Romans do”. Often, when we visit an unfamiliar country, we first have to follow the locals set when it comes to local practices and culture, then only can we fit in. During that process, we are able to learn more about the culture in an authentic environment. Although, with the advancements in technology, using the Internet is a much simpler and cheaper alternative, yet can one really have the same learning experience online, compared to “offline”?

  For example, students learning Japanese travel to Japan to learn more about the language and culture. When it comes to learning the language, a part of culture, it is hard to replicate the learning environment of the country using the Internet or various software applications. According to a September 2018 research article by Greg Richards, many have started to use travelling as a way of learning. This is known as cultural tourism, which is a type of tourism activity whereby visitor’s essential motivation is to learn and discover experiences. Cultural tourism has recently been reaffirmed by the UNWTO that it accounts for over 40% of travel arrivals. This proves that many have recognised that travelling plays an important role in learning. Therefore, travelling gives visitors many learning experiences which are impossible to replicate with mere pictures and words. 

  Secondly, another benefit of travelling would be that it enables us to improve our character. After living in Singapore for a considerable amount of time, we have grown comfortable to the Singaporean lifestyle. Thus, in the country that we call home, there is a familiar bubble that we keep ourselves in to avoid any unexpected challenges life may throw at us. This forms a protective shield around ourselves that prevents us from growing, learning, and developing new skills. When we are stuck in our comfort zone, we don’t want to venture out to learn new things, and this clearly has an impact on our social skills and enthusiasm towards learning. Personally, I feel that travelling is the most surefire way to step out of our comfort zone. When we go overseas, we are thrown into a completely foreign environment where the locals speak a foreign language, enjoy their unique culture and way of life. Abandoning our daily routine and immersing ourselves in a new culture requires a lot of courage but the new adventures will trigger a dramatic growth within us. A positive attitude and willingness to push ourselves throughout our trip will influence how receptive we are to new adventures, ideas, and even meeting new people along the way.

   In conclusion, I strongly believe that travelling is the best way of learning. It provides one with the first-hand authentic experience and learning environment which cannot be replicated by the media or learning softwares. It allows us to use our senses, to discover and learn about various wonders of the world. Travelling is not only the best way to learn about the external environment and culture, but it also allows us to take time to learn about ourselves and most importantly, learn how to learn.

 References:

https://www.worldpackers.com/articles/tips-on-how-to-immerse-yourself-in-local-culture

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2018/01/22/five-reasons-why-travel-is-good-for-your-mental-health/#947b1d959342

www.lifehack.org › articles › lifestyle › 10-reasons-why-traveling-mo…10 Reasons Why Traveling Is A More Valuable Learning …

www.lifehack.org › travel-is-key-to-building-social-and-emotional-lif…Travel is Key to Building Social and Emotional Life Skills

https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284418978

Gabrielle

4 Hope

Abortion

In this day and age, unwanted and unplanned pregnancies are way more common than you think. In 2012, approximately 40 percent of pregnancies worldwide were unintended. In the United States alone, 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned and 43 percent of these unplanned pregnancies result in abortion.

Firstly, a foetus is a person. Human life begins at conception and all the babies who are aborted are humans with lives.The foetus is an innocent human being. People seem to think that just because the baby isn’t born, it isn’t a life, when in fact, it is equivalent to killing a person.  From the moment the egg is fertilised, a life is formed and it should be treated like a normal living human being.

Secondly, abortion not only kills an innocent being, but it also scars the mother of the baby as she will  most probably be traumatised after everything is over. This emotional condition is known as Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS). It is being associated with a form of post-traumatic stress reactions (PTSD) which often occurs after an individual has suffered an event so stressful and so traumatic that he/she is unable to cope with this experience. After this traumatic event, those suffering from PTSD are unable to simply resume their lives where they had left off. Instead, they experience many different reactions that do not go away merely with time. One important factor related to the negative emotional or psychological effects has to do with one’s belief about the baby in the womb. Those who believe it is not a baby until it is born to have less of a chance of experiencing negative emotional consequences. However, those who believe it is a baby are more likely to experience negative emotional side effects.

All in all, abortion is not something we should be alright with and taken lightly. No matter how small a foetus is, it is still a life and it should be treasured.

References:

https://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-emotional-effects/

https://adviceandaid.com/the-very-real-effects-of-abortion-emotional-facts-you-need-part-2/

Adele Yeo

2 Charity

Singapore’s Dying Hawker Trend

As we step into a vibrant and bustling hawker centre, the strong aroma of traditional hawker food welcomes us. In Singapore, the diversity of food is probably our pride and joy. What better place to appreciate Singapore’s diversity than in our very own food havens- hawker centres?

With over thirteen thousand stalls islandwide, hawker culture has become extremely integrated into our day to day lives. It is thus without doubt that hawker food means a great deal to Singaporeans. However, this hawker trend is slowly dying and here are some reasons why.

Firstly, many hawkers who have been running their stalls for decades are slowly leaving the industry due to old age. This leaves the next generation of the family to take over the business but most of the younger generation would prefer not to take over the tedious job. Their reason being lack of interest or passion to do the job.

Secondly, most of the younger generation (and their parents) would prefer not to work as a hawker due to the gruelling hours and amount of effort they have to put in to run the stall. On average, hawkers work 12 full hours. Most hawkers began the day at around 5am, preparing the food in the wee hours of the morning before heading to the stall, setting up and then serving food until around 4pm. They then head back home and continue preparing ingredients. The long hours make the job extremely intense and not many are up for the challenge and commitment.

Lastly, the rising costs of rent paired with the lack of customers would mean that few people would attempt to venture into the business. The hawker business is dependent on the public. Skyrocketing rents and lesser people patronizing hawker centres are constant deterrents for those considering the business. Hence, the next-generation of hawkers are hard to come by. 

However, it is without doubt that the Singapore hawker culture is extremely iconic and it is something that all Singaporeans can connect with. In my opinion, Singapore should try to preserve its hawker culture. Almost everyone grew up having meals in hawker centres and it would definitely be a pity to have it slowly die down in the hands of the younger generation. Nothing could compare to the heated discussions between Singaporeans about which stall served the best wanton mee or nasi lemak. 

I feel that the government could introduce incentives for young hawkers starting out. For example, monthly discounts for stall rental for hawkers just starting out. Or allow for more holidays for hawkers. This would lead to hawkers to be more comfortable in their work environment and hence step up to try their hand at being a hawker. The interest could be cultivated in the younger generation so as to ensure that we can still maintain the high-quality yet affordable food for all to enjoy. 

Lok Qi Ern

2 Loyalty

Opinions on Social Media

Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. There have been many articles discussing the pros and cons of social media, for example, how it makes it convenient to stay in contact with your family and friends, how it is too intrusive to relationships causing many to not value face-to-face interactions anymore. However, do the pros really outweigh the cons? Although social media has its advantages, the cons outweigh the pros by a landslide.

Social media has become very popular and is causing a myriad of problems among teenagers. The negative effects of social media are numerous. Teenagers can be easily influenced by their peers and this can lead to depression and anxiety. They can also be exposed to harmful messages that can affect their self-esteem and make them feel worthless. It is important to note that these issues are not limited only to teenagers. There have been a large number of articles written about how social media can negatively affect teenagers and children but many fail to mention that it can also harm adults. Social media is not good for the mental well-being and can be damaging.

One of the reasons why social media is detrimental to our health is because it is so addictive. Social media addiction may not cause physical harms, such as those caused by alcohol and smoking, but it has to potential to bring long-term damage. Addiction to social media can affect us in ways such as escapism,mental preoccupation and neglect of personal lives. This behaviour is prevalent in people who use social media excessively. Studies have also confirmed that people tend to undergo withdrawal symptoms when they stopped using social media. This shows that our society is so addicted to the internet that we cannot even live without it for a short while.

Despite the many drawbacks of social media, it still has its usefulness. It can help keep us connected to people thousands of miles away and it can help us make new friends too. It can help us keep up with the new things happening everyday in the world. However, we still should not spend too much time on social media as it would be detrimental to our health should we get addicted.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#7015bb1e2e5a

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/social-media-mental-health-negative-effects-depression-anxiety-addiction-memory-a8307196.html

https://medium.com/lab-work/the-negative-affect-of-too-much-social-media-8af0358e6870

Gabrielle Sim

3 Hope

Opinions on Honesty

Many people think that honesty is overrated in today’s society but in my opinion, that is not the case. I would like to start off by emphasizing the meaning of honesty. Honesty refers to acting and speaking the truth, and being morally right.

To me, brutal honesty keeps things real. If one were to start lying, they would then have to come up with more lies to support that first small lie. These lies would then pile up and turn on them once the victim has found out the truth.

Neuroscience suggests that telling trivial lies desensitises the part of the brain that promotes the feeling of unease when we lie. Being honest wouldn’t make one think about unrealistic and impractical ideas of oneself, or in any situation. When things are going wrong, one would get their act together instead of hoping for things to tidy up on its own.

In my opinion, one of the reasons people lie is because they perceive that the truth is not favorable to them as an individual. People lie to make themselves look better, or to avoid some type of repercussions that they imagine a fact-based reality will hold for them. The saddest part about lying is that it is a sign of weakness. To lie is to admit that one cannot face the truth. A compulsive liar is admitting to everyone that they lack courage and that their self-esteem is so low that they are doing everything in their power to compensate for their lack of courage.

Many people think that white lies are harmless, but in my opinion, white lies do not benefit the other individual, and might even cause them to feel hurt if they find out the truth. For example, if a friend asks you if she looks good in an outfit that doesn’t match her style and you tell her that it looks good, she will listen to you and end up buying the outfit that she doesn’t look good in. Rather than telling a white lie just to please someone, I feel that being honest about it and telling the truth would be a better option as it could be taken as constructive feedback for people to improve on.

As the saying goes, ‘Honesty is the best policy’. Without honesty, one has to cover up the hard truth they do not wish to say. Being dishonest is just making life miserable for oneself. Therefore, in my opinion, honesty is underrated in today’s society.

Desiree Lim

3 Hope

 

oBike to leave Singapore

obike.png

As students, and as commuters, I am sure we are all familiar with the bike sharing services that started in Singapore last year, and might have heard of bike sharing company oBike’s recent decision to stop operating in Singapore. But what prompted this?

oBike, a homegrown firm that only started two years ago, had managed to spread its roots to various countries in Asia, such as South Korea, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, and has garnered more than a million users in Singapore alone.

But following new regulations imposed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA)- in which operators are required to apply for a license, restriction of fleet size, as well as remove any illegally parked bicycles in a given time frame, and installing a QR code geofencing technology that continuously charge users who do not park their bikes in designated areas- oBike has decided to stop bike sharing in Singapore starting from June 25, “as a result of difficulties forseen to be experienced to fulfill the new requirements and guidelines”. This exit follows the same decision made in Melbourne, Australia due to similar regulations.

In a meeting with LTA, oBike had pledged to refund users their initial deposits, and clean up the bicycles on the streets by a given deadline- but failed to do so. It later revealed that it had gone into liquidation, owing $6.3 million to user, and with bikes still strewn in various estates well after the deadline.

Users have taken to various platforms to demand for their refund, with Consumers Association of Singapore receiving more than a thousand complaints, and a petition on change.org accumulating more than four thousand signatures for oBike to refund their users. According to Channel NewsAsia, LTA will also step in to remove the bicycles and impose a fee on oBike should they not take any action.

This decision to leave Singapore has brought many inconveniences to local users, from fighting for their refund, to transitioning to a new platform or app. I think that oBike should have taken the responsibility to take action to help alleviate these troubles and done what they should have instead of relying on LTA to remove their bikes and leaving their users without their refund. As a company, especially one with roots in so many countries, their relationship with their millions of users- who have chosen oBike as their go-to, even with the increasing competition in the bike-sharing industry- should be built on a foundation of trust for the company to efficiently clear their bikes out of Singapore and clearly convey their plans concerning local users, as well as respect for the rights of the users to have their money refunded back to them. The irresponsibility shown by the company could set a bad example for those hoping to start their own companies.

Chen Yu Yang

3T

Sources: https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/business/article/2153151/singapores-obike-gets-its-bike-proof-you-can-kill-your-innovators

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/startups/obike-to-stop-bike-sharing-in-singapore-due-to-new-regulations-viability-issues

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/obike-lta-deeply-disappointed-will-impose-fees-clear-bicycles-10496326

 

Opinions on the Winter Olympics

Opinions on the Winter Olympics.png

If you have been keeping up with the recent Pyeongchang Olympics, you might have seen a headline or two saying “The Unified Hockey Team Is A Starting Place” or “Will joint ice hockey team warm up frosty Korea relations?”. So what’ the big deal? Why is the media so focused on the topic of North and South Korea having a unified ice hockey team?

Well, unless you have been living under a rock for the past few centuries you would have heard of South Korea’s rocky relationship with the North, or the North with the rest of the world, excluding China and Russia. Tensions between the North and the South have escalated in recent months as Donald Trump, president of the United States, a long-time ally of the South, continues to provoke North Korea in his  twitter posts and speeches.

However, the two nations shocked the world when it was announced that the North and South would come together to form Korea’s unified women’s Olympic hockey team. This unified women’s ice hockey team will compete as ‘Korea’, represented by the Korean unification flag with the anthem being the song ‘Arirang’.

For decades, the Olympics have avoided politics, wanting to keep the games focused on the sport rather than current affairs. But this year’s women’s ice hockey team from Korea, assembled with the hope of promoting peace among neighbours technically still at war is definitely screaming “politics”. Some South Koreans believe that having a united team in such a significant international sports event might help to heal the relationship between the North and the South but many are sceptical that a single sport will do much or leave a lasting impact on the relationship between the two countries.

Personally I, too, have doubts that this temporary team would do much to aid the divide between the two nations as the tensions between the two countries date way back and is heavily influenced by the politics of their allies, most prominently China and the United States. Unity is not something that can be produced simply by representing the same flag, wearing the same uniform, singing the anthem, but even so it is an undeniable fact that I, and probably the rest of the world, will be keeping an eye on the unified team each time they enter the rink, bearing the weight of the heaviest symbol of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Ang Yen Chi

3 Unity

https://www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018/results/en/ice-hockey/athlete-profile-nihowteam6-cor01-korea.htm

https://deadspin.com/for-those-who-want-one-korea-the-unified-hockey-team-1795236932

https://theconversation.com/koreas-first-unified-olympic-team-is-an-uneasy-truce-of-diplomacy-and-sexism-91126

Current Affairs: Fake news

Fake News 1

The world fears the threat of terrorism, but there is another threat we face. Something considerably less tangible, but equally powerful.

On March 18, 2015, a picture of the Prime Minister’s website announcing the passing of Lee Kuan Yew went viral, causing international news agencies to report it as news.

States Times Review claimed that there was a near zero turnout at former President S. R. Nathan’s funeral, and that kindergarten children were forced to attend, suggesting that he was an unpopular president.

These are examples of some fake news you might have heard going around, and might even have believed. Fake news runs rampant in the world, instilling unease in some, fear in others and a general uncertainty of what to believe.

Thankfully, Singapore’s government is taking steps to fight fake news, one example being working with schools to promote media literacy, to teach children and students how to discern between real news and fake news. Mr Shanmugam also recently announced that a committee of 10 Members of Parliament will be formed to deal with the problem. The S.U.R.E campaign by NLB is also another initiative launched to address the issue.

I believe that Singaporeans should not get overly complacent and should remember that anyone can fall for fake news. We should all play a part in the fight against fake news, by verifying information and content of any news we intend to share with those around us. It also helps to learn how to identify fake news to reduce the chance of being duped.

Going by NLB’s 4-step method to identify fake news, the first step we should take is to look at the source’s origins to make sure it is credible and reliable. Next, we should understand the content and check that the information is fact-based, and not opinion-based. Then, more research should be done, and the information should be compared with other sources before coming to a conclusion. Finally, evaluation of the issue should be done fairly, after comparing different angles of the story. Although this might seem like a rather easy thing to do, it is very easy to simply hit the ‘Share’ button as a reflex after coming across some alarming news. I hope that more Singaporeans will step up and play their part in verifying and refraining from sharing fake news.

April

4 Justice

Sources:

http://www.theindependent.sg/what-singapore-is-doing-to-combat-fake-news/

http://www.nlb.gov.sg/sure/sure-campaign/

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/student-who-posted-fake-pmo-announcement-on-mr-lee-kuan-yews-death-given-stern-warning

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/government-to-review-laws-to-tackle-fake-news-some-instances-of-fake-news

 

 

If you’re different, you’re not one of us

Have you watched the lesser known movie,Lion King 2, before? It depicts the growth of Simba’s daughter Kiara and how she fell in love with an outsider or outcast, Kovu. The lions were separated into two different pacts. Those who lived outside the ‘pride lands’ were considered banished and unclean, segregated from the other lions. Even though they were essentially the same species with the same needs, they were cast away because they were ‘different’.

I find that this mirrors our society today. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather stick together”. People tend to form groups according to similarities, shunning those who do not fit in. The ‘cliques’ in schools, the working groups in offices, interest groups and more all reflect the shared sentiment of  “If you don’t like what we like, don’t do what we do, don’t think how we think then you can’t stay”. This thought is scary and can even escalate to fights or riots as shown in the fight between political parties in the USA (after the 2016 US Presidential elections), incited by anger over not having it ‘their way’. What is wrong is that people cannot seem to accept that people who are different are still essentially people. They have the same needs like food and water, maybe even the same wants from the latest iPhone to true love. Just because their opinions or likes are not exactly a replica of yours does not mean they do not deserve the same amount of respect as a human being.

So what can we do? We can start learning to accept others for their differences. Just to be clear, acceptance is different from providing support. Acceptance can be used even during disagreements and does not depend on preference. Providing support, on the other hand, includes being in favour of the other person’s opinions and promoting it. What I’m calling for all of us to do is to inculcate a sense of acceptance: be it from other people’s cultures, opinions and preferences to their way of living and behaving. This way, we can build strong bonds with others without making either party feel discriminated against due to not being the same. We can approach the lonely classmate who sits by herself for recess and include her, even though she is from a different country. We can befriend the person who we had a debate with before, even though he thinks differently in a certain aspect. We can stop shunning people who are different just because they are. We can start learning to accept that others are different and that it shouldn’t affect how we treat them. Be kind, spread love.

Source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lion_King_II:_Simba’s_Pride

Lion King

Jaime Ng

2 Loyalty

Preservation of Singapore’s Historical Sites

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Under the guise of land shortage and the rising demand for developments to fulfil the needs of a growing population, many historical landmarks around Singapore that are reminiscent of our shared local heritage have been swept aside ruthlessly to make way for new projects that will continually urbanise our garden city. Yet, the last of these monuments that signify the era that has long passed are not spared a thought for in this crazed pursuit of modernisation. Admittedly, Singapore has to continue developing its scarce lands to flourish and maintain its much admired global status as a highly liveable city in this competitive 21st century.However, it pains me to see how historically significant places in Singapore are disregarded despite their rich heritage, and realising that I cannot prevent the demolitions.

 

For instance, Rochor Centre, an iconic rainbow-coloured HDB estate, was slated to be demolished in September 2016 to make way for the 21.5 km long North-South Expressway. Residents bid a heartfelt farewell around the end of last year to the estate they have lived in for most of their lives and closely identified with. Uniquely constructed, Rochor Centre has a common courtyard-like space right in the middle of the centre that is towered by a few housing blocks, which has allowed residents to interact freely with one another over the years and forge a strong sense of camaraderie and kampong spirit amongst their neighbours. Being one of the oldest public housing estates in the city district, it is no surprise that old coffee shops and shops selling pots, pans, plates and other knick-knacks are located on the first storey to serve the residents’ needs.

 

Rochor Centre is merely one of Singapore’s vanishing spaces – one more crushed building block that had melded Singapore’s identity, and one more rip in the fabric of our history. Others like the Old National Library, with its distinct brick-red British infrastructure, the Van Cleef Aquarium and the National Theatre have been demolished eons ago, and the lack of sentimentality the younger generation who have never heard of these places possess only demonstrates clearly how the demolition has almost entirely erased them from our shared memories. Nonetheless, conservation efforts have been made by the government, albeit only in certain cases, specifically the Capitol Building and Cathay Cinema. They may not have been wholly preserved, but at least relics of some semblance has been left behind in remembrance of their historical quality, and for these little mercies, I am hopeful that all hope is not lost.

Chloe Kho (3T)