Over 800 students from various secondary and tertiary institutions in Singapore gathered on Saturday to discuss issues regarding inter-racial and religious harmony in this country
Since its inception in 2005, the annual HarmonyWorks! Conference organized by OnePeople.sg provides a platform to engage youths from all walks of life to discuss current trends and issues pertaining to racial and religious harmony. Positioned as a youth-for-youth initiative, this year’s conference was held on 28th July 2012 at Temasek Convention Centre.
The key highlight of the Conference was the dialogue session led by Guest of Honour, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. Other panelists include Mr Zainudin Nordin, Chairman of OnePeople.sg, Mr Kelly Choo, co-founder of Brandtology and Mr Eugene Tan, Assistant Professor of Law, SMU and Nominated Member of Parliament.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Regardless of Facebook, Twitter or Youtube”. According to Mr Zainudin Nordin, Chairman of OnePeople.sg, “This year’s theme is very relevant as many of us nowadays cannot live a day without checking their Facebook, Twitter and sometimes even Youtube.”
Conference participant, Mr Kushal Atul Shah from St. Joseph Institution International, agreed that this year’s theme is very apt in describing the current generation. “It is very easy for youths to spread the word of racial harmony via social media. One simple tweet can start a trend,” he added.
Through breakout sessions led by OnePeople.sg’s volunteer facilitators, participants discussed challenges posed in sustaining a socially cohesive society in an era of the new norm. These were complemented by local and recent case studies, illustrating how racial disputes can arise just with a click of the mouse.
In one of the breakout sessions that discussed incidents of racism in schools, an Indian boy recounted that his classmates would say “The Dark Knight Rises” whenever he stood up. However, he added that “[my classmate] are trying to say I’m awesome, because we all know Batman is amazing”.
Participants also discussed about the practicability of an online code of ethics and how this could impact social interactions online.
Even without an online code of ethics however, participants still believed that every individual can play their part to ensure racial harmony among people of different races. Mark Wai Ming from Canberra Secondary School said, “We should spare a thought for one another before posting anything online, because we do not want that [racist comments] to be directed to us.”
Student Ha Duy Thanh from Loyang Secondary School concurred that “instead of mocking and making fun of others, [it is better if we] just learn from each other”.
For further reading: "Developing an ICoC and the Role of the Media Literacy Council: The Middle Ground Perspective" by Damien D. Cheong. Article can be found here.
In line with the Ministry of Education’s call to seek how youths view Singapore as their home and the memories they have, the HarmonyWorks! Conference 2011 followed the same theme “Home: Joint HOpes, shared MEmories”.
535 youths from various secondary schools, ITEs, Junior Colleges, Madrasahs, Polytechnics , international schools and Nanyang Technological University attended the conference on the 9th of July 2011 at The Republic Polytechnic Cultural Centre (TRCC). The conference sort to seek out views from the youth on the Singapore Spirit, apathy among youths and how Service-Learning can empower youths in the racial harmony movement.
The Conference was organised in collaboration with Republic Polytechnic Service-Learning Club and with strong support from Singapore Polytechnic School of Business. More than 150 student volunteers, performers and youth facilitators also contributed in making the Conference a success. Participants had the opportunity to voice their views on the topic and engage guests during the dialogue session. Led by Mdm Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, the pinning of the orange ribbon at the HarmonyWorks! Conference 2011 signifies the launch of the month-long Orange Ribbon Celebrations spearheaded by OnePeople.sg (OPSG).
Furthermore, there was a release of the storybook “Virtues of Harmony” which comprise of stories from different faiths by the Inter-religious Harmony Circle
"We get to share about service-learning and contributed to racial harmony as we helped out in this event. We bonded with one another through this experience. We feel that this theme is about shared memories as each of us has the same views and we all share common goals. We hope that the racial harmony in Singapore will be strengthened after this event." Republic Polytechnic facilitators
"We enjoyed the session. The stories which were being told to us were funny and at the same time, gave us something to ponder about. We don't regret attending this conference as not only does it give me the chance to mingle with students from other schools, we are now more aware of the racial harmony in Singapore” Chong Boon Secondary Students
"We found it an interesting talk as we learnt that racism can be easily prevented just by accepting each other's differences. We feel that this theme is relevant to the conference and we also got to know about things we would not have thought about. In school, we have several N.E.-related events. We are having a bazaar this year that has a theme also related to Racial Harmony." Chestnut Drive Secondary students
Click here to catch a glimpse of the conference proceedings.
The HarmonyWorks! Conference is OnePeople.sg's flagship youth programme targeted at students from the Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges (JC), Institutes of Technical Educations (ITE), Polytechnics, Madrasahs and even International Schools.
The objectives of the conference are:
HarmonyWorks! Conference aims to provide youths with the opportunity to experience and subsequently spearhead their own inter-ethnic and inter-religious efforts. The conference will continue to incorporate youth-led elements which not only encourage dialogue and interaction, but also to gather and share perspectives of youths from various faiths and ethnicity.
The essence of the discussion @ HarmonyWorks! Conference 2005 and 2006 are presented in the publication ‘Report on the Proceedings of Harmonyworks! Conference 2005/2006'
What are the youths' Shared HOpes and their Shared MEmories? What makes up their 'HOME'? As Singapore progress towards a culturally-diverse cosmopolitan city, it is important to examine our past as a young nation and learn from the challenges we have overcome. HarmonyWorks! Conference 2011 will engage participants to reflect on their aspiration for shaping our future together and focus on meaningful experiences that are treasured and shared among diverse ethnic and religious communities.
HarmonyWorks! Conference 2011 will carry the theme “HOME: Joint HOpes, shared MEmories”. The conference aims to empower our youth to preserve and contribute towards a cohesive community in order to build a stronger nation we call Home, heighten participants’ awareness about the importance of racial harmony and how service learning initiatives can help achieve this; and enable participants to explore their hopes for the future of Singapore where the Singapore Spirit is embedded in each citizen. The Conference will enable youths to examine the importance of respecting our common spaces while embracing our cultural and religious differences.
The Conference will be held on 9 July 2011. Key features of the conference will include a Plenary Session, breakout discussions for participants, youth performances and a Dialogue session for participants invited panelists as well as participants to share their views.
The HarmonyWorks! Conference will mark the launch of the month-long Orange Ribbon Celebrations spearheaded by OnePeople.sg and supported by our key partners, the Community Development Councils, Self-Help Groups, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education and People’s Association. This national event aims to rally Singaporeans together in celebration of racial and religious harmony. In conjunction with Orange Ribbon Celebrations 2011, OnePeople.sg will be organizing the “What’s Your Story?” photo blurb competition. The Orange Ribbon Celebrations event will be held on 23 July 2011.
We invite schools and youth organisations to nominate up to 20 multi-racial, including international and local students (such as student leaders, NE representatives and youths with a keen interest in Racial Harmony issues) to participate in this Conference. The Conference is targeted at students in Secondary Schools, Junior Colleges (JC), Institutes of Technical Educations (ITE), Polytechnics, Madrasahs, International Schools and youth organisations
To register, schools can download the nomination form, collate the responses of students and email or fax the completed form to 6259 0014 by Thursday, 26 May 2011. Schools are encouraged to nominate racial, international and local students to participate in this Conference. Reservations will be made on a first-come-first-served basis. We will reply with a confirmation note upon receiving nominations.
For enquiries, kindly contact the Programme Manager, Emma Ooi at 6253 3281 or email: email@example.com.
In the face of globalisation, diverse blend of cultures and increasing emphasis on national integration, how will you embrace diversity? HarmonyWorks! Conference 2010 bearing the theme “Inte-GREAT-ion – How Will You Embrace Diversity?” engaged participants in discussions on current trends and issues relating to diversity and integration in Singapore. The Conference aims to heighten participants’ awareness on Singapore’s multicultural diversity, discuss the value of integration and what it means to our society and explore ways in which youths can contribute towards a cohesive community.
The Conference was organised in collabration with Nanyang Polytechnic and with strong support from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). The Conference was held at Nanyang Polytechnic, Theatre of the Arts on 10 July 2010. 252 student leaders, NE representatives and youths with a keen interest in Racial Harmony issuess attended this Conference. More than 60 student volunteers, performers and youth facilitators also contributed in making the Conefence a success.Participants had the opportunity to voice their views on the topic and engage guests during the dialogue session. Led by Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Education, the pinning of the orange ribbon at the HarmonyWorks! Conference 2010 signifies the launch of the month-long Orange Ribbon Celebrations spearheaded by OnePeople.sg (OPSG). The launch of the storybook on different faiths by Inter-religious Harmony Circle
Click to catch a glimpse of the conference proceedings.