Dialogue with Yishun Town Secondary School Students
On 16 July 2012, 300 Secondary Three students from Yishun Town Secondary engaged in a dialogue with Mr Gerald Singham, Vice-Chairman of OnePeople.sg. The session lasted for an hour, where Vice-Chairman shared his views on race-relations and experiences growing up in a multi-cultural setting. Moderated by Ms Azeena, a teacher from Yishun Town Secondary, was a “Question and Answer” segment, where students could SMS questions for Mr Singham. Questions surfaced ranged from the influx of foreign students and how to facilitate their integration into student life to what makes us Singaporeans.
Often, we do not feel that treating our friends of other races like that will hurt them, and that we simply see it as a joke. However, many times we are not sensitive enough and we do not take it seriously. Many times, we also see our friends passing remarks about our friends of different races and we do not stop them. We do not realise that if we do not correct our friends, it would become a habit to them and as they get older, it may get worser and worser and even lead to violence.”
~ Tan Kian Long
After the dialogue, five student leaders were invited to a tea session with Vice-Chairman. Also present were Mr Ramesh Ganeson, Director of OnePeople.sg, and Mr Ng Wei Kwang, HOD (Character Development) of Yishun Town Secondary. The student leaders got the chance to deepen the dialogue further with those present and even gain insights into their life values, how they identified being Singaporeans and what the citizenship means to them. The students leaders were very grateful for the opportunity and intimated how more of such opportunities should be made available to secondary school students.
He taught us to look another way, which is to assume that the person who makes insensitive remarks about another race does not really mean it. Sometimes, they do so as they think it’s funny and is unaware that the target does not find it slightly amusing. Hence, the person making the joke might not even realize he is hurting the other person.
Mr. Singam’s core statement, ‘no one is too young to make a difference’ resonated in me. It taught me that even though I might be young, I can still play my part by ensuring that all those around me are aware of how essential racial harmony is, especially in a multi cultural, multi religious society like Singapore.
~ Sindhooraa Satheesh