With Singapore’s 50th birthday celebrations happening this weekend, I cannot help but feel so immensely proud to be Singaporean even though I am so far away from home. The thing is that while I may be becoming more “Swedish” as I learn the language, the culture, the way of life, there is still this Singaporeanness (is this a word?) in me that I feel like I will never lose. It makes me very happy to be able to say that “I come from Singapore, I am a Singaporean”.
Yes life in Singapore can be stressful, it can be hectic, but I honestly believe that we have it good for us in so many ways that we almost take it for granted. Since I moved here, I have had the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life.
In my Swedish class, I study with fellow immigrants and some of them can barely speak any English, some of them have been separated from their loved ones/spouses who are still stuck in their war torn countries and all of them had to give up everything that was “home” for them to start a new life in Sweden. It didn’t matter if they used to be lawyers, nurses, butchers or goldsmiths back in their home country because now that they are in Sweden, they are all back in school to learn a new language to help them start a new life in Sweden.
Stories about war, about people’s sufferings has always been a distant experience and only something I either read in the news or learn about in textbooks. I cannot say that I know what it is like now but after interacting and listening to the stories of the people who have experienced it first hand, it becomes so much more…real.
It has caused me to reflect and to recognise the many things that I have versus focusing on what I do not. Before I moved here, I must admit that I felt pretty anxious about having to leave home, about needing to stuff my life/home into three bags and after listening to the lives of my classmates, all my worries and fears feel so grossly trivial.
Many people who hear that I am from Singapore have so many good things to say about it. We didn’t get to this 50 years of age as a nation by chance so in celebration of how far we have come, I want to be thankful for…
A home that is safe and peaceful – I am comforted by the knowledge that I can go home any time knowing that it will still be there and never having to worry about my safety even if I am out late at night.
A solid foundation in two languages – I am so thankful that not only is English our native language but the fact that we all grew up trained to be billingual. I cannot say that my Chinese is the best but surprisingly, thanks to the many years of education and (multiple) tuition lessons…the language is coming back with more use and practice in spite of the fact that I have hardly used it over the last few years.
A rigorous education system – We complain a lot about the high stress levels of studying in Singapore but on hindsight I feel like it has offered us a very strong foundation to face the tougher working world.
I write all this not because I want to feign patroitism but because from the bottom of my heart, I have learnt how blessed I am and if I could choose, I would still choose to grow up in Singapore in a heartbeat. To all my dear family and friends back home (and overseas), enjoy your long weekend!
Happy 50th Birthday Singapore!
p.s. Pictures from this post are from Singapore’s 49th birthday celebration last year where I managed to watch the parade live with Jens, my oldest sister Jie and Caity.