With all the fun and games I’ve had since I touched down in Japan, it’s only right to have something more focused on cultural-exchange within the program itself.
We participated in the Japan and ASEAN Youth Leaders Summit together with various local youths from different universities. Not only did we get a chance to interact with other youths from the other countries and immerse in their cultures through their booth exhibitions, the local youths became a part of our discussions on ASEAN 2020.
I’m very thankful to have met three local youths that I’m still in contact with through the discussions, and I can’t wait to visit them during my upcoming Japan trip as well. Pen-pals just took on a whole new level.
The summit and discussions were held at the Youth Olympic Centre. I felt like a semi-prisoner there for the long period of time bunking in. Only because everyone had their own room, which was the size of a toilet, and a shared bathroom and living space. The walls in our rooms are so thin, you can hear through to the next one. Everytime I vlogged I felt self-conscious that my neighbour was listening in and judging me.
Boarding room style, with a common room for all contingent discussions or food-sharing purposes. Oh, and later on in the duration of our stay, our makeup room.
In addition to the discussions, we had to perform for the Princess as well, which left me in a huge ball of nerves. Right after our performance, we had our exhibition to prepare for which included our own photobooth (leaving me as a Press-photographer), and childhood and local food snacks to share around with the other youths.
Basically, we prepared activities relating to Singapore culture and heritage for the other contingents to appreciate. That included bringing over childhood snacks - every contingent had a food table.
Oh, that's Kenji, one of the local youth. Haaaah. I met him on the first day and we got to talking about his Berkeley pullover and summer program. I know right. Even hoodies are a conversation starter. And we're still keeping in contact now, through postcards and letters which is pretty cool. ^^
All the backdrops were photographed and printed by us, and everyone had a really great time with the photobooth. Free instant polaroids for everyone~
The booth from the Philippines~ they were all up and about dancing and singing. Other booths had traditional weddings going on, and of course the existence of the mad rush to try the various delicacies from each country.
Discussion sessions were ongoing the next few days, and I hung out with my group-mates and our local youth, Hiro (a different Hiro from the one in Shimane). We clicked so well together, and our discussions pretty much went on smoothly. That week was basically, public speaking week for me. Oh, the horror.
The most important takeaway from this is actually getting to learn more about Singapore through our research for the exhibition. There were so many things that I had no idea about. I was just glad we could change others' views on what Singapore really is as a country - a culturally rich nation despite it's minute size.