This weekend has been a whirlwind of new experiences, family bonding, and fun! From a Singaporean wedding, to meeting many of their young adult friends, to Chinatown, to a concert at the gardens, steamboat, reading books and tucking my mei-mei, and di di (little sisters and little brother) in to bed, to church this morning, to the beach, sontomosa, eating, eating, and more eating…it’s been incredible!
Today was our first full day in Singapore, and it was an exciting one! After being shown around NUS by Mey, we visited Senoko. Not only is NUS probably the most beautiful university campus I’ve visited, but trash can be way more exciting than I thought. From learning to use chopsticks like real Singaporeans to watching grown men use video game-like controls to operate trash lifts, it’s been such an amazing start to AYLP.
Our 2014 AYLP Singapore & Malaysia class of 22 U.S. high school students and two educators are exploring sustainable development as they experience the people and cultures of Southeast Asia for the next three weeks!
Follow along on their tumblr or on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #WereMalaySing!
Check out this great interview with 2014 American Youth Leadership Prgoram Singapore & Malaysia teacher participant Kevin Witte, a high school teacher in Kearney, Nebraska, about his upcoming trip.
Talk about adventurous! American Youth Leadership Program participants Julianne and Nora decided to sample some fried ants and scorpions for their celebratory last dinner in Singapore.
We’re not so sure if we could stomach it, but their consensus? “Surprisingly delicious!”
Our American Youth Leadership Program Singapore & Malaysia group is not on the typical tour around Singapore. How many Americans get to visit an incinerator plant on their trip to Southeast Asia? We’re guessing not many!
Our participants learned a lot, though, and had some fun with it as well. We can’t believe their trip is almost over!
Another wonderful reflection from one of our American Youth Leadership Program participants, about visiting an orphanage in Malaysia.
This photo was taken by a special girl in the orphanage we visited outside of KL. The two of us developed a bond from the time we arrived in the orphanage. She tugged on my skirt and brought me to a place where I could do a craft with her and her friends. Although she didn’t speak English and I barely got her to tell me her name, we learned how to communicate without using any words. We spoke through facial expressions and gestures that particularly caused her to smile and giggle. Once she saw my camera, she had a field day of taking plenty of pictures of whatever she wanted to take and then viewing the picture later (and you could see a feeling of accomplishment on her face.) Just simple activities that most of us don’t appreciate, these kids never took for granted. You could see beams of happiness radiating from their smiles as they learned origami and played with us. It was a very special moment of just giving back and loving on kids that normally don’t get special one on one attention. I’ll always look back on going to this orphanage and remember that I should be thankful everyday for the way I’ve been brought up and that giving back is the greatest accomplishment in life.
Sam and I went on a fantastic adventure to a local Buddhist temple. The temple was not only home to an actual temple of worship but also contained a concert hall which held odd functions such as a dance competition. I thought it was interesting how the temple made an effort to monetize their prestige.
I personally was shocked, though I realize similar practices happen with churches and synagogues in the US. I also enjoyed the views of KL that the temple provided.
By Noah Gallant
Read some more of the AYLP Singapore & Malaysia participants’ first impressions of Malaysia on their AYLP Blog Tumblr!
Our American Youth Leadership (AYLP) Singapore & Malaysia group visited Malaysia’s Batu Caves yesterday. Not only is it one of the most popular Hindu sites outside of India, but Batu also happens to be known for one other thing — the many macaque monkeys that roam the grounds!
At their orientation the students had said they wanted to see monkeys, and monkeys they did see!
Our American Youth Leadership (AYLP) Singapore & Malaysia group just spent the past weekend living with local families in a village in Negeri Sembilan, a Malaysian state south of Kuala Lumpur. During their homestays, the participants had a chance to live like the locals: visiting their host families’ businesses, playing with their host siblings, taking excursions, and — of course — eating lots of Malaysian food with their host families!
Day one in Malaysia and our American Youth Leadership (AYLP) Singapore & Malaysia group has already met the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones and many other “interesting people doing fascinating and important work in the international field” (in the words of AYLP participant Mare Stewart) at a 4th of July celebration and dinner at the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Talk about impressive!
— It hasn’t really sunk in yet for Manchester High School junior Sam Robbins that he’ll be spending a month traveling in Singapore and Malaysia. Read more.
— Rosie, 2012 American Youth Leadership Program with Japan participant