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Harmony in diversity - It’s work in progress

The Harmony Works! Conference, held on 5 July 2014 at Nanyang Polytechnic, was a huge success.  The annual event organised by OnePeople.sg for youths, gives students a platform to express their ideas and opinions on racial harmony in Singapore.

The initiative, which began in 2005, is targeted at youths from secondary and post-secondary institutions including International schools. Around 800 students attended the event which had the theme ‘Keep Calm & Make A Friend’.

It’s our story
The students were each given an orange ribbon pin, which symbolises unity and the interwoven values of respect, understanding and trust that are important for racial and religious harmony.

Mr Gerald Singham, Vice-Chairman of OnePeople.sg who delivered the welcome remarks said, “It is a time to celebrate ethnic diversity. By uniting ourselves, we strengthen Singapore’s core. We work well together and live well together.”

A hilarious forum theatre titled ‘Curry in a Hurry’ was then conducted and it highlighted the importance of understanding and tolerance. Students were allowed to input their own ideas and even act out the scenes to reduce conflict in between the Indian and Chinese National families.

Let’s talk
During the breakout session, students were spilt up into several groups, which were supervised by OnePeople.sg facilitators. They were encouraged to share their feelings towards other races and the problems, like discrimination, that they have faced, in a type of support group environment.

A facilitator, James Tan, said, “I’m glad the students opened up, but I wish I had more time because they were just warming up and I’m sure they had more things to share.”

Lunch was a grand spread of various ethnic food and students were given the chance to interact with each other.

With the arrival of Guest of Honour, Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, there was a dazzling welcome dance that fused Indian, Malay and Chinese cultural dances.

 

Students share their views and issues during the breakout session

Here’s our input
The students then presented the main points and views from the breakout group session they had earlier. Issues like inter-ethnic friendships, intercultural understanding and shared values were raised. Community Engagement Champions concluded the presentations.

A dialogue session was then held with Mr Lawrence Wong and Panel Members: Dr Gill Hicks, founder of M.A.D for Peace; Professor Tan Ngoh Tiong, Dean, School of Human Development and Social Services, UniSIM and President, Connexions International; Carina Lim, Member of Youths: Reloaded!; and chaired by Mr Gerald Singham.

After presenting the tokens of appreciation, the Harmony Works! conference concluded with a video, ‘Friendship Beyond Borders’

Rachel Soh, 17, a student form Pioneer JC said “It was a memorable experience. I had a lot of fun meeting new people!”

OnePeople.sg has another event lined up called, ‘race against racism’ and it will be held on 16 August 2014.


Students join in the forum theatre performance ‘Curry in a Hurry’



Written by Shivaanan Selvasevaran
Year 2, Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media