You’re ok. We’re ok. Singapore’s ok. 

Shana and Emma have landed stateside. It’s hard to believe this morning (yesterday?) we were still in Singapore enjoying three cheese toast, kaya, and kopi before we hopped a plane. We both agree that the people we met while in Singapore are the reason we had such an amazing time. 

 One thing we learned is that Bowdoin College Polar Bears are everywhere, including Singapore! Our last breakfast we met up with Kristen and Jackie for a mini alumni Bowdoin reunion!

   

 We then ventured to Little India which was an adventure…many of the people on Sundays in Little India are men as they are in the country on 2-3 year labor work visas. Therefore, on their day off, they recharge their phones, grab a beer, and hang out in the area. We felt like we were constantly on display and in complete culture shock. We did enjoy some incredible Indian food though (arguably not the best idea before a 30 hour flight? When in Little Indian…).   
 Our last day (Sunday) was the celebration of Singapore’s 50th year as an independent country. There was a parade and a huge celebration downtown including fireworks! We spent the evening with Brian and Robin and their family having coffee and gin and tonics and watching the celebration from the top of Yale NUS – no complaints! 

 

   

Sara and Jackie took us to the airport for another coffee and a tearful goodbye. Our adventure home began with security confiscating our kaya jam, but at least we were in good company and homeward bound. A final thank you to EVERYONE we met in Singapire. From students to administration to locals, we were so inspired by all of you and can’t believe how quickly time flew. Thank you for letting us share our work with you and we are looking to you to keep the conversation going! 

  
Bye Sara! 

 
That’s an 800 million dollar statue in Doha, Qatar. 

  We don’t want to leave!
  At least we have heavenly wang…
 

Advertisements

We Tried All of the Things

So we are pretty proud of how much we have done since we have been here. Despite the crazy thunderstorms and rain this morning, we got out of bed in time to have even more kaya toast (don’t worry, we are both bringing some home…). We met a lovely Singaporean woman and her Dutch husband who filled us in on everything there is to know about Singapore and was very adamant to let us know that we found the ONLY traditional kaya toast hawker in Singapore (doubtful, but kind). Post-kaya toast, we decided to try durian. We have been hearing about this fruit since we arrived on Tuesday, mostly about how much it smells, or how much it tastes like buttered noodles, so we put on our adventure pants and dove right in. Here is a picture of what it looks like:

image8

image2

image1

And here are some pictures of what it looks like when Shana and Emma taste durian:

image4 image5

To be fair, at the mall, even shoppers don’t want people eating durian inside (in addition to smoking and dogs…):

image10

Shana said it tasted like a “sock” and we can both attest that burping up durian is far worse than the actual taste. But, when in Singapore? We also tried mangosteen, which is much more enjoyable and way easier to eat. It’s like a clementine meets a lychee. And it doesn’t smell like feet:

image9

We wandered around Queensway Mall, hit up a hawker centre for some noodles and dumplings, and made our way to the Botanic Gardens for the afternoon.

image3

image7

image2

The Botanic Gardens are enormous and beautiful. To be in the middle of Singapore and not see any buildings is pretty incredible. Maybe not recommended on the Golden Jubliee/50th Birthday of a country in the middle of August (read: incredibly humid and lots of people), but we were so impressed with the vegetation and flowers we saw. After a nap, and some overpriced wine, we had our last dinner with our favorite people on this island: the Yale NUS staff. We all indulged in too much Greek food and limoncello and talked about Singapore, our presentation, and the incredible week we’ve had at Yale NUS. Like we said before, it is the people and the students that have made our trip so amazing and we are forever thankful for our week here!

image1

It’s hard to believe we leave tomorrow…we’re sure you will be graced with at least one more selfie before we return to US soil.

We Did It!

Yesterday was our last, and final, day of programming at Yale NUS! We can’t believe how our stay here has gone by so quickly (arguably too quickly?!). We had our big presentation with the first year students talking extensively, and candidly, about consent, sexual assault, healthy relationships, and bystander intervention. The students were attentive and engaged, and they laughed at (most of) Shana’s jokes … huzzah! We had such an amazing time speaking to such a diverse and unique group of students.

image4
Thanks for the standing ovation, Yale NUS!

Now the time has come, the walrus said, to leave Singapore after all of the conversations, facilitations, and trainings and hope that the students find a space to continue the dialogue here at Yale NUS, and in Singapore. We have one more day to see the country and then tomorrow evening we head back east (and back in time?). Talking about these issues is our passion, and it is truly the people we meet and their motivation and partnership that makes the work we do so rewarding.

This is Helena! She saw Speak About It at her high school in the states, and was so excited to come say hi, introduce herself, and say how she was looking forward to hearing from us again!

image3

This is Kei! She is a Yale NUS third year, and is from Taos! Nothing like a little New Mexican support to get us through the week!

image2

This is Brian! Brian is a Rector at Yale NUS, and a geology professor, and is serving as interim Dean of Students. He and his generous family hosted us after our performance for some gin and tonics, insight into this country, and great conversation!

IMG_8399

Being a Tourist in Singapore

We had a great session with the Deans Fellows yesterday! We have a big day ahead with our first year presentation, facilitation and our optional evening session with Yale NUS which is essentially a Sex 101 Q&A with us. This whole trip we have been showered with nothing but kindness and engagement amidst the craziness that is first year orientation and everyone getting used to the new campus.

image2

We did some work in the afternoon, and watched it pour buckets of rain, then decided to venture into the city to be American tourists in this amazing city. After Shana boldly found a cab, we started at the Singapore Flyer, a huge ferris wheel comparable to the London Eye. We hopped in a capsule and saw Singapore from what seemed like the very, tip, top.

image6

image4

image5

From there we walked across Marina Bay on the Double Helix bridge. Everyone is in preparation for the Golden Jubilee on Sunday so there are all kinds of art installations, lights, and excitement downtown. We ventured in the the Marina Bay Sands restaurants and shops, and after getting disappointingly turned down at the casino (we didn’t have our passports…what are we, new?) we decided to head to the top of the hotel. As we arrived on the 57th floor (which really DOES feel like the top), we felt like VIPs as we took in the lights and ambiance of the bar at the top drinking dirty martinis and High West whiskey cocktails. The shops range from Fendi to Chanel to Versace to Vera Wang (aux Champs-Élysée).  it was a good thing we spent our money on drinks and Indian food and not new Gucci shoes.

image1

image3

That concluded our downtown tour of Singapore. We are looking forward to exploring more of the city this weekend and avoiding crowds (good luck?). We are thinking the Botanic Gardens and peaceful parks. Until then, it is time to continue running this amazing programming. We are so lucky to call this work!

IMG_7372

We Love What We Do

So far, we have had three fantastic facilitations and are getting to know more Yale NUS students and staff. We started out yesterday exploring the campus in admiration of the architecture and still in disbelief that we are in Singapore to have the conversations that we are having.

image6
View of NUS campus

We had two facilitation trainings yesterday. We met with two on campus student groups, PS We Care and G-Spot, and held a training on responding to friends and peers who disclose an assault. We focused on believing the survivor, supporting the survivor, empowering the survivor, showing empathy, and providing resources. The students were engaging and asked great questions, in addition to showing us what all of these sound like/look like in a real situation. We went through the five different pillars of response and the students practiced with their own language in a role-play activity.

image4 image3 image2 2

Our second facilitation training was with the upperclass orientation leaders. These students, along with Deans Fellows, will be facilitating conversation with the first-years after our big conversation tomorrow. Shana did an incredibly job walking the OGL’s through the presentation and presenting them with helpful facilitation tips and scenarios to guide the conversation tomorrow.

image1 2
So excited for breakfast…

After yet another good night sleep, we met up with Sara for breakfast at Clementi Mall. Claudia and Sha-En, from the Wellness Center, joined us for a traditional Singaporean breakfast of soft boiled eggs, kaya toast, kopi (coffee), and some breakfast sweets. We were sold. The conversations we have been having with Claudia and Sha-En have been amazing. We are continuously using them as a resource in our presentations as we are so impressed with the (free!) services they provide for this amazing community.

IMG_8361
Most important meal of the day

Our only session today was a meeting with the Deans Fellows. Shana led a similar facilitation training for their conversation with the first-years. The Deans Fellows were excellent and we found ourselves engaged in almost two hours of productive and engaging conversation. We are so excited about the first year session tomorrow and we have so much faith in the positive conversation both the OGLs and Deans Fellows will be leading and facilitating after our presentation!

IMG_9872
The DFs and Emma give Shana a standing ovation
image5
You have to have snacks to keep you going

Delirious Arrival

We had an amazing and exhausting first day in Singapore. We were given a tour of the Yale-NUS camps, which is absolutely beautiful. The facilities are amazing and everything is so new; there aren’t even books in the library yet! Our tour guides, Jolanda and Suhbas, were so engaging and excited to show off their new campus. There are three different residential colleges and we were lucky enough to be taken to the top and shown the view. These photos make you feel like you are truly on top of Singapore …

 image1 image2

IMG_8336

After a tour, and a much needed shower, we worked on our facilitation trainings for today. We are so interested in starting the conversation about responding to sexual assault survivors with peer counselors today. We will also be running a facilitation training training to help the upperclassmen have conversations with the incoming first years. We are so honored to be here doing the work we do!

Chris and Sara, who both work in the Deans office, took us into town for some dinner that evening. They took us to a hawker, which is basically like a food court, with lots of options. Hawker’s are well known for their good and cheap food. Grab a tray and point to what you want. We tried fish paste, fried chicken, coconut rice, prawn chili, coconut water, pork meatball noodles, and fish ball soup. We told them we wanted to try “all the food” … not a bad start!

IMG_8343

We’ve Arrived…

After countless hours of pod-sleep, plane pajamas, and ALL of the food, we have officially landed in Singapore!

image1

We were met at the airport by Ryan, who works with the Deans office, and he was kind enough to humor us with information about Singapore and politely put up with our game of questions. We have learned so much about Singapore already and we are lucky enough to be here for their 50th Golden Jubilee, which will take place on Sunday with a huge celebration. Today we are going to get a tour of campus and meet some more staff in preparation for our big week ahead and we can’t WAIT!

IMG_8333

We promise all the photos won’t be selfies, but we were pretty psyched to arrive…