Colin Yeo ’19 and Alli Li ’19 designed and led a G-Term course to Singapore, enabling them to practice valuable leadership skills while furthering their appreciation of diversity.
By Colin Yeo ’19 and Alli Li ’19
G-Term is something quite new to us, as only one year has passed since its implementation in 2017. While we both found our 2017 G-Term experiences quite interesting, we wanted to be more involved in the experience itself. Because we were given the opportunity to propose and lead a G-Term class or travel experience, we decided that leading a G-Term travel experience would truly give us, both as learners and leaders, the fulfilling, enriching experience that we sought.
We chose Singapore as our G-Term destination because it is, admittedly, not as well-known as Japan or China to people living in Hawai‘i. Visiting Singapore, as opposed to visiting more well-known countries in Asia, would give participants a very different experience because they, for the most part, wouldn’t know much about the country. More importantly, we selected Singapore because of its amazing diversity. In our research, we were able to draw parallels between the melting-pot culture of Hawai‘i and the melting-pot culture of Singapore; both islands have a unique blend of food, culture, race and religion that isn’t visible in many places in the world. Our research led us to base our G-Term around the idea of embracing diversity.
After much planning and research, we carefully crafted an itinerary that would allow students to experience the many types of diversity that Singapore has to offer; we planned to visit hawker centers (covered areas with rows of food stalls that serve different types of cuisine), various religious sites (temples and mosques), cultural areas such as Chinatown, and an orphanage to do community service.
However, we were still missing an important part of the experience: the chaperones. Initially, we turned to the Punahou Academy’s Chinese teachers; Chinese, along with English, is widely spoken in Singapore and our teachers’ fluency in the language would help us get around more easily. Unfortunately, they were all unavailable because they had already done extensive planning for their own G-Terms.
We then turned to other teachers, and asked Mrs. Kelly Smith to become a chaperone for our experience, as we had studied math with her previously, and believed her temperament and attitude were a perfect match for our trip. Wo International Center also recommended Mrs. Paula Arias, as she has had experience traveling internationally with groups of students. Once both our chaperones graciously accepted, we submitted our proposal to the Wo Center for evaluation.
After getting our proposal approved, we coordinated numerous meetings with Mr. Chai Reddy and our two chaperones to plan out the details of the trip. We had completed and framed our entire itinerary and were ready to travel.
Leading this experience taught us both very valuable lessons. “Going with the flow” is one that comes to mind. We initially wanted to stick to our plan completely, and while we followed our plan closely, we did have to make some adjustments to accommodate the weather and transportation. We also learned the value of communication. Through coordinating this trip with both the Wo Center and our chaperones, along with scheduling activities in Singapore, we realized that close communication is necessary for any plan to be successfully completed.
Lastly, Singapore taught us that diversity is not restricted to any one place. Hawai‘i is viewed as the “melting-pot” of the Pacific, and while it is true that Hawai‘i does feature a wonderful blend of cultural and racial diversity, it is important to recognize that this diversity is visible in other places too; diversity knows no bounds. A place like Singapore, where people of different backgrounds come together to work with one another to create something great, is a prime example of the importance of not only accepting but embracing diversity.