SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION
hat makes modern Singapore? As the country’s National Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on this.
Some might cite our delicious food or our open business environment as answers, and they would be right. But what most answers have in common is the fact that Singapore is truly multicultural. It is a key part of our identity, and it is what makes us unique. We started out as a nation of immigrants, sharing a common vision to make a better life for our families and ourselves. Since then, we have embraced each other’s cultures and ideas on our road to progress.
It is fitting, therefore, that this year’s National Day celebration centres on encouraging Singaporeans to harness our diversity and work together to forge an even brighter future in the face of rising intolerance globally, which may have a polarising effect. When differences threaten to divide us, it is important to remember what we have in common.
The Singapore International Foundation embodies this spirit of diversity and openness. We do it by working with friends from overseas communities to build a better world for all. We believe that when different communities come together, everyone gains insights that help bridge cultural divides. This exchange of ideas, skills and experiences also inspires action and enables collaborations for positive change.
One of our key initiatives is the Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) programme, which inspires youth of different nationalities to embark on social enterprises in Singapore and around the world. This year’s programme attracted 138 young social entrepreneurs – the highest number since we started it in 2010. The youth, from 18 countries and territories, gathered in Singapore for a four-day workshop in March, which focused on the importance of leveraging multi-sectorial partnerships to achieve positive social impact.
Everybody has a part to play in making the world a better place. Many individuals and organisations from Singapore share our vision of bringing communities closer through collaborations in different fields. One of them is Dr Tan Beng Kiang, who leads teams of students on annual volunteer missions to design and build sustainable facilities for the poor in Cambodia’s Smile Village. Nominated Member of Parliament Kuik Shiao-Yin and community projects like Human Library Singapore and Geylang Adventures also help to change perceptions and build bridges between people of different social and cultural backgrounds.
I hope their stories will inspire you to reach out as well, and to think of how we all can work together to make a positive difference in a more inclusive world.