I recently caught a quiz program on TV where one of the questions was on how many percent of private high schools go overseas for their school field trip. While the percentage is not that high, it appears that the top 3 most popular spots for such field trips are #1 Australia, #2 Singapore, #3 Taiwan.
I can understand Taiwan since it’s less than 4 hours away and the people love Japan, but Australia and Singapore came as a surprise for me. To give students exposure to western culture and Caucasians, Australia isn’t the only option. It takes a little over 10 hours to get to Australia from Tokyo but a little under 10 hours to get to California, and under 9 hours to get to Vancouver. Further, Japanese love the US. Not denying Oz of its charm and beauty, the only logical reason I can think of for this choice is probably the less strenuous time difference as opposed to flying over to the Americas and have students half-dead during the entire trip.
Singapore is surprising for me as well as we hardly have any Southeast-Asiany experience to offer. Perhaps the multi-cultural aspect and strong economics despite our small size is what made it a popular destination. Being a warm country also helps since most people dislike cold weather and that also gives Australia another point for being Down Under. And perhaps the safety in Singapore is also a plus because no teacher wants to have their students getting into trouble overseas (cue Monster Parents).
Regardless, I felt joy knowing that Singapore is among the top 3 popular destinations. But I feel like it’s less because I feel a sense of belonging toward Singapore but more because “Singapore” is an attribute that I cannot rid of (not that I want to, just to be clear). If I were a piece of computer data, right-clicking me and selecting “Properties” would return “Singapore” as one of the results, and I don’t want my attribute to be related to some malware or virus.
That’s what pragmatic Singapore has raised us to be. Maybe being like patriotic Americans is more the romantic ideal for some, but I feel fine where I am. At least I don’t get homesick.