Thursday, September 11, 2008
Teaching in Singapore
I have just recently come back from teaching in Singapore; it is always a pleasure to teach there. People always say when you are passionate about something you do it well, that is me with teaching Professional Issues. My aim is that nurses and midwives have a good understanding about their legal responsibilities, that is, a good understanding of the legislation and professional codes that govern their practice. The university staff and students are very welcoming and the students are keen to learn, they are quite shy to start with then after a warm up session they are sharing experiences and answering questions.
On my trips to Singapore I usually spend 12 hours teaching and like to incorporate a few days off to do some sightseeing.
Singapore is an interesting country it is has a population of approximately 4.6 million and there are four main languages spoken, Chinese, Indian, Malay and English.
Singapore has a controlled democracy; this is the first time I had heard of this notion, not a bad idea really. Speakers corner is where people can express freedom of speech to a degree - you have to submit your speech and have police approval before you can deliver your speech = off course you can not talk about religion, race, politics or the government, controlled democracy.
It is a tropical island and has a humidity rating of 70-90%, this is the only thing I don’t like about Singapore is the humidity, especially for a menopausal woman, I have taken to carry a travel towel and mini fan to try and stem the flood of perspiration that often ensues after venturing outside for a walk or shopping, the only consolation is that the taxis are fabulous and have fantastic air conditioners’ it’s like going into an icebox.
I must say I don’t like travelling alone and do miss my husband when I’m away, however there are some benefits to being on your own; you can do exactly what you want when you want. I particularly like book shops and enjoy spending time in Borders and Kinokuniya – they are both fantastic shops, Kinokuniya has a much bigger reference section than Borders. My most recent acquisition apart from medico-legal books was the ‘Seven daughters of Eve” which I have not had a chance to start yet.
The other thing I enjoyed this trip was visiting about 4 or 5 temples/churches. What an array of religions there are in Singapore, I wouldn’t like to guess at the number of different ones in case I was to leave one out. However I did visit Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple- the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, also believed to be a manifestation of the Boddhisattva Avlokitesyara.
Also the Chinese biggest Temple with the biggest Buddha. The Hindu temple Sri Krishana. The Relic Temple and museum of the hundred Buddhas. The Muslim temple and the Catholic Church St Joseph. Wow that’s a lot of temples in one day – it was an interesting day -
– I had an unusual experience outside a Chinese Temple, a Sikh man approached me, said hello and simultaneously reached for my hand and talked into me incessantly, he was hard to understand, however, when he said ‘I was spiritual but lazy with it’ I laughed and then the penny dropped that he was telling me my fortune and giving me a personality reading – I was astounded, I had never know Sikh people to be fortune tellers, so I was taken by surprised, I was also outside a temple a spiritual place so did not expect to be ripped off. He then held my hand and asked for paper money, when I gave him some he asked for more. Now I thought I was a fairly strong woman, but on this occasion I was weak, I was taken aback by this man and also felt I should give him more money as he still had hold of my hand and that I would not have any bad karma, more fool me, a valuable lesson learnt.
On my other free day I took a round island tour – this was an interesting day, I travelled with a multicultural group of people, German, American, British, Scottish, two I don’t knows, and myself. The tour guide was a retired engineer Singapore Chinese man ‘Abdul’ he was absolutely fantastic he had lived in Europe for 17 yrs and could speak several different languages. Abdul gave a little of Singaporean history and commentary on most places we went to. The Tiger Balm Park was interesting, showing a little of Chinese cultural background. I do find some of the festivals intriguing ‘the festival of the Hungry Ghost’. We had lunch at the Orchid Country Club; Ian would have loved to have a game of golf here, it was very colonial. The most thought provoking place we visited was the Changi Chapel and museum – this was a very sad place and it certainly made you reflect. The other place that had the same effect was the war cemetery for Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, India and UK.
I relished walking through the markets and just watching people, I enjoyed the best cup of ginger tea watching workers as they rolled and cooked pastries with such precision and wishing I could try them, but after watching them being cooked I thought twice about it, my arteries and waist line were saying ‘no don’t do it’ so I took a photo instead. It just was not the same.
I look forward to my next trip.