Following two successful expeditions to Punjab last year, YSA will lead two more expeditions to Punjab from 5 – 24 December 2004. The project in Chandigarh will involve working with children in a slum school while the project in Patiala will involve working with children in an orphanage.

In an effort to ensure that the participants are well prepared for their community service sojourn, YSA organised a pre-departure orientation session on 22 November 2004 at the Sikh Centre. The aim of the session was to provide the participants with an understanding and awareness of Punjab and Singapore so that they would be able to use the knowledge gained in their interaction with members of the host communities in India.

Mr Arun Mahizhnan, Deputy Director at the Institute of Policy Studies, spoke on “Understanding Singapore: Its Key Institutions and Values”. He touched on the key features of Singapore society such as the government, political parties, the judiciary and the media. At the same time, he highlighted the key values of Singapore’s society such as meritocracy, pragmatism, multiculturalism and materialism.

Assoc Prof Tan Tai Yong, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, focused on “Punjab – Culture and Society”. He traced Punjab’s turbulent history and how it had affected the state. He also touched on the nature of the society and the key attributes of the Sikh community in Punjab.

The two presentations are indeed relevant for the expeditions. They helped put into perspective key developments and issues relating to Singapore and Punjab. It is socially and culturally important to have an appreciation of the home and the host countries. The presentations certainly helped in this regard.

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