Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dear Singapore

It's one of those days again:

I'm on my way out the country to a destination frequented by Singaporean folk. We're still in the country and we were just having a discussion on multi-culturalism versus interculturalism. What also came up was the attacking and general resentment of foreign immigrants- whether blue collared or white collared. The family and I were just relating our own tales of being subject to behaviour of this sort. (Of course not leaving out moments when a Singaporean HAS come to our defensive and such)

The table next door seems to have overheard us and has proceeded to switch to mandarin and begin speaking horribly of us- presumably because they figure we can't understand.
"她们la-那个angmoh 的"
They have also proceeded to (in a failed attempt) discreetly take pictures of us.

I guess I'm really sad. Just really, really sad.
Despite never having felt at home in this country, there is still so much I have grown to appreciate and love immensely. And there are so many people who I've met here, spent most of my life with, people who have Contributed to making me more of a person than I could've ever hoped to become.
There are so many good people here, so many genuine and friendly and loving Singaporeans I could never imagine doing life without.

But then things like this happen and I realize:
It doesn't matter how much I love what I have here or how sincerely grateful and blessed I feel to have gotten to live and and spent time in Singapore. Sure she's got her shortcomings- but name me a place that doesn't?
Yet despite that, it doesn't seem enough.
Never mind that I contribute to the society (I'd like to think), and the economy. Never mind that I teach in local schools and Strive towards igniting a love for the English language and literature and the arts. Never mind that I am burdened with continuous want to remind teenagers here that they are enough, that they are talented in their own ways and that I want to be a source of encouragement where they often feel like they only ever do things wrong. Never mind that some part of me (I have come to realize) truly does care about this society and the people who've been ostracized...
Moments like these, or incidences where even now, in the year 2015 I still have been told to my face,
"Stupid foreigner go back to your own country"-
It just makes me realize
I'm not welcome here, am i?
We aren't welcome.

And so,
When my kids ask me
"Ms C but why? Why Singapore..? Why would you want to live here?"
And I smile and say,
"Now isn't that the million dollar question, hey?"
I'm not saying it with resentment or any amount of snark. I'm saying it with a very special level of sadness and heartache that was formed and only belongs here.

Having said all this though, I refuse for my posts to sound so bloody tragic. So I'd like instead to take time here to say thank you to all the amazing Singaporeans I have come to know and love here. So many of you are my go-to people and I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for you. And even when I go off on rants like these, please know that whenever I am asked why I'm still living here,
I think of you.