1. Description of Our Community
Our local community consists, in brief, of the people of the small island of Singapore, located at the tip of the Malay Peninsula. Singapore is today a modern city-state whose economy is based upon the twin pillars of manufacturing and services. The people of Singapore are multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious. They consist of immigrant Chinese, immigrant Indians, and indigenous Malays, with a significant amount of foreigners from all over Asia and the globe. Foreigners alone make up close to 25% of the population Singapore; and among locals, the Chinese make up 76% of the population.
Our focus on this project is upon the immigrant Chinese of Singapore, those who came years ago from China, and that too mainly from Fujian and Guangzhou. The immigrant Chinese community settled in Singapore years ago and continued its age-old traditions, most especially the Chinese Lunar New Year, or nong li xin nian as it is known in Mandarin. This particular community in Singapore is heavily subject to the influences of globalization, due to the high development level and global connectivity of Singapore, as well as by the large foreign population present in Singapore itself.
In summary, out project’s focus is upon the distinct immigrant Chinese community in Singapore, though we cannot ignore the multi-racial nature of the wider Singapore community.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our CyberFair Web Project showcases the Chinese Lunar New Year and its traditions and practices, in the aim of preserving these traditions and practices such that the immigrant Chinese community retains its distinct cultural identity and continues the age-old traditions of its ancestors. Our project further aims to increase to increase the cultural awareness of the wider Singapore community, comprising immigrant Indians and indigenous Malay population of Singapore, and also that of the nearly one million foreigners living and working in Singapore. Through this, we hope to build upon the idea of “unity through diversity”. We also consider, keeping in mind our own futures, the future of Chinese Lunar New Year in our community, while documenting existing community efforts to preserve Chinese Lunar New Year.
Some of the traditions and practices we showcase on our Web Project are to do with the reunion dinner, traditional food, Mandarin oranges, fish and prosperity, traditional firecrackers, calligraphy, art, handicrafts, dance, music and such. These traditions are indeed very old, and some of them are truly dying out. A number of “vanishing trades” characterise the decline in traditional handicrafts and other art forms.
As part of our efforts to showcase the community’s own efforts in preservation of Chinese Lunar New Year traditions, we have documented our own school, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)’s efforts and in the wider community, the efforts of the Asian Civilisations Museum, to name a few.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The key problems which we faced were to do with each of our group members’ busy schedules and diverse commitments in and outside school. These ranged from Co-Curricular Activities like Boys’ Brigade, Scouts and such to international competitions such as the Odyssey of the Mind. One or more of us would invariably be busy on appointed meeting dates, hindering our group collaboration. We did, however, find solutions to this problem, such as using instant messaging programs like MSN Messenger 6.0 to collaborate and discuss our ideas outside of non-school hours or during school holidays.
Aside from problems meeting and collaborating, our group also found that since we are of different ages (from 13 to 16) we did not know each other very well. However, this problem was solved with time as we got to know each other better and were consequently able to produce a better team effort.
Technical problems we faced were no less numerous, for we found that within our group there was only one of us who knew how to use programs such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop. As a result, more of our group members had to quickly pick up the required skills, such that we could proceed with the creation of our website. We even experienced smaller problems, such as the lack of availability of a particular font on school computers where we did much of our work. Of course, such problems were easily solved by obtaining the fonts online if they were free for use, and if not, by switching to a freely available alternative.
While not insurmountable, our group’s problems certainly set us back significantly at first. Fortunately our group overcame these problems in time, and we were able to complete our CyberFair project.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
In the words of one of our team members, “We, like pieces of cloth in the giant tapestry of the many cultures in Singapore, learnt to make those crucial stitches that bond us together and unite us as global citizens as well as socially aware youths of our nation.”
That is truly what this project is to us all.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our activities and research for this International Schools CyberFair Project supports various standards, required coursework, and curriculum directives as laid out by our school, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE).
Our project has a focus on Chinese culture and traditions, in accordance with the Ministry of Education’s National Education initiative, which involves every student understanding and learning about the diverse cultures which make up Singapore. Our fulfillment of this initiative is twofold; not only do we (one member of our group is ethnic Indian) ourselves get to learn about and appreciate traditional Chinese culture, but we also spread this knowledge to the school and the wider community.
Furthermore, our project is also in accordance with our school’s and MOE’s curriculum initiatives encouraging out-of-classroom and “IT-enabled” learning. Our research was conducted mainly through trips to museums, Chinatown and of course, the internet, so our project certainly exemplifies the sort of learning espoused by our school and MOE.
As a group, we also found out that our educational system encourages project work – we received instant backing for our proposal to enter International Schools CyberFair from our school, and we have been supported by the school through access to facilities and equipment since. Skills we learned centred on data collection, interaction with juniors and seniors, presentation and organization of data, and of course, web design – a skill which we feel will serve us well in the future, both in school and outside it.