International Friendship Day

In Singapore, schools celebrate International Friendship Day, which aims to give students an understanding of SIngapore’s relations with other countries. In line with this special day, we ask some of our international friends from JC1 more about their hometowns and cultures.

avi

Avinash Kumar, 1520 (Center: Falaknuma Palace, Right: Hyderabad eggplant curry)

Hometown: Hyderabad, India.

What is special about your hometown?

Hyderabad is a wonderful place. It is a melting pot of many diverse ethnicities and cultures, mostly because it has a rich history, which dates back to the late 14th century. The residents of Hyderabad are known for their ambitions and aspirations, and also their loving and caring attitude and that’s what makes Hyderabad so special to me.

What is your favourite memory of your hometown?

One very special memory would be a ‘party’ of sorts to celebrate the end of my examinations on a tuk-tuk which I used take a ride back home every day after school. I still vividly remember the Coke fizzing out onto the roads, and the chips all over the tuk-tuk. It was definitely the best party I have ever had in my life. That memory sums up my life in Hyderabad — every single day was unique.

hoang

Hoàng Anh Vũ, 1519

Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam

What is special about your hometown?

As the capital city of Vietnam, Hanoi just celebrated its 1000th birthday on 10th of October 2010, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Hanoi is special in its own way. In the eyes of foreigners, Hanoi is chaotic — traffic is terrible during peak hours and people have little social awareness. However, to me, Hanoi is very special as she is colourful, and able to maintain a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. Every year, on New Year’s Eve, you can see old teachers, hair and beard as white as snow, next to the doorsteps of various temples, writing Chinese calligraphy for visitors. During summer you can see young people gathering on the streets, living their lives to the fullest. Autumn paints every road a yellowish red colour of fallen leaves, upon which people stroll with their loved ones, enjoying the northern winds carrying the distinct smell of milky pines. In winter, people on the street would indulge in a steaming bowl of hot Pho or a hot Banh My. Hanoi changes every season, making it a very unique city, peaceful and chaotic, traditional and modern, but above all very beautiful.

What is your favourite memory of your hometown?

As a young child, I was forced to stay indoors and take naps to  prepare for afternoon lessons. But as soon as the caretaker walked out of the room at school, I would climb out of the window to join my friends waiting outside. We would climb the school’s wall to go out and roam the streets, stuffing ourselves with Hanoi’s street food, or gather at the rooftop to play card games. Before taking examinations, my friends and I would cycle around Hoan Kiem Lake to visit the Temple of Literature, praying to come in tops even though we barely revised. Those were the best days of my life, when life was simple yet meaningful. Now that I am far away from home, it is such memories that keep me going, because I know there will always be a place where I can call home.

htat moe

Min Htat Moe, 1504 (Center: Shwedagon Pagoda, Right: Downtown Yangon.)

Hometown: Yangon, Myanmar

What is special about your hometown?

Many people have this misconception that Yangon is still the capital of Myanmar but in actual fact, it isn’t the capital anymore. Today, the capital of Myanmar is actually Naypyidaw. Also, what is really interesting is that the majority of Burmese people do not have family names. We follow an astrological system whereby the day of the week we were born determines what letter or letters our names begin with! Hence, the names of immediate family members and relatives may not actually bear any similarity.

What is your favourite memory of your hometown?

I do not travel to my hometown very frequently but when I do, I remember waking up and feeling a sense of peace. I’ve always loved visiting Yangon. It leaves me free of worry and stress. Myanmar may not be as developed as Singapore but that in itself is what makes it a great place to relieve stress, as I am away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The people there are naturally very helpful and extremely friendly and these are some traits of the people in my hometown that I admire very much.

stella

Stella Gracia, 1514 (With spectacles) (Centre: Panjat Pinang celebrations, Right: Medan chicken curry)

Hometown: Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia

What is special about your hometown?

If you try to google Medan, you would most probably find that Medan has a bad reputation among backpackers in Southeast Asia. While it is true that there is very little beautiful natural scenery, being Sumatra’s major metropolis and Indonesia’s third-largest city, my hometown is a city with real Indonesian character, something that can be lacking in many of the more popular North Sumatran tourist towns. Beside, Medan is also a food heaven. You are guaranteed to find rich and savoury spices tickling your tongue, and if you love burning hot chili then look no further. The richness of coconut milk in Medanese food lends itself a unique taste like no other.

What is your favourite memory of your hometown?

One of my most favourite memories of my hometown is our very unique way of celebrating Indonesia’s Independence Day (17th August). Besides vibrant parades, formal military processions, and lots of patriotic flag ceremonies, we have a very unique way of celebrating our Independence Day called the Panjat Pinang. Every year, in towns and villages around the country, tall nut-trees are chopped down and their trunks are placed vertically in the center of each settlement. A wheel full of prizes is placed on top, before the trunk is covered with oil or other lubricants. Young men are invited to try and reach the prizes. Since the nut-tree poles are fairly high and very slippery, a single climber would have almost no chance of reaching the top, so contestants usually work together and split the rewards. Prizes consist of foods, like cheese, sugar, flour, and clothes. You might not think them worth the trouble, but for Indonesians who do not earn much, these are luxury items. Besides the prizes, Panjat Pinang also effectively bonds the people living in the same settlement.

wenjie

Zheng Wenjie, 1527 (Centre: Zhangjiakou City, Right: Wanlong Ski Resort.)

Hometown: Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, China

What is special about your hometown?

My hometown is special due to its history and beautiful scenery. Zhangjiakou has a history of over 3000 years and has deserts, grasslands, mountains and rivers. Even though China is known for having poor air quality, my hometown’s air quality is one of the best in the country and we experience little haze.

What is your favourite memory of your hometown?

Zhangjiakou is home to the largest ski resort in northern China. I used to go to the ski resorts — Wanlong Ski Resort and Changcheng Ling Ski Resort — during the December holidays. I also used to skate on the frozen Qingshui River situated in the countryside. I like it because it’s free and it’s a very enjoyable leisure activity! Riding horses and camels on the grasslands is also very interesting and fun. I really do have many pleasant memories when I of beautiful places in my hometown.

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