Stop #13: Singapore

Greetings from Singapore!

Singapore was one of our longest and busiest stops yet, offering a wealth of rewarding opportunities.  The Republic of Singapore is the world's only island city-state, and is poised as a unique financial and commercial hub in Southeast Asia.  Walking through the Changi airport and driving through Central Singapore, we witnessed what a masterpiece of infrastructure and urban planning Singapore is.  We checked into the beautiful five-star Pan Pacific hotel in the heart of Marina Bay on July 24th, and we couldn't have dreamt of a better location and accommodation!  In the evening, we were welcomed by our tour contacts with a dinner at Tony Roma's, whose American barbecue cuisine felt quite nostalgic after spending almost a month in Asia. At this dinner we met Ms. Denise Phua and Mrs. Ng Sock Kian, who were to help us greatly with our performances over the week. Denise is mayor of Central Singapore, the main commercial section of the country.

A panorama of Marina Bay and the main commercial district of Singapore

A panorama of Marina Bay and the main commercial district of Singapore

The following morning, we performed at St. Andrew's Junior College, kicking off our week that featured many school performances in Singapore. We were incredibly energized by the enthusiastic reception from the students, who would continuously delight us with sunny welcomes and avid curiosity.  That afternoon, we produced a promotional video for a benefit event on Saturday run by Pathlight school called "A Very Special Walk".  The event fundraised to support children with autism, and was a goal we spent the week working towards.  We chose the song "Stand by Me" as it relates so well to the theme of dedicating ourselves to the needs of the autistic community, and sticking with them as they seek meaningful lives into adulthood.   Adopting a fun "flash mob" style approach, we chose to spontaneously sing in the trains and stations of Centra Singapore alongside children from the Pathlight school.   Combining music with a powerful message in this way was one of the most meaningful experiences of our tour, and Singapore would have many experiences like this in store for us to come!  The video was shared by the wife of the prime minister of Singapore, and posts sharing it eventually garnered hundreds of thousands of views.  You can watch the video at the link below!  

Tuesday was quite packed, as we were up early to perform at Victoria Junior College, and also performed for Anderson Junior College before the early afternoon was finished!  In the evening, we performed in various areas of the Pan Pacific hotel.   The Pan Pacific club lounge, the Atrium Bar, and the buffet restaurant called "The Edge" each provided beautiful and intimate performance venues for us to serenade the guests of the hotel.   With that, perhaps our busiest day of our summer tour was complete, and we were rewarded with a free morning and afternoon the following day to rest and sight-see.  

Dins performing, while a number of junior college students watch on

Dins performing, while a number of junior college students watch on

On Wednesday evening, we were treated to a dinner at the Baskerville household, where we sang a few short sets among the company of family and friends.  The Dins would like to extend a special thanks to the Baskerville family for graciously offering their organizational and outreach efforts that made our stop so special!

On Thursday morning and afternoon, we visited the Pathlight school, and received a wonderful presentation by Denise on the development of the school and the challenges it faces.  The special-needs school aims to the unique needs of the autistic community while trying to remain competitive with academic standards at large.  Moreover, the school offers special vocational training opportunities, holding ties to Autism Resource Center (ARC), which is a not-of-profit organization founded by professional and parent volunteers dedicated to serving children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). That night, we had what was to be our biggest performance in Singapore – a very well put-together concert hosted by the Central Singapore Community Development Council at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub mall. We had gigantic LCD screens and walls with our logo behind us as well as a sizable crowd watching on as we ran through our set. The council had even set up an Instagram hashtag for us, #dinscentralsg, to publicize the concert, which was very cool. We felt a little bit starstruck to be on the stage that night.

The stage set up for our very large gig at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub (a few seats filled up after this, we swear!)

The stage set up for our very large gig at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub (a few seats filled up after this, we swear!)

Posing slightly off-stage with Denise at the mall gig

Posing slightly off-stage with Denise at the mall gig

Friday morning provided our last school performance at the Raffles Institution, one of Singapore's finest junior colleges. In fact, one of our group's alumni, Kai Huang #213, attended this school! After a short photo shoot for a Singaporean magazine in front of a school building, we went on stage and once more gave it our all.

Forming our infamous "McDonalds Girl" arch at one of our junior college performances

Forming our infamous "McDonalds Girl" arch at one of our junior college performances

After a short relaxation break back at the hotel, we traveled to the Chijmes building complex for another Central Singapore-organized concert, this time more of a corporate event. We had an excellent dinner at one of the restaurants in the complex before performing in the central building, which was formerly a Catholic church. The acoustics were excellent, which made the gig all the more special to us. This was our last gig with Lee, so we made sure to sing our family song "My Lord, What a Morning" as an encore. We rarely perform the song live – only on special occasions – but we felt the generosity that we had been shown over the week by Denise and her organizations warranted its inclusion.

At the end of the concert at Chijmes, there was a brief ceremony in which we were all presented with stylized giraffe stuffed animals for our work over the week. The giraffe suggests the quality of "sticking one's neck out for others" so to speak, to echo the themes of our charity work with Pathlight.

A picture of our beautiful venue at Chijmes

A picture of our beautiful venue at Chijmes

On Saturday, we saw the efforts of our week culminate in the fundraising carnival open to the public at the Enabling Village.  The turnout to the event was wonderful, and the weather was lovely!  We opened by singing two songs, Stand by Me and The Bare Necessities, with students from the Pathlight school.  We sung a few sets throughout the day, and enjoyed interacting the kids, and raising awareness for an amazing cause.

A nice appearance in a prominent Singaporean newspaper, for which we were interviewed on Saturday

A nice appearance in a prominent Singaporean newspaper, for which we were interviewed on Saturday

A particularly fun highlight came from participating in the dunk tank booth.  Some even took a dip in tails!

A few wet Dins captured shortly after being dunked

A few wet Dins captured shortly after being dunked

The Dins enjoyed a relaxed day before leaving Singapore on the night of July 31st, but not without taking wit us some of the inspiration and impactful spirit of the great cases that we encountered.  The incredible charitable events and programs we witnessed were driven by intense empathy and selflessness.  For this dedication, we especially thank Ms. Denise Phua, Mrs. Ng Sock Kian, the staff of the Pathlight School, and the prime minister and his wife.  Our hearts are full as we travel on.

Onward to Sydney! 

#234 Sydney Mukasa