CNY tea with local service partners makes Singapore feel more like home
By Mehak Parwani, Grade 10, East Campus
It was chaotic, yes, but the good kind.
UWCSEA East’s conference room -- typically speckled with the tables and oddly-placed chairs -- now burst with a harmony of vivid colors.
The baby blue hues of Primary Schoolers whizzed passed me as they rushed to join their friends in greeting an elderly man telling a story (that got all of them erupting in fits of giggles).
The turquoise tones of the Middle Schoolers blurred with the bright red of the Chinese New Year decorations, as they grabbed the hands of members of the Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen and danced to the festive music.
The deep blue chroma of the High Schoolers bloomed in the corner of the room as they waited in line to pose with the visitors in our homemade photo booth.
It was UWCSEA East’s annual Chinese New Year Tea, a get-together for our school’s local service partners and students to celebrate the festive season by singing, dancing, and plentiful eating.
Every year, the tea takes the full essence of a quintessential Chinese New Year celebration and packs it into two hours: an amazing feat.
The event was hosted and planned meticulously by our local service team and aimed to celebrate the lasting relationships formed between the UWCSEA community and our Singaporean partners and for all of us to collectively come and enjoy Sodexo’s samosas, horfan and more.
The afternoon tea brings a special feeling of warmth to every participant because it takes our service learning outside of the weekly, on-site visits to our local service partners. As we chat on tables and toss our yu shen, it might sometimes slip our mind that we are experiencing something transformative: the event gives us the opportunity to open our school to friends from the wider community and engage empathically with Singaporean society.
With over 182 local services between Dover and East, there is, without a doubt, something for everyone. From homework help with children to penning memoirs of the elderly, the UWCSEA Local Service programme offers it all, allowing students to not only learn about the vibrant society we live in but also immerse ourselves in it and all its customs.
As a student who isn’t Singaporean, I believe by learning about the stories of our neighbours and lending a helping hand whenever I can, I feel part of a society. The Chinese New Year Tea is just one of many instances when I come to better understand Singaporean norms, ideals and stories. I learn that even in the 719.1 km² that is Singapore, people have diverse points of view and different lessons to teach. Local service encourages us to engage with new perspectives and share some of our own.