Do you think it’s too ambitious for one to want to make a difference to Singapore’s cultural scene?

A student wrote to me with this question:

Do you think it’s too ambitious for one to want to make a difference to Singapore’s cultural scene? I dream of passing on traditional culture & language to our future generation, and make people fall in love with what I love too. I’m super passionate about this culture and language and I want to make changes to the way the Singapore cultivates this culture in our children.

I always tell people this but they think I’m joking, or like they just think I’m overly ambitious. But I always thought it’s good to have a goal and aim for it. Can you be very honest with me: am I really being too far-fetched and ambitious? Is this silly?

I don’t think it’s silly at all. In fact, I think it’s very commendable especially since many people nowadays only care about making money and nothing else. You are a rare gem and one whom I’m happy to support! :D

I used to know a guy by the name of Peter Wee (https://www.peranakan.org.sg/2018/08/keeping-our-culture-alive-tribute-to-baba-peter-wee/) who did something very similar to what you hope to do. He passed away in 2018 sadly. I would have loved to introduce you to him. He was very passionate about preserving Peranakan culture that he essentially dedicated his life to it. Not only did he run an antique shop selling Peranakan antiques, but he established a reputation in Singapore as an expert on Peranakan culture. So when Mediacorp made TV shows (like “The Little Nonya”) or documentaries related to the Peranakans, they would always consult him. He’ll be there on set, or even loaning/selling Peranakan artefacts.

I got to know him because a friend wanted to interview him, and I tagged along. Thereafter, I visited him regularly just to hear him share stories about Peranakan culture. It was really cool. I even helped him to make reproductions of the Peranakan translation of the Bible before he donated the original to the Singapore Museum (I forgot which one).

Anyway, the point here is: YES YOU CAN, AND YES YOU SHOULD! For a start, you should think about what kinds of simple programmes you can develop for kids/adults. National Library Board will be more than happy to let you run your programmes too. Then you slowly build your network of connections. Reach out to other artists, interests them to make stories about it, etc., so that there will be greater interest. Once you’ve established yourself with the programmes, you can pitch it to Mediacorp/CNA or even Netflix and let them work with you to make a documentary.

It’s very possible! Don’t wait until you graduate. Start researching and reading up how to do all these now. :D

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.