Days 1 and 2 – henna, cynicism and mango cheesecake

DAY 1

Flag raising ceremony – although the 5.30 wakeup played havoc with our body clocks, it was definitely worth it to be able to experience Hwa Chong’s flag raising tradition. This was different to anything experienced in the UK and it was interesting to see the precision and respect for the school and the country displayed by the students. What was most striking was the patriotism that remains the backbone for a rapidly advancing, yet still very young, nation.

Opening ceremony – Ms Grace Fu delivered an impressive address concerning the issues caused by globalisation, which was particularly pertinent as the UK almost weren’t allowed to come due to the smog! It allowed delegates to get a glimpse of the themes that would come up in the next few days, with footage of last year’s APYLS increasing our anticipation.

Cultural exhibition – A vibrant, dynamic and thought-provoking experience in which different nations showcased the best elements of their culture. Our senses were engaged by the colours, flavours and even scents of the different countries, and in the process new bonds were forged. That morning remains imprinted on the hands of those who got beautiful henna from Oman.

City tour – This was a unique opportunity to see the different cultures that make up Singapore’s population; touring the microcosms showed us the roots of a country which has emerged to display such a contrasting CBD. It was also a great opportunity to buy postcards.

DAY 2

Summit Dialogue – Ambassador-at-Large Kausikan gave us a fascinating insight into international relations from Singapore’s standpoint, and for some, not only thoughts were provoked. The questions from different countries highlighted the interests of different nations in a way that represented the international stage itself. His witty and often cynical approach showed us the realities of a career in diplomacy, which no doubt killed some of our youthful idealism. Afterwards it was very difficult to adhere to the rules of keeping politics and religion out of the conversation.

Supreme Court – While the architecture was amazing, the understanding of the judicial system gained was invaluable.

Tea with the Pres – Although coach singing never really took off, anticipations ran high as we approached the Istana, which most can agree is quite a nice house. There were a lot of expectations about meeting this figurehead, and we were all surprised by his apparent humility and genuine enjoyment in our presence. For the UK, it was positively delightful to have some proper tea, and the mango cheesecake will not be forgotten quickly.

All in all, we’re knackered.

Katie, Chikayo and Charlotte x

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