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    Volume 3 | Issue 15 | April 17, 2011 |


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Around the Globe

Singapore Diary

Fahim Wasef

The night life of Singapore.

Every time, I enter a new country, I always seem to be preoccupied with the idea of visiting places that serve local gourmet Bengali dishes. Readers might be questioning my sanity but honestly, it was exactly the case each time I left Bangladesh. Be it Kolkata, Bangkok or Macau, I could not help act otherwise. There can be two explanations for an attitude like mine. One may be that I get nostalgic upon leaving Bangladesh; I think it is my way of missing my home and culture in a foreign country. Another intriguing explanation was put forward by my aunt who commented, “.....Bikrampurer chelera eirokomeri hoe....” meaning that men from Bikrampur are mostly food-lovers. This time also, it was no different. As soon as the UNYSAB (United Nation Youth and Student Association of Bangladesh) contingent stepped into the Singapore Changi Airport, my eyes made a quick scan of the surroundings. What I found inside the airport was Mc Donalds selling “Big Mac” along with shops selling expensive liquor and tobacco products.

The place we would be staying was the guest house of National University of Singapore (NUS), thanks to our friend, Irene, without whom this would not have been possible. Renting a taxi or “coach” as it is known among the locals, the six members of UNYSAB contingent started off for 25 Lower Kent Ridge Road, the place where we would be spending the next few exciting days together!

Orchid is the national flower of Singapore, and after the thirty minute taxi-drive from the airport, we all knew why. I found most of the streets to be lined with orchid flowers and it seemed as if the city was painted with the majestic color of orchids. If anyone ever asks me to describe Singapore in one word, I would say “fanta-bulous”! The picturesque landscape, along with the sheer size of skyscrapers and state-of-the-art public transport system has me unable to come up with any other word. Singapore is small - yet absolutely incredible inside. The city itself was what Singapore is all about and it is clean, calm and composed. Life is pretty fast-paced during the day-time, while the whole city bathes in lights at night, making me wonder how much electricity this small nation consumes! No load-shedding, fast-paced MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) plus speedy internet connection made me realize where we stood in comparison to this twenty-first century cosmopolitan city. At the same time, it was also true that during the ten days of my stay in Singapore, somewhere at the back of my mind, there was one part of me which always craved for distinct parts of Bangladesh- bustling streets of Dhaka, Adhan from the road-side mosque, and spicy Dhaka food.

We all knew that the next few days would take a heavy toll on us, in terms of attending many sessions of the World Model United Nation, involving in debates with other delegates coming from different parts of the world. Unlike other members of our contingent, I was really worried about my first appearance at the youth conference, where I participated in lively discussions with bright future leaders of diverse cultural background.

Harvard University in association with National University of Singapore ventured into this tiny island country-Singapore- to organise this year's WorldMUN. Model United Nation is a simulation of United Nation sessions, where research, debate, and negotiation skills are tested along with diplomatic skills. This year, there were around twenty five committees ranging from Disarmament and International Security Committee to committee as diverse as European Union Economic and Financial Affairs Council. I belonged to World Trade Organization (WTO) committee, where I represented Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The issue of food security was the main topic of discussion in WTO, and we spent the next few sessions in figuring out a possible solution that would help mitigate the acute food crisis. Initially, I was a bit nervous when it came to voicing my opinions in front of so many bright minds; however, as the session progressed, my emotions seemed to get under control. The issue of Safeguard Special Mechanism (SSM) was raised by the developing and less developing countries, to enable the developing countries to cushion their farmers during the long term economic liberalization. However, soon, it was challenged by the delegates representing developed countries. And, it was expected given the fact, that countries like US, Japan, and EU heavily subsidize agricultural sector, restricting the market access of the developing countries. It was only a part of a session; however, many resolutions were passed and creative ideas were introduced and it could be said that it was an interactive session.

In addition to the conference, we also had great socials every night. There was a discotheque at the Glo party followed by a fascinating Asian night at the Marina Barrage the next day. Not to mention, the fun we had at Global Village, where the delegates displayed their own culture with traditional attires and food items. Never before in my life, had I seen so many different people coming from 65 different countries under one roof. In addition, we had in-conference trips, tours to places like botanic garden, and an astonishing ride on Singapore Flyer.

On March 21, midnight, we landed in Bangladesh. And I could tell that the experience in Singapore was unique. Some time in life, I am keen on meeting the friends I made in Singapore, not as a student but as a leader!

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