Feel at home with four NUS iCARE e-orientation events

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SG Tours, one of the iCARE welcome events, is traditionally a one-day physical meet-up to show the international students around iconic places of Singapore.

10 July 2020

COVID-19 has dampened many plans in 2020 but there is a line-up of events that will not be overshadowed this year. NUS iCARE will hold four summer activities – SG Kaki, SG Tours, Singlish + Cooking Fiesta and ZOOManji – to welcome the incoming International Students (IS) to Singapore and NUS.

All events are open to both local students and IS and aim to familiarise the latter with their new surroundings once they arrive in Singapore.

We spoke with the Project Directors (PD) to find out what to look forward to in their programmes this year, as they transition online due to COVID-19.

A new game to look forward to in SG Kaki’s buddy programme this 2020.

9 – 15 July: Instead of the typical 3-day programme, SG Kaki would be returning this year as a 6-day programme held on Zoom, for 2-hour per day. Gary Lim from SG Kaki shared about a new auctioning game called “Bingo! To Makan” where participants could grab the chance to win actual FoodFare vouchers based on the value of food items won through their games.

ZOOManji 2020 facilitators getting ready to host their upcoming summer event.

17 & 18 July / 24 & 25 July: ZOOManji, inspired by the movie Jumanji, will be holding an interactive 2-day sharing session on ZOOM instead of their one-day physical event. The event will have a mystical take on the cultures of the little red dot, discovering themes spanning from the city’s old folklore to the modern nation it has become today.

One of Singlish + Cooking Fiesta’s aims includes teaching the IS how to eat like a Singaporean.

30 July / 1 August: Singlish + Cooking Fiesta will hold 2 sessions on learning Singlish and a special cook-off. Singlish and Cooking Fiesta is bringing out the MasterChef in them as the NUS facilitators don their aprons and cook up a Singaporean delight for their international buddies to observe, all from the comfort of everyone’s homes.

A new normal: SG Tours Planning Committee 2020 taking their meetings online.

5 & 8 August: SG Tours will be conducted online as a virtual tour for 2 days, in place of their usual walking tour. Instead of delving into the traditional tourist spots, SG Tours is bringing forth something new by showcasing the everyday life of a Singaporean. Eng Chin An revealed how facilitators will conduct their neighbourhood tours for the international buddies to get a glimpse of their day-to-day surroundings.

Value-add to the International Students

Takatsune Gabriel Leong who took charge of the Singlish + Cooking Fiesta event acknowledged that one of the biggest barriers for IS is to break into local circles or to properly understand the nuances and intricacies of a Singaporean life.

Singlish + Cooking Fiesta is preparing to introduce IS to different local cuisines.

“Our event is designed to break those barriers down and to facilitate this cross-cultural sharing session,” he said.

Leong further added,

“We place an emphasis on having our participants not only learn about Singapore, but to have our local facilitators learn about the international students’ own cultures, as well as to have the international students learn about each other's cultures.”

Kong Le Yi, the PD of ZOOManji, hopes to ease the assimilation of IS into the new environment of Singapore so that they know what to expect when they arrive. Through their neighbourhood walkabouts, SG Tours facilitators will exhibit the everyday scenes of a Singaporean, which don’t necessarily consist of the magnificent Marina Bay in the background. Apart from giving them a glimpse of a day in their lives, the team has also prepared a list of recommended sites for the IS to explore.

SG Kaki 2020 facilitators and teams gathered for their final leg of preparation.

As for SG Kaki, with its buddy programme, wishes to forge strong bonds between the IS and their local facilitators. All their games and activities are in line with creating a strong network of local support for the IS to turn to during their time in this city.

An immersive online experience

Learning how to keep the IS engaged online through visual storytelling.

All four programmes are tailored one way or another to immerse IS into the culture of Singapore and acquaint them with the know-hows of Singaporean living. Apart from this recurrent theme, there are some unique takeaways for each project too.

For instance, Singlish and Cooking Fiesta aims to educate the IS on how to eat like a Singaporean. ZOOManji not only informs IS about their whereabouts in the city but also guides them to learn their way around NUS.

All this being said, iCARE orientations activities are not just for the IS body but also for the local NUS students. These events are a great opportunity for local students to mingle and interact with their international collegiates and NUS seniors, to form new friendships and everlasting memories.

Meeting challenges and building creativity

Having to make the transition from a physical meetup to an online ZOOM session, would have seen many hurdles along the way.

Gary Lim from SG Kaki said: “As games can no longer be physical, we had to brainstorm for potential games that can be hosted online and yet remain beneficial and engaging for our participants.”

The big challenge is to capture the participants’ attention without any face-to-face interactions. To overcome this, the PDs and their committee had to get their creative juices flowing and learn how to adapt with technology to still meet their aims.

SG Kaki preparing an interesting Kahoot game on learning Singlish.

efop-icare-10 SG Kaki playing SGrabble, and SG-themed scrabble game.

SG Kaki creating a TripAdvisor game to introduce the different MRT stations.

Eng Chin An representing SG Tours replied: “One of the lessons learned was the importance of creativity. Despite changes in circumstances, there is always room to be creative and explore new approaches to organise activities.”

Takatsune Leong echoed similar sentiments. He elaborated: We have had to come up with some other creative ways to deepen our relationship with one another.” He had to find out the different virtual conferencing tools and team-bonding activities to supplement the ordinary face-to-face interactions.

Drawing participants with Lucky Draw: Play ZOOManji to win attractive prices.

Kong Le Yi, who has prior experience with leading orientation camps but is directing a project for the first time, shared how this experience has improved her event-planning skills. “With this experience, I learnt to be much more creative in organising various activities, and I am more capable of producing better quality events that can bring people together.”

To sign up for this interesting line-up of events, head over here. If you want to find out what NUS iCARE has to offer, login to NUSync now.


Writer: Shriya Rajesh, Undergraduate, CNM
Editor: Elissa Chia