Communities and Engagement

iCARE Week 2021: Together, apart

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Participants and facilitators of iCARE Week 

10 September 2021

iCARE Week was a three-day online event held from 12 to 14 August 2021. With the goal of helping international students be acquainted to NUS and Singapore culture, the student events team planned iCARE Week to facilitate cross-cultural interactions and enhance understandings of both Singapore and NUS through exciting games and cultural activities. 

Due to COVID-19 circumstances, the organisers decided to shift from their usual face-to-face event to an online programme. Adapting the programme online brought upon a different set of challenges. We asked two iCARE Week project directors, Rachel Tan, FASS, and Anna Matthew, NUS Business School to give some of their thoughts. 

OSA: What were some of the planning challenges you faced? 

Rachel Tan (RT): Being fully online, there were many things that we couldn’t predict, especially technical difficulties that may occur during the event itself. For example, we faced a grouping issue during the event itself which needed solving on the spot. We needed to be able to make decisions quick. Through this, it made me realise the importance of being adaptable and thinking on your feet. 

Anna Mathew (AM): One challenge was the late registration of facilitators. Despite the administrative delay, the facilitators did a great job at picking up the instructions quickly and managed to execute the event smoothly.  

OSA: Online events versus in-person events: How do organisers promote cross cultural appreciation and enable bonding between participants?  

RT: Both modes have their own set of pros and cons. Online events may not have the same effect as face-to-face events as there is no physical interaction. As we only see each other through the screen, it might feel slightly impersonal. However, we were still able to bond and appreciate cultures through Zoom but it would have been better if were able to physically bring them around to visit the actual landmarks or try out the food for themselves for a fuller experience! 

AM: Due to the online format, many participants kept dropping out of the meeting due to poor connectivity, which stifled the bonding. I believe it is trickier to encourage bonding via an online format. But, with games aimed at communication, it served as a great platform for them to talk and learn about each other. As the event was also fully online, we were able to allow a larger group of international students to join us which would have been impossible if it was face-to-face. 

iCARE Week focused on two interactive segments - Game Fiesta and Investigative Mystery. In these segments, participants are grouped with facilitators to take part in many interactive games revolving around Singapore. 

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Matching game on Singlish during the Games Fiesta segment 

Following the end of iCARE Week, students continued to interact with each other through friendships forged during the programme. Kevin, an international student, shared, “I had thought that our group wouldn't really be as active when iCARE had finished, but I was happy to see that the members still were asking seniors questions about university life.” 

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Final team ranking 

While the core team has been planning for this event for a few months, it seems like their efforts have finally come to fruition. Planning this event also helped them grow and develop interpersonal and project management skills as individuals. We asked one last question to the project directors: 

OSA: What did you learn about yourself from working on this project? 

RT: I had the space to grow and through the few months of planning and working with my team, I managed to learn much more about my own weaknesses which I hope to work on to become a better leader in the future!  

AM: I learnt that it is important for me to loosen the reins a bit. The purpose of the event is to have fun. I can be controlling at times. But once I trusted my facilitators to do their job and tried to relax a bit, the event went well. So, I need not feel burdened to do everything on my own. 

The iCARE team is thankful for the support that was given to iCARE Week and they look forward to planning more similar events in the future. 

Click here for more information on NUS iCARE. 



This article has been edited for brevity and clarity.