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Parliament House was the first stop today. We joined students undertaking a summer program at the National University of Singapore to learn about the Parliament that runs this amazing city-state. Surprisingly, Singapore’s Parliament shares quite some similarities with the Australian system, as they are both manifestations of the British system. Unfortunately today was not a Parliamentary sitting day, but nevertheless we could sense the solemnity of the House.

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The hotel corridor is the perfect place to rehearse last-minute presentations.

As the final preparation day before our presentations about housing policy tomorrow afternoon, I have been fascinated by the different dynamics of teamwork that I saw each inter-disciplinary group employ.

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Twas the night before presentations, when all thro’ the Y
Not a student was stirring, not even a sigh
The glow of the Macbooks were stared at with care
In hopes that the presentation soon would be fair
The students were refining all that they’d read
While visions of HDB housing danc’d in their heads

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For participants in the Singapore field school, today was the penultimate day of research before presenting our findings to each other in groups on Friday. Responses to this sobering fact varied from dogged concentration to all-out panic, yet the five architecture students were lucky to be granted temporary release in the form of a meeting with Richard Hassell, co-director of WOHA, a renowned architecture firm based in Singapore.

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As presentation day looms all the groups are heavily focused on their chosen topics, gathering final pieces of research and solidifying the huge amount of information we have received over the past two weeks. For Team East Side, this has meant a significant amount of time spent in the community of Bedok observing how the elderly are catered for in Singaporean housing plans and community layouts. This has meant a day of walking through housing estates and communities, checking for features such as wheelchair accessibility, exercise and social areas, community activities for the elderly and ease of access to key medical services such as dementia care.

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Tonight we attended ‘Hari Raya Puasa’ a Ramadan Bazaar in Geylang Serai. Approximately 15% of Singaporeans are Muslim and are currently celebrating Ramadan which involves fasting from dawn until dusk. The bazaar had food markets that allow the community to collectively break their fast as well as stalls selling new cloths, decorations and homewares thus supporting the custom of buying new items for the home. An array of exotic Malay-inspired dishes and snacks were displayed at each stall including spicy fish balls, biryani (a dish of rice, meat and spices), chick-pea biscuits, fried sweet potato, kebabs and pide. These were complemented with colourful and tasty drinks including lychee, mango, sour sok and rose flavoured water. A group of us excitedly selected a few different dishes and drinks and sat in the park nearby to delight in the fascinating new flavours.

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Woodlands school surrounded by newly built HDB flats

It’s Tuesday and we are well into our second and final week of our fieldtrip in Singapore! The New Colombo Plan scholars have all split up into their groups to conduct further field research in their respective regions. My group has been tasked with analysing the North Region, so we spent the bulk of our time today visiting some of the areas in the North that we had missed on our earlier trip – most notably the Woodlands region.

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