Whether foreign or native, there are no distinctions amongst sports fans. In fact, as I realized this weekend, going to a sports event is a great way to rub elbows with the people. I was quickly swept off my feet during the second half of the game: Singapore was playing Australia and the home team was down by two. The crowd was anxious, and as time counted down we began doing “the wave” to express our fervor. Singapore just had to win! As time counted down things began to look grim. Several players kept getting injured, and the team was met with several unsuccessful shots at the goal. Nonetheless, the wave continued, and fans kept cheering and stayed throughout the entire game. Not only was this non-competitive match exciting, it was also the last sports venue ever to be held in Singapore’s National Stadium. The city will be upgrading to a new facility along the riverfront near Marina Square.
After the game ended there was a special presentation commemorating the great sports achievements in Singapore history. Soon the sky lit up with fireworks over the edge of the stadium, and for a minute I pretended this was my own personal 4th of July celebration. If I closed my eyes it would have probably felt like I was back in Texas: hot, noisy and humid. And it was at this time when I thought of home, but after being here for a month, without experiencing any homesickness, I’m confident to remain positive with my surroundings for another month. I have to admit; I will miss my 4th of July celebration tomorrow – hot dogs, fireworks, family, friends and all.
Singapore has its own version of the 4th of July. It’s called “National Day” and it takes place on August 9. On this day there is a national ceremony to commemorate Singapore’s independence from Malaysia. Like in the US, fireworks are the climax of the celebration. Because the parade is hugely popular, they have implemented a lottery system to combat overcrowding and ticketing issues. They give out about 50,000 tickets, and if you don’t have one, you watch the ceremony from T.V. or an expensive hotel room overlooking the Bay. While walking through the city I can sometimes hear the loud rumble of fighter-jets pass through the city as they practice their air routine. A few Singaporeans have also been rehearsing for the holiday. Similar to the US, Singapore shows much pride, appreciation and value for their independence.
Like every newborn nation, Singapore had its problems with unemployment and economic struggle. A colleague of mine told me that if I wanted to see what Singapore was like in the 1960s, I am to go to one of the poverty-stricken islands of the South Pacific. Apparently the old Singapore was no utopia. After shifts of occupational rule by the British, Japanese and Malay, Singapore managed to break away and become an economic powerhouse with one of the highest standards of living. Like every great nation, Singapore has come a long way. From fishing village to thriving metropolis, things have definitely improved.
I think being abroad allows one to appreciate the accomplishments of not only your own country, but those of other countries as well. From struggle to achievement, I believe every country has a story to tell. I can only hope that my future travels will allow me to witness this same sense of accomplishment in other parts of the world.
Happy 4th of July! Enjoy the celebration and fireworks!