t r i b u n e . o n l i n e
the students' voice
While I myself am an incorrigibly Japanised (or Nipponised for those who hold me and my brethren in contempt) and Europeanised person, I must nonetheless present this topic in a more global context. That's rather easy for our school - I haven't yet met anyone who is remotely Australia-nised (Australian citizens excluded) or Africa-nised (do update me if you identify yourself as such a person).
Unlike what most teachers think, teenagers' knowledge of Japan is unfortuntely limited. When someone mentioned Arashi during a gathering of Sec 4s, I was aghast to see blank looks everywhere except for few in 411 and 413 - the image projected by Singaporean newspapers about Japanised adolescents is severely distorted, at least for us. Hardly anyone knows anything about V5 (poor Miyake!!!), SMAP, Speed, Luna Sea or Kinki Kids, from personal observations. Some may know Namie Amuro or Utada Hikaru from newspaper articles, or Hideaki Takizawa, Takeshi Kaneshiro or Takenouchi Yutaka from Jap serials (err...hopefully these names ring a bell?), but the knowledge ends there. The vast majority exhibits isolated signs of Japanisation by occasionally being spotted munching sushi, or spouting a word of "Konnichiwa". At least our forefathers can take comfort in their ignorance, but do not be too hasty in attributing it to patriotic motives.
My love for Dutch football, the French language and the German, Italian and Dutch people is scarcely reflected anywhere here. The World Cup and EuroCup, however, have quite a considerable number of viewers, thankfully. Nevertheless, less than a handful in my class know or care about who Overmars and Van der Saar are. More people take an interest in Manchaster United, Liverpool, Leeds and Chelsea. The main view of Europeans, in particular the poor, victimised, misunderstood British (who, by the way, set our "O"s) is that they are conservative, inflexible and arrogant.
Ah...the secret dream of most of our Rafflesian sisters (and brothers, from what I have gathered). Firstly, America is seen as the epitome of civilisation, liberty, good education systems and wealth. (And people coming to school and shooting classmates dead, and presidents who do not know who Gorbachev is, sign bills approving increased greenhouse gas emissions, and do not believe in global warming - getting voted into the White House...but I shall not comment.)
Most RGS-ians harbour dreams of going to study in the glorious States, at Harvard, Stanford or Yale. Hopefully if they do succeed in entering one of these universities they will come back and serve Singapore, our poor motherland, who suffers from a shortage of 'critical mass of talent' and brain-drains. Many RGS-ians seem to think, from what I have heard, that getting to one of these universities is rather easy, "just an interview and A's". Sigh...happy dreaming, dears.
America's education system, according to most of us (excluding myself), is excellent. Nevertheless, I have my doubts. According to a recent article, less than 50% of American middle-school students can do simple Math problems like 23 x 46 without a calculator. Do reconsider your opinions. As for the stress level...well, have you tried finding out how much undergraduates in top universisites have to study or have studied?
Finally, on a serious note, while globalisation is good and the way to go for technologically advanced, IT-savvy Singapore, we do risk losing many of our "talented youth" who believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. While this may or may not be true, I do believe there is no cause for worry as most of those who decide to leave for good will pobably end up turning back. With experience we begin to appreciate things we had never valued before - those who have travelled abroad will probably agree that however fun and exciting the trip was, it is always good to be home.