SSEAYP family celebrate Festival of Light
– Happy Deepavali –
Two dozen people, who have connection with the Ship for South-East Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP), met on Saturday evening (3 November 2018) for a get-together during which food was aplenty. The drizzle and the wet environment did not dampen the spirit of the attendees who comprise SSEAYP officials, past Participating Youths (PYs) of SSEAYP and homestay hosts.
The gathering aimed at building and strengthening rapport and fellowship among them. My wife and I are among the homestay hosts. We have been contributing our services and giving close attention to SSEAYP PYs as well as participants of a few other student-exchange programmes for their homestay stints over 25 years now, since 1989.
The usual 3-day, 2-night stay homestay stint is part of the participants’ official learning programme in Singapore for about 10 days. During their homestay, the participants get close-range exposure to Singapore’s cultural practices of their hosts and experience the Singaporean way of life.
The get-together, headed by Mr Hairil Johari, newly appointed SIS’ Director of Alumni Affairs, and supported by Mr Imhar Said, long-time SIS’ Director of International Affairs, and Mr Desmond Yee, Director of Homestay, was held at the compound of the historic Matilda House of A-Treasure-Trove Condominium in Punggol Walk.
The weather that evening was not that welcoming. Nevertheless, the get-together function went on smoothly with some absentees.
Among those who did not turn up for the function were homestay hosts Mr Zakaria Mohd Shariff and his wife, Hadijah Osman. When contacted, Mdm Hadijah said: “I really wanted to attend the SSEAYP to meet up with friends. But, my husband and I had something on. The SSEAYP officials and homestay hosts are like my family. We share the memories we had with the homestay participants and that of the annual SIGA meets. I miss them. But, I hope to meet them next time. InsyaAllah.”
She added: “Apart from missing my friends, I also miss Kak Khairon’s favourite cuisine – subsuka; it’s nice and spicy. I also like Bro Imhar’s cooking. He’s a good cook. I miss Joyce’s dosey and dhal and Kak Zainah’s kueh mueh.”
Preparation of food, the glorious food
Not all food were cooked on-site as the function was a potluck event. Almost everyone brought home-cooked food. Fruits, cakes and various kueh were also contributed for dessert.
Time to relax, chat and joke
There were jokes and laughter. Many chatted away as they did not meet each other for some time. By the way, this was what the gathering aimed at – building and strengthening rapport and fellowship.
Among the jovial and chatty gathering was John Vijayan Vasavan, Advisor to SSEAYP International Singapore (SIS). He was SSEAYP PY in 1986 and National Leader in 1996.
Asked for his thoughts on the day’s event, he beamed with a “Wow!” and poured out his feelings: “I must say we have an awesome group of homestay hosts who helped out to make the event successful. They, especially the ladies, laid out the tables with a professional touch and loving hospitality.”
Although the drizzle wetted the floor, John felt that the spirit of SSEAYP helped the attendees’ mood soar high and about. “Their happy mood lingered throughout the event. With mouthful of foodstuff or not, they moved here and there to chat and exchange ideas. I was indeed overwhelmed by the display of closeness and camaraderie amongst us.”
After a few moments of reflection, he added: “I think, the word ‘SSEAYP’ is magical. It keeps us close, regardless of whether we are officials, former PYs or members of homestay host family.”
The SSEAYP gathering went happily well. In the words of John: “Today’s gatherings is certainly an excellent starting point to make plans to host the 46th SSEAYP in Singapore next year (2019).”
I wish all Hindus connected with SSEAYP as well as other Hindu readers A Happy Deepavali.
6 November 2018
The “photobomber” mentioned in the caption of the first photo in the article is fictional. It was an inserted photo of my wife from a photo that appears under “About the author” of my book, “A kite in the evening sky”. See photos below.